Bartz the blogger

Autodesk’s Executive Chairman of the Board (who has one or two other little jobs, too) has made a Yahoo! blog post in which she promises to kick a donkey, or something. Yahoo! if of only tangential interest to me; I don’t particularly care if it thrives or if it dies. However, it’s good to see Carol communicating directly in this way, and it’s good to see her emphasise the importance of looking after the customer, placing emphasis on efficiency over innovation for innovation’s sake, and promising to do better at listening. Welcome to the blogsphere, Carol.

A gaggle of geeks

Time to lighten things up a bit, I think. While attending the AutoCAD 2010 product launch in San Francisco on 5 February 2009, I conducted a series of micro-interviews with a collection of AutoCAD bloggers and Autodesk employees. One geek asks 14 other geeks if they are geeks; nothing too serious here. I hope Shaan enjoys my tabloid journalist editing job right at the end. YouTube link. Thanks to all the interviewees: Heidi Hewett, Autodesk blogger Lynn Allen, Autodesk blogger Melanie Perry, blogger Robin Capper, blogger Brian Benton, blogger Todd Shackelford, blogger Jon Page, Autodesk person Matt Stein, Autodesk person …


Cadalyst lives!

I was happy to receive an email from Nancy Johnson this morning informing me that Cadalyst is going to continue. From March onward it will be published by Longitude Media, led by Seth Nichols, former VP of digital media at Questex. Nancy will continue to hold the editorial reins. Questex still owns Cadalyst, but Longitude will be publishing it under license. Press release

Autodesk answers – 4 of 4

The final question is from metis: Q: why is program size increasing and performance dramatically decreasing as hardware specs dramatically increase? as features “improve” and are added functionality should not be removed, and code should be streamlined. seriously aren’t there any real programmers out there anymore? this thing isn’t written in java by a bunch of scriptkiddies (although 2009 sure is skinned like it was). A: We made a number of performance improvements in AutoCAD 2010 over the previous release, and would appreciate hearing from you if you are encountering significant performance slowdowns with this latest release. If so, please …


Autodesk answers – 3 of 4

The third question, courtesy of Earl Kubaskie, is: Q: I would ask why there seems to be so little cooperation between the development teams. Vanilla, Map 3D, Civil 3D, each seem to be separate little empires. ACA might be in there, too, but I don’t use it, and thus I don’t apply for the betas. I would think that closer interaction (and consolidation of beta testing teams) would smooth out the process – and maybe help get Matt his wish re bonus packs. A: This is an ongoing area of focus for us, and this year we are making further …


Autodesk answers – 2 of 4

In a comment on the first of these posts, Ralph G raised the possibility that these answers have been edited by marketing people. I have checked with Eric Stover and he assures me these answers come direct from the program managers concerned and are unmassaged by marketers. That ties in with the partial email trail that came with the answers. It also ties in with the impression I have formed recently that Autodesk is starting to open up a bit. That’s a trend I’m happy to encourage. There’s one thing that clinches the marketing-interference matter for me. Despite Eric being …


Autodesk answers – 1 of 4

At the end of January, I asked for your questions to put to Autodesk product managers. My intention was to pose your questions in a video interview format while attending the AutoCAD 2010 product launch, but for logistical reasons I was unable to make this happen. Autodesk’s Eric Stover kindly arranged for your questions to be answered anyway. The delay in getting these answers back to you is my responsibility, not Autodesk’s. The answers come courtesy of the following product managers: Diane Li – lead manager on AutoCAD; Guillermo Melantoni – 3D and Parametrics expert; Kathy O’Connell – customer requests, …


Older AutoCAD loses (part of) the plot

I know there are plenty of people still using AutoCAD 2007 and earlier, so this bug warning may save some of you some grief. I have no idea how widespread or isolated this problem is, but under some circumstances I haven’t worked out yet, AutoCAD 2007 fails to plot all of certain dynamic blocks. Some attributes have a habit of being plot-shy. Even if you don’t use dynamic blocks yourself, you could receive a set of drawings, check them on-screen, approve them, plot them and send out paper drawings without all of their parts. Unless you’re carefully manually checking the …


Vernor v Autodesk – why I think Autodesk is right

Well, there’s a statement I wasn’t expecting to make. Let me preface these comments with a disclaimer. I have no legal qualifications whatsoever. I make no claims of knowing who is legally right in this David v. Goliath legal battle; that’s for the courts to decide. When I make the statement that I think Autodesk is right, I don’t mean legally right, I mean morally right. I have been following this fight with interest, but only in a half-baked way, third-hand via commentators (like myself, now). Based on my skimming of that commentary, my natural inclination to support the underdog, …


AutoCAD 2010 – Will you miss the Menu Browser?

I’ve closed the poll that asked AutoCAD 2009 users about their MENUBAR setting. It’s very clear that pull-down menus are still very much in use in the Ribboned world of post-2008 AutoCAD. In AutoCAD 2009, an attempt was made to provide access to pull-down menus without sacrificing that strip of screen real estate. That attempt was called the Menu Browser, it was one of the thing you could find under the Big Red A, and it really didn’t work very well. In AutoCAD 2010, the Menu Browser has gone away. The A hasn’t gone away, just the ability to access …


A year of nauseam

This is one of those awful self-indulgent blog posts you hate, so just skip it and read the more interesting stuff a bit further down instead. It is now a year since I started this blog and this is my 200th post. Here are the site statistics for 2008: Here they are for 2009: I’m sure there are other CAD blogs out there with much more impressive stats than that, particularly the Autodesk ones. I’m pretty happy with the number of visitors I have, though. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started doing this; maybe a couple …


I see no ads

I have removed the advertisements from this blog. Not because I worried about people not liking them (they were fairly unobtrusive). Not because they were slowing down the page load times (although they did, a bit). Not even because I felt that they were somehow impinging upon my editorial independence. No, I removed them because they weren’t generating any income. Not a single cent! I pretty much expected any income to be tiny, and certainly not enough to cover my fairly minor running expenses. It wasn’t tiny, it was totally absent. Experiment over.

I’m supporting the New Zealand blackout

Thanks to Robin Capper for bringing this to my attention. Disclosure: I’m a software developer, artist (of sorts), copyright owner and part of a company that sells software to allow copyright owners to protect their interests. I’m also the victim of clueless corporations counterproductively interfering with my art. Most of all, I’m a supporter of the fair use of copyrighted materials. This law in New Zealand needs to be turned back now. If it succeeds in Robin’s country, it will be mine next, then yours. I encourage you to support this viral campaign so it attracts some press attention. …


Gravatars – how to get a picture next to your comment

After some recent site maintenance here, you may have noticed that the comments look a bit different, and that some people’s comments have a little picture next to them. This little picture is called a gravatar (globally recognised avatar), and you can have one too. Once you set it up, you will find that it works in all sorts of places, not just this blog. Here’s how to do it: Visit and pick a sign up link. Provide a valid email address; the same one you provide when adding comments to blogs. I have not received any spam as …


Interesting times ahead for Cadalyst

As many of you may know, I’ve been writing for Cadalyst since 1995. Yesterday, I read in David Cohn’s summary of the history of Cadalyst that in 1991, Lionel Johnston sold CADalyst to Aster Publishing for $2.2 million. How times have changed! Today, current owner Questex doesn’t think it’s worth keeping alive. I’ve been aware for some months of uncertainty about Cadalyst’s future, and Questex has finally decided that it doesn’t have one. Most of the staff have been laid off, with a tiny skeleton staff keeping things ticking over until the end of the month. As a Contributing Editor …


Site maintenance

I am currently moving the site from to while attempting to avoid breaking any existing links to pages on the old site. There may be some disruption to the site while this is going on, but I hope to keep this to a minimum. I ask for your patience while this is going on, but feel free to add comments to let me know about any strange happenings.

AutoCAD 2010 release date

After my recent attendance at the AutoCAD 2010 launch, I have a few dozen subjects I’d like to blog about, lots of video editing to do, and not enough free time in which to do it. Many of my fellow launch-attending bloggers have beaten me to it with many of the meaty bits, but I’ll be covering much of that stuff in my own way and from my own perspective over the next few weeks. One thing I can do with minimum effort is to pass on an important piece of information I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere yet: the date …


Autodesk not listening? The response, part 1.

While attending the AutoCAD 2010 launch today, I took the opportunity to interview three Autodesk people: Eric Stover, Jon Page and Shaan Hurley. I raised the issue of Autodesk being seen as not listening to its customers, and was given a very comprehensive response. Here is the first of two parts of that interview. YouTube link. Disclosure: Transport, accommodation and some meals were provided by Autodesk.