AutoCAD performance and productivity

AutoCAD performance and productivity

I have closed the performance and productivity polls as described in my posts here and here, and the results can be seen in the Polls Archive. As with most of the other polls I’ve run here, the distribution of votes has not changed greatly after the first few days.

It is clear from the very different voting patterns in the two polls that blog nauseam readers are smart enough understand the difference between the two questions. The performance poll has a very clear skew to the “slower” side. This supports the empirical evidence I’ve seen elsewhere that people perceive AutoCAD as getting slower. This is stuff they’ve noticed for themselves, not a few milliseconds here and there.

On the other hand, the productivity poll results show a much more even distribution. The five options are pretty equally represented, except that “a lot more productive” has suffered at the hands of the most popular choice, “a bit more productive”. If you calculate the mean result, it is almost bang in the middle. It’s actually slightly worse than that, but by such a very small margin that it is not statistically significant.

Overall, we can say that the average viewpoint expressed here is that people clearly see AutoCAD as getting slower, but that its productivity has stayed about the same. So, does this let Autodesk off the performance hook? If a slowing AutoCAD is balanced by productivity-enhancing features, does performance matter? In my opinion, the answers to those questions are no and yes respectively.

It’s not a safe assumption that productivity features are balancing speed issues for everybody across the board. A new feature may help some users’ productivity, maybe even a majority of users, but it won’t help everybody. Some new features even harm some people’s productivity, which is one more reason for being grateful that Autodesk generally lets us turn them off (although it has been forgetful about that in some cases in recent years). Performance is one of the many things that impact productivity, but unlike most new features, is something that impacts the productivity of everybody. Even a first-time user has to sit around waiting for AutoCAD to start up, while a fast power user will be rendered less productive, and certainly more frustrated, by relatively small hesitations.

Furthermore, if AutoCAD is about as productive as it was a few releases back, is that good enough? Or should Autodesk be providing noticeably more productivity in return for our Subscription or upgrade payments? If not, why do we continue to hand over our hard-earned dollars? Why do we go through the upgrade process at all, with all its attendant costs, struggles and inconveniences?

Autodesk, please put much more effort into halting and reversing AutoCAD’s performance slide. It doesn’t have to be a competition between performance and productivity. Improve the former and the latter will also improve.


  1. Autodesk is **always** concerned with both performance and productivity. To suggest otherwise is a bold assumption. Sometimes depending on your perspective and use of AutoCAD due to the diverse uses and users it may not appear to be catering direct to your needs.

    So if R12 is better performance for you, you have no need to upgrade. Surely the competitors you have with your industry will love this as they will kick you lowly fast bootup but limited productivity butt. 😉

    The fact is we do care about our customers and our products otherwise most of us would not be working at Autodesk spending much of our own time to improve the products and customers experience. I am not the exception.

    There are other factors we have little control over such as the operating system and APIs. If your software environment is loaded down more than it was back in the DOS days (which it most certainly is) we have more to overcome for performance.

    Please stop the polls unless there is a therapuetic value for you. The total votes *could be* you voting multiple times, 5 blog visitors, 3 bored web surfing people that don’t know what AutoCAD is but like selecting a button on a poll, as well a family members. It takes a large wide and varied population to draw even the slightest conclusions from. Your statement “It is clear from the very different voting patterns in the two polls” is unclear in their origin beyond a small sample straw poll of those who come to the blog.


  2. velo

    “…The fact is we do care about our customers and our products otherwise most of us would not be working at Autodesk spending much of our own time to improve the products and customers experience. I am not the exception…”

    I would like you to give us an example of what you have personally done to “improve the products” so that I know who to curse next time I am “experiencing” an hourglass cursor or some other improvement.

    Shaan, could you please for once accept the criticism, apologize to the users and do something about it, instead of blaming everybody else for the mess that we call AutoCAD.

    And finally, as a proof that Steve is right, all you have to do is read the comments on your own MyFeedback web site. But then, judging by the response rate from Autodesk, maybe it should be renamed MyBlackHole site.

  3. velo, ouch… I am sorry you are so upset and angry.

    If you provide some specific issues, comments, or a specific project where Autodesk is not being active in Myfeedback to me in email I will look into them (

  4. SH: “Please stop the polls”

    Sorry, but you don’t run this blog. I know it must be inconvenient to have your customers’ views visible in public, especially when they don’t match the nothing-is-wrong corporate illusion, but that’s just too bad. The polls will continue, I will continue to comment on them, and you need to learn to live with it. After all, you love bloggers and respect their independent voices.

    SH: “The total votes *could be* you voting multiple times”

    No they couldn’t, because that would be dishonest, and I hope you’re not suggesting any such thing. In any case, do you really think that the polls here are out of sync with what your customers think? Or are you really under the impression that most AutoCAD users think the product is getting faster, that the recent web update was fantastic and that the 12-month cycle is definitely not damaging AutoCAD?

    Rather than trying to discredit my polls, feel free to counter them by making your own data public. Fully public, that is, with all the details visible, as mine are. Your response to my ribbon usage poll was a good start, although more detail of how your figures are measured would have made them more meaningful.

  5. Quinn, while I think AutoCAD customers have a right to be upset about a range of legitimate issues, I don’t think us paying Autodesk and Autodesk paying its employees is one of them.

    While I have had many disagreements with Shaan on various subjects over the years, I’m glad Autodesk keeps paying him. I’m also happy to see him comment here, and would hate to see that discouraged.

    I’m not going to censor comments unless they get really extreme, and very much encourage you all to contribute your views here. If you think Shaan is wrong, please point out where he is wrong. If you’re angry about something, tell us exactly what you’re angry about. But can I please encourage everyone to play the ball instead of the man?

  6. SH: Autodesk is **always** concerned with both performance and productivity.

    Shaan, Does that go beyond the applications themselves? If so, I would like to hear comments on the current adsk newsgroup situation, especially the broken search.

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