LAS VEGAS – Autodesk Inc.’s 20th University event last week was all about cloud computing.  The long-time leader in computer-aided design software showcased a complete line of cloud-based design, engineering and visualization tools.

The event marks a major turning point for the company, which has traditionally licensed its software for downloads onto the desktop.

“Autodesk is the first company to bring you a full set of professional-grade, cloud-enabled tools that span the entire design process,” Autodesk president and CEO Carl Bass told the 7,000 attendees at the customer conference in Las Vegas.

Cloud computing allows users to access applications over the Net instead of purchasing them for the desktop.

The San Rafael company has moved slowly, first beta testing cloud applications in visualization and simulation in 2010.

What it found was that cloud computing allows designers to place many different views of a building or product before the user in a very short period of time.

And using the cloud can give designers 20 different options of how a design will function in the real world in just hours rather than days.

Mr. Bass demonstrated these capabilities at the conference as well as unveiling several new cloud and mobile products. They included the next generation of civil infrastructure design software and a comprehensive cloud-based 3D modeling offering for mechanical and industrial design.

“From conceptual design, to simulation, to taking information to the factory floor or the construction site, all of this is being done today with our tools in the cloud,” he said.