Hot tip for Autodesk

Hey Autodesk high-ups, I’m sorry you’ve been having so much trouble persuading your customers to throw away their perpetual licenses and throw themselves on your perpetual mercy. It’s clearly difficult to persuade technical types to do dumb things like rent your software at enormous and ever-increasing prices. I feel for you. But there’s an answer.

Find dumber customers.

Lots of them. And fast, before the stock market notices that you’re no Adobe and we’re not buying it. Sorry, I mean not renting it.

Look no further! Simply buy this company, discard the product when you’re bored with it (you’re very familiar with that process) and get hold of the customer list.

BricsCAD documentation – a tale of three systems – part 2

In this pair of posts, I describe the BricsCAD documentation system. Click here for part 1, where I describe the general Help system and the descriptions in the Settings command.

In this part, I discuss developer documentation and draw my conclusions.

Developer Help

If we count the Settings descriptions as a system, there’s a third documentation system for BricsCAD. The Developer Reference isn’t offline and included in an install like the main Help. Instead, it’s online, just like Autodesk’s default. Unlike Autodesk’s system, it works pretty well.

Being online means the performance suffers, of course, but it’s generally not too bad. It appears quicker than Autodesk’s. A link within the main Help system takes you to the Bricsys Developer Reference which is just accessed using your default browser. Of course, that means your mouse buttons work correctly and you have all other the advantages of whatever … Full post

BricsCAD documentation – a tale of three systems – part 1

Because of the great similarity between BricsCAD and AutoCAD in terms of commands, variables and most aspects of usage, you would expect the BricsCAD documentation to be about the same too. But it isn’t. Much of the content covers the same areas and due to BricsCAD’s command-line compatibility, there must be a lot in common. But the Help system is very different from Autodesk’s. How so?

In this pair of posts, I describe the BricsCAD documentation system. I assume you’re familiar with the AutoCAD one. In this first part, I describe the general Help system and the descriptions in the Settings command. In part 2, I will discuss developer documentation and draw my conclusions.

General Help

The general Help system in BricsCAD looks a lot like the excellent CHM-based system that AutoCAD had in 2010 and earlier (thanks, Dieter). BricsCAD’s Help is offline by default, included with the … Full post

Dissecting Dieter’s perpetual points

I like Dieter Schlaepfer, we’ve been arguing for years.

Dieter and I have never met in person, but online we go back to the CIS:ACAD CompuServe days of the early 1990s. Dieter’s a good guy who has done a splendid job with AutoCAD documentation content for decades. He is genuinely interested in improving the product and customer experience, and has done a great deal to do so over the years.

Dieter’s responsible for the most-commented post on this blog, AutoCAD 2013 – An Autodesk Help writer responds with 164 comments and was a heavy contributor to the 95 comments on the recent AutoCAD 2018 – why did the DWG format change? post.

If you read the comments here, you’ll know that Dieter is the only Autodesk person brave enough to put his head above the parapet and enter into … Full post

You can still buy Autodesk perpetual licenses in Europe

Yes, you really can still buy Autodesk perpetual licenses in the European Union. You just can’t buy them from Autodesk.

Where can you buy those licenses? From other customers who don’t need them any more. Unlike some jurisdictions, the EU respects the doctrine of first sale for computer software. This means sale of pre-owned software is allowed, and any EULA restrictions attempting to prevent that are invalid. This was established in 2012 by the EU’s highest court, The Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU) in the case of UsedSoft v Oracle.

Autodesk and all other software vendors in EU countries have to respect that, so the perpetual license remains valid after transfer to the new owner. The previous owner must be able to document the validity of the license and must delete or disable their copy of the software upon transfer.

While I have no personal experience of … Full post

Bloatware – a tale of two installations

In a previous post, I showed that AutoCAD is bloatware by comparing the size of its downloads to that of BricsCAD. Obviously, an application that’s ten times the size it should be is going to cost you a lot of unnecessary bandwidth, download time and drive space. But maybe you don’t care about that. What practical difference does it make?

Well, for one thing, the blimping-out of Autodesk’s former flagship product has a big effect on installation time. Vast and ever-increasing amounts of time are wasted by users of Autodesk products, just waiting for the things to finish installing. But isn’t this just the inevitable price to pay for the functionality provided?

No. Again, BricsCAD proves it.

The installation comparison is shown below. These installations were performed on a mid-range Windows 10 i7 PC with 8 GB RAM. The downloaded files were executed from a local hard drive … Full post

AutoCAD 2018.0.1 mystery deepens with silent withdrawal

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 was later made available, but questions remained.

Now the update has been silently withdrawn. Go to Autodesk Account > Management > AutoCAD > Downloads > Updates & Add-ons and you will no longer see this:

The infamous Autodesk desktop app also shows no sign of this update. So why has it been withdrawn? Autodesk isn’t saying, but thanks to Jimmy Bergmark, we know that installing the 2018.0.1 update re-introduces a bug from AutoCAD 2016 (pre SP1) where … Full post

Why owning stuff is still important (repost)

This post was originally published on 19 November 2012. What’s happened since then is that Autodesk has indeed ended the sale of perpetual licenses and gone all-rental even though customers remain reluctant.

Autodesk’s cloud push, however, is struggling. Many Autodesk cloud products are dying or dead. Others (mostly free) carry on but many have failed to live up to expectations.  Some paid cloud products (e.g. Fusion 360) are starting to generate some return on Autodesk’s huge investment. However, it’s all years behind schedule. We were supposed to be cloudy CAD users several years ago. It hasn’t happened. How much of that is because of technical blockages, how much is because we have problems trusting the cloud, and how much is because we prefer to own our software licenses? I have no way of telling, but I’m sure the latter factor is somewhere … Full post

Simplifying CAD Management the Autodesk way

According to Autodesk, one of the benefits of subscription (rental) is simplified administration. To prove it, Autodesk has provided a simple guide for CAD Managers called The Software Administrator’s Guide to Autodesk Subscriptions – How to Set Up, Install, and Manage Your Software and Users.

It’s 18.7 MB and 78 pages long.

Don’t worry though, this simple guide helpfully includes a simple guide on how to read it.

Among other things, this eBook provides handy hints on how subscription’s simplified administration regime for standalone licenses requires you to pre-emptively name all your users, set them all up with Autodesk accounts and define what software each is allowed to use. There’s a note to say that your Internet connection needs to be working at the time of installation (obviously) and also every 30 days (less obvious) or you won’t be able to use the software.

The guide … Full post

Autodesk customers are still revolting

I described before how customers are outraged by Autodesk’s attempt to price-force them onto subscription (rental). That’s still happening. The Autodesk Community forum moderators are still vacuuming up threads and Ideas submissions and moving them to the Moving to Subscription forum, which despite its obscurity is still active with some threads now having hundreds of posts.

Other discussions in various non-Autodesk locations are extending over many pages of comments. Almost all comments are highly critical of Autodesk. A large portion of these customers say they are abandoning Autodesk. Many are discussing the specific competitors’ software they are moving to.

In addition to the Autodesk forum staff confining commentary to a quiet corner, another way of keeping the public noise down is by directing people to talk to their resellers. Yesterday, I did just that. The rep who … Full post

Autodesk updates Design Review

Despite the previously announced end-of-active-life for Design Review (Autodesk’s DWF viewer), there is now a new release available. This wasn’t supposed to happen, because we should all now be using cloud-based solutions.

A new version of DWG TrueView was needed to deal with the new DWG 2018 format, and one knock-on effect is that a new Design Review was needed to be compatible with DWG TrueView 2018.  It’s still only 32-bit, so it appears to be a matter of Autodesk just touching it up enough to keep it compatible.

Interestingly, the new Design Review is not called 2018. Here’s where to find it:

On the bloatware theme, if there’s a particular reason this download (421 MB) is over eight … Full post

Bloatware – a tale of two CAD applications

You may have seen me mention in passing that AutoCAD is bloatware. That’s not just the general grumpy-old-user moan you see from long-term users like me, who can remember when AutoCAD used to fit on one floppy disk.

Yes, programs get bigger over time as new functionality is added and old functionality needs to be retained. Hardware gets bigger, better, faster over time to compensate for that. I get that. Understood.

The AutoCAD bloatware problem is much more than that. AutoCAD is literally ten times the size it needs to be, to provide the functionality it does.

How do I know? BricsCAD proves it. Here’s what I mean.

BricsCAD V17.2 64-bit Windows Download

Downloaded File Size (KB) BricsCAD-V17.2.03-1-en_US(x64).msi 248,812 Total (1 file) 248,812 (100%)

Equivalent AutoCAD 2018 Downloads

Downloaded File Size (KB) AutoCAD_2018_English_Win_64bit_dlm_001_002.sfx.exe 2,065,829 AutoCAD_2018_English_Win_64bit_dlm_002_002.sfx.exe 328,277 AutoCAD_2018.0.1_64bit_r2.exe 120,663 AutoCAD_2018_Product_Help_English_Win_32_64bit_dlm.sfx.exe 180,013 Total (4 files) 2,694,782 (1083%)

Which dog is which? They’re both … Full post

Bricsys shows Autodesk how to do mid-term updates

BricsCAD V17.2 is out. Although there’s nowhere near as much new and useful in this mid-term update as in the full upgrade from V16 to V17, there’s more here than in Autodesk’s last mid-term update, AutoCAD 17.1. There’s even arguably more than in the uninspired AutoCAD 2018 upgrade, including those 17.1 features.

But that’s not the main reason I say Bricsys is schooling Autodesk in how to do mid-term updates. While Autodesk is restricting such updates (including the bug fixes and security updates included in those updates) to subscription and maintenance customers, Bricsys is doing no such thing.

BricsCAD V17 customers who have a perpetual license, even without maintenance (called All-In by Bricsys), will be receiving V17.2 free of charge. Bricsys still considers such users as customers who have paid good money and still need to be looked after, rather than a non-paying irritant, … Full post

New Autodesk subscription idea – any interest?

Let’s say Autodesk came up with a new offer for customers currently under maintenance. Let’s say you could switch to subscription (rental) with the same price as maintenance, locked in with no increases for three years. In addition, you get to retain, but not upgrade, your perpetual license.

Let’s say you’re on maintenance which is up for renewal later this year. You currently have a perpetual license of AutoCAD 2018. If you accept this offer, you will always retain that AutoCAD 2018 license. You switch to subscription and pay the maintenance amount for one to three years. Your subscription fee is guaranteed to rise by no more than 20% total by year five.

As long as you continue to pay subscription, you get access to new releases (2019, 2020, etc). If you decide to no longer renew your subscription at any point, you can no longer use the new releases, … Full post

New Autodesk subscription offer to perpetual license holders

Don’t get too excited. Autodesk’s recent attempt to price-force perpetual license maintenance customers onto subscription (rental) remains in place, unchanged and just as unappealing as before. If you’re one of those customers, there’s nothing new here of interest to you.

This new offer, at 30% off the normal but extremely high subscription price, is at first sight even less appealing than the approximately 60% saving that the above offer provides. But it’s aimed at different customers, and there’s the remote possibility that such customers might find it worthwhile.

The new offer is called FY18 Q1 Autodesk – Global Field Promotion and is aimed at bringing into the rental fold those customers who hold old perpetual licenses that are not on maintenance. If you have an old AutoCAD Release 14 lying around that has never been upgraded, or an AutoCAD 2007 license where you allowed the maintenance … Full post

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.

Full post

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.

Full post

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