AutoCAD 2018 – at last, something to praise

This isn’t supposed to be an Autodesk-bashing blog. Really, it’s not. Sure, Autodesk (and anyone else) gets criticism where deserved. There’s been a lot of that lately, but only because Autodesk has thoroughly deserved it. I don’t make up things so I can have a go; Autodesk provides the material all by itself.

Among other things, I’m a customer advocate. I don’t care who you are, act in an anti-customer manner and I’m going to slam you. Hard but fair. Dish up bullshit to your customers and I will gleefully point that out and heap derision on you. Deal with it.

On the other hand, act in a pro-customer manner and I’m going to praise you. I do praise Autodesk (and anyone else) where deserved. There are dozens of examples of that on this blog. Lately, the pickings have been slim. Time to redress the balance a little.

I’ve Full post

AutoCAD 2018.0.1 mystery partially resolved but questions remain

As I mentioned earlier, the release of AutoCAD 2018 was followed almost instantaneously by the first update, 2018.0.1. At the time of writing, there was no official information about this update. Some information is now available, but more questions have arisen.

If, like me, you don’t/won’t/can’t have Autodesk desktop app running on your systems, the only current official way to get at the download is using Autodesk Account (but read the whole of this post before you go there). That’s also how you get at information about the update. Go to Management > AutoCAD > Downloads > Updates & Add-ons. From there, it’s not obvious how to get the information, but it’s under More options.

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What’s in a name? AutoCAD 360 / mobile app confusion

Has Autodesk’s online DWG viewer/markup tool had yet another rename? It’s hard to tell. I suspect there’s a rename process going on that’s not yet complete.

Here’s the list of names so far. I think.

  • Visual Tau (when acquired by Autodesk)
  • Project Butterfly (Autodesk Labs name)
  • AutoCAD WS
  • AutoCAD 360
  • AutoCAD mobile app

The last two names appear to be interchangeable right now. What led me to this confusion is the very sub-optimal customer experience I had in attempting to try out AutoCAD 360. The best way to describe it is a wild goose chase.

I started from a point familiar to current AutoCAD maintenance and subscription customers, the Autodesk Accounts page. Like the majority of AutoCAD users, I accessed this using a browser on a Windows PC. Among the options in there was this. Hmm, AutoCAD® 360, free, Access now. Let’s try that out.

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AutoCAD 2018 – why did the DWG format change?

In my review of AutoCAD 2018, I had this to say about AutoCAD 2018’s changed DWG format:

Why does AutoCAD 2018 need a new DWG format? It probably doesn’t. The 2013 DWG format is capable of holding pretty much anything you want… Although Autodesk cites performance reasons with certain drawings, I strongly suspect the new DWG format was introduced purely to make life difficult for competitors, and to encourage wavering customers to stay with Autodesk for fear of losing compatibility. In other words, it seems likely this is an anti-competitive change rather than a technical one.

In a recent blog post, highly respected Swiss-based Autodesk development and research person Kean Walmsley had this to say on that subject:

The main reason for the break in compatibility is some longer-term work that’s going on inside the AutoCAD codebase. For now this is really only surfacing … Full post

Ask Teresa from Autodesk your maintenance and subscription questions

As a follow-up to the Pixel Fondue video I posted earlier, Greg reports:

Since then Teresa Anania (Teresa from the letter) has contacted me and has agreed to do a pixelfondue livestream and answer some questions people may have. So…if you want to ask Teresa something directly post your question here and I will send it to her. I obviously can’t guarantee that I will ask (or she will answer) all questions. Teresa is (to her credit) reaching out to customers in a more personal way here – and maybe we can help her understand our feelings about AD’s move to subscription, especially how it pertains to current license holders.

Teresa Anania is Autodesk’s Senior Director, Subscription Success. It is indeed commendable that Teresa is prepared to step out of the Autodesk PR safe zone and field questions and comments from real people in an environment … Full post

AutoCAD 2018 – disable InfoCenter

Here’s another AutoCAD 2018 download, just in case you haven’t had enough.

If you want to disable AutoCAD’s InfoCenter (and you should, unless have a specific reason for keeping it – here’s why), go get the updated download from uber-expert Owen Wengerd’s ManuSoft Freebies page. It works for AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT.

AutoCAD 2018 – there’s already an update

If you downloaded and installed AutoCAD 2018 yesterday and don’t/won’t/can’t have Autodesk desktop app running on your systems, you may already have another download to do, because AutoCAD 2018.0.1 is out.

At the time of writing there is no sign of this update on Autodesk’s main site, but you can get at it using Autodesk Account. Go to Management > AutoCAD > Downloads > Updates & Add-ons.

All that’s downloaded is an executable. No readme, nothing. There is currently no official information about the reasons behind this update, what it includes, what it might affect, how to include it in a deployment, etc. You’ll need to make up your own mind whether to install this update now or wait for information about it. I suggest the latter.

Of course, if you’re using desktop app and allowing automatic updates, you don’t need to worry about … Full post

AutoCAD 2018 – bear this in mind

Given the dearth of new functionality in AutoCAD in recent years, it’s understandable that Autodesk has taken to claiming credit for the same thing twice. The same features have been touted once for the 2017.1 mid-term update and again as 2018 new features. Even I fell for it, listing linetype gap selection as a 2018 feature in my original review.

For the purposes of reviewing the earlier AutoCAD releases and AutoCAD 2018 as upgrades, I have included the 2017.1 features in 2018, not 2017. Some of those features are praiseworthy, and there have been some minor improvements to some of the 2017.1 features in 2018, but let’s count them just once, please.

Blogs and sites that just regurgitate Autodesk’s take on what’s new in AutoCAD 2018 might inadvertently repeat the double-dipping. Bear that in mind when … Full post

AutoCAD 2018 – 2/10, would not rent

It must be March, because another AutoCAD has just been launched. Despite this one being codenamed Omega, I’ve been assured it’s not the final AutoCAD release. The good news is that AutoCAD 2018 is twice the upgrade that 2017 was. But hold your excitement, because the bad news is that 2017 was only a 1/10 upgrade.

Autodesk has continued the well-established tradition of acting like a low-quality sausage machine, reliably popping out consistently unexciting products at regular intervals.

Here’s what’s in this year’s underwhelming sausage:

  • Xrefs now default to relative path attachment and there are a few associated tweaks including find/replace path
  • You can select objects off-screen (handier than it sounds)
  • File dialogs remember settings
  • A couple more dialogs can be resized
  • There are a couple more tiny user interface tweaks
  • The stuff from 2017.1 is included, of course, some seeing minor improvements since then
  • iDrop … Full post

ADSK v ADBE – a tale of two graphs

I’m no financial analyst, so I’ll just leave these graphs here for your own interpretation. They show the profit/loss numbers for two software companies beginning with A that have abandoned perpetual license sales and gone all-subscription (rental).

Among other significant differences, one company went with very low rental prices while the other has extremely high rental prices. How have these differing strategies played out for Adobe and Autodesk? Green shows profit; red shows loss.

Adobe moved to the all-rental model earlier than Autodesk. The Autodesk graph therefore covers a shorter period than the Adobe one. Feel free to slide the Autodesk one along to the point you think best matches the equivalent point in the Adobe timeline.

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Autodesk license costs options – summary 2

This is a revised version of the Autodesk license costs options – summary post, where I examined various payment options for CAD software and compared them with the cost of staying on your Autodesk maintenance contract long-term. This version is based on limited new information from Autodesk. While this post can be read alone, to better understand the context you may wish to check out that summary and the preceding posts in the series:

1. Autodesk license costs options 1 & 2 – stay on maintenance, subscription now
2. Autodesk license costs options 3, 4 & 5 – bait and switch
3. Autodesk license costs options 6 to 10 – abandon maintenance or Autodesk
4. Autodesk license costs options – summary

In this post, I will examine the validity of the various assumptions I have … Full post

Video nicely captures Autodesk customer sentiment

In this video starting at 42:21, Greg from Pixel Fondue had a few words to say about Autodesk’s attempt to price-force perpetual license owners onto subscription (rental). I think he captures the current Autodesk customer mood quite nicely.

Here are some of the highlights from Greg and others:

44:36 – If you’re gonna eff me, know my name.

45:20 – The only thing they forgot to attach to this was the head of a horse.

46:54 – If they didn’t think it was a tough sell, they wouldn’t have written a 2000 word essay…

49:14 – This is a trade-in, and they’re looking to take this [Entertainment Creation Suite]. So I give you this, this $12,000 investment … I give it back to you, plus like another $1,000 … and you give me the exact same thing. Except I no longer own it.

51:02 – Hi! Give us your thing you bought from us, we’ll rent it back to you… dumbass!

58:49 – It’s OK to be pissed, and Autodesk needs to know that people are pissed. So, Teresa, people are pissed. That’s a bullshit letter. Be honest with us.

Autodesk starts answering subscription questions, but many remain

Getting worthwhile non-rubbery information out of Autodesk on the maintenance to subscription push has been like pulling teeth. Well, one tooth has popped out now. There are a rotten mouthful still to go, but some progress is being made.

Here is the latest Autodesk communication on this subject. While it gives the impression of providing transparency, there’s still not enough there to provide enough certainty to convince any but the most naive customers to throw away their perpetual licenses. If you try pumping Autodesk’s numbers into my costing spreadsheet, you can get so far and then you’re back to guesswork again. If you guess low, it’s merely a bad deal. If you guess high, it’s an atrocious deal. For you, not for Autodesk; I’m sure Autodesk will be happy with whatever deal it decides to inflict.

There are huge holes in what has been stated that … Full post

Autodesk license costs options – summary

Note: an updated version of this post is available, using new costing information from Autodesk that was unavailable when this original summary was written.

In this series of posts, I have examined various payment options for CAD software and compared them with the cost of staying on your Autodesk maintenance contract long-term.

In this fourth and final post, I will examine the validity of the various assumptions I have made; lay out all the data with best/worst options lists; provide combined graphs; and sum up.

However, that means this is a very long post. I want to ensure one essential point doesn’t get lost, so I’ll state it right up front. I will fully justify it later with objective evidence, but for now, here it is:

DO NOT switch from maintenance to subscription.

Just don’t do it. It makes no sense to do it on any level. You … Full post

One invitation to Autodesk and another to Autodesk’s competitors

Dear Autodesk PR person, you are undoubtedly aware that I have published a series of posts that detail exactly why switching from maintenance to subscription is a bad deal. If you believe anything I have written to be in error, feel free to contact me with what you believe to be the correct information. I intend to publish an extensive detailed summary on Monday 13 March, with or without your input. You know where to find me, over to you.

Dear Autodesk-competitor PR person, if you are providing any kind of special offer to entice disgruntled Autodesk customers over to your fold under these special circumstances, let me know about it. I will pass the information on to my readers in another post, as-is, and not as any kind of recommendation. You can comment here in public or email me.

Autodesk license costs options 6 to 10 – abandon maintenance or Autodesk

Note: due to new information from Autodesk, an updated summary has been posted.

In this series of posts, I’ll examine various payment options for CAD software and compare them with the cost of staying on your Autodesk maintenance contract long-term.

In this third post, I examine what happens if you do something out of the box. Something Autodesk didn’t plan on you doing, and something it won’t like. What if you don’t renew your maintenance and then maybe hop on the subscription gravy train later? What if you don’t renew your maintenance and switch to a non-Autodesk product?

As stated in my first post, staying on maintenance is the baseline with which I’m comparing these options:

Option 1 – stay on maintenance
Assumptions: maintenance cost 20% compound rise annually from 2020
Pros: keep your perpetual license, keep it up to date, retain previous version … Full post

Autodesk license costs options 3, 4 & 5 – bait and switch

Note: due to new information from Autodesk, an updated summary has been posted.

In this series of posts, I’ll examine various payment options for CAD software and compare them with the cost of staying on your Autodesk maintenance contract long-term.

In this second post, I examine what happens if you switch from maintenance to subscription (rental) once the recently-announced offers kick in from June 2017. As stated in my first post, staying on maintenance is the baseline with which I’m comparing these options:

Option 1 – stay on maintenance
Assumptions: maintenance cost 20% compound rise annually from 2020
Pros: keep your perpetual license, keep it up to date, retain previous version & home use rights
Cons: increasing costs, expect more unpleasant “persuasive” surprises from Autodesk

3 year cost $1957 (average $652)
5 year cost $3951 (average $790)
10 year cost $13665 … Full post

Autodesk customers are revolting

I don’t know what kind of reception Autodesk thought it was going to get to its less-than-fully-frank announcement that it was hiking up the price of maintenance to push perpetual license owners onto subscription (rental).

I suppose some negative feedback was expected, but I’m not sure the marketing mavens would have anticipated such a degree of near-universal outright hostility. I suspect they may have overestimated their ability to pull the wool over the eyes of a community that is generally technically smart and, thanks to Autodesk’s history in recent years, somewhat lacking in trust.

The Autodesk Community forum moderators are busily vacuuming up threads from all over the place and moving them to the near-invisible new Moving to Subscription forum, which in due course will no doubt be made read-only and merged into semi-oblivion, just like the last one.

Despite … Full post

Autodesk license costs options 1 & 2 – stay on maintenance, subscription now

Note: due to new information from Autodesk, an updated summary has been posted.

In this series of posts, I’ll examine various payment options for CAD software and compare them with the cost of staying on your Autodesk maintenance contract long-term. Once I’ve gone through all the options, I’ll do a summary post that compares everything, but there are so many variables that a single post that covers all the options in adequate detail would be very long and complex.

First, I need to describe what I’m using as the basis of my comparison. Prior to Autodesk’s recent announcement, the annual maintenence cost to keep one copy of AutoCAD up to date was US$540 and the equivalent subscription (rental) cost was US$1680. I’ll call this the 2016 cost.

Autodesk has announced that maintenance costs will rise by 5% in 2017, 10% in 2018 and 20% in 2019. The rises … Full post

Welcome to the new bosses…

…same as the old Bass.

If you’re hoping the change at the top of Autodesk is going to result in a change to the all-rental business model, abandon that hope now. In this nodding-heavy video, temporary co-CEOs Amar Hanspal (product guy) and Andrew “Baked Beans” Anagnost (marketing guy) confirm it’s full steam ahead. Not unexpected, really.

If either of these guys is selected as CEO (my money’s on Amar), the rental push will continue. Don’t expect to be saved by an incoming CEO, either. The Autodesk board won’t appoint a non-believer.

If you won’t abandon your perpetual licenses, you’ll need to abandon Autodesk.