As written on the face of the promotional T-Shirts we’ve got (together with a ‘TRUST ME, I’M A H4C1<3®’ sign on the back), Forge Rocks indeed! I was able to assert that (see what I did there) after spending a week in one of the Forge Accelerator events, this one held in Barcelona between 11-15 June. First of all, the weather in Barcelona was great at that period and the temperature was just right for a week of intense training. Just to give you an idea of what it was like, here are some photos from the weekend after the training, once that the pressure was off and I could enjoy the beauty of the city.

The Forge training took off on Monday and after a brief introduction from the organizers (hats off to everyone on the team that made the experience so rewarding), we dived straight in. Or should I say – I nose-dived while the rest of the 20 something attendees went on to polish their already great looking applications. See, the thing is that I had no past experience with Forge and even though I knew about its potential and spent a full week trying to deploy the most basic implementation of the Viewer following a tutorial by Augusto Conclaves a year prior to this event, I was pretty much a greenhorn. Thankfully, there is a growing body of step-by-step tutorials that guide you through those initial phases and I was able to accomplish in a couple of hours what took me a week of work before.

Coming to the Accelerator, my plan was to complete a proof-of-concept revolving around a workflow that I’ve discussed with a client. I was able to identify the resources that I used as a starting point fairly quickly (shout-out to Jamie @AfroJme and Philippe @F3lipek), so I finished day 1 writing code till the wee hours with a sense of hopeful enthusiasm. By the end of day 2, this hopefulness was replaced by cold desperation. For those of you thinking of picking up Autodesk Forge – you guys and you girls, you’ll simply need JavaScript. No matter how you spin it, there’s no way you’ll get around the fact that Forge needs js. Now, I love learning computer languages as the next guy and I have a good grasp of C#, Python, HTML, CSS, Processing, but picking JavaScript in 3 days, that was simply too much for my poor brain. It’s a functional language, it’s a front-end language, everything is asynchronous, there are Promises to keep, events to track, functions to nest, it’s just too much. Now I understood why pretty much everyone else in the room was a web-developer in some capacity.

No matter, with a lot of testing, trying, huffing and puffing and a little help from my new friends Roman, from Ukraine (to my right) and Sven, from Germany (to my left) and the ever-vigilant Philippe, I was able to put the final touches of my now working prototype. Day 5 is the presentation day and is the time when everyone is given the opportunity to demonstrate their Forge application. For me, that was probably the most important day of the whole week. The Forge apps I saw that day were nothing short of impressive, and I mean each of them. With a bit of an overlap between some of the teams, probably the two major themes were IoT and CDM.

For me, though, one team shone above the rest – the young guys from Moicon really stood out with their sleek, modern, fully functional application. Although fringe to the AEC industry (their first customer was a Cake factory in Norway) their product was innovative and super smart. One could really see how their customers were gaining value from every aspect of the design. In short, they’ve created a 3D representation of the factory floor that shows all important aspects of the everyday work through objects with associated (real-time) metadata. The objects beep, blink and change color in order to attract attention when needed, you get the gist. We had a chat with Torbjorn Grimstad, Moicon’s manager and visual strategist (as per his business card) and I was impressed by his clarity, foresight, business acumen and practical use of concept like gamification. Cool stuff. Moicon have a stand at Autodesk University in London which is held right now – if you have the chance, go say hi and see their product, you won’t regret it!

I really enjoyed the Forge Accelerator and I think Autodesk Forge has a huge potential that is already being realized by many companies out there. I am eager to present our working prototype very soon and hopefully introduce it to the larger public. Most of all, I enjoyed meeting some amazing people, making some great memories and coining future collaborations. Here are a couple of snippets from those moments.