Fusion 360 is different than the rest (Discuss)

by Board Manager schneik on ‎03-02-2014 08:59 PM - last edited on ‎03-03-2014 09:44 AM by Board Manager kat.ingalls


There is plenty of talk going on about what people want and need from their design tools.  Over the last weeks I have been watching a thread in the Solidworks forum and thought we would set a few things straight.  Take a read here of some others's users frustrations and wishes.  

What really stood out to me on the Solidworks forum were the user who were looking for this:

"We think the current crop of tools take too much resources to manage in a medium sized company.  The up front purchase, the subscription costs, the installs, upgrades, hardware, troubleshooting, PDM, etc... falls on our shoulders, so we see the real costs.  It's too much.  Dassault is running in the other direction and adding to that pile of costs with something that really disappoints.  I think Adrian would agree here.  We would not pay the $2,988... thats ridiculous to add on top of SolidWorks costs.

A worthwhile company would have a freemium model so that you can try it out.  CAD on the cloud would be accepted if the costs were $50-$175 per month per user, and slightly more if it offered FEA and PDM/PLM out of the box.  I would expect it to be able to take in native SolidWorks files and be able to do direct editing on them, so that feature history would not need to be converted to make smaller edits.  I think the rub would be how to export information out of current PDM systems and into the new system.  We would have the options to store file backups locally... but in a neutral format, like STEP.  Drawing backups could be kept local in PDF format.  I would maybe keep a local copy of something like Spaceclaim in case the world ended and we still came to work.  That would allow for editing of the backup STEP files. All kidding aside, no one has done it right yet... and Dassault is clearly going to loose the market.  They are lost and trying to protect Catia.  This is why lots of folks have already left SolidWorks.  I think they saw the writing on the wall."


What do you think? Do you agree that "no one has done it right, yet?" 
Oh and by the way:

  • $50-$175 a month? Try $25 to $40
  • Read native solidworks? Check. Oh.. and Cata, NX, Creo, Inventor, DWG, IGES, Rhino and STEP to name a few more
  • Direct edit? Check
  • Iterative modeling? Check
  • Export for local storage as archive or STEP? Check.
  • Export Drawing as PDF? OK this is still in Beta but you can do it there so, Check!

We hope you feel like we are listening and going in a direction that excites you. We hope the low cost and powerful capabilities make Fusion 360 an important part of your design workflow -  whether it's for your business, for a hobby, or for education. 

Be sure to let us know how we are doing. What is Fusion 360 helping you the most with? What do you wish it did better? How does it compare to other design tools?






by Mentor ‎03-02-2014 10:54 PM - edited ‎03-02-2014 10:55 PM

Hey Kevin (and team),


i'm not so much looking at solid works and won't comment what they do, just one small thing: I think they're just doing what most software companies with professional products did during the last decades:


- develop in secrecy (no customer transparency about what's going on besides some marketing speech)

- develop as fast as needed (not as fast as possible), only feature update every year and charge users for that.

- price as high as possible for the target market to get highest possible revenue out of this market

- charge as much as possible for additional modules, training,...

- charge for additional features and lock-out entry users from these features to make them buy more

- don't care about wide spread platform compatibility, you're running a good product, customers shall choose the platform you selected.


In opposite to that, future strategies seem to look more like this:


- be transparent in development, talk to your users/customers/community

- develop on a fast path with regular feature and bugfix updates

- charge monthly/yearly with different pricing plans to target as many markets as possible and get as much users in as possible

- don't charge for additional modules and offer free training, it's to your own advantage if users know your software very well - that is the best lock-in you can have.

- don't charge for features. Make one flat price instead.

- be compatible and platform independent to include as much users/devices as you can. Be on the major desktop OS and also include mobile devices.


During the last years a completely new company culture grew and is still growing even faster. High activities in the maker scene, cheap machines and crowdfunding culture allows you to start your business easier than ever before. As a software company you won't reach this businesses with products that need far more investment than any machines they're using. You also need to be on top of technology to be compatible to their 3d printers, cnc machines, etc. 


Also it's getting even more important for people to be free in their software choice. You better not lock them in technically as an eye on the export capabilities is getting more important over time. People want to be able to get their data out if they want to go.


The best way to lock people in is to create a good product and care about your users.


Looks like autodesk is heading exactly in this direction so i think you're doing basically good. Fusion360 definitely is a great product, but...


- you still need to improve in stability and performance

- Fusion360 is still very young and on a lower level featurewise and needs to come up with important features (see ideas section in the forums)

- also stability could improve

- learning/documentation/training can still improve (personally for me there's too much "fun" in what's there and too little serious training/documentation)

- and you could improve stability


Apart from all that critics Fusion360 is exactly _that_ product i was looking for as a mac user and a hobbyist on one hand and company on the other hand that fits into what i described above. I hope Fusion360 will continue to improve and not only fit my hobby needs but also my professional ones some time soon.


EDIT: sorry the weird formatting wasn't intended - i think that's a css/html issue in the template used here.


by *Expert Elite* on ‎03-03-2014 09:28 AM

+1 on stability. I am finding it challanging to explore anything new in fusion, or even push existing designs with the aggressive reset rate and data loss risks...

by Board Manager kat.ingalls on ‎03-03-2014 10:08 AM

Hey guys! Thanks for chiming in. (Helmi, you're right - formatting is wonky. Will see if mine posts similarly). For stability, we hear you loud and clear. Kevin can chime in with more detail, but the team is actively working on those fundamental improvements for the next update. Thanks for your patience with any issues you've come across in the past weeks. 

Helmi, appreciate you taking the time to "compare and contrast" :smileyhappy: We're definitely all about transparency and co-development, and I'm really glad that's coming across. For the help content, don't want to spin entirely off topic, but I know you've brought this up before and we want to make sure you're happy. Do you have specific topics you'd like to see covered? PM me

by Contributor meiQuer on ‎03-04-2014 09:51 AM

Hello everybody.

I think that Fusion has a lot of advantages compared to Catia or Solidworks but I also think that would be useful pointing some disadvantages that in my opinion could be important for its adoption in an engineering department:


- Collaboration:

I can't see clearly how could a group of designers work in the same assembly. 

In other softwares the workflow is clear: You create an assembly and everyone works on his part independently. The project manager can open the assembly and see how each part is being updated and can analyze the interactions between the parts and the environment.

As far as I know, the workflow in Fusion is that each designer would open the same design file and save their version with a comment of the changes made. What if 4 designers need to work at the same time? How can you create a design with each of the four updates combined?


- Caching of files (or the lack of it):

I find Fusion's modeling workflow very fast, but navigating through the dashboard gets very slow depending on the internet connection, specially when you try to insert an existing component into a design. It seems that Fusion needs to search through the entire database each and everytime.


I've been trying to introduce Fusion to some colleagues in bigger companies. The moment that I tell them that I can only open a design if I'm connected online they discard the idea of trying it. 


The first idea that comes to their minds is of a whole department of engineering sitting on their hands because of an internet problem or a Fusion's maintenance shutdown. (It doesn't happen frequently but I wouldn't like to be the one who decided using Fusion when it does).


I think that at least the last version of every design should be cached locally.


Hope it helps :smileyhappy:



by Board Manager schneik on ‎03-04-2014 01:08 PM



Thannk you for taking the time to be so specific in suggestions. Here is what we are doing about your stability concerns. The team has been digging in on crash reports and making progress on determining the root causes.  We do know that there is a higher percentage on Mac's and we are working to find out why. Keep sending reports in, they help a lot.


We hit a major milestone with getting the iterative design and history workflows in for the release this winter.  We have a lot of work to do to finish it and we have an update near completion that will fix some issues and close some workflow gaps.  We expect to keep on that path of closing gaps and fixing stability until such time that we hear that we are making a difference and that the tool is meeting your expectations.


We also hear you on the collaboration and sharing/dashboard.  This is the other area of emphasis.  We will share out design for improvements we are working on in about two weeks.


Please continue to share with us your suggestions. Together we can make this a great experience for all. 



by CarletonIndustrialDesigner(anon) on ‎03-10-2014 02:11 PM

The biggest thing preventing me and others I know from adopting Fusion 360 full time over Solidworks is the file management system. As Industrial Designers we are often moving between several different Programs (not just CAD) and like to have everyhting together and accesible to edit. Is it possible to have it so that we can use our local file system on our computer to store the documents we are working on with having to download and upload files to Fusion all the time? It would also be nice to take advantage of OSX's awesome file system! 

All that being said, I am in love with the software.

by *Expert Elite* on ‎03-27-2014 02:32 PM

I came across the Fusion 360 beta when I was on the verge of buying SolidWorks, and I've not looked back.  Running natively on the Mac is a huge advantage. But even more than that, I believe Autodesk recognizes that there is a profound change underway in the world of design and manufacturing, and that new types of tools and sales models  are required to participate in that change.  This is much bigger than the "maker" phenomenon- something I tried to say in this post: http://forums.autodesk.com/t5/Everything-Else-General/My-thoughts-on-I3D-finally-with-apologies/td-p...


We are an example of the kind of manufacturing and development that Fusion is particularly good for- very integrated small businesses that are developing quite sophisticated products from the ground up- things that 20 years ago would have taken a big company with large teams of engineers to bring to market.  Small businesses can now do big things, and they won't necessarily have dedicated full time CAD designers or hundreds to thousands of hours to learn very complex applications. They need tools that bridge the gap between industrial design and engineering and that are accessible, reasonably easy to learn, and powerful enough for the task without being overwhelming.  They won't be spending many thousands of dollars every year to get CAD and simulation tools. The Fusion subscription model is ideal for us- and I'm enthusiastic about the free version for non-commercial use, as it just grows the user base in a way that benefits me as a paid user. SolidWorks is still squarely aimed backwards at an old school business model, Autodesk is looking forward. 


Fusion needs to improve in many areas.  File management particularly- as we grow to have thousands of files the need for a better interface for the dashboard file structure, and some user control over how things get saved, becomes essential. I won't remember what I called something six months from now- I need a way to organize my parts.  But this application has come a very long ways in a very short time, and it does many things very well today.  Having had a fair bit of interaction with the development team, I'm personally confident that it will continue to move in the right direction. For one thing, they ask questions and listen to users. As primarily software developers ourselves, we know how important that is.    


Fusion is a pleasure- I look forward to using it, I'm getting others to use it. The community is great. As I've said before, I wish our vendors for electronics design and IDE software had even 10% of Autodesk's commitment to users. Fusion's developers may not have completely "done" it right yet, but they are well on the way to "doing" it right.

by Jon Banquer(anon) on ‎05-15-2014 03:43 PM

"What do you wish it did better?"



From the videos I've seen the Timeline looks very weak with not enough functionality. If you're going to add history based modeling the Timeline should be used to show complex parent/child relationships. It would also be nice if the Timeline could be used exclusively and had the functionality of the flat 2D file tree.


Jon Banquer

CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

by Board Manager schneik on ‎05-22-2014 08:10 AM



A few clarifications.  There is an offline mode that allows almost exactly what you suggest.  The latest version of any design you work on within a user defined windows is cached local. Anytime you are without internet access (or there is a maint window) you can still run. You just run in offline mode.  Fusion 360 will allow you to run offline for up to two weeks and then you do need to login again.  No team should be sitting on their hands.


If you look at the release that went out yesterday, you will see that we completely rewrote the insert tool.  It now makes insert usable and more performant. There is an effort underway to change the in tool data management and collaboration experience to be simpler, much faster and better suited for design work.


On your last point. Yes, a team would have to manually aggregate files into an assembly today.  I know for some that is an unfortunate compromise.  In the second half of this year we will introduce links between designs otherwise known as xrefs.  That said we do work with the current software where internally we divide up a design and work in parallel. Then one of us re-aggregates the design together into the toplevel assembly. 

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