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 to plaster “NEW!” over their products.
Despite the push-poll options, the command line was the clear winner on both blogs. Here are the Project Butterfly results (unknown number of voters):
I can’t work without the command line (66%)
I think it’s time for a new way to draw without the command line (34%)
Here are my results (378 voters):
I can’t work without the command line (81.7%)
I think it’s time for a new way to draw without the command line (18.3%)
I expected to see a greater preference for the command line among readers of this blog (largely command-line-using AutoCAD users) than among readers of the Project Butterfly blog (largely command-line-less Project Butterfly users). My expectation has been met. Instead of about a 2:1 majority there, command-line people here have about a 4.5:1 majority.
Now let’s try a similar poll, hopefully without biased options, and see if that affects the result. I have replaced the above poll with this one:
Should CAD software have a command line?
There are several ways in which this question could have been asked (do you prefer, is it more efficient, is it better, etc.), but the above appears to be the least biased I can come up with. Please have a look at this and other polls over on the right and vote if you feel so moved.
I could live without the normal and expected command line if two conditions were to exist:
1). The Text Window remains live and well and is just an F2 away at all times.
2). The Dynamic Input prompt(s) could be placed in a permanent location (of my choosing) instead of obscuring my view at the cursor. Prompt, angle & length coordinates, and dimensional input all in a single reference area that overlays the screen as text only – and is not visible when commands or grips are inactive. Clean and simple.
Wouldn’t have to seek out the status bar readouts, or the non-gripped inputs at the cursor, or the command line all at the same time. All of the pertinent information right where I expect it to be. Every time.
It’ll never happen.
CAD is still to vague!
Q: Should Autocad retain it’s command line?
Q:Should Autodesk Inventor have a command line? (It is also ‘CAD’)
A:No, I manage just fine without one.
(I’m just being pedantic…)
Paul, pedantry is fine, it’s my specialist subject!
I don’t really care what the exact format is as long as I can use the keyboard to enter in commands. I CAD with both hands, not one, that make e twice as efficient as anyone that only uses the mouse. If it is a command line, or dynamic input, or just keyboard commands, I just want to use both hands.
When looking at interface(s) to anything the ‘test’ I apply is based on how ‘easy’ it is to use, or to train, ‘new’ users.
Basically the interface to a CAD program should be transparent; it should not require ‘learning’ and should fall into immediate ‘common sense’ use.
If you do a lot of training, of new users – (20 plus hours a week I do, mostly new guys&gals) – you very quickly learn what is ‘right’ about an interface and what is not and quite frankly having to switch to a ribbon and or loose the command/prompt line would make AutoCAD much harder for most new users.
Anything can be learned but to have to spend any time relearning is also simply an un-necessary waste of money and resource.
The other point I would make here is ‘remove yourself’: by this I mean, when looking at questions relating to CAD interfaces try and take your personal ‘likes and dislikes’ out of any assessment you do and critically analyze the changes based on assessments which can be repeated and separately validated/costed. I do this using new and long term users and the result can be quite surprising.
I have outlined in Steve’s blog some of my results in these areas (ribbon and hatch) and the outcomes I see neither match the ‘sales’ pitch nor have been value for money.
The command line should stay along with the ‘classic’ and older interfaces and leave it to users to decide. The ‘penalty’ to be paid is at Autodesk’s end in having to maintain the system; but it is users who pay for this in the end (as we ALL know) and I for one do not mind paying additional to maintain a significant level of flexibility which allows users to choose what suits them best and to get the best out of the tools in which they are investing.
You know, every once in a while I switch workspaces in Civil 3D and end up in one where the command line is hidden (“Tool Based Geospatial”, I think), and I can’t do anything. Especially because the only other interface is the Ribbon and I can’t find what I’m looking for in there. This is simply no reason to remove it. If they have an itch to remove something, take the screen menu. 🙂
imho there really is no way to discuss the importance and relevance of this subject without having a fundamental understanding of the value of batch scripting in AutoCAD.