CADDManager on November 15th, 2008

Introducing Autodesk Inventor 2009 – by Thom Tremblay – Sybex – Wiley Publishing

First off – I am not an Inventor user. So my understanding of this tool is at the lowest level. I have been admiring this tool from the outside, but never have had the time to enter the lobby, let alone get on the elevator to the top floors. So my review will be as a new user – one that has never opened the tool.

Second – This is an introductory book. Novices pay attention. New users – this is for you. If you are investigating the use of this tool, then this book will give you a good view of the landscape.

Third – Never underestimate an introductory book. Every bookshelf should be filled with the first step books that we all have read. And even thought this book is an introduction to Inventor, it is stuffed with good advice. Even if you are advanced user, you may find a nugget here that you flew past on your climb up the learning curve into the upper atmosphere.

Ease of read

I like the layout of this book. Defining what to include and what to leave out must have been a challenge, but I think that the author has selected the right areas to cover. He starts from scratch, even giving you an idea of what you need to know before you venture down the road and into a tool like this. There are some advanced topics also – at least they appear advanced to me – a novice. There are ample images and screen captures. Something that a new user would value. When he covers the user interface, he includes close ups of each button and how those buttons will prompt you for the next input.  The book also will work for Inventor LT users also.

In your face – Interface, that is

The Author starts from nothing and builds up from there. As usual, books like this start with the interface. He includes a good explanation of the View Cube and Steering Wheel (tools that appear in other Autodesk software) and also the Rewind tool (Hey Autodesk – can we get this in other products?)

As I mentioned – he does not stop at just the basics. He explains advanced topics like customizing the interface. My perspective is leaving it “as is” – as much as possible. That way you can confidently say that there was nothing that you did to “mess things up” . Wait until you have a few parts completed before you start fiddling with the interface.

From 2D to 3D

Making the move from a 2D thought pattern to 3D may be daunting for some. Most of us in a design function think in 3D, but may be drawing in 2D. This book makes the transition a little easier. It starts with a 2D Drawing Views and moves to 3D. It starts with a simple Base View and moves you through Projected Views, Auxiliary Views, Rotated Views and Section Views. I had flashbacks to High School mechanical drafting class. If you were a board drafter – you will recognize a lot here. If you started in 2D CAD – this will nudge you toward 3D. By the end of the second chapter, you will have completed a rudimentary 2D sheet with annotation, dimensions, multiple views and a title block – all by using a pre existing part and the basic tools. So you get a good anchor point to start your adventure into 3D parts modeling.

Embracing 3D

The next few chapters go into basic 3D part creation, Assemblies, Styles and Standards. Step by step procedures escort you through the process of creating a Part, using it in an Assembly and then unifying your processes with Styles and Standards.

One thing I enjoyed in this book is the method of introductions to new topics. The author takes the time to fully explain any terms that may be new to the reader. Most people would be tempted to blow right past this thinking that they don’t need to read introductions, but for those that slow down, take them in and ponder the impact – they will find a well grounded perspective that is rooted in years of lessons learned, refining processes and thinking deeply about the foundations of digital prototyping. Make sure you read the beginning of each chapter before you dive into the process. It will pay off in the long run.

Advanced Topics?

Yes – there are some in this book. Moving you past the basics into some of the advanced areas will allow those that pick it up quickly to move a little farther. I suggest that if you struggled with the beginning of this book, don’t move into these chapters too quickly. Maybe you should redo the processes outlined in the first portion of the book a few times to let it sink in first.

Some of the topics covered include:

Advanced View Creation, Special Detailing Tools, Assembly Detailing, 3D Grips, Advanced Parts Modeling, Additional Sketching, Surfaces, iParts, Engraving, Accelerators, Tabulated and Animating Assemblies and adding Exploded Views (totally cool).

As an added feature there are even chapters on working with Sheet Metal Parts and Inventor Studio. Inventor Studio is used for Rendering and Animations. The Appendix includes a valuable Keyboard Shortcuts Guide (I love shortcuts), Import and Export formats and additional online resources (including my favorite – AUGI).

There is no CD or DVD included.


The author has taken the “fear factor” out of Inventor. Inventor is an extremely powerful prototyping tool that can appear daunting. The uninitiated can be overwhelmed by the interface, options and flexibility of this product. But Thom Tremblay and Sybex publishing have taken this top shelf tool and brought it to the masses. This book not only allows the novice to get their feet wet, but it motivates them by allowing them to easily gain confidence and move from the shallow end of the pool into deeper water.

C M J Rating – 4.5 out of 5 TRON Light Cycles

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