Autodesk founder outraged by Amazon snatch of cloudy purchases

Autodesk co-founder John Walker (it’s not his fault, he relinquished control of the company many years ago) recently posted this on Twitter: In a move reminiscent of the infamous removal of Orwell’s 1984 from Kindle devices (which Amazon promised a court it would never repeat), John’s Audible.com (owned by Amazon) audio books, purchased in 2009-2010, simply went away. John’s reaction was to post a video of harmless inanimate objects being blown away by a powerful firearm, so I think it’s safe to say he was not overly pleased about this turn of events. Can’t say I blame him. This is …

Cloudy and/or subscription CAD still adds vulnerabilities

Remember when I skewered the myth of CAD on the Cloud being available anytime, anywhere? Back then, I pointed out that Autodesk’s infinitely powerful cloud services had managed a grand total of 2 problem-free fortnights out of the preceding 25. But maybe Autodesk just had a bad year or something. How are things in 2017? Thanks to Autodesk’s health check site with its History option, I can see that so far this year, the grand total of 14-day pages that show no problems is… Zero. That’s right, there have been no clean 100%-uptime fortnights at all this year. None. Most …

The cull continues – yet more Autodesk products are bumped off

While you’re enjoying yourselves at Autodesk University (not that there’s anything wrong with that), spare a thought for a few products that didn’t make it through the year. Their unfortunate ends are unlikely to be announced at AU with flashy videos and gung-ho words, but should still not go unnoticed. More than just a few products, actually. Autodesk killing off its wares is not new, but 2017 is surely the year where the scythe has been wielded with most gusto. I’ve updated the Autodesk Graveyard again to include a few more ex-products. Thanks to JM and others who have pointed …

Logitech demonstrates the power of the cloud and cops a bloody nose

I’ve been a pretty satisfied customer of Logitech products for some years. The mice, keyboards, webcams and 3D controllers (branded as 3DConnexion) I’ve used have generally been well designed, well built and long-term software support has usually been very good (with an exception or two). So it’s with some regret that I have to report them as an example of what not to do in customer service. Logitech recently sent this email to customers of its Harmony Link universal remote control: This is an important update regarding your Harmony Link. On March 16, 2018,   Logitech will discontinue service and …

Why owning stuff is still important (repost)

This post was originally published on 19 November 2012. What’s happened since then is that Autodesk has indeed ended the sale of perpetual licenses and gone all-rental even though customers remain reluctant. Autodesk’s cloud push, however, is struggling. Many Autodesk cloud products are dying or dead. Others (mostly free) carry on but many have failed to live up to expectations.  Some paid cloud products (e.g. Fusion 360) are starting to generate some return on Autodesk’s huge investment. However, it’s all years behind schedule. We were supposed to be cloudy CAD users several years ago. It hasn’t happened. How much of …

Simplifying CAD Management the Autodesk way

According to Autodesk, one of the benefits of subscription (rental) is simplified administration. To prove it, Autodesk has provided a simple guide for CAD Managers called The Software Administrator’s Guide to Autodesk Subscriptions – How to Set Up, Install, and Manage Your Software and Users. It’s 18.7 MB and 78 pages long. Don’t worry though, this simple guide helpfully includes a simple guide on how to read it. Among other things, this eBook provides handy hints on how subscription’s simplified administration regime for standalone licenses requires you to pre-emptively name all your users, set them all up with Autodesk accounts …

Autodesk updates Design Review

Despite the previously announced end-of-active-life for Design Review (Autodesk’s DWF viewer), there is now a new release available. This wasn’t supposed to happen, because we should all now be using cloud-based solutions. A new version of DWG TrueView was needed to deal with the new DWG 2018 format, and one knock-on effect is that a new Design Review was needed to be compatible with DWG TrueView 2018.  It’s still only 32-bit, so it appears to be a matter of Autodesk just touching it up enough to keep it compatible. Interestingly, the new Design Review is not called 2018. Here’s where …

What’s in a name? AutoCAD 360 / mobile app confusion

Has Autodesk’s online DWG viewer/markup tool had yet another rename? It’s hard to tell. I suspect there’s a rename process going on that’s not yet complete. Here’s the list of names so far. I think. Visual Tau (when acquired by Autodesk) Project Butterfly (Autodesk Labs name) AutoCAD WS AutoCAD 360 AutoCAD mobile app The last two names appear to be interchangeable right now. What led me to this confusion is the very sub-optimal customer experience I had in attempting to try out AutoCAD 360. The best way to describe it is a wild goose chase. I started from a point …

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.

Another one bites the dust – Autodesk sheds Seek

Following on from Autodesk’s announcement of the impending demise of 123D, the shedding of Cloudy applications and services continues. This time, it’s BIM content service Autodesk Seek. Here’s what Autodesk has to say about the reason for this change: Autodesk… does not consider the Autodesk Seek service to be strategic to our core business at this time.   The timeline went something like this: 16 January 2017 – Autodesk transferred the operations and customer support obligations related to the Autodesk Seek business to Swedish digital content company BIMobject. 18 January 2017 – Autodesk posts a notice to that effect on …

Video lulz with AutoCAD 360

Thanks to Hans Lammerts on Twitter for pointing out this amusingly cringeworthy AutoCAD 360 YouTube ad: The guy spilling his coffee and falling over reminds me of the people in those infomercials that can never get the simplest things right: OK, so the ad’s bad, but how’s the product? I had a look for myself at the browser version of AutoCAD 360, which is the current name for what has been Visual Tau, Project Butterfly and AutoCAD WS in previous iterations dating back before Autodesk’s acquisition of the Israeli technology in 2009. It’s a while since I tried it, so …

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 …

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 (edit – now CEO) 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 …

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 …

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 …

The Times They Are a-Changin’ (guest post)

I’d like to thank Steve for the opportunity to write this guest post. My post doesn’t necessarily represent Steve, nor does it represent any company. It’s strictly a personal point of view. The purpose of this post is to prompt discussion and debate, and get your opinion. Recent discussion on this blog has focused on Autodesk and its many changes over the past few years (upgrade pricing, policy changes, term-only aka rental licenses, move to the cloud, etc.), and there’s been a lot of skepticism. If we stand back and look at the landscape, though, Autodesk is not alone. True, …

Dear Autodesk Recap 360 team…

…your software (3.0.0.52, came with AutoCAD 2017) fails to allow sign-in (a prerequisite to connection to the cloud) in a secure proxy server environment. This happens (see picture): I am online. I did try to inform you about this problem using the feedback mechanism in the product. This allowed me to type my problem report, but on hitting the send feedback button, I got this (see picture): I am connected. In fact, I’m so connected I’m typing this post online while reproducing the problem. While this is going on, I’m able to sign in to Autodesk Account, A360 Drive, AutoCAD …

AutoCAD 2017 Feature – Share Design View

An interesting new feature of AutoCAD 2017 is Share Design View, which is invoked using the leftmost button on the A360 Ribbon tab or the ONLINEDESIGNSHARE command. The idea behind this command is to create a web-published snapshot of your drawing that can be accessed by anyone with a browser (they’ll need a fairly recent one). This command works as advertised and provides another option to allow limited access to your design information without providing access to your DWG files. It creates a web page containing a view of your drawing and lets you have the URL (link) so you …

Autodesk desktop app. Worst. Name. Ever. Is the product better than the name?

Autodesk wants your software to be automatically updated so you’re always running the latest version. Let’s pretend for a moment that this is a good idea and have a look at how Autodesk now attempts to do this. For the previous couple of releases (2015/2016), this has been done using Autodesk Application Manager. For 2017, this has been replaced by Autodesk desktop app. Even if you haven’t installed any 2017 products, you may have already seen this kind of thing pop up. Repeatedly. Note how there’s no obvious “stop nagging me and leave me alone” option. Autodesk Application Manager’s settings …

Don’t be a technology lemming

In response to Shaan’s variant on the old “if you question the value of any change you must be a Luddite” argument, I was going to write a lemming-based parody. I didn’t, mainly because I didn’t want to perpetuate the lemming mass-suicide misconception. Instead, I’ll answer the point more directly. Autodesk will acheive better success in convincing customers about Cloud computing and other concepts by actively and interactively engaging with them. Addressing their specific and legitimate concerns has a chance of success if the concepts have merit. Insultingly likening customers to allegedly stupid animals isn’t going to convince anyone. Besides, the point …