When design-software maker Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) reported its first-quarter results last Thursday, it also announced that it had snagged the millionth user of its 3-D products. The company has been a dominant player in two-dimensional design software, and now it seems Autodesk will do the same for the 3-D world.

Over the past few years, the firm has maintained an annual release cycle for its products. This approach not only keeps Autodesk ahead of the competition, but also helps it boost revenues. Its sales increased 17% in the first quarter to $509 million. Because of the company's stock-option investigation, however, Autodesk made no disclosure regarding net income.

Aside from Japan, all geographic regions and product lines posted strong growth. It shouldn't be surprising that the company's robust 3-D business has given Autodesk a big boost. Its core products -- the Inventor, Revit, and Civil 3-D software lines -- posted sales gains of 19% to $106 million.

Why is 3-D so important? The software allows engineers to model a product or structure without making a physical prototype. This process is not only more cost-effective, but also allows for improved features and quality.

Energy efficiency may be another benefit. Autodesk's software makes it possible to track dynamic changes in materials and measure how much energy they will use.

It's tough for leaders to transition to a new technology. Yet Autodesk seems to have beaten the odds, boasting a strong offering compared to Parametric Technology (NASDAQ:PMTC), Avid Technology (NASDAQ:AVID), or Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE). The company has even boosted its annual revenue guidance from a range of $2.07 billion-$2.12 billion to $2.12 billion-$2.15 billion. It's another indication that Autodesk has the right stuff to continue to reward investors.

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Fool contributor Tom Taulli, author of The Complete M&A Handbook, does not own shares mentioned in this article. He is currently ranked 1,898 out of 28,990 rated players in Motley Fool CAPS, our new investor-intelligence community that you can join for free.