Monday, June 13, 2011

Autodesk launches an AutoCAD Marketplace – the Apps Tab


UPDATE: Autodesk has expanded the Autodesk Exchange App Store to include more than just AutoCAD.  Click the link for the new Autodesk Exchange App Store.


Autodesk announces their June 13th release of the Autodesk Apps Tab that runs within AutoCAD 2012 (only.)  Initially, it will be available for AutoCAD 2012 only.  The Autodesk Apps Tab is an online marketplace where users can purchase, sell and rate apps from within AutoCAD 2012.  These “apps” are companion products for AutoCAD that have been created to provide additional functionality to AutoCAD.  At its launch, the Autodesk App Tab is expected have approximately 150 different apps to choose from ranging in price with several apps being free.
The AutoCAD Apps Tab in AutoCAD 2012

The Autodesk App Tab is an effort by Autodesk to centralize the distribution of AutoCAD add on applications.  It is also an attempt to provide a safe means of distribution for these apps.  It is also an opportunity for users to share and or sell the applications they have created.

The Search Feature in AutoCAD Apps Tab

How does it work?  It is only accessible through AutoCAD 2012.  There is no other access point at this time.  Autodesk has said that that may change, but for now, they want to slowly introduce the App Tab and make sure it works properly.  The Apps Tab can be found on the AutoCAD Exchange landing page that launches when AutoCAD 2012 is first opened.  (regret turning that thing off now?)  If you don’t have the landing page, open AutoCAD 2012 (no other version of AutoCAD has the Apps Tab – Yet) and click on the X icon in the upper-right corner of the AutoCAD window.  Users will have to log on to their AutoCAD Exchange account to have full access.  Once in, users can browse the apps that are available for purchase and download.
Typical App to download in the Apps Tab

There are many types of apps that are and will be available in the Apps Tab.  They could be simple script files, Lisp routines, .NET or ObjectArx based products.  Other content available can be blocks, linetypes, hatch patterns or several other learning tools such as books in PDF form.  (I plan on writing some e-books and publishing here in the future.)

Anyone can submit products, from AND members to anyone that has written a LISP routine or script file.  Have a great set of custom made dynamic blocks?  Share them (maybe even sell them.)
App Publishers Submittal Page

When you download an app (or apps) it is yours regardless of the computer you download it too.  That means if you download it once you keep it.  If your machine fails and you get a new one, just log back into the Apps Tab and download it again.  This is nice.  Payment is done through PayPal, so you need to get a PayPal account if you don’t have one already.  Autodesk does not charge any fees to use this service, nor does Autodesk get any royalties or percentages of the apps purchased (I was surprised to hear this.)  That doesn’t mean that in the future the system will work the exact same way, but for now, Autodesk is providing a service of app exchange, that’s all.  Since Autodesk does not receive payment for the apps, they don’t provide technical support either.  Plus they are not the ones (typically) that created the apps.  Each app creator will provide technical support on their own.  Contact information for tech support will be available for each app.

Once downloaded, try out the app.  Then go back and rate it in the Apps Tab.  It’s a simple rating system of one to five stars with one star being the worst rating possible and five stars being the best.

So what does this mean?  It means that users have easy access to add on applications for AutoCAD.  It also means that anyone that has ever created a great routine or set of blocks has a place to share them (and maybe make some money.)  CAD Managers will need to keep an eye on this as they have little control of what the user downloads an installs.  I plan on writing a post later on how CAD Managers can approach this new feature in AutoCAD 2012.

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