Autodesk’s 12-month release cycle – Is it harmful?

I’ve opened a poll asking for your opinion about whether the 12-month release cycle of AutoCAD and its variants is harmful to the quality of the software that Autodesk is providing. I won’t express my own opinion on this subject here yet, but will do so later, once the poll is closed. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your opinions on the subject.

AutoCAD 2009 – Top reasons to be Ribbonless

I’ve closed the poll for those of you who are using 2009 with the Ribbon turned off to show us the reasons why. The top 10 choices were:

  • Tab concept means extra clicks (65%)
  • Uses up too much screen space (64%)
  • No advantage over existing methods (64%)
  • Dislike concept of hiding tools – want buttons to stay visible (60%)
  • Too hard to find things (51%)
  • Using it minimised requires an extra click/hover (47%)
  • Doesn’t make good use of my screen size/shape (45%)
  • Tab switching is too slow (45%)
  • Customising it is too difficult (44%)
  • Ribbon content doesn’t match my needs (44%)
  • I was hoping that the poll would help Autodesk in deciding how best to improve the Ribbon in future releases, but it’s pretty hard to do much about the top 7 choices here. Except number 2, perhaps; the Ribbon could be considerably tightened to remove waste space, in the … Full post

    I like Bill Gates a little more now

    I recently enjoyed reading what appears to be a genuine and not at all atypical internal Microsoft email from Bill Gates. I always enjoy seeing an honest opinion expressed in a way that cuts through the glossy corporate PR image, and this one certainly does that. Actually, it reminds me of the sort of thing I write in MyFeedback when evaluating pre-release versions of AutoCAD. It’s honest, it’s negative or even cutting where it needs to be, it represents a real user’s viewpoint, and most of all, it’s useful.

    I don’t think this sort of exposure does any harm at all to a company. It’s unlikely to change anybody’s opinion. Microsoft haters will still hate Microsoft, fanboys will still be fanboys. People like me who sit in the middle somewhere are likely to admire the honest self-evaluation shown here. Here’s the Big Cheese looking at things like a … Full post

    AutoCAD 2009 – How many people really are using the Ribbon?

    I was interested to see Shaan Hurley reporting the Ribbon usage figures from the Customer Involvement Program (CIP). Shaan’s figures show Ribbon non-users at 46%, my poll results show it as 71%. Why the discrepancy? Is somebody telling fibs? I don’t think so.

    First, blog nauseam poll respondents represent a biased sample, comprising people who are more interested in AutoCAD than average users. Dare I say more knowledgeable? More likely to be power users or CAD Managers, anyway. They are probably more likely than average users to make changes from the default AutoCAD settings. But Shaan’s CIP users are also a biased sample, comprising those AutoCAD users who have CIP turned on. Are users who go with the flow and have CIP on also more likely to go with the flow and leave the Ribbon on? Possibly, but I would have thought the CIP-on bias would be less significant … Full post

    Totally abysmal customer service from Autodesk

    I’ve been dealing with Autodesk in various ways for 23 years and have had a variety of experiences as a result; some good, some bad. The provision of the license codes needed to keep AutoCAD running has historically been pretty good. No longer. I’m currently going through the worst Autodesk customer service experience in my career. I’ve been trying for many weeks to obtain a few codes, without success.

    I’ll spare you the details for the time being to give Autodesk one last chance to come good. For now I’ll just say that a combination of restrictive policies, inflexibility in the administration of those policies and downright incompetence has left Autodesk’s Subscription service looking very poor indeed. It’s a shocking abuse of legitimate customers; something that pirate users don’t have to put up with.

    Autodesk Asia Pacific Product Registration & Activation Centre, your efforts to date have not been anywhere … Full post

    AutoCAD 2009 – Why do you hate the Ribbon?

    Judging from the results of the Ribbon usage poll (and the usual poll caveats apply), you are turning off AutoCAD 2009’s Ribbon in droves. I’m surprised. I thought there would be a significant minority of 2009 users who turned it off, but it looks I was wrong and it’s a large majority. The non-Ribbon numbers have hovered around the two-thirds mark right from the start and have now settled above the 70% mark. If nothing else, this validates Autodesk’s decision to make the Ribbon optional and keep all the old user interface elements.

    Now I’m curious about the reasons. Why do so many of you dislike the Ribbon so much? Is it an unwillingness to change, a reaction against Microsoft’s influence, or are there more practical reasons? Is it screen space, extra picks, performance, customisation difficulties, difficulty in finding things, or something else? Did you turn it off straight away … Full post

    The Ribbon Man interview – fluff?

    Looking at the comments, it seems not everyone is happy with the Matt Stein interview. If so, I’m sorry you feel that way about the piece. In my own defence, I would point out the following:

  • I like to think my work at Cadalyst represents a balanced viewpoint. I pride myself on being fair. Whether Autodesk deserves praise or criticism for something, I provide it. But an interview isn’t really the place to do that. An interview is supposed to be an opportunity for the interviewee to say things, not a platform for the interviewer’s opinions. My job as an interviewer is to extract information, not provide it. In my opinion, the best TV interviewers listen a lot and say very little. Confrontational interviewers can be fun to watch, though.
  • I have many other opportunities, both here and in Bug Watch, to express viewpoints that may conflict with what Matt … Full post
  • AutoCAD 2009 – Ribbon content for Express Tools

    One of the many unfinished aspects of the AutoCAD 2009 Ribbon is the lack of Express Tools content. One enterprising user has put the effort into correcting this, and has posted an Express Tools CUI replacement in this Autodesk newsgroup thread. I have not tested this myself. As usual with CUI, be paranoid. Back up everything before you touch anything.

    While I wouldn’t normally suggest you do any Ribbon custom work in 2009 in its current state, it shouldn’t hurt in this case as it should be easily redoable once Autodesk has fixed up the worst of the 2009 CUI problems. Anything else you do should be considered as disposable. The problems with 2009’s CUI are so fundamental that it is quite likely a restructure will be required to fix them, either in a service pack or in 2010. That means your 2009 CUI efforts may need to be … Full post

    AutoCAD 2009 – Do your old drawings need recovery?

    I’ve seen quite a few complaints that AutoCAD 2009 refuses to open some drawings saved in 2000 or 2004 format unless the Recover command has been used on them. Autodesk has now issued a Knowledge Base item about this issue.

    There’s no real fix in AutoCAD 2009 yet, just an external workaround. You will have to fix up the drawings in AutoCAD 2008 or TrueView. Either save the drawings in 2007 format or set the system variable 3DCONVERSIONMODE to 0 and then save them in the old format.

    Video – Misheard lyrics

    This blog is supposed to a strange mix of AutoCAD, music, image manipulation and video, but so far it has been a bit light on in the latter three categories. This post will redress the balance a little.

    This is a silly video I made based on the song Ghost of Perdition from the album Ghost Reveries by Swedish metal band Opeth. I’m sure the music won’t be to the liking of many of you, particularly as the vocals are partly in the “death grunt” style. If you’ve never heard a death grunt, just try to imagine Cookie Monster singing while he’s really, really angry about something. For the record, I prefer my vocals “clean” but this style is easy to mishear, leading to general amusement (hopefully).

    Parental guidance: contains very mild nudity, very slightly offensive language and an oblique drug reference. You’ll have to be quick to … Full post

    AutoCAD 2009 – How do you use the Ribbon?

    It would appear from comments made on the Autodesk newsgroups that a lot of AutoCAD 2009 users have their Ribbons turned off. That’s actually one of eight possible states for the Ribbon to be in. Is it really the most popular configuration? Does it apply to 12.5% of you or is it more than that? I’ve added a poll to find out. Please vote only if you’re an active AutoCAD 2009 user, as I want to see what people use in production.

    AutoCAD 2009 – The Reaction Part 3

    I’ve closed the poll asking for your initial reactions to the shipping release of AutoCAD 2009. It’s interesting to compare it with your reactions when asked to speculate prior to the release date. It seems your collective opinion of AutoCAD 2009 has taken a sharp drop now you’ve actually had a chance to use it.

    In the speculative poll, the average opinion was “OK”; in the first reactions poll, the average opinion has slipped two levels to “Bad”. In the speculative poll, 39% of voters used the “bad” half of the poll; in the first reactions poll, that number has increased to 61%.

    Bear in mind that the numbers in this poll are relatively small and I am not claiming that this is a scientific study. However, it is completely neutral, open and transparent, which is one thing I demand whenever anybody tries to use statistics to support a particular … Full post

    Gaahl’s Tr00 Life Adventures Week 5

    In this week’s adventure, Gaahl goes shopping. No, it’s not your eyes, the background image is fuzzy.

    Gaahl Week 5

    A couple of things may need explaining. According to his mother, Gaahl is vegetarian (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Also, Gorgoroth was his band. They have now split up and ownership of the name is in dispute. Maybe the other band members objected to what he brought back from the supermarket? After all, he eats absolutely no innards.

    The original Gaahl photograph is by Peter Beste.