The 12-month cycle and shipping software with known bugs

In a recent blog post, Deelip Menezes appears to be shocked by the very idea that a particular CAD company (no, not Autodesk) would ship software that contains known bugs. I thought he was joking, because he’s surely aware that practically all software companies with highly complex products release software with known bugs. As Deelip points out, those companies with 12-month cycles are particularly prone to doing this. There is no possible way any company can release something as complex as a CAD application within a fixed 12-month cycle without it containing dozens* of known bugs (because there isn’t time to fix them after discovery) and dozens* of unknown ones (because of insufficient Beta testing time).

Reading Deelip’s post and subsequent comments more carefully, it becomes clear that he doesn’t mean what a casual glance might lead you to believe he means. Deelip makes a specific distinction between … Full post

AutoCAD for Linux – another bad idea

I often see calls for Autodesk to support AutoCAD on Linux. Just like AutoCAD for the Mac, while I can sympathise with the users of that OS, I think a native port of AutoCAD for Linux would be a bad idea. Again, I think it would be bad for everybody: Autodesk, AutoCAD for Windows users, and most of all, AutoCAD for Linux users.

Why? First of all, for most of the same reasons I gave for the Mac port. Autodesk hasn’t just failed in the past with AutoCAD for the Mac, it has failed with AutoCAD for Unix, too. I remember Autodesk being very enthusiastic about the Sparc port in particular (AIX, too). I know personally of customers who were caught up in that enthusiasm and invested heavily in a Unix environment, only to bitterly regret it a few years later when Autodesk abandoned them. Would this happen again? … Full post

Go and snag a free Snagit, quick!

For the next few hours, you can get a free registered version of the screen capture software Snagit from TechSmith. It’s a couple of versions old and not supported on Vista, but nevertheless is well worthwhile. No, the Print Scrn key isn’t the same thing at all; Snagit is much, much more useful than that. Try it for yourself, you can thank me later.

To get the freebie, first get a registration key by clicking here and then download your copy of Snagit 7.2.5 from here. Be quick, because this offer closes at 5 PM EST (9 PM GMT/UTC) today, 5 June 2009.

Even if you were planning on buying the latest version of Snagit, get this freebie anyway. As a registered user of Snagit, you automatically qualify for upgrade offers. This means you can get the latest Snagit for US$24.95 rather than US$49.95 (depending … Full post

AutoCAD for Mac review in Cadalyst (circa 1989)

A comment from Kal on Between the Lines mentions an AutoCAD Release 10.5 for Mac. My memory of ancient and useless AutoCAD trivia is usually pretty good, but this time things are a bit foggy and I need some help. I definitely remember there being some kind of half-release of AutoCAD for Mac*, but I’m not sure it was an official designation.

I do remember a Cadalyst review at the time, possibly by Art Liddle. I would estimate it to be from 1989, give or take a year. The then-new Mac release reviewed was some kind of hybrid between R10 and R11 (I think), with most of the feature set of one release and the DWG format of another. I had thought the product was called R11, but I could be wrong about that and maybe it was 10.5.

Is there anybody out there with a complete … Full post

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 … Full post

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* … Full post

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 … Full post

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.

Mystery person

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!

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:

Dragon 32

I cut my coding teeth on this beast. The … Full post

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:

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 … Full post

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.

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 … Full post

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 … Full post

AutoCAD’s magic vanishing attachments

There are now quite a few file types that you can attach to an AutoCAD drawing as a reference, in the same way that you can attach other drawings as xrefs. We’ve been able to attach other drawings since Release 11 (1990) and images since Release 14 (1997), but every release since 2007 has introduced a new kind of attachment. In AutoCAD 2010, you can now also attach PDFs, MicroStation DGNs (v7 and v8), DWF and DWFx files.

But should you? Maybe not. It depends who is going to use those drawings after you. If you know for certain that every user of that drawing is going to be using 2010 and later, that’s no problem. But if there is the possibility of earlier releases being used, your fine-looking attachments could vanish silently in the night. Attach a PDF to your drawing in 2010, give it to a user of … Full post

Autodesk plans to fix Raster Design licensing SNAFU

I have been in touch with various people at Autodesk about Raster Design 2010’s failure to work in a mixed standalone/network environment. These people have all been suitably apologetic, they assure me it wasn’t a deliberate move on Autodesk’s part, and that moves are afoot to provide a solution fairly soon. For example:

Our intention was never to cause such inconvenience for our Raster customers with the licensing change. We are currently working on a solution and hope to have more information in the coming weeks.


…we are very aware of the issue currently relating to the co-existence of an AutoCAD SLM and Raster Design NLM. This was not an intentional “change of licensing policy”, 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. I can only apologize for this new … Full post

Should you read software license agreements?

Evan Yares has raised an interesting point about the insolvency clause in Autodesk’s End User License Agreement. Please read the whole thing, but the gist is that there’s a clause where if you get into financial difficulties, Autodesk will do its bit to help you out in times of trouble by taking away your software licenses.

This clause extends as far as making an arrangement with your creditors, which is a common enough phrase but can mean several things and isn’t defined within the agreement. So, if your cash flow is a bit tight and you have to ask your phone company for another month to pay your bill, you’ll be sure to stop using all your Autodesk software, won’t you? Never use it again, because otherwise you’ll be a thief.

OK, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but I’m sure it could be interpreted that way by an aggressive … Full post

Autodesk messes up Raster Design 2010 licensing

I was horrified to learn (in this Autodesk Discussion Group thread) that Autodesk has changed the rules as far as the way Raster Design licenses are handled. It’s quite possible that Autodesk has also done this with other products that I’m not yet aware of. If so, please comment and let me know.

If you’re not familiar with Raster Design, it’s an Autodesk add-on that adds raster handling capabilities to AutoCAD and AutoCAD-based products. The change that has been introduced is that the licensing method of AutoCAD and Raster Design now has to match. That is, if your AutoCAD is standalone, the network version of Raster Design won’t run on it, and vice versa.

Why does this matter? Let’s say you’re a CAD Manager in this scenario:

You have a hundred AutoCAD users, half of which are full-time users with standalone licenses and the other half who are mainly part-time … Full post

Not another SpacePilot PRO review

This post is not about the new SpacePilot PRO 3D controller from 3Dconnexion (a division of Logitech). This post is about the Internet coverage of the launch of that new device, journalism, blogging, freebies and ethics.

It has long been common practice for companies to give out free stuff to journalists. Free gadgets, free transport and other expenses for attending events, free beer, free lunch… oh, wait, there’s no such thing. As blogging has risen in prominence, that practice has been extended to providing free stuff for bloggers. It was traditional in the past for such freebies to go unmentioned in reports about the products of such companies. I think the first time I saw this kind of thing disclosed was by Ralph Grabowski, and I was impressed. Maybe it’s just the sites I read, but I see more of that kind of disclosure in blogs than … Full post