Schrodinger’s CEO – Autodesk top job speculation

In an earlier post, I asked for your votes on a pair of polls regarding Autodesk’s replacement for Carl Bass as CEO.

Here are the final results from those polls. Although the details of who voted and for what will remain strictly and permanently confidential, I found it interesting to see a number of votes logged from IPs that originate from a well-known software company. I will get no more specific than that.

First, here’s who you think is most likely to be appointed:

Amar’s well ahead in the “person most likely” poll. But note the contrast with who you actually want to be the next Autodesk CEO, where outsiders get bigger numbers. Anyone would think …

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The big Bricsys interview 3 – looking after people

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. In this post, I learn about Bricsys’ astonishingly good staff retention record and the reasons behind it.

Autodesk likes to periodically pat itself on the back for being a great employer, but history shows it’s a company that discards about 10% of its workforce every few years to keep the share market happy. I suspect another round is coming up soon, unfortunately. There’s a stark contrast between a company that disposes of its chattels in that way and one with a CEO that says, “…every time somebody leaves the company that’s really, really bad.”

You as a customer may not think that matters to you, but it does. I believe there is a direct correlation between Autodesk losing knowledgeable staff and Autodesk repeating old mistakes and …

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Minority interest in keep-your-perpetual Autodesk subscription idea

It’s undeniable that the vast majority of Autodesk’s customers don’t want to give up their perpetual licenses to sign up with Autodesk’s subscription (rental) model. I’ve gone through the evidence for this in an earlier post.

To bring that up to date a little, here are the final results from the poll “Autodesk is ending the sale of perpetual licenses. This is: (Good/Bad)”:

People are clearly attached to their perpetual licenses, regardless of what Autodesk does to manipulate prices.

A while ago I floated the idea that Autodesk might possibly come up with a better offer; one that lets you keep your existing non-upgraded perpetual license when signing up for subscription. I wanted to …

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The big Bricsys interview 2 – making money

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. In this post, I ask about Bricsys’ profitability and growth.

Steve: Do you publish your numbers?

Erik: No we don’t. We are a private company.

Steve: Can you give us an indication of what’s happening with your sales at the moment?

Erik: Last year we grew in revenue 25%. First quarter this year was up 27% over the same quarter last year. If you compare the sales in total of 2016 compared with 2015, it was 25% in growth. It means that the growth is going faster and faster and faster. That’s what we expect normally as well.

This is without any sales to Intergraph. We expect that the Intergraph deal will have an impact on our growth for sure. Mark as COO is responsible for …

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The big Bricsys interview 1 – why invite the press?

This is the first in a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh.

On April 26 and 27, I attended Bricsys Insights, a press event in Ghent, Belgium. Other attendees included Cyrena Respini-Irwin (Cadalyst editor in chief), R.K. McSwain (CAD Panacea), Ralph Grabowski (upFront.eZine), Randall Newton (GraphicSpeak), Roopinder Tara (Engineering.com), Martyn Day (DEVELOP3D), Jeff Rowe (AEC Café), Anthony Frausto-Robledo (Architosh) and Paul Wilkinson (pwcom).

Although Bricsys has invited some of these people (including myself) to previous events, this was the first gathering of such a significant number of illustrious industry press, bloggers and observers. So when myself, Cyrena Respini-Irwin and R.K. McSwain …

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Autodesk’s revolting customers are evaporating

The revolting customers themselves aren’t evaporating, of course. They remain solid and are still as irate as ever. It’s just that the appearance of outrage is gradually fading away on the Autodesk Community forums.

As mentioned before, forum moderators have been busily vacuuming up threads from all over the place and moving them to the Moving to Subscription forum. Some time in the last week or so, that forum became less visible. It’s no longer listed among the bold links on the right pane under Subscription Management, but for now can still be found (if you look hard) in the list of 96 forums. Or at least you can get to the page above that forum, from where you can click on another link.

As it’s now so hard to …

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BricsCAD documentation – a tale of three systems – part 3

In this third post in what was supposed to be a two-part series, I have more to say about the BricsCAD documentation system. See here for part 1 and here for part 2.

Developer Help – Addendum

In this comment from Bricsys API person Torsten Moses, he informed me about the availability of the Lisp Developer Support Package (LDSP) in the Bricsys Application Catalog. As always, when presented with new evidence I am prepared to re-examine my position on anything. Therefore, I will now further discuss the BricsCAD developer documentation.

The first thing to mention is that the existence of the LDSP package is not obvious. To somebody who uses BricsCAD as-provided and as goes burrowing down through the Help system looking for information, that system is still broken. The …

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Autodesk acquires Angry Birds developer Rovio (repost)

This post, originally published on 1 April 2012, brings back fond memories. That’s mainly because of this tweet from Carl Bass:

Autodesk announced today that it had welcomed Rovio Entertainment into the Autodesk fold. Following a US$2.6 billion acquisition, the publisher of mega hit video game Angry Birds is now Autodesk’s Mobile Entertainment division based in Espoo, Finland. “This is a tremendously exciting development for Autodesk going forward,” said Autodesk CEO Carl Bass. “Rovio is the world leader in mobile entertainment software,” he added, “so for Autodesk to have access to that market and that technology opens up a whole new world for us.”

Bass was effusive about the synergistic benefits of the merger and the benefits it …

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Hot tip for Autodesk

Hey Autodesk high-ups, I’m sorry you’ve been having so much trouble persuading your customers to throw away their perpetual licenses and throw themselves on your perpetual mercy. It’s clearly difficult to persuade technical types to do dumb things like rent your software at enormous and ever-increasing prices. I feel for you. But there’s an answer.

Find dumber customers.

Lots of them. And fast, before the stock market notices that you’re no Adobe and we’re not buying it. Sorry, I mean not renting it.

Look no further! Simply buy this company, discard the product when you’re bored with it (you’re very familiar with that process) and get hold of the customer list.

BricsCAD documentation – a tale of three systems – part 2

In this pair of posts, I describe the BricsCAD documentation system. Click here for part 1, where I describe the general Help system and the descriptions in the Settings command.

In this part, I discuss developer documentation and draw my conclusions.

Developer Help

If we count the Settings descriptions as a system, there’s a third documentation system for BricsCAD. The Developer Reference isn’t offline and included in an install like the main Help. Instead, it’s online, just like Autodesk’s default. Unlike Autodesk’s system, it works pretty well.

Being online means the performance suffers, of course, but it’s generally not too bad. It appears quicker than Autodesk’s. A link within the main Help system takes you to the Bricsys Developer Reference which is just accessed using your default browser. Of course, that means your mouse buttons work correctly and you have all other the advantages of whatever …

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BricsCAD documentation – a tale of three systems – part 1

Because of the great similarity between BricsCAD and AutoCAD in terms of commands, variables and most aspects of usage, you would expect the BricsCAD documentation to be about the same too. But it isn’t. Much of the content covers the same areas and due to BricsCAD’s command-line compatibility, there must be a lot in common. But the Help system is very different from Autodesk’s. How so?

In this pair of posts, I describe the BricsCAD documentation system. I assume you’re familiar with the AutoCAD one. In this first part, I describe the general Help system and the descriptions in the Settings command. In part 2, I will discuss developer documentation and draw my conclusions.

General Help

The general Help system in BricsCAD looks a lot like the excellent CHM-based system that AutoCAD had in 2010 and earlier (thanks, Dieter). BricsCAD’s Help is offline by default, included with the …

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Dissecting Dieter’s perpetual points

I like Dieter Schlaepfer, we’ve been arguing for years.

Dieter and I have never met in person, but online we go back to the CIS:ACAD CompuServe days of the early 1990s. Dieter’s a good guy who has done a splendid job with AutoCAD documentation content for decades. He is genuinely interested in improving the product and customer experience, and has done a great deal to do so over the years.

Dieter’s responsible for the most-commented post on this blog, AutoCAD 2013 – An Autodesk Help writer responds with 164 comments and was a heavy contributor to the 95 comments on the recent AutoCAD 2018 – why did the DWG format change? post.

If you read the comments here, you’ll know that Dieter is the only Autodesk person brave enough to put his head above the parapet and enter into …

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You can still buy Autodesk perpetual licenses in Europe

Yes, you really can still buy Autodesk perpetual licenses in the European Union. You just can’t buy them from Autodesk.

Where can you buy those licenses? From other customers who don’t need them any more. Unlike some jurisdictions, the EU respects the doctrine of first sale for computer software. This means sale of pre-owned software is allowed, and any EULA restrictions attempting to prevent that are invalid. This was established in 2012 by the EU’s highest court, The Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU) in the case of UsedSoft v Oracle.

Autodesk and all other software vendors in EU countries have to respect that, so the perpetual license remains valid after transfer to the new owner. The previous owner must be able to document the validity of the license and must delete or disable their copy of the software upon transfer.

While I have no personal experience of …

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Bloatware – a tale of two installations

In a previous post, I showed that AutoCAD is bloatware by comparing the size of its downloads to that of BricsCAD. Obviously, an application that’s ten times the size it should be is going to cost you a lot of unnecessary bandwidth, download time and drive space. But maybe you don’t care about that. What practical difference does it make?

Well, for one thing, the blimping-out of Autodesk’s former flagship product has a big effect on installation time. Vast and ever-increasing amounts of time are wasted by users of Autodesk products, just waiting for the things to finish installing. But isn’t this just the inevitable price to pay for the functionality provided?

No. Again, BricsCAD proves it.

The installation comparison is shown below. These installations were performed on a mid-range Windows 10 i7 PC with 8 GB RAM. The downloaded files were executed from a local hard drive …

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AutoCAD 2018.0.1 mystery deepens with silent withdrawal

As I mentioned earlier, the release of AutoCAD 2018 was followed almost instantaneously by the first update, 2018.0.1. At the time of writing, there was no official information about this update. Some information was later made available, but questions remained.

Now the update has been silently withdrawn. Go to Autodesk Account > Management > AutoCAD > Downloads > Updates & Add-ons and you will no longer see this:

The infamous Autodesk desktop app also shows no sign of this update. So why has it been withdrawn? Autodesk isn’t saying, but thanks to Jimmy Bergmark, we know that installing the 2018.0.1 update re-introduces a bug from AutoCAD 2016 (pre SP1) where …

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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 …

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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 …

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