I’ve added a link to Autodesk’s new AutoCAD community site, AutoCAD Exchange. As with most things Autodesk, there are pros and cons. Here are my first impressions.
I think it looks good in a Vista-black kind of way. I know some of you don’t like the black look in software, but I do. The layout looks a bit cluttered and confused at first, but I’m sure visitors will quickly get used to where to find things. The site appears to be designed around 1024-wide resolution. If you have more than this, as most CAD users do, then there are wide areas of wasted space either side of the good stuff.
The front page is basically a teaser. To get to the useful content or do pretty much anything, you need to register or sign in. I don’t particularly like this, and it gives the impression (false or not) that Autodesk wants to own and control you, even if you’re just viewing a site. The registration process is the same as for other Autodesk sites such as the discussion groups, so if you have an Autodesk identity, you’re already registered.
As it is a “community” site, on first sign-in you are invited to fill in more details, provide an avatar and so on. Some people might not like this, but it’s optional and Autodesk knows where I live so it makes no difference to me. I know where Autodesk lives, too. It has yet to be seen if Autodesk manages to develop a real community on this site, and if so, how open that community is allowed to be.
Autodesk is encouraging bloggers to add an Autodesk Exchange widget to their blogs. I won’t be adding one in a permanent position because this is my blog and not Autodesk’s. I kind of like my independence, and if a company wants space on my blog they can pay for it. Anyway, the widget is available in three sizes and here’s what the largest one looks like:
I’m likely to appear in one of those little interview videos soon, as they were shot during the bloggers’ visit to San Fransisco in early February. When you do get to see it, yes, that’s really me (and Melanie Perry) saying nice things about AutoCAD 2010, it’s not computer generated. Except for the background, that is, which is computer generated. It was bright green in real life. Other than that, no deception, lies, arm-twisting or bribes were involved. Oh, unless you count the free trip to San Fransisco as a bribe. I interviewed Autodesk, they interviewed me, and I actually had positive things to say about AutoCAD 2010. More on that later.
AutoCAD Exchange is an important and potentially very useful site for AutoCAD users. Check it out, and if you feel like it, report back. You can pretty much say what you like here.