Why owning stuff is still important (repost)

This post was originally published on 19 November 2012. What’s happened since then is that Autodesk has indeed ended the sale of perpetual licenses and gone all-rental even though customers remain reluctant.

Autodesk’s cloud push, however, is struggling. Many Autodesk cloud products are dying or dead. Others (mostly free) carry on but many have failed to live up to expectations.  Some paid cloud products (e.g. Fusion 360) are starting to generate some return on Autodesk’s huge investment. However, it’s all years behind schedule. We were supposed to be cloudy CAD users several years ago. It hasn’t happened. How much of that is because of technical blockages, how much is because we have problems trusting the cloud, and how much is because we prefer to own our software licenses? I have no way of telling, but I’m sure the latter factor is somewhere … Full post

Simplifying CAD Management the Autodesk way

According to Autodesk, one of the benefits of subscription (rental) is simplified administration. To prove it, Autodesk has provided a simple guide for CAD Managers called The Software Administrator’s Guide to Autodesk Subscriptions – How to Set Up, Install, and Manage Your Software and Users.

It’s 18.7 MB and 78 pages long.

Don’t worry though, this simple guide helpfully includes a simple guide on how to read it.

Among other things, this eBook provides handy hints on how subscription’s simplified administration regime for standalone licenses requires you to pre-emptively name all your users, set them all up with Autodesk accounts and define what software each is allowed to use. There’s a note to say that your Internet connection needs to be working at the time of installation (obviously) and also every 30 days (less obvious) or you won’t be able to use the software.

The guide … Full post

Autodesk updates Design Review

Despite the previously announced end-of-active-life for Design Review (Autodesk’s DWF viewer), there is now a new release available. This wasn’t supposed to happen, because we should all now be using cloud-based solutions.

A new version of DWG TrueView was needed to deal with the new DWG 2018 format, and one knock-on effect is that a new Design Review was needed to be compatible with DWG TrueView 2018.  It’s still only 32-bit, so it appears to be a matter of Autodesk just touching it up enough to keep it compatible.

Interestingly, the new Design Review is not called 2018. Here’s where to find it:

On the bloatware theme, if there’s a particular reason this download (421 MB) is over eight … Full post

What’s in a name? AutoCAD 360 / mobile app confusion

Has Autodesk’s online DWG viewer/markup tool had yet another rename? It’s hard to tell. I suspect there’s a rename process going on that’s not yet complete.

Here’s the list of names so far. I think.

  • Visual Tau (when acquired by Autodesk)
  • Project Butterfly (Autodesk Labs name)
  • AutoCAD WS
  • AutoCAD 360
  • AutoCAD mobile app

The last two names appear to be interchangeable right now. What led me to this confusion is the very sub-optimal customer experience I had in attempting to try out AutoCAD 360. The best way to describe it is a wild goose chase.

I started from a point familiar to current AutoCAD maintenance and subscription customers, the Autodesk Accounts page. Like the majority of AutoCAD users, I accessed this using a browser on a Windows PC. Among the options in there was this. Hmm, AutoCAD® 360, free, Access now. Let’s try that out.

Full post

The Cloud Broke – a poem

The cloud broke
And teardrops fell
On the desks
Of those who fell
For the lure
Of a cloudy hell.


The landlord laughs
To see such fun
Collects his rent
From web he spun
He still gets paid
When things don’t run.


I said t’would be
It’s come to pass
Surprised? Not me
With or without Bass
Autodesk’s cloud
Can kiss this SaaS.

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

Video lulz with AutoCAD 360

Thanks to Hans Lammerts on Twitter for pointing out this amusingly cringeworthy AutoCAD 360 YouTube ad:

The guy spilling his coffee and falling over reminds me of the people in those infomercials that can never get the simplest things right:

OK, so the ad’s bad, but how’s the product? I had a look for myself at the browser version of AutoCAD 360, which is the current name for what has been Visual Tau, Project Butterfly and AutoCAD WS in previous iterations dating back before Autodesk’s acquisition of the Israeli technology in 2009.

It’s a while since I tried it, so I was interested to see the progress that had been made. After all, CAD in the Cloud has been Autodesk’s focus for a long time now, and as this is likely the first product people try out, you’d expect it to be pretty dazzlingly … 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

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

The Times They Are a-Changin’ (guest post)

I’d like to thank Steve for the opportunity to write this guest post. My post doesn’t necessarily represent Steve, nor does it represent any company. It’s strictly a personal point of view. The purpose of this post is to prompt discussion and debate, and get your opinion.

Recent discussion on this blog has focused on Autodesk and its many changes over the past few years (upgrade pricing, policy changes, term-only aka rental licenses, move to the cloud, etc.), and there’s been a lot of skepticism. If we stand back and look at the landscape, though, Autodesk is not alone. True, they’re moving faster and more aggressively than their competitors, but many software companies are making similar changes.

Change can be disruptive, it can have positive and negative impact, and there can be winners and losers. But … it’s inevitable, and it’s better to understand change than to fight it. To … 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

AutoCAD 2017 Feature – Share Design View

An interesting new feature of AutoCAD 2017 is Share Design View, which is invoked using the leftmost button on the A360 Ribbon tab or the ONLINEDESIGNSHARE command. The idea behind this command is to create a web-published snapshot of your drawing that can be accessed by anyone with a browser (they’ll need a fairly recent one).

This command works as advertised and provides another option to allow limited access to your design information without providing access to your DWG files. It creates a web page containing a view of your drawing and lets you have the URL (link) so you can access it. You can then share this URL with anyone you want to share the design with. They just follow the URL and can view the design using the Autodesk A360 Viewer (no download required).

Heidi Hewett wrote a fuller description of how it works on the … Full post

Autodesk desktop app. Worst. Name. Ever. Is the product better than the name?

Autodesk wants your software to be automatically updated so you’re always running the latest version. Let’s pretend for a moment that this is a good idea and have a look at how Autodesk now attempts to do this. For the previous couple of releases (2015/2016), this has been done using Autodesk Application Manager. For 2017, this has been replaced by Autodesk desktop app. Even if you haven’t installed any 2017 products, you may have already seen this kind of thing pop up. Repeatedly.

ApplicationManagerReplaced

Note how there’s no obvious “stop nagging me and leave me alone” option. Autodesk Application Manager’s settings page does include an Alerts tab which allows you to turn off all desktop alerts, … Full post

Don’t be a technology lemming

In response to Shaan’s variant on the old “if you question the value of any change you must be a Luddite” argument, I was going to write a lemming-based parody. I didn’t, mainly because I didn’t want to perpetuate the lemming mass-suicide misconception. Instead, I’ll answer the point more directly.

Autodesk will acheive better success in convincing customers about Cloud computing and other concepts by actively and interactively engaging with them. Addressing their specific and legitimate concerns has a chance of success if the concepts have merit. Insultingly likening customers to allegedly stupid animals isn’t going to convince anyone.

Besides, the point has little validity. Armadillos have 20 species, are currently dramatically increasing their territory in North America, and have been around rather longer than humans. Maybe we should wait until we’ve been around a few tens of millions of years longer before we get too cocky about how … Full post

Let’s have your AutoCAD WS 1.6 reviews

Autodesk has just released the latest iteration of its free online CAD app, AutoCAD WS. It’s available directly via your browser or as iOS, Mac or Android apps. This is the closest Autodesk has yet come to showing us what real CAD in the Cloud can do. Autodesk has now had three years’ work behind it since buying the company responsible for this technology. I’d like you to put aside any Cloud concerns you may have and give it a fair go. Please try it out and report back what you find in a mini-review. How well does it work? The customer stories are all from organisations using it as a viewer or for simple markup edits. Is that all it can do, or does it come close to deserving to have CAD in its name?

What do I want you to try? It’s up to you, … Full post

Carl Bass confirms Cloud-only future for Autodesk – or does he?

As reported by Joe Francica (via WorldCAD Access), Carl Bass has confirmed, in a somewhat ambiguous way, that his Cloud-only vision rules at Autodesk.

I do believe that everything is moving to the cloud.

But…

There are a lot of applications that will [still] be done on the desktop. Whether Autodesk does it or not, I can’t think of a single function that won’t necessarily be done in the cloud.

Still a bit confused? Me too. It’s not clear where this leaves his underlings who have been rushing to contradict Carl’s earlier statements by unambiguously reassuring customers that Autodesk would continue to provide desktop software. Will they now come out with “clarifying” statements that fall into line with whatever it is Carl’s saying here? I doubt it, that would be just too embarrassing. I suspect we’ll see things go very quiet on this subject for a while.

Now we … Full post

MDT users and other Autodesk orphans, let’s have your good news stories!

I was going to ignore this subject, but I’ve changed my mind because it allows me to post something positive about Autodesk. After all, I do try to post positive things; it’s hardly my fault that Autodesk has a habit of making it difficult.

In upFront eZine #756, Autodesk’s Andrew Anagnost (or was it Clay Helm?) had the following to say, and must say I agree totally with the first sentence:

The best evidence is how we have behaved historically. When we included Mechanical Desktop with Inventor, the media complained that we were killing Mechanical Desktop; you were probably one of them. But we didn’t; we came out with six, seven more releases of it, completely free.

So, MDT users, you’re the poster child for how Autodesk looks after its customers. You’re also evidence for how wrong those nasty media naysayers … Full post

Autodesk’s social media consultant spills the beans

Ever wondered why Autodesk is putting so much emphasis on social media these days? Why AutoCAD needs Facebook and Twitter commands? It’s because Autodesk pays social media consultants lots of money to tell them about the importance of social media, and how to be social and media-ish. In this video, one of those consultants explains the process: