Carl cashing in his chips

Here’s an interesting Carl Bass exit interview with Roopinder Tara at engineering.com. If you’re wondering just how much stock Carl offloaded in those planned sales, here are his reported sales of Autodesk stock in the weeks leading up to the resignation:

  • 11 Jan 2017 $7,894,150
  • 9 Jan 2017 $7,888,768
  • 5 Jan 2017 $7,694,038
  • 23 Dec 2016 $1,971,715
  • 22 Dec 2016 $1,968,935

That’s $27m, give or take. Carl’s reported as having sold over $49m of Autodesk stock over the last three years.

While Carl still has tens of millions of Autodesk stock, dumping that much of it before leaving doesn’t strike me as the actions of someone as supremely confident in the future of Autodesk’s ailing cloud push and rent-or-go-away business model as his words would suggest.

The next Autodesk CEO – polls

Here, have some fun by voting in these polls. Idea shamelessly stolen from Paul Munford on Twitter.

Who do you want to be the next Autodesk CEO?

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Who do you think will be the next Autodesk CEO?

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Carl Bass resigns

I only met Carl Bass once, and that was when I gatecrashed his party in 2006. Seemed like a nice guy. Didn’t kick me out.

So now one of the worst-kept secrets in the CAD industry, Carl Bass’s impending departure from Autodesk, has now come to pass.

Time to end this chapter & write next. Proud of what we’ve done together @autodesk in great hands, strong position https://t.co/gRXy0YWWGj

— Carl Bass (@carlbass) February 7, 2017

At the Bricsys Conference in Munich last October, industry observers and Carl’s former colleagues were all aware Carl’s departure was looming. They were pondering only the timing of the announcement and the identity of his replacement; we now know one of those things. The wisdom (not the accuracy) of this sort of Trump-baiting by a major public company’s … Full post

Why Autodesk’s rental won’t make big money from pirates

One argument I’ve seen in support of the all-rental software model is that it will rake in lots of cash from those users who aren’t currently customers, i.e. pirates. Here’s an example (Carl Bass, November 2016):

We believe some of these people were previously pirating the software and now have a much more affordable option with product subscriptions. This is consistent with the fact that emerging countries are some of the fastest growing areas for product subscriptions. In other cases, these new users have been using an alternative design tool and could now afford software from Autodesk.

Putting aside the correlation-does-not-imply-causation thing, rental simply isn’t a much more affordable option than perpetual licenses. On the contrary, it’s much more expensive (except for short term use). Repeating an #AlternativeFact doesn’t make it any more true.

The idea that people who had been using non-Autodesk software have switched over to … Full post

33 years of AutoCAD upgrades rated – part 5 – summary

In this final post of the series, I’ll examine the patterns that have emerged from the upgrade history I rated in parts 1 to 4. Bear in mind I’m only assessing the DOS (up to R13) and Windows (from R12 on) versions of the full version of AutoCAD. Of course, this only represents my opinion of those releases and is bound to be biased by the uses I and my users have for the software. Your experiences and opinions will almost certainly vary.

What can I say? My assessment is based on a third of a century of experience, and I’ve tried to be as objective as I can. I’m not unique in perceiving the decline of the AutoCAD upgrade; you’ll see the same said by long-standing customers and experienced independents all over the place. Ralph Grabowski, for example:

The new feature list for AutoCAD’s annual “big-R” release … Full post

Another series of Autodesk statements

Having established what happens when Autodesk claims to have no plans to do nasty anti-customer things, (it goes ahead and does them), let’s examine another nasty anti-customer thing it hasn’t got around to doing. Yet.

Will Autodesk discontinue the maintenance program that allows customers to keep their perpetual licenses up to date? Let’s see what Autodesk has been prepared to put in writing so far:

There are no announced plans to end maintenance subscriptions.

Matt DiMichele, August 2015, Autodesk Community Perpetual License Changes forum

Hmm, we all know what “no plans” means, don’t we, children?

I assure you we have no plan to discontinue maintenance subscription plans for existing perpetual license owners.

Andrew Anagnost, September 2015, Cadalyst interview with Robert Green

“We have no plan” again, eh? That’s a concern.

Our lawyers frown on me using words like “never.” Do we have … Full post

Another one bites the dust – Autodesk sheds Seek

Following on from Autodesk’s announcement of the impending demise of 123D, the shedding of Cloudy applications and services continues. This time, it’s BIM content service Autodesk Seek. Here’s what Autodesk has to say about the reason for this change:

Autodesk… does not consider the Autodesk Seek service to be strategic to our core business at this time.

 
The timeline went something like this:

  • 16 January 2017 – Autodesk transferred the operations and customer support obligations related to the Autodesk Seek business to Swedish digital content company BIMobject.
  • 18 January 2017 – Autodesk posts a notice to that effect on its Knowledge Network.
  • 18 January 2017 – BIMobject posts a notice to that effect on its own site.
  • ~23 January 2017 – Autodesk customers attempting to use Autodesk Seek find out about the change when they are automatically … Full post

A series of Autodesk statements

Here are some statements from Autodesk about not having any plans to do some things. Things that the more paranoid among us suspected were always in the pipeline. Things that seemed to be just joining the dots along a predictable path Autodesk appeared to be taking. Things that later ended up happening. But nevertheless things that were, apparently, unplanned.

Simplified Upgrade Pricing FAQ, July 2009:

Autodesk does not currently have any plans to eliminate upgrades or cross-grades or make Autodesk Subscription* mandatory.

 
Callan Carpenter, May 2010:

…we are still perpetual, plus Subscription* or maintenance. I don’t see that changing. It’s hard to predict 50 years into the future, but we have no plans for that.

 
Carl Bass, August 2013:

Because we’re starting in a different place than Adobe, we don’t feel the need to force people, as they … Full post

CAD on the Cloud – available anytime, anywhere except when it isn’t

One of the multiple reasons Autodesk has failed to win over the masses to its Cloudy CAD vision is fear of unreliability. Anything that relies on using somebody else’s computer over the Internet adds potential points of failure to those already there on a standalone desktop system. These additional vulnerabilities include:

  • Your browser or thin client software fails
  • Your modem, cabling or other Internet connectivity hardware fails
  • Your Internet service provider has an outage
  • Malware or DDOS attacks on your domain or service
  • Governmental Internet service interference
  • Internet connectivity infrastructure failure
  • Malware or DDOS attacks on vendor domain or service
  • Cloud vendor infrastructure disaster
  • Cloud-based CAD software down for maintenance

I voiced my concerns about this in 2011, but technology has moved on since then and surely things are running as smooth as can be these days, right? Most computer users use Cloud services … Full post

Huge PDFs? AutoCAD 2017.1.1 could be to blame

Autodesk has yet again demonstrated why continuous automatic updating is no panacea for avoiding CAD update disruption. On the contrary…

If you have noticed some of your PDFs exported from AutoCAD getting huge and unwieldy lately, AutoCAD 2017.1.1 could be to blame. Try uninstalling it using Programs and Features > View Installed Updates and see if the problem goes away. It may also be possible to work around this by going into PDF options and turning on Include Hyperlinks. Source: The Swamp.

Here’s one possible* install history:

  • You install AutoCAD 2017. This defaults to also installing Autodesk desktop app. If this works on your system and you leave it on there doing its thing and consuming your resources, it will attempt to automatically keep your Autodesk software up to date.
  • Autodesk desktop app installed AutoCAD 2017.1. You like this because it has added a couple of nice features. … Full post

Return of the bullshit – baked beans edition

In an October 2015 post I’ve only just noticed, snappily titled No More Software Like a Can of Baked Beans: Why Software Subscription Serves It Up Fresh, Autodesk VP Andrew Anagnost bravely attempts to sell Autodesk’s move to all-rental software. This is a rather belated response, but fortunately there is no statute of limitations on skewering spin so let’s get started.

How does he go? On a positive note, top marks for creative writing! The general theme is a strained and somewhat Californian analogy in which perpetual licenses are like canned goods (bad), and rental is like fresh produce (good). However, it’s presented well and professionally written. Among the highlights are:

  • Perpetual software licenses are like high-fructose corn syrup – no, I’m not making this up. Stop laughing at the back there!
  • This is a change that is simply a better experience for everyone – everyone who … Full post

Autodesk’s big Cloud failure

Back in 2011, Autodesk, some other vendors and many industry pundits were utterly convinced of the inevitable and near-imminent victory of Cloud-based CAD over standalone software. I wasn’t. I wanted to get a feel for how isolated my viewpoint was, so I started a poll and let it run for a while. Here’s how that turned out:
 

As you can see, this blog’s readers were less than convinced about the inevitability of that Cloudy future. Not so Carl Bass, who had this to say in an April 2012 TechCrunch interview:

I’d say two to three years from now, every one of our products will be used online. The only way to use … Full post

Autodesk to pull the plug on 123D

The reason you should never rely on SaaS for anything important is that, well, you just can’t rely on it. If the software breaks, or the vendor goes under, or decides that line’s not profitable enough, or just loses interest, you’re screwed. More importantly, you’re screwed on a timeframe that’s out of your control, and probably much shorter than you would like. You can’t just go on using the software until you’re ready to move on, like you can with perpetual licenses.

Thanks for the latest lesson, Autodesk, regarding 123D:

Over the past few years, millions of people have unlocked their creativity with the Autodesk 123D apps and community. We’ve grown from one desktop tool in 2011 to multiple apps across desktop, web, and mobile.
 
We’re incredibly proud of these products, and even more proud of what you all have MADE with them. But we … Full post

BricsCAD startup LISP bug fixed

In my previous post I have a real problem with BricsCAD, I related my then-latest interaction with the Bricsys support system:

Steve Johnson
05-12-2016 05:30 UTC

I don’t know if this is a BricsCAD problem or a DOSLib one, so I am reporting it to both Bricsys and Dale at McNeel. I’m also not sure if this was happening in earlier versions.

If I load DOSLib during an S::STARTUP call and then use the (dos_msgbox) function later in that call, this fails the first time round because BricsCAD things the function is not defined. Opening a second drawing results in the call working as expected. I’ve chopped down our startup routine so you have an example.

; error : no function definition ; expected FUNCTION at [eval]

Awesome Bricsys Person
05-12-2016 12:32 UTC

Hi Steve,

There was a regression introduced in V17.1.10 that caused … Full post

Autodesk perpetual license owners to get screwed big-time

Hidden in amongst a bunch of the usual highly dubious subscription statements from Carl Bass is an announcement that spells doom for Autodesk perpetual license owners. I will resist the temptation to skewer Carl’s spin (for now) because this announcement is much more important:

Bass also confirmed that the company plans to converge the two existing subscription models — maintenance and product subscriptions — into a single offering over the next two years. “If you look out to fiscal year 2020, we want to be in a place where, first of all, we have a single kind of offering with a single back office and infrastructure to support it, one that will be a combination of product subscriptions as you see them plus a consumption model on top of it. That’s where we see the business heading.

“Along the way, it’s how do we motivate customers to … Full post

Autodesk has some great documentation people

The most heavily commented post on this blog is AutoCAD 2013 – An Autodesk Help writer responds, featuring Dieter Schlaepfer‘s response to posts and comments here about AutoCAD 2013’s Help. I don’t always agree with Dieter but I respect him enormously, and not just because he was brave enough to stick his head above the parapet in a hostile environment. Dieter is a principal technical writer at Autodesk with many years’ experience and is therefore responsible for large amounts of documentation content. You’ve almost certainly read his work.

I’ve been critical of AutoCAD’s Help system since it was broken in 2011, and I make no apologies for that. The Help system sucked then, it sucked even worse in 2013, and it continues to suck badly in 2017. None of that’s Dieter’s fault. It’s the Help engine that’s at fault, or to be more accurate the Help … Full post

BricsCAD V17 – the best AutoCAD upgrade in years?

I’ve been evaluating BricsCAD for a few years now, and have been looking at it pretty seriously as a DWG-based LISP-compatible AutoCAD alternative for a year or so. A couple of weeks ago, I flew to Munich for the Bricsys International Conference (at Bricsys’ expense – see the Legal page for disclosure) where I learned quite a few things I had failed to notice during my own evaluation of V17. As you may have noticed, I can be pretty hard-bitten and cynical about what CAD companies have to say about their products, but I came back impressed.

The conference and the product itself are not free of flaws, but I have to say the progress Bricsys has shown in developing the BricsCAD product is really quite astonishing. The rate at which serious, worthwhile-to-customers improvements have been made to BricsCAD over the last few releases is huge. Some of … Full post

How to download Autodesk software without the Akamai download manager

For reasons beyond my understanding, Autodesk chooses to make life difficult for customers and prospective customers who want to download its products by imposing the use of a download manager (DLM) by Akamai. You really don’t want to let such a thing loose on your system even if it works, for reasons that have been explained in previous posts.

Until a couple of years ago, Autodesk allowed prospective customers to get at a direct download link after jumping through a few hoops and ignoring a bunch of bullshit warnings, but in recent times even that small measure of semi-decency has been removed. It became impossible for anyone who couldn’t or wouldn’t use the Akamai DLM to try out Autodesk’s products! Here’s what you get these days; there is no direct browser download option to be found, just a downloader stub you’re expected to install and give open slather … Full post

Dear Autodesk Recap 360 team…

…your software (3.0.0.52, came with AutoCAD 2017) fails to allow sign-in (a prerequisite to connection to the cloud) in a secure proxy server environment. This happens (see picture):

autodeskrecap360cantsignin

I am online. I did try to inform you about this problem using the feedback mechanism in the product. This allowed me to type my problem report, but on hitting the send feedback button, I got this (see picture):

autodeskrecap360cantsignin2

I am connected. In fact, I’m so connected I’m typing this post online while reproducing the problem. … Full post

When is a subscription-only update not a subscription-only update?

Before I get started, I want to clarify the meaning of the word ‘subscription’. For about 15 years, the word Subscription (note the initial capital) meant something specific for Autodesk customers. It meant you had bought a perpetual license and instead of paying for periodical updates, you paid for a year’s Subscription in advance. In allowed access to any new release that appeared during that year plus various other benefits.

That thing that was once called ‘Subscription’ has now been renamed ‘maintenance’ (no initial capital) in Autodeskspeak. So what does ‘subscription’ (no initial capital) mean? Rental. You pay in advance for use of the product for a period and when you stop paying, you stop using the product. This is now the only way to obtain Autodesk software you don’t already own. In addition to access to any new release that appears during the subscription period, it provides other benefits … Full post