AutoCAD 2018 – bear this in mind

Given the dearth of new functionality in AutoCAD in recent years, it’s understandable that Autodesk has taken to claiming credit for the same thing twice. The same features have been touted once for the 2017.1 mid-term update and again as 2018 new features. Even I fell for it, listing linetype gap selection as a 2018 feature.

For the purposes of reviewing the earlier AutoCAD releases and AutoCAD 2018 as upgrades, I have included the 2017.1 features in 2018, not 2017. Some of those features are praiseworthy, but let’s count them just once, please.

Blogs and sites that just regurgitate Autodesk’s take on what’s new in AutoCAD 2018 might inadvertently repeat the double-dipping. Bear that in mind when you read reviews.

AutoCAD 2018 – 2/10, would not rent

It must be March, because another AutoCAD has just been launched. Despite this one being codenamed Omega, I’ve been assured it’s not the final AutoCAD release. The good news is that AutoCAD 2018 is twice the upgrade that 2017 was. But hold your excitement, because the bad news is that 2017 was only a 1/10 upgrade.

Autodesk has continued the well-established tradition of acting like a low-quality sausage machine, reliably popping out consistently unexciting products at regular intervals.

Here’s what’s in this year’s underwhelming sausage:

  • Xrefs now default to relative path attachment and there are a few associated tweaks including find/replace path
  • You can select objects off-screen (handier than it sounds)
  • File dialogs remember settings
  • A couple more dialogs can be resized
  • There are a couple more tiny user interface tweaks
  • The stuff from 2017.1 is included, of course
  • iDrop support is gone (will anybody miss … Full post

ADSK v ADBE – a tale of two graphs

I’m no financial analyst, so I’ll just leave these graphs here for your own interpretation. They show the profit/loss numbers for two software companies beginning with A that have abandoned perpetual license sales and gone all-subscription (rental).

Among other significant differences, one company went with very low rental prices while the other has extremely high rental prices. How have these differing strategies played out for Adobe and Autodesk? Green shows profit; red shows loss.

Adobe moved to the all-rental model earlier than Autodesk. The Autodesk graph therefore covers a shorter period than the Adobe one. Feel free to slide the Autodesk one along to the point you think best matches the equivalent point in the Adobe timeline.

Full post

Video nicely captures Autodesk customer sentiment

In this video starting at 42:21, Greg from Pixel Fondue had a few words to say about Autodesk’s attempt to price-force perpetual license owners onto subscription (rental). I think he captures the current Autodesk customer mood quite nicely.

Here are some of the highlights from Greg and others:

44:36 – If you’re gonna eff me, know my name.

45:20 – The only thing they forgot to attach to this was the head of a horse.

46:54 – If they didn’t think it was a tough sell, they wouldn’t have written a 2000 word essay…

49:14 – This is a trade-in, and they’re looking to take this [Entertainment Creation Suite]. So I give you this, this $12,000 investment … I give it back to you, plus like another $1,000 … and you give me the exact same thing. Except I no longer own it.

51:02 – Hi! Give us your thing you bought from us, we’ll rent it back to you… dumbass!

58:49 – It’s OK to be pissed, and Autodesk needs to know that people are pissed. So, Teresa, people are pissed. That’s a bullshit letter. Be honest with us.

Autodesk starts answering subscription questions, but many remain

Getting worthwhile non-rubbery information out of Autodesk on the maintenance to subscription push has been like pulling teeth. Well, one tooth has popped out now. There are a rotten mouthful still to go, but some progress is being made.

Here is the latest Autodesk communication on this subject. While it gives the impression of providing transparency, there’s still not enough there to provide enough certainty to convince any but the most naive customers to throw away their perpetual licenses. If you try pumping Autodesk’s numbers into my costing spreadsheet, you can get so far and then you’re back to guesswork again. If you guess low, it’s merely a bad deal. If you guess high, it’s an atrocious deal. For you, not for Autodesk; I’m sure Autodesk will be happy with whatever deal it decides to inflict.

There are huge holes in what has been stated that … Full post

One invitation to Autodesk and another to Autodesk’s competitors

Dear Autodesk PR person, you are undoubtedly aware that I have published a series of posts that detail exactly why switching from maintenance to subscription is a bad deal. If you believe anything I have written to be in error, feel free to contact me with what you believe to be the correct information. I intend to publish an extensive detailed summary on Monday 13 March, with or without your input. You know where to find me, over to you.

Dear Autodesk-competitor PR person, if you are providing any kind of special offer to entice disgruntled Autodesk customers over to your fold under these special circumstances, let me know about it. I will pass the information on to my readers in another post, as-is, and not as any kind of recommendation. You can comment here in public or email me.

Autodesk customers are revolting

I don’t know what kind of reception Autodesk thought it was going to get to its less-than-fully-frank announcement that it was hiking up the price of maintenance to push perpetual license owners onto subscription (rental).

I suppose some negative feedback was expected, but I’m not sure the marketing mavens would have anticipated such a degree of near-universal outright hostility. I suspect they may have overestimated their ability to pull the wool over the eyes of a community that is generally technically smart and, thanks to Autodesk’s history in recent years, somewhat lacking in trust.

The Autodesk Community forum moderators are busily vacuuming up threads from all over the place and moving them to the near-invisible new Moving to Subscription forum, which in due course will no doubt be made read-only and merged into semi-oblivion, just like the last one.

Despite … Full post

Welcome to the new bosses…

…same as the old Bass.

If you’re hoping the change at the top of Autodesk is going to result in a change to the all-rental business model, abandon that hope now. In this nodding-heavy video, temporary co-CEOs Amar Hanspal (product guy) and Andrew “Baked Beans” Anagnost (marketing guy) confirm it’s full steam ahead. Not unexpected, really.

If either of these guys is selected as CEO (my money’s on Amar), the rental push will continue. Don’t expect to be saved by an incoming CEO, either. The Autodesk board won’t appoint a non-believer.

If you won’t abandon your perpetual licenses, you’ll need to abandon Autodesk.

Bullshit Returns – Autodesk maintenance price hike part 2

In this post I continue skewering the welcome post to Autodesk’s Moving to Subscription forum. See here for part 1.

Access to new industry collections – Available only through subscription, you’ll realize significant savings when you need two or more Autodesk software products.

Bullshit. Industry collections are just rental-only engorged suites. Suites are those things with many more than two products; things that Autodesk has been pushing hard for years, before dropping them from the price list. If you already have a suite that contains the products you need (remember, Autodesk’s statements are aimed at existing perpetual license holders), switching to an industry collection will cost you vastly more. That’s the opposite of significant savings.

New and improved support – Enjoy faster response times and the option to receive help by scheduling a call with Autodesk technical support specialists.

It’s just possible this isn’t … Full post

Bullshit Returns – Autodesk maintenance price hike part 1

Just when you think it’s safe to walk across the cattle enclosure in your best shoes, Autodesk drops another steaming pile of spin for its customers to step into.

Here, I’m skewering the welcome post to Autodesk’s Moving to Subscription forum. However, I believe I should really acknowledge the unnamed author of the Important Updates on Maintenance Plans FAQ, which the welcome post has merely paraphrased for simplicity.

There’s so much bullshit in there that I’m going to split my exploration of it into two posts. Let’s put on some rubber gloves and start delving around in the muck, shall we?

Autodesk believes that subscribing is the best way for our customers to get the greatest value from our tools and technologies

Bullshit. Autodesk believes the opposite, as does anyone else with more than two brain cells to rub together. The whole idea is … Full post

Chat to Autodesk about being pushed onto rental

I’ll post later about Autodesk’s oftpredictedhere but just-announced plan to use price increases to push you out of your perpetual licenses, and the execrable spin being used to sell it.

This post is just to let you know that Autodesk has kindly provided a forum in which you can discuss this issue. Why not wander over there and have your say? Autodesk is deaf and blind on this subject so it won’t make a difference, but at least you might feel better to have your say and let others know they’re not alone.

Here’s the link to the Moving to Subscription forum. Here’s the welcome message.

Hot tip: keep a text copy of what you have to say. If, as happened before, Autodesk gets heavy with the censorship scissors and slices through your statement, you can repost … 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.

Carl cashing in his chips

Here’s an interesting Carl Bass exit interview with Roopinder Tara at engineering.com. If you’re wondering just how much stock Carl offloaded in those planned sales, here are his reported sales of Autodesk stock in the weeks leading up to the resignation:

  • 11 Jan 2017 $7,894,150
  • 9 Jan 2017 $7,888,768
  • 5 Jan 2017 $7,694,038
  • 23 Dec 2016 $1,971,715
  • 22 Dec 2016 $1,968,935

That’s $27m, give or take. Carl’s reported as having sold over $49m of Autodesk stock over the last three years.

While Carl still has tens of millions of Autodesk stock, dumping that much of it before leaving doesn’t strike me as the actions of someone as supremely confident in the future of Autodesk’s ailing cloud push and rent-or-go-away business model as his words would suggest.

The next Autodesk CEO – polls

Here, have some fun by voting in these polls. Idea shamelessly stolen from Paul Munford on Twitter.

Who do you want to be the next Autodesk CEO?

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Who do you think will be the next Autodesk CEO?

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Another series of Autodesk statements

Having established what happens when Autodesk claims to have no plans to do nasty anti-customer things, (it goes ahead and does them), let’s examine another nasty anti-customer thing it hasn’t got around to doing. Yet.

Will Autodesk discontinue the maintenance program that allows customers to keep their perpetual licenses up to date? Let’s see what Autodesk has been prepared to put in writing so far:

There are no announced plans to end maintenance subscriptions.

Matt DiMichele, August 2015, Autodesk Community Perpetual License Changes forum

Hmm, we all know what “no plans” means, don’t we, children?

I assure you we have no plan to discontinue maintenance subscription plans for existing perpetual license owners.

Andrew Anagnost, September 2015, Cadalyst interview with Robert Green

“We have no plan” again, eh? That’s a concern.

Our lawyers frown on me using words like “never.” Do we have … 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 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

BricsCAD startup LISP bug fixed

In my previous post I have a real problem with BricsCAD, I related my then-latest interaction with the Bricsys support system:

Steve Johnson
05-12-2016 05:30 UTC

I don’t know if this is a BricsCAD problem or a DOSLib one, so I am reporting it to both Bricsys and Dale at McNeel. I’m also not sure if this was happening in earlier versions.

If I load DOSLib during an S::STARTUP call and then use the (dos_msgbox) function later in that call, this fails the first time round because BricsCAD things the function is not defined. Opening a second drawing results in the call working as expected. I’ve chopped down our startup routine so you have an example.

; error : no function definition ; expected FUNCTION at [eval]

Awesome Bricsys Person
05-12-2016 12:32 UTC

Hi Steve,

There was a regression introduced in V17.1.10 that caused … Full post

I have a real problem with BricsCAD

To be precise, I have a real problem with writing  about BricsCAD. I’ve written some pretty complimentary things about BricsCAD lately. In the interests of balance, I’ve been intending to write about some of the issues people can expect to deal with when moving from AutoCAD to BricsCAD. Such issues certainly exist. The problem I have with that is that the issues keep going away!

Here’s how it usually goes. I find a problem in BricsCAD. I submit a support request. Within hours, I get a meaningful response from a person who understands the issue. Within days, I’m informed it’s been fixed internally and the fix will be in the next update. Within a week or two, that update is released. I download and install the updated version. It’s basically a full reinstall, but all settings are seamlessly retained and it’s faster and less painful than an AutoCAD Service Pack … Full post