Autodesk answers – 1 of 4

At the end of January, I asked for your questions to put to Autodesk product managers. My intention was to pose your questions in a video interview format while attending the AutoCAD 2010 product launch, but for logistical reasons I was unable to make this happen.

Autodesk’s Eric Stover kindly arranged for your questions to be answered anyway. The delay in getting these answers back to you is my responsibility, not Autodesk’s. The answers come courtesy of the following product managers:

  • Diane Li – lead manager on AutoCAD;
  • Guillermo Melantoni – 3D and Parametrics expert;
  • Kathy O’Connell – customer requests, quality improvements, and 2D improvements.

I will post each question and answer a day apart, to give you chance to comment on each issue separately. Here is the first question, courtesy of Chris Cowgill:

Q: With the current release cycle being so short, has anyone considered suspending … Full post

Older AutoCAD loses (part of) the plot

I know there are plenty of people still using AutoCAD 2007 and earlier, so this bug warning may save some of you some grief. I have no idea how widespread or isolated this problem is, but under some circumstances I haven’t worked out yet, AutoCAD 2007 fails to plot all of certain dynamic blocks. Some attributes have a habit of being plot-shy. Even if you don’t use dynamic blocks yourself, you could receive a set of drawings, check them on-screen, approve them, plot them and send out paper drawings without all of their parts. Unless you’re carefully manually checking the paper plots, this situation is obviously a little dangerous. Fortunately, Plot Preview also shows up the problem, so it is at least possible to check things without wasting trees.

Here’s an example. This is part of such a drawing displayed in AutoCAD 2007, with all of its parts in place. … Full post

Vernor v Autodesk – why I think Autodesk is right

Well, there’s a statement I wasn’t expecting to make. Let me preface these comments with a disclaimer. I have no legal qualifications whatsoever. I make no claims of knowing who is legally right in this David v. Goliath legal battle; that’s for the courts to decide. When I make the statement that I think Autodesk is right, I don’t mean legally right, I mean morally right.

I have been following this fight with interest, but only in a half-baked way, third-hand via commentators (like myself, now). Based on my skimming of that commentary, my natural inclination to support the underdog, and my general dislike of of Autodesk’s previous and current legal adventures, I had been of the firm but privately held opinion that Vernor was right and Autodesk was wrong.

Today, after noting that new filings had been made, I had a proper look at some (not all) of … Full post

AutoCAD 2010 – Will you miss the Menu Browser?

I’ve closed the poll that asked AutoCAD 2009 users about their MENUBAR setting. It’s very clear that pull-down menus are still very much in use in the Ribboned world of post-2008 AutoCAD. In AutoCAD 2009, an attempt was made to provide access to pull-down menus without sacrificing that strip of screen real estate. That attempt was called the Menu Browser, it was one of the thing you could find under the Big Red A, and it really didn’t work very well. In AutoCAD 2010, the Menu Browser has gone away. The A hasn’t gone away, just the ability to access pull-down menus through it.

There are some who have expressed a deep dislike of the Big Red A, although it never offended me greatly. I just wished the features hidden under it worked better than they did in 2009. Personally, I generally prefer what’s under the A in … Full post

A year of nauseam

This is one of those awful self-indulgent blog posts you hate, so just skip it and read the more interesting stuff a bit further down instead.

It is now a year since I started this blog and this is my 200th post. Here are the site statistics for 2008:

Stats 2008

Here they are for 2009:

Stats 2009

I’m sure there are other CAD blogs out there with much more impressive stats than that, particularly the Autodesk ones. I’m pretty happy with the number of visitors I have, though. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started doing this; maybe a couple of hundred people might be interested, maybe not. I certainly wasn’t expecting 168,000 visits in the first year. I wasn’t even sure I was going to keep it up after the first few weeks. But it seemed to … Full post

I see no ads

I have removed the advertisements from this blog. Not because I worried about people not liking them (they were fairly unobtrusive). Not because they were slowing down the page load times (although they did, a bit). Not even because I felt that they were somehow impinging upon my editorial independence.

No, I removed them because they weren’t generating any income. Not a single cent! I pretty much expected any income to be tiny, and certainly not enough to cover my fairly minor running expenses. It wasn’t tiny, it was totally absent. Experiment over.

I’m supporting the New Zealand blackout

Thanks to Robin Capper for bringing this to my attention.

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

http://creativefreedom.org.nz/blackout.html

Disclosure: I’m a software developer, artist (of sorts), copyright owner and part of a company that sells software to allow copyright owners to protect their interests. I’m also the victim of clueless corporations counterproductively interfering with my art. Most of all, I’m a supporter of the fair use of copyrighted materials.

This law in New Zealand needs to be turned back now. If it succeeds in Robin’s country, it will be mine next, then yours. I encourage you to support this viral campaign so it attracts some press attention. Excuse me while I go and turn my gravatar black.

Gravatars – how to get a picture next to your comment

After some recent site maintenance here, you may have noticed that the comments look a bit different, and that some people’s comments have a little picture next to them. This little picture is called a gravatar (globally recognised avatar), and you can have one too. Once you set it up, you will find that it works in all sorts of places, not just this blog.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Visit gravatar.com and pick a sign up link.
  • Provide a valid email address; the same one you provide when adding comments to blogs. I have not received any spam as a result of doing this.
  • You’ll be sent a confirmation email; click on the link in that and follow the prompts to set your password and so on.
  • Choose your gravatar image from your hard drive, the internet, a webcam or a previously uploaded image. You can point … Full post
  • Interesting times ahead for Cadalyst

    As many of you may know, I’ve been writing for Cadalyst since 1995. Yesterday, I read in David Cohn’s summary of the history of Cadalyst that in 1991, Lionel Johnston sold CADalyst to Aster Publishing for $2.2 million.

    How times have changed! Today, current owner Questex doesn’t think it’s worth keeping alive. I’ve been aware for some months of uncertainty about Cadalyst’s future, and Questex has finally decided that it doesn’t have one. Most of the staff have been laid off, with a tiny skeleton staff keeping things ticking over until the end of the month. As a Contributing Editor (i.e. writer), the financial effect on me is small, but others are less fortunate and have my sympathy.

    There’s still hope, though. This is the official word from Editor-in-Chief Nancy Spurling Johnson:

    Questex Media Group has decided to divest itself of Cadalyst, effective the end of February. … Full post

    AutoCAD 2010 release date

    After my recent attendance at the AutoCAD 2010 launch, I have a few dozen subjects I’d like to blog about, lots of video editing to do, and not enough free time in which to do it. Many of my fellow launch-attending bloggers have beaten me to it with many of the meaty bits, but I’ll be covering much of that stuff in my own way and from my own perspective over the next few weeks.

    One thing I can do with minimum effort is to pass on an important piece of information I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere yet: the date that Autodesk plans to actually ship AutoCAD 2010. That date is (drumroll)…

    Tuesday, 24 March 2009

    No great surprises there; the 12-month release cycle continues as usual.

    Although this information was imparted to a room full of bloggers in an on-the-record session, I suspect it may have slipped out … Full post

    Autodesk not listening? The response, part 1.

    While attending the AutoCAD 2010 launch today, I took the opportunity to interview three Autodesk people: Eric Stover, Jon Page and Shaan Hurley. I raised the issue of Autodesk being seen as not listening to its customers, and was given a very comprehensive response. Here is the first of two parts of that interview.

    YouTube link.

    Disclosure: Transport, accommodation and some meals were provided by Autodesk.

    Why do you think Autodesk isn’t listening?

    I frequently see people remark that Autodesk doesn’t listen to its customers. I’ve made that remark myself in relation to certain specific items, most recently the botched discussion group update. Of the six Rate Autodesk polls, the Listening to its customers poll shows easily the biggest bias towards the wrong end of the graph.

    Now I happen to know that Autodesk goes to some lengths to find out what its customers are thinking (more on that later), but still this feeling of being ignored persists among its customers. Why is this so? Why do so many of you hold this view? I have my own thoughts about this, but right now I’m more interested in yours.

    I’d like to see some examples that make you think that Autodesk doesn’t care about your viewpoints, wishes and desires. If you can suggest ways in which Autodesk could do things better, let’s … Full post

    (Don’t) Ask Autodesk a question

    If you had a real live Autodesk development person standing in front of you right now (an AutoCAD Product Manager, for example) and were allowed to ask one question, what would it be?

    Please add a comment here with your question. I would ask that you keep your question civil and reasonably concise (one or two sentences), and bear in mind that the development person in front of you isn’t going to have a useful answer to policy questions about pricing, license agreements, customer service and so on. Other than that, anything goes, so let’s have ’em.

    I can’t promise that your question will get answered, but I’ll see what I can do.

    Note: comments are now closed, as this post keeps getting mistaken for an ongoing mechanism for asking Autodesk questions.

    Adding Heidi

    Although I want to keep my list of links reasonably compact, it should not have taken until now to add the AutoCAD Insider blog of Autodesk’s Heidi Hewett to the list. Heidi’s idea of going through the AutoCAD alphabet is a great one, and I wish I had thought of it.

    blog nauseam has been light on for AutoCAD tips and information lately. Although that’s going to change for the better soon, there’s plenty of that kind of stuff on Heidi’s blog to keep you amused in the meantime. It’s useful stuff for all AutoCAD users, explained well.

    Oh, and Heidi, the Boundary command was (kind of) added in Release 12, except it was called Bpoly at the time. It was renamed to Boundary in Release 13. The Bpoly command lives on to this day, doing exactly the same as Boundary.

    Has Carol left the building?

    We all know Carol Bartz has taken on the challenge of leading Yahoo!, but does that mean she’s no longer with Autodesk? I would have thought she would have had her hands more than full with her new job, but I haven’t seen any mention of her giving up her Autodesk position as Executive Chairman of the Board. The Autodesk web site still has her listed in that position, so I guess she’s still there. She’s on various other boards and councils too, so maybe she’s sticking around at Autodesk long-term?