I have closed the performance and productivity polls as described in my posts here and here, and the results can be seen in the Polls Archive. As with most of the other polls I’ve run here, the distribution of votes has not changed greatly after the first few days.
It is clear from the very different voting patterns in the two polls that blog nauseam readers are smart enough understand the difference between the two questions. The performance poll has a very clear skew to the “slower” side. This supports the empirical evidence I’ve seen elsewhere that people perceive AutoCAD as getting slower. This is stuff they’ve noticed for themselves, not a few milliseconds here and there.
On the other hand, the productivity poll results show a much more even distribution. The five options are pretty equally represented, except that “a lot more productive” has suffered at the hands of the most popular choice, “a bit more productive”. If you calculate the mean result, it is almost bang in the middle. It’s actually slightly worse than that, but by such a very small margin that it is not statistically significant.
Overall, we can say that the average viewpoint expressed here is that people clearly see AutoCAD as getting slower, but that its productivity has stayed about the same. So, does this let Autodesk off the performance hook? If a slowing AutoCAD is balanced by productivity-enhancing features, does performance matter? In my opinion, the answers to those questions are no and yes respectively.
It’s not a safe assumption that productivity features are balancing speed issues for everybody across the board. A new feature may help some users’ productivity, maybe even a majority of users, but it won’t help everybody. Some new features even harm some people’s productivity, which is one more reason for being grateful that Autodesk generally lets us turn them off (although it has been forgetful about that in some cases in recent years). Performance is one of the many things that impact productivity, but unlike most new features, is something that impacts the productivity of everybody. Even a first-time user has to sit around waiting for AutoCAD to start up, while a fast power user will be rendered less productive, and certainly more frustrated, by relatively small hesitations.
Furthermore, if AutoCAD is about as productive as it was a few releases back, is that good enough? Or should Autodesk be providing noticeably more productivity in return for our Subscription or upgrade payments? If not, why do we continue to hand over our hard-earned dollars? Why do we go through the upgrade process at all, with all its attendant costs, struggles and inconveniences?
Autodesk, please put much more effort into halting and reversing AutoCAD’s performance slide. It doesn’t have to be a competition between performance and productivity. Improve the former and the latter will also improve.