Autodesk’s big Cloud failure

Back in 2011, Autodesk, some other vendors and many industry pundits were utterly convinced of the inevitable and near-imminent victory of Cloud-based CAD over standalone software. I wasn’t. I wanted to get a feel for how isolated my viewpoint was, so I started a poll and let it run for a while. Here’s how that turned out:
 

As you can see, this blog’s readers were less than convinced about the inevitability of that Cloudy future. Not so Carl Bass, who had this to say in an April 2012 TechCrunch interview:

I’d say two to three years from now, every one of our products will be used online. The only way to use … Full post

Polls and comments

As part of the site layout changes here, the polls were moved from the right sidebar to the left. The Polls Archive page remains unchanged. The new site layout is responsive, so if you’re using a narrow browser window (e.g. on a phone), the sidebars may be automatically suppressed. If so, you can still get at the current polls using this post.

Feel free to use this post to comment on any aspect of these polls. From the main page (or search results) where the comments are not immediately visible, you can comment by clicking the number next to this speech bubble icon:

Trusting Autodesk – poll results

I have closed the polls asking if you trusted various companies to do the right thing by their customers. Here is a summary of the results, showing the percentage of “Yes” votes for each company. The most trusted company is at the top, the least trusted is at the bottom.

  • Honda 69%
  • Amazon 65%
  • Target 52%
  • Bricsys 43%
  • Apple 36%
  • Autodesk 23%
  • Remember, this is not a scientific poll and as with all polls and surveys there will be some self-selection bias. Does anyone find anything about the above results surprising?

    Why don’t you trust Autodesk?

    As I mentioned earlier, any company that wants to move its customers to the Cloud is going to need the trust of those customers. Three months ago, I started a poll to try to get some measure of how trustworthy you consider Autodesk to be, in terms of doing the right thing by its customers. The results of that poll look pretty awful for Autodesk. Right from the start, the distrusters have outnumbered the trusters by three to one, with the current results showing an overwhelming majority of respondents (77%) not trusting Autodesk.

    Why? What has Autodesk done in the past, or is doing now, that leads people to this level of distrust? If you have voted in this poll, I’d like to know your reasons, so please add your comments whichever way you voted. If you think there’s an issue with the question wording and/or its simple … Full post

    How you feel about CAD in the Cloud

    In February 2010, I ran a poll to gauge your feelings about CAD in the Cloud and left it going until October 2010. Just over a month ago, I asked the same question again and ran an identical poll. I have closed that second poll, and here are the comparative results (new poll at the top, old poll at the bottom):

    Cad in the Cloud 2010 and 2011 Polls

    I’m not pretending this is a scientific survey. There is bound to be some self-selection and other sources of bias, as there must be with anybody’s survey processes (very much including Autodesk’s CIP). Looking at the logs, I haven’t detected any obvious attempts to interfere with the poll, although there’s nothing I can do to stop people voting multiple times if they have access to multiple IPs (e.g. a work and home account). There … Full post

    Cloud concerns – trust

    Using any software involves some degree of trust in the vendor. Using the Cloud requires a much higher level of trust.

    Autodesk boss Carl Bass is a maker of carefully crafted things, so I’ll use that as an analogy. Using standalone software requires the sort of trust that a maker has in a tool manufacturer. Will the tools work properly and last a long time? Or will they break, potentially damaging the materials or even the user?

    Using SaaS requires that same kind of trust, plus others. Will the tool manufacturer keep making that tool? If not, will spare parts continue to be available? Will the manufacturer change the tool design so it doesn’t suit your hand any more, or doesn’t work as well on the materials you use? Beyond that, there are some aspects of the relationship that stretch this analogy somewhat. For example, a SaaS vendor resembles a manufacturer that … Full post

    The best feature ever added to AutoCAD is…

    LISP. I have now closed the What are the best features ever added to AutoCAD? poll, and the winner is AutoLISP/Visual LISP, by a long, long way. I don’t always agree with the majority view expressed in the polls here, but in this case I wholeheartedly agree. Adding LISP was the biggest and best thing that ever happened to AutoCAD. Autodesk owes an enormous debt of gratitude to John Walker for incorporating the work of David Betz, who was of course standing on the shoulders of John McCarthy. It’s a crying shame that Autodesk has been so terribly neglectful of Visual LISP for over a decade.

    Here are your top ten “best ever” AutoCAD features:

    • AutoLISP / Visual LISP (32%)
    • Paper / Model Space / Layouts (21%)
    • Xrefs (20%)
    • Copy / Paste between drawings (19%)
    • Dynamic Blocks (16%)
    • Object Snaps (15%)
    • Layer Visibility per Viewport (12%)
    • Undo (12%)
    • Grips … Full post

    How do you feel about CAD in the Cloud?

    Early last year, I ran a poll to gauge your feelings about CAD in the Cloud. Here are the results of that poll:

    Cad in the Cloud 2010 Poll

    As you can see, the poll response bell curve was clearly biased toward the frightened end of the spectrum, and there was little in the way of excitement at the Cloudy prospects for CAD. A fair bit has happened since last February (particularly the recent Autodesk Cloud announcement), so I thought I’d see how the ground lies at the moment. Are you feeling more positive about Cloudy CAD than you were 18 months ago? 

    I’ve just added a poll for you to vote on, identical to last year’s. In addition, I’d love to see your comments on the subject. Is CAD in the Cloud inevitable, or is it not going to fly? If you don’t think it will … Full post

    AutoCAD WS Contest

    Autodesk’s linking app to allow iThings to connect to Project Butterfly is called AutoCAD WS. Never mind the “AutoCAD”, that’s just there to confuse matters. What does the “WS” stand for? William Shatner, perhaps?

    There’s no official answer, but I thought it might be fun to run a contest for the most appropriate and/or amusing answer. I have some ideas of my own, but most of them are rude so I’ll keep them to myself.

    Please just add a comment with your idea(s), up to 3 per person. When I have enough responses, I’ll run a poll. No prizes, this is just for fun.

    Autodesk user community survey

    Autodesk is running a web survey to try to find out which user communities (including blogs) its customers find valuable. If you are interested in participating, the survey is here. If you want to specify any blogs, you will need to type or paste their names into various “other comments” boxes. As the number of blogs I read far exceeds a reasonable type-in requirement, I couldn’t accurately give an idea of my web habits. So I’m not sure how much can be accurately read into the results.

    (Source: CAD Panacea).

    I saw Shaan asking about this kind of thing a while back, but not getting much response. It looks like Autodesk is trying to work out exactly where its customers go these days for support, discussion, networking, training, etc. I can’t speak for other bloggers, but I’d be happy to provide my site … Full post

    Autodesk discussion group update – what do you think?

    On 4 June 2010, Autodesk turned off NNTP access to its discussion groups as part of the process of updating its software to use a different engine (the new one is from Lithium – here are its own forums). I am preparing a large post about what I think of the new web interface, but for now let’s hear from you on that subject. Please vote in the poll on the right, and add your comments once you’ve had a chance to put the “state-of-the-art web experience Autodesk customers have come to expect” through its paces.

    In related news, I have now closed the short-lived poll about the end of NNTP access to these groups. The results were:

    Should Autodesk shut down NNTP access to its discussion groups?
    Yes (8.8%, 5 Votes)
    No (59.6%, 34 Votes)
    Don’t care (31.6%, 18 Votes)
    Full post

    Command line poll replaced

    For the past couple of months, I have been running a poll about the command line. I ran it using wording copied directly from a Project Butterfly poll, to get some kind of comparison between the poll respondents on this blog and those on the Project Butterfly blog.

    It’s fair to say that I don’t like the wording of the available options, which appear designed to influence the result rather than find out what people really think. The “I can’t work with…” option has negative connotations; if I pick this choice, it implies that my abilities fall short in some way and I lack flexibility. On the other hand, the “I think it’s time for a new way…” option has a positive feel about it. If I pick this choice, I’m a thinker, I’m progressive, I’m looking to the future. It’s no accident that marketing people love … Full post

    Ribbon poll roundup

    Further to my last post, Here is a brief summary of this blog’s various poll results that relate in some way to Ribbon and CIP use. The most recent polls are at the top of the list. I have placed in bold those percentages that relate directly to the proportion of AutoCAD Ribbon use among the voters on this blog.

    • AutoCAD 2010 users’  Ribbon use: 44% (AutoCAD 2010 users’ CIP on: 36%)
    • Ribbon love: 28%
    • AutoCAD 2010 menu bar non-users: 23%
    • Inventor Ribbon use: 44% (Inventor 2010 users’ Ribbon use: 59%)
    • Revit Ribbon use: 42% (Revit 2010 users’ Ribbon use: 58%)
    • AutoCAD Ribbon use: 32% (AutoCAD 2009/2010 users’ Ribbon use: 38%)
    • CIP on: 27%
    • AutoCAD 2009 menu bar non-users: 21%
    • AutoCAD 2009 Ribbon one of 3 best new features: 11%
    • AutoCAD 2009 Ribbon turned on in some way: 29% (fully visible 13%)

    The polls were run at … Full post

    Autodesk’s CIP data – massively biased?

    You may have seen Shaan Hurley and I having a discussion (ahem) over the validity of his statement:

    I really do use the ribbon now with AutoCAD 2010 along with most users as evidenced by the CIP data we receive daily from thousands of AutoCAD users who choose to send the great data.

    So, now you know. Most of you use the Ribbon now,  Shaan said so. Shaan, as he always has done in the past, declined my invitation to back up this assertion with more details. He has vast amounts of data collected from huge numbers of users. How could that possibly be wrong?

    Here’s how. CIP data is biased.

    How can millions of data points be biased? Actually, all samples are biased. Only the degree of bias varies. The polls on this blog are no exception. I do my best to keep the questions and options neutral; … Full post

    Competition poll now open

    In a shock move, Autodesk’s general design product for this year was named AutoCAD 2011. I thought AutoCAD Banana or Generic CADD 7 stood a chance, but it was not to be. Maybe next year?

    Over on the right is a poll to allow you to choose who of the 14 entrants wins the prize in the pin the name on the product competition to come up with an alternative name. I’ll leave the poll open for about a week. Entrants can vote for themselves, but only once. Please vote for the entry you like the best!

    AutoCAD 2011’s new Help system – what do you think?

    With all this talk of clouds in the air, it is interesting to note that Autodesk has moved AutoCAD’s Help system to a browser-based format, with online access as the default. So, how has Autodesk done with this first dipping of its toes into the cloudy waters with its primary mainstream product? I’ve already had a couple of unsolicited comments on the subject, and I’d like to hear from you. How do you rate the following, compared with previous releases?

    • Performance (online)
    • Performance (offline)
    • Search results
    • Content completeness and accuracy
    • Ease of manual browsing
    • Efficiency of user interface
    • Concept of online Help
    • Anything else you want to mention

    Please comment to express your views and use the poll on the right to provide an overall rating of the new system.

    Polls, especially CIP and Ribbon settings

    I encourage all my readers to participate in the variety of polls I have made available, over towards the right of this site. In particular, if you’re a user of base AutoCAD 2010, please have a go at the AutoCAD 2010 users, what are your Ribbon and CIP settings? poll. The results so far are very interesting, but the numbers are currently too small to be significant. My two longest-running polls are now approaching a thousand votes each, and it would be great to see several hundred responses to the Ribbon/CIP poll.

    While I’m on the subject of polls, I’ll repeat some comments I made a while ago. Back then, I noticed that more than one person had been voting multiple times. While this is technically possible for people who have access to the Internet via multiple IP addresses, it’s obviously not desirable. The idea is that you have one … Full post

    Can you work without a command line?

    On the Project Butterfly blog, a recent poll gave these choices:

    • I can’t work without the command line
    • I think it’s time for a new way to draw without the command line

    In a follow-up post, the observation was made that “We thought that only a few people would work without a command line, but the results were refreshing.” Apparently, only 66% of respondents selected the first of the available options.

    To this I respond, “Beware the trap of the biased sample”. The poll asked people who are largely users of a product that involves drawing without a command line if they can work without it. In response, an amazing 2/3 of them say “I can’t work without the command line”, i.e. they can’t possibly do what they are currently doing, every time they use the product on which the blog is based.

    How is … Full post

    Ribbon acceptance in AutoCAD and Revit

    AutoCAD Ribbon use (and non-use) may have been the hottest topic on this blog to date, but it’s a storm in a teacup compared with what has been going on between Revit users and Autodesk. More on that later, but for now I’d just like to pass on a statement made by Autodesk BIM Design Product Line Manager Anthony A. Hauck on the AUGI forums that:

    Recent data on other Autodesk applications having both the new and “classic” UI show about a 2 : 1 split in favor of the new UI.

    I would be interested to know the full details behind this assertion. Whenever I see a baldly-stated statistic like this, my first thought is “where did it come from?” Without full details of the data and how it was obtained, every statistic like this is suspect at best. It could just as easily be useless or misleading. … Full post

    These messages are brought to you by AutoCAD

    Over the past few releases, and particularly in AutoCAD 2009 and 2010, I have noticed an increase in the number of information notices (bubbles, warnings, task dialogs, Communication Center notices, etc.) being displayed. Shaan Hurley has pointed out that 2010 Update 1 introduces a balloon notification that periodically makes you aware of how much time remains before your subscription expires. Is this a good thing?

    There’s a poll on the right that asks a specific question about the default state of AutoCAD 2009 and 2010, but I’d also like to see some comments on this. What do you think of these messages? Are they useful? Do they get in the way? Do you take any notice of them? Are there too many? Do we need any others? Do you turn them off? Is it easy enough to control them?