Exchange Apps - Information for Autodesk Inventor Developers
This guide is for developers and content providers new to publishing plug-ins and other content on Autodesk® Exchange Apps – either free, trial or for fee versions. It outlines best practice guidelines and a few requirements for publishers to follow when creating products for the Autodesk Exchange Apps. These guidelines are designed to ensure that users on Autodesk Exchange have a consistent experience when downloading multiple products from the store.
You will be presented with a detailed list of requirements for publishing on Exchange when you first register to be a publisher. The information that follows is a summary. If there are any differences, then the online Publisher Agreement takes precedence.
All Content Types
Most of the information we need from you is collected via the web form you complete when submitting your content. This includes gathering information to auto-generate a HTML 'quick start' page that is included with the download of your product and viewable online. Other requirements are:
- Your product must be relevant to (and usable with) Autodesk® Inventor® 2014 , and must run on any Windows operating system supported by Inventor 2014(including 32- and 64-bit versions). You can also indicate the compatibility with Inventor 2013.
- The information you provide on the 'documentation' form when you submit your app is used to create a standard format HTML page. This information must allow the user to quickly understand how to use your product. You can reference additional information (for example, additional helpfiles posted on your website) from the standard HTML documentation. This HTML page will be populated using information you provide when submitting your product to Exchange Apps.
- We strongly recommend you make use of the standard Exchange store app installer we create for you. The default user privilege for the store apps is Windows 7/Windows 8 Admin User. The installer we create for your app will require elevated user privileges to install. if you don’t use our standard installer template to install or If you do not wish to have elevated user privileges for your app installer, then this must be very clearly documented in the description of your product displayed on the store. Your product must be 'ready to go' as soon as it is installed. It must not require the user to manually copy or register files, or manually edit settings (such as support paths).
- If you use a licensing system then it must allow your product to run as soon as it is installed by the user. This means either instant activation (e.g. online activation), or your product must run fully functional for a time-bombed 'grace period' that is long enough for you to send activation information to the customer.
- The new registry free Add-in mechanism greatly simplifies the automatic installation steps.
Your product should be stable, and not behave or alter the behavior of Inventor in a way that we deem unsuitable (for example, blocking standard functionality, blocking the functionality of another Add-in, causing data loss etc.).
Additional requirements for Add-ins are:
- Use the registry-free Add-in mechanism - We have a new registry-free Add-In mechanism in Inventor software (from 2012 onwards), and we use a standard 'bundle' installer template to deploy content downloaded from the store. There have been some enhancements added to the registry-free Add-In mechanism in Inventor 2013 to make creating and installing applications easier.
- We can help you migrate your app to use this mechanism.
Your Add-in should add relevant UI elements to the Inventor RibbonBar where applicable.
Translator Add-ins should use the standard translator add-in mechanism for Inventor.
RegistryFree Inventor Add-ins - Illustrates how to set up registry free AddIns for Inventor, and also how to format the install folder ready for publication in the Store.
Part and Assembly Libraries
Additional requirements for component libraries are:
- Your Library must add relevant UI elements for your Add-in to the Inventor RibbonBar. The RibbonBar UI must either provide access to the library components, or launch a helpfile explaining how to access it.
- Your libraries (in ipt/iam file format) must be installed in a subfolder of the following folder.
Windows 7/8: %PUBLIC%\Documents\Autodesk\Inventor (typically C:\Users\Public\Documents\Autodesk\Inventor)
Windows XP: %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Documents\Autodesk\Inventor (typically C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\Autodesk\Inventor)
Again, we'll create the MSI installer for you and we can help you modify your libraries so they work in this new location. You just need to provide the content.
Standalone applications and other content
There are no additional requirements for products that are not integrated with Inventor. If you wonder what kinds of products this might include – consider eBooks, video tutorials, industry specific calculators, connectors to Cloud based services and the like.
Use the Registry Free mechanism
We strongly encourage you to make use of the Registry Free mechanism to deploy your Add-in. Information on the required format for the associated ‘addin’ file is included in the Inventor helpfiles – see Help->Community Resources->Programming Help in the Inventor menubar and search for “add-in-registration”.
You can also download some of the free Add-ins already available on Autodesk Exchange and study their format - the Autodesk Plug-in of the Month samples posted to Exchange Apps, for example:
- Inventor LinkParameters
- PointLinker for Inventor
- ThreadModeler for Inventor
- FeatureMigrator for Inventor
- Screenshot for Inventor
Use the RibbonBar
Adding RibbonBar elements for your application is recommended when relevant, but how you do this will depend on your Add-in design:
- As a minimum, your Add-in or content library can add a panel to the ‘Add-Ins’ tab that either invokes the main command defined by the Add-in or displays a helpfile explaining how to use the library.
- Add-ins that install a single panel should normally add that panel to the ‘Add-Ins’ tab.
- Add-ins that create several RibbonBar panels may prefer to create a new Tab specific to that Add-In (and normally with the Tab name being the name of the Add-in).
- You can add any other UI elements via your Add-In (e.g. menubars and toolbars) as well, but you should still include a basic RibbonBar UI where applicable.
Use delay loading
Unless your Add-In absolutely has to load as soon as Inventor launches, you should design it to load only when it’s needed. This is to minimize the impact of installed Add-ins on Inventor start up performance. The .addin mechanism makes it very easy to setup demand load settings for your Add-in.
The ADN team is here to help you be a successful publisher on Autodesk Exchange store. We’ll do whatever we can do to help you. You are welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions after reviewing these guidelines and the other documentation on www.autodesk.com/developapps.
Thank you for participating on Autodesk Exchange Apps.