A technical deep dive into a Forge powered digital catalog

by Bastien Mazeran, Premium Support Specialist, DM/PLM • on September 17, 2018

You have just read [Digital Cataloging] and wanted to learn more around the technical details of how to tie the Model Derivatives and Viewer APIs with your existing parts catalog.

This article will attempt to give you a technical overview of the typical architecture as well as pointers to further technical articles to read.

Before going any further, you can test the Forge Viewer directly without having to write any code. Simply visit this site viewer.autodesk.com and upload your own CAD models. This will give you a good understanding of what the Forge Viewer can do for you in the context of your own product models.

The diagram below documents the necessary steps to successfully bring your product CAD information to your digital parts catalog.

The source CAD file(s) first need(s) to be uploaded to a storage bucket on the Autodesk Data Platform. The source CAD file is then submitted for translation using Model Derivatives API. As the translation job completes, a new web viewable file (.SVF) is generated. This entire process is fully documented here.

Upon review by your quality department, the web viewable file can be stored in your Content Management System.

At this point in time, you’re almost there, you have generated web viewable files that are ready for viewing, but before you can view them in your digital catalog website, you need to embed the Forge Viewer in your website.

The way you integrate the Forge Viewer in your digital catalog is by injecting JavaScript code into your own site’s HTML files.

The exact technical details can be found here.

Once the Forge Viewer is fully integrated in your website, you can instruct the Forge Viewer to load the web viewables that represent your product models.

Note that the web browser you use must support WebGL-canvas, below is the list of the minimum versions per browser:

  • Chrome 50+
  • Firefox 45+
  • Opera 37+
  • Safari 9+
  • Microsoft Edge 20+
  • Internet Explorer 11


After reading this article, I’m hopeful that you have gained a solid understanding of how to integrate Forge APIs within your existing digital catalog website to bring rich visualization experiences to your customers.

The parts catalogue example that was used during the webcast can be accessed live here and its source code can be found in GitHub.

On a final note, because Forge is a platform for developers, the learning path can be steep for non-developers. To help you in that process, please make sure you take this learning path as your first step as it covers the authentication aspect of Forge.


Additional technical resources:

LMV Ninja (The best place to test Forge Viewer)

Forge Blogs

GitHub Autodesk-Forge

Viewer Extensions

Headless Viewer


Related Articles:

Digitizing your manufacturing business with Forge

Digital cataloging

Interactive instructions with Forge



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Digital Cataloging

In this article, we will dive into the first initiative: Digital Cataloging and how the Autodesk Forge Platform can enhance the experience of how your customers access and view your products’ catalogue.

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