All gussied up for iOS 7

Greetings FormIteers! The blog has been quiet of late (I really need to grow a new set of hands so I can blog and tweet WHILE getting a new version ready for release!) I am happy to announce we have submitted our new version to Apple and are eagerly awaiting approval. Here is a short video outlining some of thew new goodies.

Introducing FormIt Web Beta!

This past June at the AIA conference in Denver we announced that we were working on a web-based version of FormIt. After a lot of work We are really psyched to launch our first beta of FormIt Web! Check out the video and more details after the break.

While FormIt Web does not have all of the features of the iOS version (yet) we still could not wait to get it out there and get your feedback. Here are some details:

  • Runs in the latest stable builds of Chrome and Firefox on Windows or Mac.
  • Modeling operations including: place primitives, extrude polygons, modify faces and edges, boolean operations
  • Import satellite images
  • Metric or Imperial units
  • Apply default materials
  • Opens and saves FormIt sketches created on iOS or Android by logging into your Autodesk 360 account.
  • We also just released minor updates to the iOS and Android FormIt to support reloading sketches that have been saved from the web (and between the two mobile platforms)
  • We want your feedback! Please post your issues, ideas, and questions on our support site.

A is for Aalto

The wonderful blog ArchDaily posted last week “A to Z” Modernism on their Facebook page. The second Wednesday of every month they will profile four modernist icons. They started, of course, with one of my favorites: Alvar Aalto. Specifically the Wolfsburg Center near Berlin. I decided to try and keep up with them and re-create all 26 projects using FormIt.

Alvar Aalto Wolfsburg CenterCourtesy of http://www.worldarchitecturemap.com

I will be sharing all of the FormIt files. Here is the first one. Just copy it to your FormIt folder on Autodesk 360 and resync from the FormIt Gallery page in the app to open the file.

New version of FormIt is now available!

The new version is here! We just got confirmation from Apple that new version of FormIt has been approved. The FormIt team has been working really hard and we are psyched to see what you will do with it. Share some images with us on Twitter and give us feedback on our GetSatisfaction site.

You can read about, and download, the new version from the Apple App Store. Here are two videos that highlight two of the big new features:

Here is a playlist of all the videos

(yes, still iPad only, folks. But we hear you Android people!)

Introducing FormIt 2.0

Since releasing FormIt at Autodesk University late last year, the team has been working hard to follow up with some great new features. We are happy to announce today that FormIt has been updated on the Apple App Store with some new features – including, you guessed it: metric units!

Here are some great videos to orient you to the new version, as well as FormIt in general.

And for a full list of features:

  • Support for metric units
  • Cloud conversion to Autodesk Revit: supports Metric or Imperial, depending on sketch setting
  • Imprint closed shapes on faces and push them in to make solid cuts
  • Grid and snap settings adapt to current zoom level
  • Rectangles can be drawn at angles to the grid
  • Satellite images can be reloaded
  • Redesigned sun-study popover takes up less space
  • Gallery is a single scrollable page and can be sorted by name or date
  • Sketches now display their name in the Gallery
  • Fit to view has option to include a loaded image
  • Help button now has an option to go to our support site
  • We are now gathering anonymous usage data. This can be disabled from the About page
  • Crash recovery: if there is a crash, you will be able to retrieve data on next load
  • Various stability and bug fixes

If your comment is about a feature request or a bug, please post it instead at our GetSatisfaction support site. Thanks!

The Story of FormIt

How did FormIt come to be? It started about a year ago while doing user research for Autodesk Vasari. We were talking with a lot of architects about conceptual design and observed a common pattern: mobile devices (specifically iPads) were everywhere. Designers were (and still are) using a variety of sketching and paint tools to capture ideas. But like 2D CAD, these ideas are disconnected from the BIM design workflow. So we asked ourselves: what if we made a 3D modeling app where you could sketch ideas wherever and whenever inspiration strikes?. The next logical question: what if these sketch models could seamlessly flow into the BIM workflow? The majority of the senior designers we met with never touched Sketchup or Revit. This was due to the fact that many did not grow up with these technologies and feel more comfortable with their Moleskine sketchbook. More practically these designers are always on the go – to the site, client meetings, etc. – and simply do not have the time to keep up with fast evolving modeling technologies. So while the accepted wisdom was “no one wants to model on a tablet”, we questioned that wisdom. Why not make an app that could support what Matt Jezyk, our Product Manager, called “a 10 minute model.”

So we started sketching, prototyping, and coding. Less than a year later, we are pleased to launch version 1 of Autodesk FormIt. Below are images that show some of the process of how we go from an idea to app in 11 months.

The first step in this process was what we call a User Experience Storyboard. Like storyboards in film, we use this low cost format to tell the story of what the user experience will be like. This particular storyboard, which we named “Napkin Sketch 2.0” portrayed Simon, a senior design architect, traveling between his office in Chicago and a customer visit in Seoul. He used the long flight home to sketch out ideas and share them with his design staff.

FormIt storyboard

The idea took on legs and we quickly assembled a team to start laying out a plan. First step was to assemble a “story map,” a planning method which allows us to map out potential features into a map that would ultimately guide us through the entire process.

image

Across the top of this white board above are architectural sketches we used as inspiration – but also to keep us grounded and focused on the end product we were striving towards. The following Pinterest board has these sketches and more. I’m partial to Steven Holl watercolors:

Source: archdaily.com via Tom on Pinterest

The next steps were key. First: what kind of look and feel should this app have? What should be the first experience like? What about the 10th or 100th experience? These mockups then became more and more detailed as we worked out the user interface scheme for the 3D world and the gallery.

13 image

Second, was to figure out how to actually modify the objects. This turned out to be the most challenging and rewarding aspect of this project. Here we also used story-boarding to figure out the gestures we would need to create an manipulate forms.

photo 2012-12-07_2059

In just a few weeks after starting the planning process, we had a working prototype – shown in this shaky video.


By four months we had already established a lot of the core app framework and model interactions, shown in this video.

Of course, we followed this with a lot of user testing, white board and Skype discussions, and tweaking before arriving at version 1. FormIt is under continued development, so we will continue to refine and tweak based on your feedback. Please submit feedback at our support site.