From AutoCAD, AutoLISP to Autodesk Unified Data Platform and Forge API

From AutoCAD, AutoLISP to Autodesk Unified Data Platform and Forge API

Back in 1990s, I was developing my data management applications using AutoLISP and AutoCAD ADS and ARX. For those who remember, it was a development environment for AutoCAD even before it was available on Windows. It realized the beauty and power of AutoCAD – 2D drafting platform, which was ubiquitous, flexible and extendible enough to provide an environment to develop any applications for engineering, construction, architecture and manufacturing. And people were building first applications and later businesses on top of AutoCAD.

Last week at AU2018 DevCon, I was watching Autodesk presentations about cloud platform and universal data platform, but my thinking was coming back again to AutoCAD 10, which gave me an ultimate  to build applications.

At DevCon keynote, Autodesk new VP of Cloud Platform, Sam Ramji presented Universal Data Platform vision.

If you’re following Autodesk development, you can find traces of this new UDP name in what was previously called Autodesk Quantum platform. Check my earlier blogs from AU2017 Forge DevCon and future of high frequency data and Cloud data management – common future for PLM and BIM.

The vision of platform, which takes traditional products upside down is explained here.

And Brian Roepke, now Sr. Director of Platform Management and Experience demo few examples how Autodesk data platforms and cloud data is available via APIs to everyone as a service.

These presentations made me think about my past AutoCAD 10 experience and applications I developed using AutoLISP and ARX. Autodesk UDP is a way to repeat or reinvent the way AutoCAD became a huge success back 20-30 years ago. The ubiquitous of AutoCAD combined with flexibility and openness of APIs made it success. Does Forge API has the same level of flexibility to create, extend and manage cloud data for all Autodesk products? I understood that Autodesk is building a very rich data foundation to manage data in the cloud. Meantime, Forge and its Data API is the beginning.

What is my conclusion? Autodesk is building data platform in the cloud to repeat AutoCAD success. Unified Data Platform should make what AutoCAD and AutoLISP made in 1980s-90s by allowing to developers to build their products. It is a very ambitious goal. In my view, the key to success is in a combination of simple tools and extensible character of data platform and APIs. Autodesk has much more applications these days comparing to 1980s when AutoCAD was the king application. So, how to balance all these things? It is a challenging and very ambitious goal for Autodesk. The jury is out. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased


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