Behind Fusion 360’s new interface and a peek into the future

Avatar secorw September 12, 2014

3 min read


A large part of the recent release involved rethinking how you access and interact with your work in Fusion 360.  When talking to the community about their dashboard experience with Fusion 360, four issues came up again and again: (1) it’s painful to read all of this, (2) where’s my data, (3) where am I and where is that thing I just created, and (4) what is the connection here.


No joke.  We even wrote it down in a PowerPoint slide early this year:




And we reframed these painpoints into open ended questions.  What you see in Fusion 360 today is the result of months of testing potential answers with the community, scrapping/refining our designs, and doing it again and again until we got it right.


1. Reduce barriers


Fusion starts with an untitled document instead of a dashboard.  No more hunting and pecking to find the create or upload buttons, and you aren’t required to save right at the start of a new design.  With the introduction of the Data Panel you now have a home base for getting to your existing work.  Open it up without losing sight of whatever you are currently working on.  Frequently used commands (like insert) are a right-click away.


2. Enable a visual experience


The Data Panel is focused on your work.  We stripped away everything but the most essential elements, so your designs take center stage, while retaining quick links to richer metadata and collaborative activity in A360.  The tabs were simplified and now a cleaned up toolbar runs across the top of your screen, with a file menu and access to the always important save/undo/redo.



3. Clarify Relationships


Your data is organized with projects.  Switching between projects is easy with the menu at the top of the data panel.  Documents let you know what they are related to — for example looking at a design’s info shows all the related drawings and toolpaths.  And if you’re still having trouble locating something, search is one click away.




4. Deep, meaningful integration with the tool


This one is a bit more abstract, but stick with me.  Prior to this update there was a hard seperation between your data (the dashboard) and the tool you used to create your data (in canvas).  Now Fusion is organized in more of a continium, with the widest lenses on your data being toward the left  and narrower lenses being on the right.  Think of where the data panel, your model, and specific command inputs are located.  Data hierarchy follows a similar pattern, with the highest details up top, and the lowest being toward the bottom.  The location of your profile data, the project switcher, individual designs, and the timeline are good examples of this.  Ultimately this new structure, combined with intelligent workflow tweaks, we believe enables a much better experience.


just_want_to_work 3.png

What’s Next


There are more usability improvements to the Data Panel in store, like selected states and a better project list.  Look for these in the next release.  We are planning on a full screen view of your data with support for additional collaboration and data management workflows such as making use of all the version history available in Fusion 360, comparison or difference tools, lineage tracking, and the ability to reuse (copy, save as) data from older versions.


Longer term, we are exploring methods for enabling even awesomer collaborative workflows.  Think branching for design alternatives, merging, and in general tools that help you  remember all the work and design decisions in your team’s projects.


The most important thing is we are working with you, our users, to get there.  Hope you enjoy the current release!


Will Secor

User Experience Designer



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