Autodesk forums return – what do you think?

Congratulations to the tech team behind the Autodesk forum software for getting the redesigned forums back up well ahead of schedule! The new forums look very different. My first impression is that it is a standard-issue Autodesk “progression” – it looks prettier but doesn’t work nearly as well. Huge swathes of screen space are wasted for graphic impact (no, I don’t mean the long-dead Autodesk attempt at PowerPoint). Big fonts, huge header, even bigger footer, lots of pretty white space. Yet what is there contains less useful information. On a 1920 x 1200 monitor, I can only see four threads …

What to do while the forums are down, dear Autodesk?

In common with most online services, the Autodesk forums are down for maintenance from time to time. That will be happening this weekend: Announcement: The forums will be unavailable starting 1 p.m. on Friday, April 6 (Pacific time) while we implement the forum redesign. We will be back online at 9 a.m. on Monday, April 9, or sooner. I really wish Autodesk would act like a company with an international focus and use universally understood time standards for its announcements. Allow me to translate for those people outside North America for whom “Pacific time” means nothing. Pacific Time (UTC-7) UTC Off line: …

Are your drawings SHOUTING?

This post was inspired by a question raised by Jamie Myers in the CAD Managers Unite! Facebook group. Long ago, before CAD was in common use, I was taught technical drawing at school. One of the things I was taught was to follow drafting standards, BS308 at the time. Later, I was expected to follow AS1100. One of the things I was taught was to always use capital letters in text on drawings, using the approved ISO font. Without a machine, without a template. This stuck to me to such an extent that even today I use all caps when …

When spambots get it wrong

I’ve posted before about the amusement that can be had at the expense of the clueless spammers who set up their bots with poorly written strings. Thanks to the various anti-spam tools now protecting this blog, there are few comments appearing in my spam folder. There was one today though, and the cluelessness reached new heights. The dolt writing the spambot was too dumb to set it up correctly to spew out a series of inane generic comments from a list, but instead put the whole lot of the comment strings in a single self-contradictory comment! Here it is in …

Chat to Autodesk about being pushed onto rental

I’ll post later about Autodesk’s oft–predicted–here 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 …

Disaster in progress – Getting it wrong

No, not Autodesk getting it wrong, me  getting it wrong. In recent posts, I supported my arguments against Autodesk’s move to all-rental software with faulty evidence. As pointed out to me by several commenters, I completely failed to take deferred revenue into account. I would like to sincerely thank those who pointed out my error.* Although I included a disclaimer about not being a financial analyst, I should have gone further and simply not ventured into areas I am ill-qualified to cover. I got it wrong. I therefore offer unreserved apologies to Autodesk and my readers. What now? I have …

AutoCAD 2017 – Putting things back to “normal”

The most frequently accessed posts on this blog are the AutoCAD 201x – Putting things back to “normal” series. They also attract a lot of comments: Most Commented Posts AutoCAD 2013 – An Autodesk Help writer responds – 164 comments AutoCAD 2012 – Putting things back to “normal” – 158 comments AutoCAD 2011 – Putting things back to “normal” – 135 comments AutoCAD 2009 – Putting things back to “normal” – 121 comments AutoCAD 2010 – Putting things back to “normal” – 106 comments The last one of these I did was for AutoCAD 2012, so I guess it’s well …

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 …

Is there anybody out there?

I wonder if anyone still reads this blog? Would there be any point in reactivating it? I have stuff to say, but would anybody notice? Please let me know. Note that currently, I need to approve comments before they appear. I may change this setting later, but if you comment and nothing appears instantly, don’t panic.

Let’s critique AutoCAD’s parametric constraints

One of the big-ticket features of AutoCAD 2010 was parametric constraints. This was old hat for many applications, even some based on AutoCAD like Mechanical Desktop. Parametrics and constraints already existed in vanilla AutoCAD in the guise of dynamic blocks, but this was the first time ordinary AutoCAD allowed ordinary AutoCAD objects to be constrained and linked to parametric dimensions. Contraints mean that you can draw some objects and tell them that they are only allowed to behave in certain ways. For example, two lines have to remain parallel to each other. Parametrics mean that objects can be tied to special dimensions such …

How good is Autodesk’s customer focus?

Autodesk has grown and prospered by always, as much as possible, placing the customer’s needs foremost. John Walker, 1990, The Autodesk File That was the dominant philosophy back in Autodesk’s ancient history, to the benefit of all. However, is that still the case today? I’m not going to offer an view one way or the other in this post. Instead, I will leave it open to the floor. Good or bad, please comment below using specific examples if you can. If you’re short of time, you can still use the poll on the right to express your opinion.

I was wrong about AutoCAD 2013 Help, it still sucks

In my effusive welcome of AutoCAD 2013’s updated Help system, I wondered if I had been shocked into missing some glaring problem. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. In my enthusiasm, I managed to totally miss the fact that the new system has not been introduced for offline users. If you use the new system, there’s a link on the front page to the offline files. I got as far as downloading and installing what I thought was the offline version of the new system and discovered that it didn’t want to install because the old one was already installed. What …

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to AutoCAD explained

Following my comments on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to AutoCAD, Autodesk’s Dieter Schlapfer has sought to explain the reasoning behind it. Here’s what he has to say: As mentioned previously, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to AutoCAD is designed for occasional AutoCAD users and those coming back from their initial training. These are people who just need a base level of knowledge in 2D AutoCAD to get things done, and who don’t necessarily want to become experts. To make future versions more effective, I really want to get some input on the 42 AutoCAD commands, and any descriptions or illustrations that are not …

AutoCAD 2013 Help shock – it no longer sucks

Some months ago, I gave Autodesk several damn good (and thoroughly well-deserved) thrashings over its hopelessly inadequate AutoCAD 2013 Help system. When Autodesk’s Dieter Schlaepfer responded and asked for feedback, he sure got it. There are 142 comments on that one post to date, most of them leaving nobody under any illusions about how short of the mark the new system was. There is now an updated version of the AutoCAD 2013 Help system. It has been an interminably long time coming, a fact made far worse by Autodesk’s stubborn refusal to provide a CHM stopgap (which could have easily …

AutoCAD 2013 – An Autodesk Help writer responds

Following some email discussions, I am happy to present a response from a relevant Autodesk person to the posts and comments here about AutoCAD 2013’s Help. Thanks for the opportunity to respond to your readers, Steve. First, I want to assure you that we’re listening to your comments about AutoCAD 2013 Help. We are adding it to the valuable feedback we’ve already received from users who participated in our Beta program. I responded promptly to every comment from each Beta user and will now address a wider audience. Here are some of the trends we’ve seen so far in the …

Repost – how to get your picture next to your comment

This is a revisit of a post I made about three years ago, and repeated a year later. This has become more relevant recently because I changed the default avatars displayed next to comments to use random faces rather than random patterns. If you object to being portrayed as a grinning loon, read on. You may have noticed that some people’s comments have an avatar picture next to them (no, not the film with the Roger Dean visuals), while others have a randomly assigned pattern. On this blog, the avatar picture is a gravatar (globally recognised avatar), and you can …

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 …

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 …