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Pt 101410

The big news this week was “Autodesk Acquires Instructables.” It’s taken me a few days of really thinking about this for my column. Autodesk is jumping in to the biggest DIY community online — it’s a huge risk, with a likely even bigger reward. I think Autodesk knows how to make a thriving business for professionals, but what about makers? That’s what this week’s Soapbox is about: Autodesk acquiring Instructables and what it means for makers.

Let’s Get This Out of the Way: Ads! Pro! Steps!

Instructables is ad supported — there are ads, lots of them. Sponsored contests, too. This was all before the acquisition. Needing to log in to see all steps, PDF downloads, less ads? This requires a pro membership (starting at $1.95/month). Instructables did this during the advertising downturn in 2008/2009 when the site needed to generate revenue to pay people and staff. At the time, it was the biggest controversy, and commenters claimed it would be the end of the site in six months. That didn’t happen — the site only got bigger. They survived. I wanted to mention this first because these are things before they were acquired by Autodesk. Usually “more ads” and “more ways to make money” happen after an acquisition. Instructables will now be able to do more for everyone because they don’t have the same financial pressures. You can expect all steps and images to become viewable for everyone, less ads, maybe more pro features going free.

Pt 101399

I don’t think we’ll see any changes anytime soon on Instructables; in fact, I think we’ll see less of a need to have as many ads.

Instructabliss is a site that I’ve seen posted a few times; it loads pages from Instructables and puts all the different pages on one single page. It also handles things like logging in so you can view everything. I don’t use it since I don’t know how or if my log in would be stored on another site. As Instructables gets more resources to hire, we might see UI changes and better browsing experiences.

For my viewing, I use an ad blocker like many people do for many sites. I have a pro membership because I’ve used it for work. I always wanted a version of Instructables I could download and run on my server like you can with WordPress. I would still like to pay for a package that lets me run my own Instructables on the sites I work on. I think that’s not likely now, but I’ll talk about this later in the article. As far as charging money for anything or having ads, many people do not like that MAKE has ads, or has a print magazine that costs money to subscribe to and that we charge most attendees money for tickets to Maker Faire.

I also know some “experts” don’t like many of the basic, simple, or in their words “just plain wrong” projects on Instructables. Again, this is all before Autodesk bought them earlier this week. Not every project is a winner. I understand some of the projects aren’t that great. If I was 10 years old now, I’d post some stuff too that experts would hate on, but that’s the nature of the site when you have this many people sharing. Instructables recently added a lot of editorial staff to make the site better, pushing the good content out more. Again, this was pre-Autodesk.

I wanted to spend time talking about this because I don’t want the comments here to have the same things I mentioned here (Ads! Pro accounts! All the steps!). Or Revit vs AutoCAD vs MicroStation. This article is about what this acquisition means for makers, and for Autodesk. This is about the future. If you have specific things you’d like to see Instructables do or change, post on their site, where they’ve asked for this. Please stay on topic here on MAKE! What will this mean for makers?

OK, let’s get going…

It’s Not About Revenue for Autodesk

Adsk-1Q11-Quarterly-By-Business-Segment-E1274414756329

Instructables is a tiny drop in the bucket for Autodesk (FY 2010 Financial Results). Autodesk FY10 revenues were $1.7 billion (business by geography: Americas = 38%, Europe = 39%, Asia/Pacific = 23%). I don’t know the exact revenue of Instrucables but since everyone knows industry ad rates for the most part, it’s likely a few million a year, mostly from online advertising (Google AdSense, pro memberships, and direct ad sales). It’s not going to be a revenue stream for Autodesk.

It’s Not About the Instructables Members or Web Traffic

Pt 101401

Instructables has about 2 million members and about 50M pageviews per month. That’s a juicy chunk of traffic, but Autodesk doesn’t run a single ad-supported site, they don’t have ad sales teams, and Autodesk didn’t buy Instructables to compete in a race-to-the-bottom for advertising dollars and CPMs. Autodesk isn’t going to be Huffington Post or Gawker. What does Autodesk have?

  • Autodesk has 10+ million users globally.
  • 800,000 companies use their software.
  • 1.2 million future designer professionals trained each year.
  • Autodesk software is used in more than 50,000 educational institutions worldwide.
  • More than 2 million students are trained on Autodesk products each year.
  • 17 million downloads of DWF Viewer.

But, they don’t have a community around all these people (and the specific tools) like Instructables has (more on that later).

Does Autodesk Know What They Bought?

Here’s Carl Bass, Autodesk’s CEO at the Wired business conference, being interviewed by Chris Anderson, who runs an open source hardware company, DIY Drones (see the stars all aligning lately?). Chris is also the editor of Wired magazine. Full video here. If you watch the whole video you’ll hear Carl specifically talking about the maker world.

Bass also told Wired.com, in an interview after his appearance at the conference, “One of the things that we’re seeing is that technology is increasingly starting with consumers, and then moving up into business” (more here).

Can you make one of something? Can you make many of something? How, with what tools? How do you “start”? How do you capture images from reality and quickly make them as real objects. Carl shows that he took a few photos of Chris and then made a laser cut cardboard head. This is all using a free tool Autodesk released.

They are moving towards making any digital camera into a 3D scanner. This is exactly where things are heading (no pun intended). If you look at sites like Instructables and Thingiverse, this is happening now. Autodesk needs to be in this game or they’ll end up completely unable to compete for the attention and “trial” for their tool sets. Carl said “the history of design is building upon others’ ideas” and there is “an unbelievable community of people who want to be making things.”

Here’s the app Autodesk Project Photofly, a free download. From the site: “Capturing the reality as-built for various purposes (renovation, rapid energy analysis, add-on design, historic preservation, game development, visual effects, fun, etc.) is now possible using your standard point and shoot digital camera thanks to advanced computer vision technologies made available through Project Photofly.” Gallery here.

So I think Autodesk gets what they bought, at least the CEO does. It’s only my guess, but he’s a maker, and just like Chris Anderson, he has a day job. If Carl Bass wasn’t out there talking about this now in this way, I would be the first to ask where he was and what he is thinking about in this space. I’d want a video to hear him talk about this like he knows what’s going on. I think he does — the full video sounds like what many makers talk about.

Why Autodesk Bought Instructables in One Sentence

Here’s a quote from the Instructables community blog. I’m surprised none of the comments or even the tech press picked up on this — this sums it up.

Instructables will be the community arm of the same team that makes 123D, SketchBook, Homestyler, and Pixlr, which will help provide creative tools, inspiration, and services for all types of creative people.

Pt 101403

The leadership team at Instructables is not going to be sitting around getting marching orders from Autodesk on how to change Instructables — it’s likely going to be the reverse: the Instructables team will be trying to bring the magic touch to 123D, SketchBook, Homestyler, and Pixlr. Eric Wilhelm, the CEO of Instructables, is now the Director of Community at Autodesk. As per the press release(s), the Instructables brand is staying, they’ll get some more resources to improve the site, and it will not be a depot of Autodesk product manuals. Pictured above, the people who run Instructables. Indoor climbing walls, elf ears, three armed babies — this is the DNA that is about to get infused with Autodesk. What will happen? Something weird, for sure.

But, this is Autodesk’s big bet. They want millions of people creating and sharing using their free tools (and other tools). Autodesk wants to go from a “what” company (software) to “how and why” (making and sharing). What’s that worth to Autodesk? Millions of dollars and the need to acquire the team at Instructables to lead the way. The want to fast track new tools, they want to get us going fast, and maybe sell us something later when we outgrow free or when we need to pay for the “its” we made with the bits (3D printing). Autodesk likely wants to celebrate people more, makers, the heros who make things. Instructables does this, and MAKE does this. It’s what almost every company wants: passionate communities!

The Future of Autodesk is Lots of Free

I think we’re going to see Autodesk slice off more features and web-ize many of their tools. They’ll have lots of free ways to experiment. How do I know for sure? Here’s something Autodesk just released a few weeks ago.

Pt 101404

Autodesk 123D public beta

123D is a free solid modeling software program based on the same Autodesk technology used by millions of designers and engineers worldwide. Not an engineer? No problem, with Autodesk 123D you can design precise and makeable objects using smart tools that let you start with simple shapes and then edit and then tweak them into more complex shapes. Who doesn’t love free stuff? You have access to tons of free models to help you get your project started, finished, or just to use in exploring ideas. Access free content either directly from the search box in the software, or from the “Get Content” section of the 123D site. The 123D site is a central home for getting things made, and that includes giving you info on different personal fabrication options, and centralized access to our partners who can help you with the tools you need to do the work yourself, or can fabricate your design for you.

Download their free app, make stuff, use a service partner to print it out in 3D. What’s missing is a giant community like Instructables bolted onto this site that will create ways to make things, share tips, write how-tos, share results, create new products from their 3D works, and more.

Autodesk knows how to work with professionals, I think that’s clear. They need to learn how to work with non-profressionals, with new makers, with the giant emerging hobbyist market. This is why they bought Instructables.

I tried to scope out all the communities that Autodesk has for some of their latest tools they’re trying to promote. It’s scattered, confusing, and there’s not tons of activity, certainly not as much as Instructables gets. Here’s a few I think will end up getting attention from the team at Instructables.

Elephant-Plastic.Jpg3748Ebc8-F53F-4159-9306-4F3Af5Dda78Flarge

123D (above, makes sense to have Instructables-like community around this one).


Mzl.Efvlukgd.480X480-75

SketchBook. I have this for my iPad — it’s OK, you can share on Flickr. Currently there are about 2,000 members. There’s a community/blog site http://www.sketchbooknews.com/, but it’s really hard to find. There are PDF how-tos, but no step-by-steps or something that quickly got me going.


Pt 101405

Homestyler — “online home design software brings your interior design plans to life. Easy drag and drop, brand name products, and 3D views make using Autodesk Homestyler the best way to start your next home design project. It’s free*, completely web-based, and instantly accessible online. *Autodesk Homestyler is a free online service that provides access to home design software created by Autodesk.”

The share, support, and community parts seem really empty to me.


Pt 101406

Pixlr — “Pixlr is the creator of online cloud-based image tools and utilities. Today we have three applications in our suite: Pixlr Editor, Pixlr Express and Pixlr-o-matic. They are built in Flash and you need to have the Flash plug-in (get Flash) to get it to work, however, 98% of all computers have Flash so you are probably set. We also provide screengrabbing tools Pixlr Grabber and one click photo sharing imm.io. Pixlr is now part of Autodesk, a global leader in innovative design software and services.”

I think a quick online image editor is needed for any how-to site for annotations, etc. Maybe that’s the plan to use across all the Autodesk offers. Pixlr is one of the most intense Flash sites I’ve seen — it’s a mini-Photoshop app all online, but until recently, I’ve never heard of it or seen it used on other sites.


Anyway, my take on these is that Autodesk is playing around with smaller subsets of commercial tools they offer to see what happens, and for some of their properties they just don’t have the oomph to get tons of people using them in the same way people are using Instructables.

When Yahoo Bought Flickr

Flickryahoo

A little detour. As I was thinking about the Instructables acquisition, I was trying to recall any site that was ad supported, with pro accounts and a thriving community. I think Flickr is the only one that’s pretty close, with people uploading their own content (I even used Flickr for how-tos), and eventually a larger company acquired them. But with Yahoo, it was more of an offensive or defensive land grab as Google, Microsoft, and others were all buying as many companies as they could to “own a space.” Yahoo wasn’t a camera company, or an image tool company (like Adobe), they were a search company and an ad company. The CEO never, from what I recalled, talked publicly about the future of sharing images. Flickr got better uptime, more ways to log in, and that was about it. The core team left fairly soon after the sale, and I think it’s generally thought in tech circles that Yahoo is on its way out.

Yahoo didn’t take the DNA from Flickr and improve their other properties; in fact properties like del.icio.us were never maximized or integrated, and now “sun-setted.” I would say that Autodesk has Yahoo as a good example of what not to do. Yahoo did a pretty good job of leaving Flickr mostly alone, but Flickr didn’t change Yahoo. That’s a shame, really.

What Does It mean for Makers?

I spent a lot of time researching Autodesk to really understand what they’re doing, or at least trying to do. I didn’t see any of the tech press or any of the drive-by comments on various sites really dig in. While it would be easy to say, “Oh, expensive software for pros, they just wanted the Instructable members to sell them Autodesk!” I really wanted to map out what I think they’re going to do with the Instructables DNA. I think I did that, but it doesn’t matter if I did. What does this all mean to makers here and for the ones on Instructables, the largest “DIY community” online? A few things.

The maker community is valuable, so are the people who can help inspire and foster giant communities. Companies who make tools need to figure out ways to work in the community. It’s more than just have a Facebook fan page to “like.” The value of a maker community just went up. When Autodesk buys a site like Instructables, it makes all of maker communities more valuable and interesting to companies, tools makers, and everyone else. If you can manage a site like Instructables, you are valuable. If you can contribute amazing how-tos to a site like Instructables, you’re more valuable than ever.

Years ago, after I founded Hack-a-Day and later left to work on MAKE, the “blog network” Hack-a-Day was part of was sold to AOL. I was told AOL wanted to steer clear of any mention of “hack” and here we are in 2011: Autodesk is fully embracing “hack.”

Next up, something you’ll hear a lot: the “Industrialization of the Maker Movement.” Here’s a quote from Chris Anderson (DIY Drones):

More big news in the continuing industrialization of the maker movement: Autodesk has bought Instructables. What you can now see emerging are several vertically-integrated “making chains,” which go from authoring tools to design houses to service bureaus to communities to 3D printers–all aimed at the new consumer/maker side of the business.

Here are the two biggest players with some examples of their lineups, including recent acquisitions and investments:

  • 3D Systems: Alibra (authoring), Freedom of Creation (design), 3Dproparts (service bureau) the RapMan 3D printer. No big community site yet.
  • Autodesk: 123D (authoring), Ponoko/Techshop (service bureau), Instructables (community). Lots of design strength already in part due to big Hollywood/game presence with their Maya and Alias product ecosystems. Haven’t bought a 3D printer company yet (it’s interesting to think what they could do with Makerbot).

Others in the wings include PTC and Dassault. Both have been focused on professional design and engineering, but are starting to move into the consumer space, too. (PTC just released the free Cleo Elements authoring tool, for example, and Dassault owns Solidworks, which is a leader in this space but doesn’t have a really free consumer option yet).

Big companies are starting to find value in the consumer space, and the maker space. For these companies to succeed, they’ll need to be more like us, not the other way around. I’ve previously talked about big companies wanting a piece of the Arduino pie. In order for TI, MicroChip, Microsoft, and others to do so they need to: release open source hardware, provide open source tools, create value, allow others to create value. If you want to make an Arduino killer, you need to at least provide what the Arduino does — a lot of that is being 100% open source. So for makers, you can expect more companies like Autodesk or whoever to need to release more open products if they want to join the maker movement. We’ll use them and we’ll provide value back.

For makers, this acquisition is another sign of the growth and vitality of the maker/DIY market segment. We can all take some credit for the success of Instructables in creating and shaping this market opportunity. Autodesk is now part of the maker community — this is amazing: billion dollar companies value what we do. That’s right, if Autodesk pulls this off, every company that competes with them will need to be able to deal with giant maker communities too. This is good for all of us: better (open tools), more open licenses, more sharing. Why? Because they’ll need to, and many will want to!

For makers, other companies will do a lot more for us. Autodesk’s competitors will take notice — they’ll want to provide support for us as well. Google SketchUp (if it’s still considered important at Google) and SolidWorks may be wondering what they should do now, and who they should buy. MakerBot? Thingiverse? Others in software and services beyond the CAD market will also pay attention with new interest. Ponoko and TechShop are partners with Autodesk on the service side, but this could impact other service bureaus. New partnerships may emerge as the market re-aligns. In the end, more companies competing for makers.

Some makers will just not like this acquisition and compete! Maybe they don’t like Autodesk, or maybe they only want independent sites. Whatever it is, there will be makers who might make their own how-to sharing sites. This is good — it will push the current players to make improvements and it’s 100% possible something bigger and better could come along compared to Instructables. There aren’t enough how-to sites yet — there’s room for more. This is good for makers. I still want to run my own how-to site that spits out standardize XML in a how-to format. Maybe we are one step closer.

Pt 101407

More players at the table. I’m sure the folks at iFixit were thrilled that Autodesk bought Instructables, iFixit’s value just shot up. For Make: Projects (which uses the iFixit backend) this means MAKE can promote the Make: Projects site even more as a community site in addition to a content site. I’m excited to see more projects on MAKE that come from Make: Projects. Advertisers might want to spend more on how-to sites, all very possible.

Pt 101408

How-tos may finally get standardized. If more how-to and learning sites are competing, makers will want to bring their projects to whatever site they want. That’s nearly impossible now. Wikis are OK for text, Flickr is OK for photos, but there isn’t an agreed-upon standard that all how-to sites publish to so you can just click “export my how-to” and then go to another site and click “import my how-to” with all the steps and photos and everything else in a logical way. It’s lots of work and it’s why there’s an informal lock-in when you publish a how-to. I still use HTML for many tutorials with a wiki at the most because I think we’re going to have something standard very soon. Besides, the world is going more mobile. If you can standardize for online, you can display it on tablets, phones, whatever. So for makers, I think we’ll see an effort towards how-to portability. The gang from iFixit is working on this, and you can read more about it here: oManual.

It’s Your Turn: What Does It Mean to You?

Do you consider yourself a maker? Have you posted projects on Instructables? Over the years we’ve all grown up with many maker sites, we put in our projects (which are just pieces of us), and we’ve watched them thrive and change. And now Instructables is part of a bigger company. The maker world is watching Autodesk closely. What they do will be an example, good or bad. So what does this mean to you?

I’m going to close with one last quote from Tim Carmody (scroll down to see all the comments from Google+):

It’s fascinating; on the one hand, we’re seeing hardware-building tools become easier to use, more broadly distributed, more democratic. On the other hand, that broader base is helping to create successful companies, which in turn is attracting interest from bigger fish. It’s like the whole software-coding/personal computing revolution is playing out again.

Think about that — look how far the computing revolution got us in just a few decades. Imagine what you’ll be able to do as a maker 20 years from now. Imagine a world of all the tool makers competing to make it better and easier for us to make things. What does Autodesk acquiring Instructables mean to makers? I think making things is only going to get better for all of us.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


Related

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    So you’re saying that this will be the first example of a large company acquiring a small web-based interest and the result will be good in the long run?

    Would it be a good thing for Make™ (or BoingBoing) to be acquired by Autodesk too?

  2. Anonymous says:

    So you’re saying that this will be the first example of a large company acquiring a small web-based interest and the result will be good in the long run?

    Would it be a good thing for Make™ (or BoingBoing) to be acquired by Autodesk too?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @theophrastvs:disqus yah, i’m going out on a limb and saying autodesk acquiring instructables is good for the maker movement in the long run. i outline why at the end of the article. am i right? we’ll see!

      MAKE is part of oreilly so it would first mean spinning MAKE off and then selling it or oreilly getting acquired. would it be good? it all depends. who is the CEO of the company doing the acquiring? what is the vision, what are the goals, it’s really hard to guess – that’s why i spent a lot of time looking at autodesk and formed an opinion after.

      readymade went bust after getting acquired so that’s something to consider in terms of a magazine getting acquired, but readymade is very different compared to MAKE.

      boingboing could be acquired and there are sites you can compare it to since they’re an ad-support “blog”. engadget, huffpo, techcrunch, etc, etc. this is a little more predictable – i’m not sure anyone wants to be acquired at BB though, VC funded companies need to sell or go public. BB isn’t VC funded.

      MAKE is not VC funded either (oreilly is not as well).

  3. johngineer says:

    I am of two minds on this.

    Logistically, I think it’s good that Instructables has been acquired by Autodesk. While I suspect that I-bles will still be expected to largely support itself, it will gain access to an enormous infrastructure on the backend. As Eric mentioned in that chat they had a few days ago, it means that things like the intricacies of human resources management (pensions, paychecks, benefits, etc.) will be handled by a dedicated department within the larger organization. This will certainly free the Instructables folks up to focus more on their community and website, which I suspect is a welcome change. That’s great, and more power to them.

    On the other hand, if Autodesk is serious about building communities, they are also going to have to get serious about being truly open with the tools they expect those communities to congregate around. This means no more proprietary formats or 27-page EULAs every time you want to use their software. When I was 19, I interned at a major telecom company. My job for the entire summer was taking old Autocad DXF files and converting them to the newest revision of DXF. This was necessary because every new version of Autocad introduced a new version of that format, and some of these files went back 10 years. The fact that AutoDesk thought (and still thinks) this was a perfectly normal way to write and release software still boggles my mind. I point this out because doing something like this with your software is anathema to community building. You can’t have a community where everybody speaks incompatible languages. (not everybody can afford a fabulous, good-looking intern to translate for them.)

    If Autodesk really wants to build communities (great!) then they are certainly on the right track by bringing Instructables into the fold, but they are going to have to take some bold strides in opening up their tools. This means open file formats (preferably XML), free tools that don’t require bleeding-edge hardware and are extensible by choice (download plugins rather than cramming it all into an enormous archive), and non-restrictive EULAs.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @johngineer:disqus i agree, in fact – months/years from now i might need to write a follow up on how autodesk started tons of instructable-like communities and when everyone showed up they had to really open up. autodesk (in my opinion) is heading in to a world where they’ll need to change to stay competitive and relevant. XML formats, human-readable EULAs, open tools, open formats. it won’t be overnight but with community comes feedback. if they integrated instructables – like communities, they’ll need to think about this.

      1. johngineer says:

        The concern I have, and the reason why this might not work with Autodesk, is that it will probably take a (very) long time. Internet communities are fickle, and there is a good deal of competition for folks’ attention. If they don’t implement these changes fast enough, they will miss their window of opportunity. If, as large companies often do, they promise changes and then take ages to implement them, they will also lose a lot of good faith. Because it’s so counter to (pretty much) everything they’ve ever done, it may take even longer.

        To illustrate my point: last October, the open-source hardware community (or representatives thereof) reached out to CadSoft about creating an open XML version of EagleCad’s board, schematic and library file formats. CadSoft responded enthusiastically, and said they would begin working on such a format, but as of now it has not yet been released. This is not meant as a criticism of CadSoft — it takes time to do it right, and this is only one aspect of what they are working on — but rather an illustration of how long such changes can take to be implemented. And this is at a (relatively) small software company where changes in direction can be made nimbly and quickly.

        I can’t even imagine what it would take to get a ship like AutoDesk to change course, and then to do it quickly. I foresee a lot of missed opportunities — the upside is that their size will allow them to absorb mistakes and continue moving forward. If you can call that an upside :

        1. Anonymous says:

          @johngineer:disqus i hear yah, it’s still the honeymoon now. who know what will really happen when instructables starts mucking around with other products :)

          to be fair to EAGLE, they said it would be about or “at least” 2 years and no real ETA only that it’s 100% in the next version.

          autodesk is in a different boat, they are releasing new/free web services like autodesk123D and instructables is a more nimble born-on-the-web team.

          my guess is that the CEO wants to infuse the instructables DNA with all the new efforts.

          who knows, behind the scenes autodesk teams might be pitted against each other to put one another out of business in some way.

          isn’t that what HP did with the bubbet jet and laser jet businesses? internal competition to make the best product.

          all that said, i went out on a limb and suggested this will work out “good” overall, we’ll need to see if i was right months/years from now :)

          1. johngineer says:

            “who knows, behind the scenes autodesk teams might be pitted against each other to put one another out of business in some way.”

            lol 3DS Max: Beyond Thunderdome.

          2. Anonymous says:

            the only thing CADsoft did not do was send me an eagle shirt (they said they would).

    2. Anonymous says:

      @johngineer:disqus i agree, in fact – months/years from now i might need to write a follow up on how autodesk started tons of instructable-like communities and when everyone showed up they had to really open up. autodesk (in my opinion) is heading in to a world where they’ll need to change to stay competitive and relevant. XML formats, human-readable EULAs, open tools, open formats. it won’t be overnight but with community comes feedback. if they integrated instructables – like communities, they’ll need to think about this.

    3. Matt Cowley says:

      I had a telecom teacher who always told the story of his first 2 years of work were spent doing nothing but cleaning contacts on the old switches.

  4. johngineer says:

    I am of two minds on this.

    Logistically, I think it’s good that Instructables has been acquired by Autodesk. While I suspect that I-bles will still be expected to largely support itself, it will gain access to an enormous infrastructure on the backend. As Eric mentioned in that chat they had a few days ago, it means that things like the intricacies of human resources management (pensions, paychecks, benefits, etc.) will be handled by a dedicated department within the larger organization. This will certainly free the Instructables folks up to focus more on their community and website, which I suspect is a welcome change. That’s great, and more power to them.

    On the other hand, if Autodesk is serious about building communities, they are also going to have to get serious about being truly open with the tools they expect those communities to congregate around. This means no more proprietary formats or 27-page EULAs every time you want to use their software. When I was 19, I interned at a major telecom company. My job for the entire summer was taking old Autocad DXF files and converting them to the newest revision of DXF. This was necessary because every new version of Autocad introduced a new version of that format, and some of these files went back 10 years. The fact that AutoDesk thought (and still thinks) this was a perfectly normal way to write and release software still boggles my mind. I point this out because doing something like this with your software is anathema to community building. You can’t have a community where everybody speaks incompatible languages. (not everybody can afford a fabulous, good-looking intern to translate for them.)

    If Autodesk really wants to build communities (great!) then they are certainly on the right track by bringing Instructables into the fold, but they are going to have to take some bold strides in opening up their tools. This means open file formats (preferably XML), free tools that don’t require bleeding-edge hardware and are extensible by choice (download plugins rather than cramming it all into an enormous archive), and non-restrictive EULAs.

  5. Andrew Faust says:

    I really don’t know what this means for users of Instructables. I don’t use Instructables, so it doesn’t matter much to me. (I’m one of those who gave up on Instructables once it became such a hassle to see all the steps.)

    What I do know is, almost all the architects I know are pretty bitter about the ‘subscription’ payment scheme Autodesk has implemented. I don’t use any of the ‘free’ Autodesk tools, so I can’t speak to their greatness or lack thereof, but all my experience with Autodesk tells me they are historically not champions of the open-source movement. Maybe this is changing. But in the realm of AutoCAD, I’m not holding my breath.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @facebook-1422320508:disqus i tend to think if autodesk really makes more instructable-like communities around their tools the users/customers/community will have more direct access to the people in charge, they’ll be able to make autodesk meet their needs better in terms of pricing and features.

      if you think about it, autodesk is about to make their tools more democratic for their customers, that’s a very crazy thing. if everyone in the architect community joins some new site based on instructables that autodesk creates, they’ll like have their concerns heard (more).

    2. Anonymous says:

      @facebook-1422320508:disqus i tend to think if autodesk really makes more instructable-like communities around their tools the users/customers/community will have more direct access to the people in charge, they’ll be able to make autodesk meet their needs better in terms of pricing and features.

      if you think about it, autodesk is about to make their tools more democratic for their customers, that’s a very crazy thing. if everyone in the architect community joins some new site based on instructables that autodesk creates, they’ll like have their concerns heard (more).

  6. Andrew Faust says:

    I really don’t know what this means for users of Instructables. I don’t use Instructables, so it doesn’t matter much to me. (I’m one of those who gave up on Instructables once it became such a hassle to see all the steps.)

    What I do know is, almost all the architects I know are pretty bitter about the ‘subscription’ payment scheme Autodesk has implemented. I don’t use any of the ‘free’ Autodesk tools, so I can’t speak to their greatness or lack thereof, but all my experience with Autodesk tells me they are historically not champions of the open-source movement. Maybe this is changing. But in the realm of AutoCAD, I’m not holding my breath.

  7. Helgi Már says:

    I’ve been a (free) Instructables member since 2006 and I can download PDFs and view all the pictures without paying. I’ve also been irregular Make subscriber for few years. This takeover by Autodesk probably worries Make because they are similar in so many ways, like the different sides of the same coin :). This could be a great opportunity for Autodesk by giving them access to bunch of people to sell their software to. If I could as a Instructables member get few years old Autodesk product, at good price, I would grab it.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @facebook-1459992414:disqus in my article above i predict that autodesk isn’t going to try to do anything with instructables in terms of giving users software or forcing DWG as a format or whatever. the instructables team also said that wasn’t going to happen in their 1 hour video chat they did too.

      i do think we will see instructables-like communities and sites spring up around autodesk products though.

      so in the end, if you like instructables there will be more places like it in the autodesk world and in those places you might get access to those types of things.

      again, just my opinion – this is my soap box article that predicts stuff :)

      1. Helgi Már says:

        I don’t know what will happen. Your soap box article could be amazing foresight.
        Autodesk likely could close down Instructibles and never notice it in their bottom line, no matter what they say they are going to do. There is no denying that the purchase gives them access to certain group of home users that are likely to end up working for design companies and there influence software purchases. On the other hand Autodesk could have just bought a lot of ads on Instructables to get to the same targets.
        No matter what happens, I don’t see Instructables become all conquering site for hobbyist makers or if it’s closed, I don’t see it creating a void that wouldn’t be filled instantly with lot of new sites.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @facebook-1459992414:disqus yah, i talk about that at the end of the article ifixit is here now (and make: projects uses it) and i am sure others are thinking about many how-to publishing engines. i think it’s going to get better for makers no matter what.

          look at all the great photo sharing options there are post-flickr+yahoo

        2. johngineer says:

          If, as you seem to suggest, Autodesk only purchased Instructables so that they would have a captive audience to market to, then they have already failed.

          Personally, I agree with Phil that it was most likely a ‘talent acquisition’ — they wanted people with the know-how to build a community. It’s how they treat that community that will determine their success. If they respect that it’s a community of creative individuals who value their independence, they will thrive. But if they go all ‘time share presentation’ on them, the community will leave. In droves.

          1. Anonymous says:

            WEBINARS

          2. Anonymous says:

            WEBINARS

  8. heartpumper says:

    First of all: hats off for that article. It’s been quite long time when I read something such good. Awesome work. Fantastic journalism – masterpiece! Thank you for this. Totally agree with conclusions of the article.
    Second, despite I’m not a maker and I hate corporations (evil which is killing this planet), I’m pretty sure that it will be good for makers (community) and Autodesk (they making awesome professional software – you all have to admit). 

  9. heartpumper says:

    First of all: hats off for that article. It’s been quite long time when I read something such good. Awesome work. Fantastic journalism – masterpiece! Thank you for this. Totally agree with conclusions of the article.
    Second, despite I’m not a maker and I hate corporations (evil which is killing this planet), I’m pretty sure that it will be good for makers (community) and Autodesk (they making awesome professional software – you all have to admit). 

    1. Anonymous says:

      @twitter-153920225:disqus thank you !

    2. Anonymous says:

      @twitter-153920225:disqus thank you !

  10. Evan Jones says:

    Phil does a great job of laying out the best-case scenario, and I love it!  I think there are several signs that today’s Autodesk is not the heartless devourer-of-industries that it has been at times in the past.  If this move is evidence of an expanding, future-oriented vision, I think that’s great news.

    Historically, though, that hasn’t been Autodesk’s strength.  AutoCAD has leveraged its market position to stay resolutely behind the times while other modeling programs have innovated steadily.  I worked for a couple years in feature film CG, and Maya has a similar history; when acquired, it was a best-of-breed software package with a leading market position.  Since then, Maya has a lot of rickety age problems, a resolutely unresponsive support system, and a general feeling (to myself) of its best days being behind it. Dealing with Autodesk feels like a big, bureaucratically burdened, and often futile undertaking, in contrast to the personal relationships possible with many other software vendors.  Autodesk’s culture has not been conducive to the kind of community-building Instructables has done so well.  Here’s hoping that either Autodesk is getting better, or that Instructables can hold fast to its own culture.

  11. Evan Jones says:

    Phil does a great job of laying out the best-case scenario, and I love it!  I think there are several signs that today’s Autodesk is not the heartless devourer-of-industries that it has been at times in the past.  If this move is evidence of an expanding, future-oriented vision, I think that’s great news.

    Historically, though, that hasn’t been Autodesk’s strength.  AutoCAD has leveraged its market position to stay resolutely behind the times while other modeling programs have innovated steadily.  I worked for a couple years in feature film CG, and Maya has a similar history; when acquired, it was a best-of-breed software package with a leading market position.  Since then, Maya has a lot of rickety age problems, a resolutely unresponsive support system, and a general feeling (to myself) of its best days being behind it. Dealing with Autodesk feels like a big, bureaucratically burdened, and often futile undertaking, in contrast to the personal relationships possible with many other software vendors.  Autodesk’s culture has not been conducive to the kind of community-building Instructables has done so well.  Here’s hoping that either Autodesk is getting better, or that Instructables can hold fast to its own culture.

  12. Evan Jones says:

    Phil does a great job of laying out the best-case scenario, and I love it!  I think there are several signs that today’s Autodesk is not the heartless devourer-of-industries that it has been at times in the past.  If this move is evidence of an expanding, future-oriented vision, I think that’s great news.

    Historically, though, that hasn’t been Autodesk’s strength.  AutoCAD has leveraged its market position to stay resolutely behind the times while other modeling programs have innovated steadily.  I worked for a couple years in feature film CG, and Maya has a similar history; when acquired, it was a best-of-breed software package with a leading market position.  Since then, Maya has a lot of rickety age problems, a resolutely unresponsive support system, and a general feeling (to myself) of its best days being behind it. Dealing with Autodesk feels like a big, bureaucratically burdened, and often futile undertaking, in contrast to the personal relationships possible with many other software vendors.  Autodesk’s culture has not been conducive to the kind of community-building Instructables has done so well.  Here’s hoping that either Autodesk is getting better, or that Instructables can hold fast to its own culture.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @facebook-1127948157:disqus yah, i think this was their biggest weakness – and instructables is/will be part of solving it.

    2. Anonymous says:

      That depends on for whom you work. My GF works for Disney and she is working directly with Autodesk on a project. She basically called them up and said we want this product to do x and they were like, “hmm we’ll see what we can do.” They have been going back and forth in development.

  13. adam schwartzentruber says:

    gives me an uneasy feeling.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @google-9f745db227ca693aa2ddc8e30e50f13f:disqus change is always uneasy :)  can you be more specific though?

  14. Tim Lewallen says:

    My question is this – How will this alter the parts of Instructables that are not geared towards the manufacturing of widgets? There are sections for food and drink, outdoor pursuits, gardening, etc. that have nothing in common with Autodesk and its products and services.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @facebook-598866053:disqus hmm, i address this in the article, a lot. instructables is not going to change at all.

      community sites for autodesk products is what is going to change to become more like instructables.

      1. Tim Lewallen says:

        Simply saying nothing will change will not make it happen. I hope you are right. What I hope does not happen is that the Instructables that are NOT oriented towards Autodesk and it’s products get neglected and eventually die on the vine.

  15. Jim Graboski says:

    Maybe I’m being cynical, but I see this as a way for Autodesk to have access to a ton of new design ideas and possibly profit from them in some way.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @facebook-1829853216:disqus you’re going to need to be more specific if you’re going to make accusations like that!

      1)autodesk and anyone else has access to instructables, anyone can go there and get ideas.
      2)anyone could get ideas “profit” from them, directly – not so much. the instructables are owned by the makers (depending on how they licensed it).

      autodesk is not getting anything anyone doesn’t already have access to.

      well, besides the instructables team and that’s what i suggest this acquisition was all about.

  16. Phil, thanks for the mammoth, insightful, and timely article. I can’t help agreeing that this will certainly shine more light in the direction of makers and making, which will make for at the very least, a more interesting next decade or so.

    On the other hand, I definitely echo Evan, John, and others in my fears that Autodesk only really knows how to build communities like Le Corbousier — bulldoze a bunch of stuff that’s already working, and build something that’s really shiny for a while, but requires the process to be repeated as the luster fades without evolving.

    Closedness, lack of Inter-compatibility, and lack of long-term stability are real concerns that other users have pointed out. 6 years ago, I used Quickcad Free (or LTE, I can’t remember), a flavor of a piece of auto-cad – like drafting software based on a title that autodesk had aquired. It was great – super simple, low processor requirements, and output in a variety of formats. Best of all, it was totally free (thought not open source). I learned to use a laser cutter on that. Then, for reasons that weren’t disclosed, the free version went away. Now, It looks like the “pro” version is also gone, re-integrated into the giant collection that is autocad.

    I have two main fears:

    1) Instructables will continue fine, but will have to be more controlled in what sorts of software they allow to be referenced in their community. This is only a problem because Autodesk makes expensive awesome high end or free clunky low end software (nothing in the middle) and nothing open source or community extensible. Communities need to be able to modify their tools, not just use them.

    2) Instructables goes along like gangbusters for 5 more years (or 10, whatever) after which time Mr. Bass moves on to be CEO of AT&T or maybe Zappos. He’s only been CEO at Autodesk for 3 years:
    http://people.forbes.com/profile/carl-bass/8704
    and was CEO at McAfee before that — not exactly a community centric company. With him gone, maybe Instructables goes the way of Quickcad free — an invaluable tool for the community, but one which no longer makes sense to the management, and doesn’t make money on the balance sheet. Losing instructables would be a major loss to the maker community (however crappy you think it is)

    Hopefully, neither one of these will happen. I’ve talked with higher-ups in Autodesk’s trends forecasting and innovation departments, and they are smart, engaged, interesting people. I’m sure they really want instructables right now, and want to keep the how-to hive mind fresh and strong.

    I know I do. And if they won’t keep it up, then I guess we’ll have to.

    1. Anonymous says:

      thanks for this great comment! i think the CEO and autodesk at large knows they haven’t done “community” that well – i think they thought about this for awhile and grabbed one of the best examples to learn from, instructables. i bet they went through way too many “social media experts” and consultants to ultimately go big and bold with this purchase.

      1) i don’t think instructables will ever not allow what types of software can/will be used. i am sure we’ll see the use of open tools celebrated and supported. i think we’ll see a hands off approach and  lack of mentions for autodesk tools.

      2) i think the CEO might know community matters and sees it as one of the most valuable things for the future of the company, who knows – maybe christy or eric will end up being CEO(s) of autodesk.

      there’s a lot of pressure on autodesk to make this acquisition work, every single maker company from now on will see what happens when you take VC and get sold to a company like autodesk.

      you bring up great things to think about, i can’t wait to see what happens too!

  17. Slinky says:

    Attempts to buy a community are not usually successful.

    People who are part of the community formed by a web site, forum, idea, etc. are in it because of what it has developed into: they are familiar with it, they know it by heart, they come back because of what the community is.

    If you change the platform the community thrives on, not all people will like it. Some will, of course. And some don’t care as long as the changes aren’t too big. But the result is that this will split the community. As the community is split, the part that remains after buying out will be weaker – it will be smaller, have less super-skilled members, be updated less often, and so on.

    If the remaining community becomes weak enough, e.g. it has lost the critical mass, or it has lost the crucial hubs aka. the shining-start community members which are followed by many others, then the remaining community has began its spiral of death.

    If the remaining community can attract new people in its current form, it will survive. If not, it’ll just bleed to death.

    Paradoxically, all this can be mostly avoided if no changes are done to the bought-out community, if the ownership just changes hands behind the scenes without changes. This minimizes the impact, although some still won’t like that the ownership changed in the first place – that’s a change in itself.

    In this case, there will be bigger changes to come: Autodesk wants to make money, that is their bottom line and the only reason they exist, and the revenue of Instructables in its current form isn’t enough for this kind of investment. Therefore changes will happen.

    Maybe this is all good for Instructables and people who like to tinker, maybe not – time will tell.

  18. Slinky says:

    Attempts to buy a community are not usually successful.

    People who are part of the community formed by a web site, forum, idea, etc. are in it because of what it has developed into: they are familiar with it, they know it by heart, they come back because of what the community is.

    If you change the platform the community thrives on, not all people will like it. Some will, of course. And some don’t care as long as the changes aren’t too big. But the result is that this will split the community. As the community is split, the part that remains after buying out will be weaker – it will be smaller, have less super-skilled members, be updated less often, and so on.

    If the remaining community becomes weak enough, e.g. it has lost the critical mass, or it has lost the crucial hubs aka. the shining-start community members which are followed by many others, then the remaining community has began its spiral of death.

    If the remaining community can attract new people in its current form, it will survive. If not, it’ll just bleed to death.

    Paradoxically, all this can be mostly avoided if no changes are done to the bought-out community, if the ownership just changes hands behind the scenes without changes. This minimizes the impact, although some still won’t like that the ownership changed in the first place – that’s a change in itself.

    In this case, there will be bigger changes to come: Autodesk wants to make money, that is their bottom line and the only reason they exist, and the revenue of Instructables in its current form isn’t enough for this kind of investment. Therefore changes will happen.

    Maybe this is all good for Instructables and people who like to tinker, maybe not – time will tell.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @openid-52840:disqus can you post specific examples of “attempts to buy a community are not usually successful” ?

      from what i’ve heard and seen from instructables + autodesk they are not changing the platform at all.

      autodesk did not buy instructables to make money from it, check out the first part of my article – they are a $2b company, instructables is not a revenue source for a company that size, it was not about money.

      1. Slinky says:

        Although the statement was based on my gut feeling from observing the developments in tech news and such, yes, I can provide some examples to illustrate my points.

        AOL bough Going Inc. in 2009. Two years later going.com has this message:
        “As part of AOL’s refocusing, Going will be going away as of Sunday, May 1st, 2011.”. The message continues: “After that date, Going.com will have a new home in Moviefone and Patch which have movie and event listings at a national level.”

        The message urges people to store any contributed content before this date. I can only guess how many of the original users will move on to Moviefone or Patch. I doubt it will be any kind of a massive exodus.

        It is normal to not have heard of messages which aim to upset the status quo. Of course when the announcement is made, the PR is crafted to portray all the developments in as positive light as possible. Case in point, I quote, from the press release from 2009 “By joining with AOL, we have the opportunity to greatly expand the
        reach of our platform to more cities both in the US and around the
        world,” said Going chief executive Evan Schumacher.”

        Another one: remember what happened to mp3.com? They had a nice start, had massive amounts of community-created musical content – some of which was pretty damn good. Then they had an IPO in 1999, and in 2001 got sold to Vivendi Universal in who failed to grow it (the community was already dying). CNET bought whatever was left in 2003, it seems that their main interest was the domain name.

        Pardon my cynicism, and if Autodesk proves my reasoning wrong, I will happily stand corrected.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @openid-52840:disqus these are good examples, thank you! and a cautionary tale for anyone at autodesk and instructables. seems like aol isn’t a good home for some/many start ups.

          you said:

          “… mandate sharing of
          designs in a file format which only Autodesk products can access”

          i am willing to bet you a $100 gift certificate to the maker shed (or adafruit) you will not see that on instructables. eric the ceo said this would not happen, ever, in the 1 hour video chat they did on instructables. if it happens you know where to find me :)

          1. Slinky says:

            You’re in!

            (My hope is I won’t win it, out of consideration for the Instructables people, but the egoistical bastard in me kind of wishes I would.)

          2. Slinky says:

            You’re in!

            (My hope is I won’t win it, out of consideration for the Instructables people, but the egoistical bastard in me kind of wishes I would.)

  19. My concern is if/how this can become a way to extend the lock on CAD that Autodesk has through it proprietary file formats, as I explained here a few days ago:  http://stop.zona-m.net/2011/08/autodesk-buys-instructables-wait-a-moment/ Further feedback on this point, after the reassuring one I got from directly from Tim O’Reilly (included in the post)  is very welcome!

  20. My concern is if/how this can become a way to extend the lock on CAD that Autodesk has through it proprietary file formats, as I explained here a few days ago:  http://stop.zona-m.net/2011/08/autodesk-buys-instructables-wait-a-moment/ Further feedback on this point, after the reassuring one I got from directly from Tim O’Reilly (included in the post)  is very welcome!

    1. Anonymous says:

      @mfioretti:disqus i think autodesk will end up going in a more open direction for file formats as they create instructables-like communities around their tools. i talk about this a lot in the article.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Autodesk has not spent millions of dollars trying to trademark the DWG file format just to open file formats.  I’m not saying Autodesk is going to try to switch all Instructable files to their file formats but they ARE in the business of making money.  You can do this my ensuring people use your software.

  21. randy sarafan says:

    First off, thanks for the great article. This is perhaps the best article that I have read on Make in years (don’t tell Becky I said that).

    Secondly, about six years ago I was hanging about Eyebeam and a friend of mine basically said, “Hey. I taped some LEDs to magnets, threw them at a building, then posted them on Instructables and now I’m famous. You should post your stuff on there.” I thought about it for a while, but didn’t really do much with the advice.

    A few months later I followed my girlfriend to San Francisco where I ended up unemployed and quite bored. One day, while trying to kill the time between job interviews, I thought back on my friend’s advice and started posting projects on Instructables to try to win some of their contests (with mixed results).

    After posting a few things and lurking on the site for a couple of months, I noticed they were looking for interns. I sent in my application. One thing led to another, and I have spent the past five years filling more positions within the company than I can count (often simultaneously). I’m not sure what has changed more times, my daily responsibilities or the location of my desk. I have watched Instructables grow from 7 people to 23 people and have seen many talented and passionate people come and go (more often come than go). I’ve also posted 163 Instructables, but (aside from Christy – and her measly 133) who’s counting?

    That said, I have invested a lot into Instructables as an employee and, personally, as a maker. When I first learned that the company was bought by Autodesk, I was both elated and confused. My gut reaction was “Yay! A great company bought us!” … “But why did they buy us?”

    I’m not going to bother answering that question here. I think Phil has already pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    The point is… The last five years at Instructables was one crazy ride, and as this ship gains incredible momentum, I have no plans of disembarking. I’m feeling pretty confident right now that there are amazing things in store for Instructables’ future. I wish I could share everything that we’re planning with you right now, but to be honest, there is still much that is undecided. This is exciting because it means there is a lot of opportunity for everyone to work together and do some really groundbreaking things. While I don’t know how this will all ultimately play out, I think we have joined a great team at Autodesk, and I am currently very optimistic for the future.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @google-351c377f8b1bd3783d9156aff372dcec:disqus wow, thank you for sharing this incredible story!

  22. randy sarafan says:

    First off, thanks for the great article. This is perhaps the best article that I have read on Make in years (don’t tell Becky I said that).

    Secondly, about six years ago I was hanging about Eyebeam and a friend of mine basically said, “Hey. I taped some LEDs to magnets, threw them at a building, then posted them on Instructables and now I’m famous. You should post your stuff on there.” I thought about it for a while, but didn’t really do much with the advice.

    A few months later I followed my girlfriend to San Francisco where I ended up unemployed and quite bored. One day, while trying to kill the time between job interviews, I thought back on my friend’s advice and started posting projects on Instructables to try to win some of their contests (with mixed results).

    After posting a few things and lurking on the site for a couple of months, I noticed they were looking for interns. I sent in my application. One thing led to another, and I have spent the past five years filling more positions within the company than I can count (often simultaneously). I’m not sure what has changed more times, my daily responsibilities or the location of my desk. I have watched Instructables grow from 7 people to 23 people and have seen many talented and passionate people come and go (more often come than go). I’ve also posted 163 Instructables, but (aside from Christy – and her measly 133) who’s counting?

    That said, I have invested a lot into Instructables as an employee and, personally, as a maker. When I first learned that the company was bought by Autodesk, I was both elated and confused. My gut reaction was “Yay! A great company bought us!” … “But why did they buy us?”

    I’m not going to bother answering that question here. I think Phil has already pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    The point is… The last five years at Instructables was one crazy ride, and as this ship gains incredible momentum, I have no plans of disembarking. I’m feeling pretty confident right now that there are amazing things in store for Instructables’ future. I wish I could share everything that we’re planning with you right now, but to be honest, there is still much that is undecided. This is exciting because it means there is a lot of opportunity for everyone to work together and do some really groundbreaking things. While I don’t know how this will all ultimately play out, I think we have joined a great team at Autodesk, and I am currently very optimistic for the future.

  23. John says:

    What Autodesk gets is access to a community with a proven track record of using, abusing, breaking, hacking, re-purposing, reusing, anything and everything we get our hands on.  The possibility that they could release some new product into this wild to see what happens is potentially valuable feedback. What we get is harder; in the short term, the crew at Instructables can pay off their credit cards and enjoy a living wage, Yea!  I don’t think Instrutables will change.  We may get access to new tools, maybe higher end stuff, but only time will tell. It’s a “good thing” in any case.

  24. Bill Porter says:

    I’m more interested in how this will change Autodesk. 

    They already offer all their software for FREE to students for 3 years. I’d really like to see them follow up with reasonably priced ‘Home’ versions of their software for makers. I’d be willing to pay $200 for Inventor, but not $1k. 

    1. Anonymous says:

      @twitter-222854927:disqus i think they’re testing the free-waters with autodesk 123d and your suggestions sound like they’re going to happen (just my guess too).

      1. Bill Porter says:

        Here’s to hoping. 

        1. Anonymous says:

          Autodesk’s 123D is the free option.  It’s the gateway drug to get serious users to upgrade to Inventor.  Inventor is the cash cow in the manufacturing division.  There is not going to be a free (or even low cost) version anytime soon.  A base seat of Inventor is $5k.  With the analysis package it can get close to $10k.

          On a side note, all files created on student versions of Inventor are marked as EDU files.  This causes a watermark on all drawings.  This is very dangerous in that EDU files can get mixed with true production files in a corporate environment and cause quite a mess.

  25. nawres102 says:

    I think its great couse Im 3Ds MAX pro and arduino user and need to connect between software and hardware through DIY creative ideas :)

  26. This design is spectacular! You certainly know how to keep
    a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos, I
    was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!)
    Excellent job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that,
    how you presented it. Too cool!

  27. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the
    page layout of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content
    so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful
    lot of text for only having one or 2 images. Maybe you could space it out
    better?