Three years ago, I was happy to promote Autodesk’s then-new site AutoCAD Exchange. However, Autodesk has now given up on this attempt to maintain a social site of its own. My comment at the time, “AutoCAD Exchange is an important and potentially very useful site for AutoCAD users” turned out to be optimistic. I was closer to the mark with “It has yet to be seen if Autodesk manages to develop a real community on this site”. Now we’ve seen the answer. No, it didn’t. Autodesk has instead handed control to more socially successful sites, as this message indicates:
Thank you for visiting AutoCAD Exchange. In an effort to consolidate our online AutoCAD community efforts to more popular networks, we will be migrating AutoCAD Exchange content and activities to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Through the AutoCAD Facebook page we provide tips & tricks, tutorial videos and opportunities to engage with the employees at Autodesk that have helped build the product from the ground up.
If you are at a corporate location it’s quite likely that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are strictly off-limits, so I guess your AutoCAD-based social life just fell in a hole. OK, it was a worthy attempt which didn’t work, and it’s understandable that Autodesk pulled the plug. It was by no means the first Autodesk failed venture and it won’t be the last. Companies need to try out new things and nobody succeeds all the time. Apple Newton, anyone? Windows Me? IBM PCjr? AutoCAD for Mac? (The original attempt, that is. Jury is still out on the second one).
What if it had been a more important Autodesk on-line service that didn’t work out? One that you had grown to depend on? When Autodesk gives up on a piece of conventional software you’re using (as has happened countless times in the past, even with successful applications), you can at least go on using it until external factors force you to stop. That might be years down the track. I continued to use Autodesk’s Graphic Impact for presentations when most of Autodesk’s employees had forgotten it ever existed. But when Autodesk gives up on a piece of on-line software you’re using (and you’d have to be mindlessly optimistic to believe that such a thing won’t happen), you’re severely out of luck. So who’s going to volunteer to tie their company in to CAD on the Cloud?