Instructables Joins Autodesk

The Instructables community is incredible: you build, bake, and create amazing things, then share your projects and ideas with the world. I think it’s great when someone builds a project using instructions from our site, but it’s even more amazing when we inspire someone to start (or finish) that project they’ve always dreamed of. This has been my vision for Instructables: to have a positive impact on the world by giving passionate people great publishing tools to document their projects, and connect them to a community full of like-minded people.

Today I’m able to share my plan for accelerating that vision, and making Instructables an even better place to be. I’m proud to announce that Instructables is becoming part of Autodesk. Everyone here at Instructables HQ is absolutely thrilled, because this is going to be awesome for the entire Instructables community.

Instructables will still be the same site you love: we’ll keep the Instructables name and URL, the whole team is staying on, our policies haven’t changed, you still hold copyright to your projects, we’ll still run awesome contests, and the Robot isn’t going anywhere. However, we’ll now have the resources to make some improvements to the site I know our authors and community will love. Autodesk gives us the scale and support to grow and improve Instructables, build some great apps, and continue our mission of creating a positive impact on the world. Everyone on the Instructables team will become Autodesk employees, but we'll still wear our Robot t-shirts with pride.

Autodesk is a great cultural fit for Instructables. They make tools for creative people: they’re the world leader in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software. Even if you don’t recognize the name Autodesk, their software has powered the movies you watch, and designed the cars you drive and the buildings you work in. Instructables will be the community arm of the same team that makes 123D, SketchBook, Homestyler, and Pixlr, which will help provide creative tools, inspiration, and services for all types of creative people. Here’s Carl Bass, Autodesk’s CEO, talking more about his vision for the future of DIY.

We’ve had a great time building Instructables, and look forward to taking it to the next level. Thanks to the Instructables team for all their hard work, our investors including O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures and Baseline Ventures for believing in us, and to all the authors and community members who have made Instructables a great place to learn and share ideas.

I’m confident Autodesk will be a great home for Instructables, and will help us make Instructables an even better place to share your projects and ideas. I’m excited to join the Autodesk team, and get right to work. I’d also like to hear what you think: click here for info on an upcoming live Q&A event, and click here to suggest how we should co-opt the resources of a multi-national corporation to make Instructables even more awesome.

This announcement is duplicated on our blog here.

Picture of Instructables Joins Autodesk
sort by: active | newest | oldest
daveand54 years ago
as a long time "auto cad hater', im sorry to see you go down this road.
with the soft ware they produce, non friendly to each other, import/export unfriendly, module dependent, exorbitant licensing fees, and too many companies used to be excellent, until they bought them, then they become middle of road, or low end junk without support, did i forget "pay as u go support"
I am truly sorry for this site, so much good has come from it, and auto cad must definitely see where they can make more money than u do, make more fees or charges, and commercialize the site to auto cad garbage, otherwise they'd have left u alone

Sean B -

ipad alternatives
For the record, Autodesk makes AutoCAD. We aren't joining a software package.

That's not just nitpicking, but a pretty important difference. There's really no way that Autodesk software would make any sense as a requirement for any Instructable or Instructables user. Revit for recipes? That would be a wasteland.

To get a better grasp of what this all means, I'd recommend checking out what Phil Torrone wrote about it here:
Thanks for that :-)
You are certainly entitled to be a 'auto cad hater', but based on your complaints you don't seem to ever have actually used the product. I have used it since version 1.4---and yes there were a few stumbles along the way---the use of a 'dongle' comes to mind rather quickly. Equally quickly was their response to users when they removed the obnoxious POS. Give the size of the industry that supports manipulation of autocad file formats both the well documented 'public' one as well as the proprietary one, don't quite understand your import/export unfriendly remark. Not at all clear what you mean by 'non friendly to each other' remark so I can't comment on that. I've never found the update fees to be all that exorbitant (use the product, make money and once a year or so get a new version typically with greatly improved/expanded features all for a tiny fraction of full retail value), but your wallet and mine may be of different size. Haven't needed support for years, but even in the old days, the best support was other users---common with almost all complicated software. Perhaps you are one of those who is better off with an inking pen, triangles, t-squares and such like. Ever had the urge to find a stocking loom and burn it. Secretly believe that Ned Ludd lives on in spirit if not actuality?
Ad Hominem is not debate.
dog digger4 years ago
International entries for contests are becoming scarce!!!!! I live in australia!!!
There is currently one contest you can legitimately enter - you just might ending up giving the prize away...
alinke4 years ago
This is great! Congratulations guys, you've worked very hard and have developed a world class product and community with Instructables, glad to see you getting rewarded, well deserved!

pleabargain4 years ago
I am hoping that they expand upon Autodesk's online tools like

Also, Autodesk has a forum section as well...

Is the law that members in other countries cannot win prizes, or that the prizes cannot be shipped to other countries from Autodesk/Instructables?

Meaning, could an international participant use a US shipping address if they won? I would volunteer to let someone ship to my address and then send it on to them.

Or would that make me a prize mule?
Honus4 years ago
Wow- that is exciting news! I think it'll be great- it lets Autodesk tap into the maker market and get direct and immediate feedback from the best DIY community there is while relieving you guys from the financial pressure of keeping the site running so you can focus on what makes the site so great.

I absolutely love Sketchbook so I'll be very interested to see what other new software they develop, especially in the low/mid range market.
canida Honus4 years ago
Thanks, Honus - that's exactly what we have in mind. Did you get a chance to read Phil's piece on the subject? He pretty much nails it.

Re: software, I've learned about a ton of neat free and inexpensive stuff in the pipeline, and there's likely more I haven't heard about yet. ;)
Honus canida4 years ago
I certainly did read Phil's article- it was great and it makes perfect sense in my mind as well. I really do think that Autodesk has a great opportunity to gain some serious traction in the DIY/maker market, especially for easy to use CAD/3D modeling tools. It's also great for makers as it allows us to communicate with one of the biggest names in creation software about what we would like to see them develop- which is a rare opportunity.

I would love to see Autodesk develop something like Pepakura Designer that runs native on the Mac- that would be epic. :)
canida Honus4 years ago
*adds to list*

Cool. Feel free to keep the suggestions coming. ;)
rimar20004 years ago

Each day there is a new reason for me to learn English.

Thanks Eric and all staff! You are very good friends for me!
Thank you for having such confidence in us! We will work hard to deserve it, and keep improving the site.
Sheesh.You take a couple of months off to build a big splashy musical, and they go and sell the site on you....

Seriously though, congrats to Robot and his minions, and here's hoping that Autodesk allows you all to continue doing what made the site worth buying in the first place.
Awesome! We're dead set on keeping Instructables awesome, and should be able to bring in some excellent improvements - keep your eyes peeled. ;)

(how did the musical go?)
Mottr4 years ago
Now that there is more money backing Instructables,is there a chance of seeing a new and improved iPhone/iPad app or maybe an Android version?
canida Mottr4 years ago
Great ideas - we're working on it!
Chirpoff4 years ago
Congrats on this change, you guys! I hope this comes together great for everyone! Best wishes to everyone involved!
canida Chirpoff4 years ago
Thank you! We'll make sure good things happen.
HanzieO4 years ago
I gues we will wait and see. Might be great or we will congregate somewhere else. In any case we will be DIY'ing.
canida HanzieO4 years ago
Thanks for the "wait and see" approach - we'll make sure it turns out to be great. ;)
AndyGadget4 years ago
The two most recent competitions are open only to entries from US and Canada.  Is this now the norm, or is it just coincidence?

(Awaits answer)
splazem Kiteman4 years ago
So, they posted an answer somewhere, but I can't find it, so I'll just tell you. Apparently, they made most of the contests international, and didn't tell the countries about it. This might have broken some laws, because even though it's o.k. to have contests like these in the U.S. and Canada, it might not be legal to do it in countries in different parts of the world. Their solution is to work with the countries that have had the most amount of winners (I believe they have a list), and work their way down to the countries with the least amount of winners until hopefully they have all the contests open to everyone.
Kiteman splazem4 years ago
I think that's a ridiculous answer (from them) - Instructables contests cannot be illegal in other countries because they are not in other countries!

HQ is in the US, and has no subsidiary companies or offices in other countries, so is wholly and only subject to US (California) laws.

That's not entirely true. The participants in other countries can be subject to legal sanctions for participating in an "illegal lottery," for example. There was a very nice discussion of this from Randy last year; if I can find it.
I think that's a result of the internet blurring international boundaries.

Instructables contests are not, though, a lottery, being subjectively judged by humans against pre-published criteria, not randomly selected by a computer or bucket full of balls.

The only restrictions, geographically-speaking, should be those set by individual sponsors.
That's the common-sense approach, but unfortunately the law is not always on the side of common sense.
The simple answer is to maintain a list of those countries which don't permit their inhabitants to win contests of skill- which is what Instructables contests always are.

I don't think it's that cut-and-dried. International law really IS funky-weird when it comes to contests (heck, there are enough disclaimers to have to post to have a contest valid in all 50 states!).
What LR said.

We're working with the lawyers to make sure we're in compliance with all the local laws, and will be adding countries as fast as we can. There are some remarkably idiosyncratic regulations, so it's a bit of a process. This is something I'm specifically working on. In case anyone's interested, we're going to be trying to add countries in order of who has won the most prizes in previous contests - seems most fair/efficient.

Back to reviewing legalese! Hope I have good things to report soon. But as Eric keeps repeating, following the law is a Good Thing.
splazem canida4 years ago
 following the law is a Good Thing.
For the most part :)
Thing is, the USG has got so keen on getting other countries to extradite their own nationals for offences not committed in the US, plenty of said other countries are keen to ge even....

Ya'll gotta remember, 9/11 had an impact on any type of international and domestic monetary transactions, although viewed negligible in most cases. We had to make sure no money is being funded to terrorists or new channels of shipping "prizes or technology" went unchecked. Heavy-handed yes, but it's the spirit of the law.
"Should be," yes, but in practice most jurisdictions take a rather firmer view of their control over their population.
splazem has it pretty much right. We always strive to open contests up to as many participants as possible. With the change, we had to limit new contests to U.S. and Canada (-Quebec), but are talking to lawyers about how we can get more countries on there.
I must be very dim - how is it OK for a company based in a single building in a single country to have international competitions, but not for a large company with international offices?

As AndyGadget said:

So are you saying they're planning several more pages of entry T&Cs detailing the conditions of entry for each eligible country? Where I've looked in any detail at the T&Cs of any other similar competition I've always seen a catch-all to cover this.

Section 9 of the new T&Cs already states :-
"Representations. By entering the Contest, each entrant represents and warrants that: (a) the entrant meets all eligibility requirements of the Contest; (b) in entering and participating in the Contest, the entrant has complied and will comply in all respects with these Rules and all applicable statutes, regulations, and other laws; and . . . "

Surely, all that's required is a line which states that eligibility for the contest may vary in other jurisdictions and the onus is on the entrant to verify this.

I don't know. I'm not a lawyer and don't pretend to be one. All I can say is that now that we're part of a larger company it's more of a concern and Eric has been having long talks with lawyers to open the contests up.
Please ask him to hurry those conversations up, because right now a huge chunk of the membership are being excluded from the main reason they joined the site.

If the restriction continues, it *will* damage the very community that AutoDesk thought they were buying...

Lawyers don't hurry :-( The best you can do is kill them quickly before they breed.
My parents are lawyers...
It's a quote, not an original thought. Along the lines of the following paraphrase..."I don't hate lawyers. Some of my best friends are lawyers." I'll leave it to you to work out the original version.
It's ok, no harm done.
Believe me, we're very aware of it and just as concerned as everybody else. Very much at the top of the list right now.
splazem Kiteman4 years ago
More like +thumbsup+
cammers Kiteman4 years ago
I totally agree Kiteman. It's probably not in keeping with the spirit of the game, but I only ever post instructables when they can fit into a contest.

Plus, the contests inspire us to generate ideas that would not otherwise be conceived.

And perhaps more importantly, it doesn't feel nice to be excluded from a group that we were once so happily part of.

On a more positive note...
I received a Robot tee shirt in the post a few weeks ago and haven't yet been woken in the dead of night by the sound my door being broken down by secret police.
I think it's safe to include Australia in competitions.
mischka Kiteman4 years ago
I totally agree. Instructables is an international community. I am from Germany, and I'd like to join the contests like other community members do.
I suppose that technically if the largecompany has international offices, members of that office can be arrested locally for giving away free T shirts and hoodies.

On charges of "reckless generosity"?

A bit like breaking-and-decorating
Dusting with intent to tidy?
Decorating with an offensive paint-scheme ?
Fitting a concealed downlighter?
HQ is no longer HQ, it is HQ wholly owned by Autodesk, Inc. So it has to abide with whatever Autodesk, Inc. and whatever it's international units are abiding by.

So are you saying they're planning several more pages of entry T&Cs detailing the conditions of entry for each eligible country?  Where I've looked in any detail at the T&Cs of any other similar competition I've always seen a catch-all to cover this.

Section 9 of the new T&Cs already states :-
"Representations. By entering the Contest, each entrant represents and warrants that: (a) the entrant meets all eligibility requirements of the Contest; (b) in entering and participating in the Contest, the entrant has complied and will comply in all respects with these Rules and all applicable statutes, regulations, and other laws; and . . . "

Surely, all that's required is a line which states that eligibility for the contest may vary in other jurisdictions and the onus is on the entrant to verify this. 
splazem Kiteman4 years ago
I know, it sucks. Even though I live in the U.S., I love seeing all of the creative entries from people that are inspired by contests. Heck, all of my instructables were made for contests, and that's what got me interested in Instructables.
This is covered in the live chat and hopefully they work it out quickly.  It's silly that joining a huge company has now excluded community members from a huge part of the site.
That's where it was!
phidauex4 years ago
Wow! Big news. As someone who has sold a business before, I can wish you good luck, and don't sweat the painful transitions, of which there will be many (as much as it seems like there won't be at this point).

I hope this is a sign that Autodesk is going to support the creative community a little better. I use Autocad professionally, but don't use it for my "making", CNC work, etc, because I can't afford it. Alibre Design has a $199 version for hobbists that is quite full featured. Autodesk has always supported students well, but I would love to see Maker-Friendly versions of their software for people who aren't using it to make tons of money.

These days not everyone gets into serious design through the usual educational track - supporting makers and hobbyists means growing a new community of future "full license" users who have had a chance to learn and become familiar with the software.
When Autodesk offers a deal as good as Alibre, I might consider moving, but Alibre Pro gives me 4 hot seats for a single licence, no compulsory subscriptions, and no dongles.

I object to your use of "the creative community" to differentiate presumably from the engineering users of AutoCad and the ilk, engineering is itself a creative endeavour.

Engineering is certainly a creative endeavor - I didn't intend to differentiate between "creative people" and "eggheads". I think the real differentiator here isn't engineer/not-engineer, but "personal/individual user" vs. "institutional user". Current licensing structures are setup to work for institutions, but are not well setup for individuals or small groups working on lower dollar value projects.
Hear, hear! Neither Autodesk nor SolidWorks (I think "Dessault" is the actual company?) are really well-positioned for individuals. But then, neither is the kilobuck Photoshop, is it?

I would love to have a real piece of design software that I could play around with on my Mac at home, but I've stuck with using xfig because I don't like throwing Real Money at my toys. My lab engineer (at SLAC) uses SolidWorks for our real projects.
canida kelseymh4 years ago
An individual-level set of 3D modeling products are in progress - there's an early of 123D available now, and more on the way. And it's free.
Dassault - a division of the French Aerospace company that builds the Mirage series of fighters.
Thanks, Steve!
Well said. Individual makers and hobbyists can become professionals as well. It is smart business to support serious makers somehow.

You've both nailed it - Autodesk is figuring out how to support the creative community at the individual/hobbyist/maker level, not just pro level. And we're helping them figure out how to do it right.

If you have suggestions, please share them!
Affordable tools, perhaps a few less features, but plenty of ones we would use. Ibles gets to be a software beta test bed for various projects of theirs, logistics on proprietary stuff shouldn't be exceedingly difficult for them. Offer licenses as prizes, some lifetime ones with various upgrading would be nice too. Hackerspace money/equipment/software grants (as a guise for talent searching).
Oh, and compatable with all popular platforms and/or cloud-based.
jmitch774 years ago
I can't wait to see all those AutoDesk ads all over this website! Maybe they will decide to start giving free copies of AutoCAD just like Dassault does with
tmwilcox4 years ago
I know Autodesk. I know the people, the products, and the corp. culture. They are hyper competitive perfectionists. Their attention span is not necessarily tied to profit. The company is full of creative geniuses who mud-wrestle for primacy. This web site will not suffer the ills of some past Autodesk acquisitions because there is no potential for cross-pollination: you are different species. Mutations are probable though years away. Besides, what is a community but an idea? You can't own an idea. (DISCLOSURE: I'm a 16 years-long 3DStudio user, I've contracted with Autodesk, and my Wife is a four year veteran of their Global Ops division. We both have since moved on and now teach at university. And we make tons of stuff. For fun.)
Why does "Global Ops" sound like someone who should be attending DEFCON? ;->

On the upside, thanks for providing a bit of vote-of-confidence to offset all the naysayers. I'm not sure whether to read your comment positively or not, though: "no potential for cross-pollination" rather goes against the argument which both Eric and Phil Torrone have made about the acquisition -- that Autodesk wants to use Instructables as a way to learn about (or infiltrate :-) the maker community.
fcohen4 years ago
Congratulations Mr. Robot. I'm glad for your team. Every business is rewarded when someone will value it enough to pay to buy it. It is also a compliment to the hard work you've done to build a community.


P.S. Has anyone noticed the subliminal photo at the top right of this page? Is a turn signal biking jacket indicating a left turn. Could this be a secret indication of where the robot is going? :-)

DJ Radio4 years ago
I hope this means you guys get a decent 3DS Max tutorial up, Berk and I use that program a lot to design custom Halo maps.
Quick Ted Talk video which hopefully explains why some of us feel this is a "bad thing".


Instructables is a "Why" community - Autodesk is a "What" company.

- longtime lurker
cammers4 years ago
Congratulations Robot.
It sure is an exciting move.
I sincerely hope it doesn't change the nice friendly, relaxed "vibe" that I enjoy so much.
I have to say, I'm a bit skeptical. Autodesk makes great products, but their corporate culture seems to contradict much of what I thought Instructables to be about. The open and free exchange of knowledge is the antithesis of software products tightly controlled with licensing restrictions.
Software developers need to feed their families too. :) charging for a product, even if it's not tangible, isn't automatically anti diy.
Nobody said it was. Corporate culture and tight licensing restrictions, however, can be anti-diy.
Can be and usually are.
It is true, and there are a lot of people in the free software and DIY community that don't get that. I just want the spirit of the community that all of us created to remain intact.
They are giving there software to students for free hoping they will buy it later on. I use instructalbes as my school yard. This is a place where I come to learn and share. It makes sense for them to give use a taste of their products. How many they actully sell to us through this venture will remain to be seen. Good luck.
Autodesk is also doing something new: making a set of free or extremely inexpensive tools for hobbyists like us. We're the community arm, and will help make the process of making and sharing ideas easy and accessible. Wait and see - I think you'll like it.
It's possible for one company to play in both the for-pay and open-source space -- IBM's done a lot of that. I'm inclined to wait and see where Autodesk takes Instructables.
builderkidj4 years ago
Whats autodesk?
They are best known for making design software like AutoCAD and 3D design/animation software like 3ds Max and Maya.
randofo randofo4 years ago
But they make a number of other things as well :-)