As I wrote in my blog post yesterday, Autodesk Fusion 360 isn’t a browser based CAD system. You need to install a piece of software locally on your computer which then works with the data residing on the cloud. So its “cloud-based” CAD system. I also said that I wasn’t allowed to discuss Fusion 360 publicly as the Autodesk MyFeedback agreement forbids it. But after seeing how Autodesk employees themselves are openly discussing Fusion 360 on the Autodesk Discussion Groups, I think I’ll let you guys in on something I found out by sniffing around Fusion 360.
One of the first things I do when I install a new CAD systems is inspect the files in the installation folder. The DLL’s give me a good idea of which technologies are being used by the product and for what purpose. I noticed the usual bunch of Autodesk DLL’s in the Fusion 360 folder. But the name of one particular DLL struck me as odd – AdDSV6Core.dll.
There was Dassault Systemes written all over the file properties of the DLL. The most interesting one was the “File description” tag which read “Usage of this V6 library is governed by the technology and platform licensing agreement between Dassault Systems and Autodesk“.
I ran the DLL through Dependency Walker in order to inspect it’s exported functions and see if I could write a program to call them from outside Fusion 360 using my own code. After a little hacking around and some trial and error I figured out the entry points of a few functions and their definitions. I proceeded to create a small program that loaded the DLL, invoked a V6 connection initialization function and posted some data over to see where it got uploaded. To my surprise the URL returned by the function to my program was that of ENOVIA instance hosted on Dassault Systemes cloud infrastructure.
Time and again Dassault Systemes CEO Bernard Charles has talked about his plans to invest up to a billion dollars into setting up his company’s own cloud infrastructure. I thought it was meant to help Dassault Systems existing customers move to the cloud. At that time I didn’t realize that this could be used by Dassault Systemes’ competitors as well.
Come to think of it, this shouldn’t come as a very big surprise. Co-opetition is quite common in the CAD industry. Siemens PLM is the best example of this. For years they have been cooperating with their competitors by licensing the Parasolid modeling kernel and D-Cubed constraint system to them and competing with them by going after their customers. Dassault Systems appears to be capitalizing on their first mover advantage with taking CAD to the cloud. It will be interesting to see of Siemens PLM and PTC follow Autodesk in licensing the V6 platform and infrastructure or go ahead build their own, assuming they want to take their CAD systems to the cloud to begin with.
You can download my test program here. I have hard coded the settings of my Autodesk Fusion 360 account into the program. So all you need to do is run it. It will bypass the Fusion 360 authentication and show you the URL of the blob where the test data was uploaded. Depending on where you are located, the URL of the Dassault Systems data center which serves your country may change. Be sure to take a close look at this URL.