Notice: We have a new blog

Today we launched a new blog for Project Butterfly here.

We’re relaunching our blog with a new and exciting design. This blog here will no longer be updated, so make sure to update your bookmarks.

As part of the new blog we’re launching a section with tutorials and walkthroughs. In it you’ll find help and information for different features and parts of Project Butterfly.

Please don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed of the new blog.

Visit our new blog

View the tutorials

(Don’t worry, all the content from this blog can be found in the new blog.)


New Butterfly Version is Simpler and Stronger

Last week we updated Project Butterfly. That makes this release the 6th since our first launch. Each time we do our best to bring you new features and tools, but we also try to keep the application easy to use.

In this version we did three things: We simplified the sharing process, added new tools and capabilities that didn’t exist before and also boosted Butterfly’s speed and performance.

Butterfly now has a new and simpler way for sharing and co-editing (and with unlimited participants)

The philosophy behind Project Butterfly is keeping the interface simple so that both professionals and first-time CAD consumers can use it. That’s why we felt it would be best if we unified the sharing process. It is now more intuitive and easy to use, combining the best of the current sharing and co-editing into one streamlined process.

Using the Share button, you can give collaborators access to view or edit the drawing. If you and any of your collaborators are viewing the drawing at the same time, a real-time collaboration session will begin, enabling all sides to view and see each other’s changes in real-time. During real-time collaboration all participants see the exact same view of the drawing – including pan, zoom, layers, layouts and each other’s mouse pointers. You can now view a drawing together with as many participants as you wish, making sure everyone is on the same page.

At any time during the real-time collaboration you can detach yourself from the synced view using the “Hide others” button. The drawing can still be edited by the participants, but each one can focus on a different part of it.

You can set permissions for each collaborator (such as editing and download) and you can now even select to share just a part of the drawing using the Share invitation’s new “Crop” button.

We added advanced text editing tools

We have improved the text editor in Butterfly to be a lot more compliant with the AutoCAD text editor. You can now add and edit multiline text while controlling text alignment, color, font type and size.

We added Extend and Stretch tools

The two new tools have been added to the ribbon, and they can be found in the Edit tab in the ribbon. They both behave and operate like in AutoCAD.

We have made improvements to Butterfly’s performance

Working on drawings in Butterfly has just become faster and more fluent. The Zoom has received a boost in speed, as well as edit commands such as Scale and Rotate .

You can login to Butterfly now, the new features are already there.

As always, we would love to hear from you. What do you think of the new features? You can send us feedback via the app and you can comment here as well.

Butterfly for 3D Artists and Designers

Project Butterfly addresses a wide range of professionals that make use of CAD in their work.

Today we’ll show you how Butterfly can help 3D artists, designers and renderers accelerate their design process and finish projects ahead of time. If you know any architectural renderers, now would be the time to share this post with them.

Project Butterfly was built to help AutoCAD users collaborate better, and while it does not support 3ds Max and Maya models, its online DWG and image file support provide a very efficient tool for 3D design process. 3D artists work mainly with programs such as Autodesk 3ds Max or Maya. The rendering project’s success lies in how the 3D artist understands his client. It’s how he envisions the client’s 2D drawing in a 3D environment. This is where Butterfly comes in.

Project Butterfly can be used by 3D artists in the initial phase of going over the drawing with the architect, mechanical engineer or consultant – where they can point at areas and issues in the drawing that are not clear to them. With Butterfly it’s easy to remotely examine the drawing, inquire about what materials and textures to use on certain parts of the design.

Once that stage is complete, the 3D artist then starts working on his model. If he doesn’t have a copy of AutoCAD, he can still use Butterfly to navigate through the drawing, take measurements, and if necessary – invite the client to real-time collaboration and discuss newly encountered issues.

Using the same method, the 3D artist can show his client a draft of his render. Because Butterfly supports all the most common raster image formats, the 3D artist can import his draft (or final visualization) to Butterfly and walk through it with the client in real time, without having to travel to the client.

Tip: You can import DWGs as well as raster images to Butterfly. You can open them in the editor, draw geometry on them, share and collaborate on them as well.

Watch this video we made about how 3D artists can put Butterfly to practice in their work:

Building for professionals and consumers

In this post we want to share with you some of the thoughts we had when we faced tough interface design dilemmas during the making of Project Butterfly.

As we probably mentioned before, Butterfly is targeted at both CAD professionals and their business partners. The latter might not be so proficient in CAD software and they don’t have previous training in AutoCAD.

When we designed the interface for Butterfly, we wanted to maintain a balance between providing an editing experience similar to that of AutoCAD’s, while also making it easy to get started – so that consumers could dive right in to a drawing and provide their input.

We had the opportunity to start a CAD application from scratch, so we wanted to create a new standard for sophisticated Web-based applications.

The most noticeable thing in Project Butterfly from a professional’s point of view is the absence of the command line. The reason we omitted the command line is that it’s less intuitive to people who are not familiar with AutoCAD. We made keyboard commands available, so that advanced users could still work with both the keyboard and the mouse.

Omitting the command line also meant that several tools (such as Mirror) operate with default parameters – so the users don’t have to always specify them. The trade-off is that there is less control over the tools’ behavior.

In general, we designed Butterfly in a way that allows more tasks to be accomplished by using just the mouse – which we believe will become the dominating device for working on the Web.

We were one of the first Web applications to make use of the ribbon – where all the tools and modes are found. We decided to go with the ribbon and not a regular toolbar because it’s easy to use in tool-intensive applications.

There are several windows in Butterfly that correspond to certain palettes in AutoCAD – the Xrefs manager, fonts manager, layer manager and the plot style manager. We didn’t want to skip on those altogether because of the level of knowledge it requires in AutoCAD, so instead we created a simpler version of them, which gives basic control to the user.

For the CAD professional that might be a little limiting, but to the average user this is advanced control on the way they view and edit the drawing. It is our belief that if we had implemented full functionality in those windows, the average user would have difficulty accessing and learning how to use them.

What are your thoughts about the dilemma between being fully-featured and having a simple, approachable user interface? You can drop a comment or vote in our poll:

The Philosophy Behind Project Butterfly

In a recent post we mentioned that Butterfly is meant for accelerating designers’ work and reducing the time wasted on tech-supporting different computer software. In this post we’d like to bring you some more insight on that subject.

The CAD world has become pretty well-standardized. Microsoft Outlook, Zip files, PDF files, FTP servers and more – have all become common tools in the industry. All of them are used for carrying information from one person or firm to another. Those tools appeal to a wide audience because they are generic. They are used in all professions – lawyers, accountants, managers, secretaries, and endless more. None of those tools is aimed at accomplishing CAD and design related tasks.

While those common tools accomplish their missions, they do pose some problems such as file formats and versions, file size limits, security tools, redrawing modifications, and more. Project Butterfly was designed to be a software as a service (SaaS) because the solution to those problems lies in the Web and the advantages it brings.

Those problems waste valuable time. It’s not uncommon for a professional to spend time trying to send a file over e-mail, not to mention exporting a drawing in the correct plot style to a PDF.

Those little tasks add up to hours every month. Things can get harder when you’re working with a client or colleague for the first time. You have to adjust to whatever tools they’re using. This valuable time could have been used to do other things, such as design another alternative, being creative, exploring ideas, keeping in touch with clients and generally producing better results.

Butterfly was built on that principal exactly. We’re sure that whatever field you’re in, you can find at least one task that Butterfly can help you do faster.

A New Version of Butterfly Hits the Web

Hi everyone,

Today we deployed a new version of Butterfly, and it’s got a handful of new features you can all use now. Just log on to Butterfly.

Here is what’s new:

  • Support for complex linetypes has been added – now you can draw or modify objects with complex linetypes.

  • A lot of users have requested that read-only permissions will also allow markups. That means that if you share a drawing with someone without edit permissions they could still provide their feedback with basic redlining and shapes. The markup tools are available in the ribbon only to read-only recipients.

  • Added support for leader styles. Now leaders are easier to create and are more accurate.

  • Edit your account – you can now change your name that’s displayed to other users and your password, too. Simply click on the “Edit account” link on the top of Project Butterfly.
  • Several issues were improved regarding Multiline Text. You can now also edit existing MText.
  • The Drawings section has been improved – you can now easily drag & drop files between folders.

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Project Butterfly as a Smart FTP

FTP and other file-sending applications and services have become a standard in the industry. They are essential today if you want to share large files or an entire project dataset. By using Project Butterfly as your online storage service, you can open your drawings from within your Web browser, without any external software.

When we were designing Project Butterfly in the beginning, we wanted to help our users accelerate their design process. One of the biggest pain points that slow down designers’ work is struggling with different software each day, and spending time tech supporting for their colleagues or clients. We wanted to change that. We believe that designers should invest their time being creative and exploring ideas, rather than waste time trying to get a file through Outlook or worry about software version incompatibilities.

Since its launch, Project Butterfly is speeding up and simplifying workflows by allowing professionals to collaborate in different ways. Things could be better, though. Nowadays professionals still need to maintain and run unnecessary applications such as an FTP server and client.

We believe that Butterfly could be your new FTP program with a built-in DWG editor. Here are some more reasons:

  • Your colleagues can view or edit your DWG drawings from within Butterfly, without downloading and keeping a copy of the drawing, and without them having to install any software.
  • You can work directly on the online version of the drawing, without having to upload it every time you create a new version.
  • You can share individual files or entire folders, making it easy to share a project folder in the office or with stakeholders.
  • You can allow the people you’re sharing with to download the files or just view them within Butterfly.
  • Your recipients don’t need to set up any account or receive credentials. They get an e-mail invitation.
  • Managing permissions is Butterfly is easy and fast.
  • You can revoke any permissions you granted at any time, protecting your data on demand.
  • You can upload any type of file to Butterfly, and there is no storage limit.

It’s very easy to get started. Just open a new folder, import your data to it, and then click the “Share” button in the Drawings section. Watch this video we made to see how to get started with sharing:

The Crop Tool

Have you tried enriching your reviews by using the crop tool?

The crop tool allows you to send your reviewers only a part of your drawing.

Nowadays, there is no way to send a certain part of your drawing while keeping it editable and interactive. At best, you can export it to PDF or JPG.

You might also want to have your reviewer focus on a certain part or issue of your design. Another reason to use the crop tool is to hide areas of your design that are confidential, or parts that you’e just not ready to share yet.

How to crop?

  1. Open a drawing you’d like to review.
  2. Start a review by clicking on the “Share and Collaborate” button, and then selecting “Review”.
  3. On the ribbon you will have a “Crop” button. Click on it.
  4. Adjust your crop via the grabbing points and hit “Apply Crop”.

If you want to change or remove an applied crop, click again on the “Crop” button in the ribbon.

Your reviewer will only see what’s inside the crop area. The crop is identified by the gray dashed border around it, as illustrated above.

Your reviewer can’t select or modify any object that is outside the cropping area. Objects that are in the cropped area but stretch outside of it – can be modified.

We hope you’ll find this feature useful in your reviews.

Feature Request

Hi everyone,

We hope you had the chance to try the new version of Project Butterfly. We want to further improve the way Butterfly displays different objects and styles, and we also want to add more drawing tools to the mix.

To really answer the users’ needs we need your input on the matter. Vote in our poll and tell what you think:

New version – More Accurate and with Higher Fidelity

Over the last weeks we’ve worked hard on improving Butterfly’s drawing and displaying abilities. We focused on enhancing display accuracy  and on the overall usability of the application, all based on user feedback.

  • Butterfly can now accurately render Multiline text. In addition, text symbols (%%) are now supported.
  • You can now use the layers drop-down list to change the layer of an object.

  • We now support accurate drawing and rendering of AutoCAD line weights, and you can toggle it on and off.

  • We’ve added display resolution matching between different users during Co-editing. Now both sides can utilize more screen area while fully maintaining the shared view of the drawing.

  • We’ve added a password retrieval system. Now if you forgot your password, you can have it emailed to you.
  • The crop tool has been improved, and reviews with cropped drawing  are now easier to follow. We’ll have a detailed blog post on it shortly.

All these new features and enhancements have been added because of your suggestions and requests.  Let us know which other improvements and additions you would like to see us making.