As reported earlier, AutoCAD 2017 SP1 breaks third-party add-ins that use the officially approved Autoloader mechanism. Autodesk is to be commended for acting quickly to produce a hotfix for this. In order to make this hotfix available quickly, Autodesk has taken the very unusual step of allowing a third party to distribute it. See this post from Jimmy Bergmark, who pointed out the bug in the first place. Kudos to whoever at Autodesk made the call to think outside the box to do this. It’s a very un-Autodesk Corporate thing to do, and particularly commendable for that very reason.
It’s important to note that because of the way Service Packs are now handled in AutoCAD and the vertical products based on it, this SP1 bug affects all of those products, not just base AutoCAD. Here is the list of affected products*:
- AutoCAD 2017
- AutoCAD Map 3D 2017
- AutoCAD Civil 3D 2017
- AutoCAD Mechanical 2017
- AutoCAD Electrical 2017
- AutoCAD Architecture 2017
- AutoCAD MEP 2017
- AutoCAD P&ID 2017
- AutoCAD Plant 3D 2017
- AutoCAD Utility Design 2017
*See links in comments below for further information about this.
Having heaped praise upon Autodesk for acting so quickly, it still needs to be said that Autodesk has done the wrong thing very quickly. Customers who go along with Autodesk’s continuous update push will see third party applications failing. The third party developers will be getting support requests from those customers and will have to persuade them a) that it’s Autodesk’s fault, and b) to go and deal with a manual hotfix that requires admin rights and requires copying/renaming things in Program Files. For customers without sufficient confidence to do that, or for whom just getting permission from IT to perform admin-rights operations is onerous, that’s pretty inconvenient.
It is wrong for Autodesk to offload the consequences of its incompetence onto its victims. Those customers and developers who have simply followed Autodesk’s direction and done nothing wrong deserve better than this.
What should have happened? SP1’s immediate withdrawal. It should be pulled now and reintroduced later (perhaps as SP1a) with this bug fixed. Given we’re only talking about one file, a week or two should do it. The hotfix should remain available for those customers who have already installed SP1, wish to keep it in place, and are happy to do the manual hotfix steps.
The lesson for customers and developers is not to blindly follow Autodesk’s direction. Make your own informed decisions about how you use, manage and develop for Autodesk products.
There are lessons here for Autodesk, too.
- Test stuff properly before releasing it. If serious bugs like this are discovered, delay the release until they’re fixed and retested.
- When you do screw up, fix it not only quickly but correctly. Don’t offload your problems onto your customers and developers; clean up your own mess.
- You’re not competent enough to do the automated continuous update thing. Your customers won’t trust you to do it, and they will be right. Give it up.
If item 2 above involves extra inconvenience and expense, so be it. It’s part of the cost of doing business; people pay a lot of money for Autodesk software, particularly if they’re forced to rent it. But doing item 1 right is actually cheaper and it means item 2 is much less likely to be relevant.
Will Autodesk learn from this? Unfortunately, I can’t be confident about that. I’ve seen too many such lessons unlearned or simply ignored over the years.