Why AutoCAD for Mac is a bad idea

There has been a fair bit of open discussion from Autodesk lately on the subject of a possible future OS X AutoCAD version. The more I think about this, the more I am inclined to believe that this would be a bad idea. A very bad idea. It pains me to write this, because I’m very much a user advocate and I’m arguing here against something that some users have been requesting for a long time. If you’re one of those users, I’m sorry, but I think this is one of those cases when giving you what you want would be bad for everybody, and bad for you in particular. Now, this sort of platform discussion often degenerates into a quasi-religious debate, so let’s see if I can head it off at the pass. If you’re a Mac fan who wants to tell me the benefits of your chosen computer family and how inferior Windows is, save it. I’ll concede right here and now that you are probably right. My experience of Apple products has generally been very positive. They look good, they’re well made, they work well, the Mac OS has been shamelessly copied by Microsoft for decades, and so on, ad nauseam. Yup. Not disputed. Also, not relevant to the point I’m about to make. Ever since the last multi-platform AutoCAD (Release 13), Autodesk has dedicated its primary product solely to Windows. Since then, the code base has been spreading its mass of roots deeper and deeper into the Windows soil. Any Windows-specific advantage the developers can take has been taken. Reversing or working around that process is a very substantial undertaking. If it were done, I think it would have the following outcomes: AutoCAD for Mac would suck The performance is likely to be poor, because all…

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Autodesk’s Revit rebellion reaction

It’s time to examine how Autodesk has reacted to the widespread criticism of Revit 2010. Is Autodesk listening? To be more specific, is Autodesk’s Revit team listening? The Good It has been good to see extensive public participation by Autodesk people in various discussions in different places. The Revit team isn’t hiding. It is asking for feedback on the Autodesk discussion groups, the AUGI forums and its own blogs, and getting lots of it. Much of it is negative, but it is to Autodesk’s credit that I’m not seeing much in the way of denial, or demands that the criticism must be constructive. I’ve been trying in vain for years to convince some people at Autodesk that denial is counterproductive and that criticism doesn’t have to be constructive to be useful. The sort of messenger-shooting that I’ve seen some Autodesk people do from time to over the years (*cough* R13, CUI *cough*) is generally absent. I’m not seeing Adeskers arrogantly accusing users of their criticism being based on a failure to understand the product. I’m not seeing asinine comments that infer that the negativity is simply a symptom of the critics’ resistance to change. Actually, I’ve seen one such comment, but it wasn’t from an Autodesk person. Overall, the Revit team’s responsiveness, openness and level of public availability is impressive. It’s so good that it puts other Autodesk teams to shame. When was the last time you saw an Autodesk person respond to criticism of AutoCAD in the Autodesk discussion groups or AUGI forums? Revit people are doing quite a bit of it, and by looking back I can see that they have been doing it for a while. There was one attempt at a traditional corporate “the product is great, we just need to review our communications” message. Unsurprisingly, it…

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AUGI World’s missing column

Despite living in troubled times, AUGI is managing to keep its AUGI World publication going, at least in electronic form. The printed edition, which was previously available only in North America, is no longer with us due to printing costs and/or green intentions. It may or may not not return at some later date. AUGI World current and past issues I was happy to note that not only is the current copy available in PDF format, but that previous issues have also been made available in that format. The unpopular NXTBook experiment is over, it seems. Another change you may notice this year is that David Kingsley’s On The Back Page column is no longer with us. David, a former AUGI Director, is a very vocal critic of the current AUGI Board of Directors. The Board decided that the column he submitted was not deemed suitable for publication. With David’s permission, here it is. Rejected On The Back Page column I should point out that the views expressed in this document are entirely David’s, and do not necessarily reflect my own. Several of the points he makes are disputed by the Board of Directors. In fact, AUGI President Mark Kiker has responded directly to David’s points with a PDF of his own. Mark didn’t want to make that response available to the public, but AUGI members can find it here.

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Who is this person?

The first person to identify the pixellated personage below will win a virtual doughnut. Bonus sprinkles will be provided if anyone can identify the other people, the event, the location and the year. Picture courtesy of Donnia Tabor-Hanson (CADMama), from this thread in the AUGI Coffee Without CAD forum. I encourage you to read that thread and see if you can contribute to the idea it is promoting, but not until you’ve had a guess here! Readers of that thread and the people appearing in the photo should recuse themselves. Over to you! Edit: lots of right answers (which I’ve now unhidden). Well done, Owen!

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My first computer

My first computer was a Dragon 32, which I think I bought in 1982. With a massive 32 kilobytes of RAM and a proper typewriter keyboard, it was quite advanced for a home computer of the time. The Commodore 64 may have had more RAM, but a lot of it was grabbed by its very basic BASIC. I preferred a computer with an ELSE to go with its IF, thanks. Microsoft Extended BASIC for me, not the crummy old BASIC 2.0 of the Commodore. The Commodore 64 was one of the great consumer electronics sales successes of all time. The Dragon, er, wasn’t. It lasted less than two years before the Welsh parent company went under. Inside, it was pretty much a Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer. Outside, it was this: I cut my coding teeth on this beast. The first thing I did with it was to write a parametric 3D bottle design program. I later spent several all-nighters developing what I thought was an awesome space game in BASIC using its limited graphics. I bought a plug-in cartridge that provided me with assembly language facilities. Real nerd stuff. I sold it to a co-worker just before the company collapsed and replaced it with a Sinclair QL, another great commercial success story. I still have that QL (broken), and another one I bought much later as a replacement. I must get it out one day and see if it still works. What was your first computer?

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AutoCAD 2009 Update 3

Update (nee Service Pack) 3 for AutoCAD 2009 is now available. See Between the Lines for full details. As always, read the readme first. Here are the links: Readme AutoCAD 2009 AutoCAD LT 2009 AutoCAD 2009 for Revit Architecture AutoCAD 2009 for Revit Structure No word yet about related updates for the vertical products. While I’m not convinced by some aspects of the recently introduced multiple-update-per-release regime, I do approve of Autodesk continuing to maintain 2009 after 2010 has been released. People have complained about this not being done in the past, and on this score at least, I have to say that Autodesk has listened. What do you think about these updates? Do you use them? What about CAD Managers using deployments; do you deploy the updates? Is it too disruptive? Does it cause problems with the deployment no longer matching the installation, for example when attempting a repair install? Any other issues?

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AUGI Board of Directors – election process starts

The long-awaited election of members of the 2009 AUGI Board of Directors has finally got under way. Nominations are now open and will be until 24 May 2009. To nominate yourself or others, see this page for details. Various announcements have been made about the timing and format of the election events, see the Announcement forum (AUGI members only) for details. It is likely that two positions will be filled by this election and one by Presidential appointment to replace one Board member who resigned, taking the Board to the 6-member minimum. I will be covering the background to this election in future posts, but for now I just want to get the word out and encourage people to participate.

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Revolt of the Revit Ribbon Renegades

I hesitate to cover this subject because my understanding of Revit is very close to nil. I’m going to cover it anyway, because it relates to the Does Autodesk Listen? theme that I’ve discussed here in the past. Revit 2010 has appeared with a Ribbon interface, and many users don’t like it. Some well-known Revit users, including bloggers, former Autodesk employees and Revit founders, have railed against the new release. Autodesk has been accused of ignoring long-standing wishlists and pre-release feedback. Autodesk has (it is said) wasted precious development resources by introducing a badly-designed and poorly-performing pretty new face at the expense of solving long-standing and much-requested improvements to the core product. The main complaint appears to be that Autodesk didn’t do much with this release, other than introducing an interface that doesn’t work as well as the one it replaced. All this will sound very familiar to AutoCAD users, but there are some significant differences between the AutoCAD 2009 situation and the Revit 2010 one. First, I think it’s fair to say (even based on my limited knowledge) that the old Revit interface was in some need of attention. It was basically an old NT-style interface that had been left neglected for some years. Revit users may have been mostly happy with the way the interface worked, but the way it looked must have been a bit embarrasing, especially for Autodesk. Second, AutoCAD 2009 left the old interface in place for those people who wanted or needed to use it; with Revit 2010 it’s Ribbon or nothing. There is no transition strategy. I’m not qualified to make a judgement on whether the complaints about the usability of the new interface are justified. I should also mention that not every Revit user hates everything about Revit 2010, and there are…

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Network/standalone clash is confined to Raster Design

Autodesk has been in touch to confirm that the failure to allow a mixed network/standalone environment is confined to Raster Design. I haven’t yet tested this myself, but I’ve been told unequivocally that you can mix standalone and network license models for the major products. Here is the official Autodesk response to the issue: We are very aware of the issue currently relating to the co-existence of an AutoCAD SLM (stand-alone license) and AutoCAD Raster Design NLM (network license) configuration. This was not an intentional “change of licensing policy” as expressed in some blog posts this week, but an unfortunate side effect of updating our licensing technology for SLM (stand-alone) seats to be in sync with our NLM seats for all AutoCAD-based products. We can only apologize for this new behavior experienced by customers upgrade to 2010 version products. We are currently pursuing a couple of options to rectify this situation. We do intend to provide a solution in the very near term and I hope you will join me in helping mitigate the frustrations expressed in various blogs this week. We have also heard of speculations that this issue also impacts side-by-side installations of different AutoCAD desktops. This is not the case. Both software development and QA have successfully installed many different AutoCAD-based 2010 desktops side-by-side in mixed SLM and NLM configurations without any issues.

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