Tip: what to do when your text becomes empty rectangles

Dear person who used the search terms “writing has become empty rectangle in cad” and “autocad text has become an empty rectangle” on this blog, I suspect you probably have a drawing where QTEXT has been turned on. To fix this, enter QTEXT at the command prompt, set it to OFF, and if the problem doesn’t go away by itself then issue the REGENALL command. Pedantic note: the command name is QTEXT, but this controls a system variable called QTEXTMODE. QTEXT OFF is equivalent to both SETVAR QTEXTMODE 0 and just QTEXTMODE 0. In LISP it would be (setvar “QTEXTMODE” …

Tip – making your 3D controller work sensibly in BricsCAD

This tip applies to BricsCAD V14 to V18 inclusive, and possibly other versions too. BricsCAD automatically works with a 3D “mouse” (e.g. 3DConnexion SpaceNavigator controller), and due to the generally excellent performance of BricsCAD in 3D, it works very smoothly and is a real productivity boon for 3D work. If you don’t already have one and you work in 3D, it’s well worth spending a fraction of the money you saved by switching to BricsCAD to get hold of one. Unfortunately, the way BricsCAD reacts to use of this device fails to lock the horizon by default. This means it …

BricsCAD V18 – showing Autodesk how to do DWG CAD

For years now, Autodesk has done very little worthwhile with AutoCAD. There have been a few small but welcome improvements, but it’s really just tinkering at the edges. The product as a whole continues to stagnate and yet blimp out. It’s getting bigger and slower with each new release. The downloads get bigger. The install times get longer. The startup times drag out. The responsiveness suffers. And for what? Pretty much the same old thing, every time. Sometimes you don’t even get a new desktop icon. Don’t get me started on value for money. It’s as if Autodesk considers DWG-based …

Bricsys 2017 Conference

I have recently returned from the Bricsys 2017 Conference, held this year at the Carrousel du Louvre, Paris. There were many impressive things demonstrated at this conference and I will be posting about them in due course. In the meantime, here is a short video from Bricsys:

You may wish to check out my Twitter feed to see what I live tweeted at the time, along with the #bricsys2017 tag to see what myself and other CAD press and bloggers thought of it.

Press and bloggers at Bricsys 2017

Disclosure: Bricsys covered my travel expenses for this conference.

The big Bricsys interview 11 – free viewer?

This is the final post in a series covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. If you’ve made it through to the end of this series, congratulations! I hope you found it illuminating. In this post, R.K. McSwain asks a question about a possible BricsCAD-based DWG viewer, which turns into a brainstorming session! R.K.: Do you guys have a viewer? A read-only viewer? Is it something you’re looking to do? Erik: No. BricsCAD classic costs, you know, $400. Steve: Autodesk is giving one away anyway. R.K.: They give it away, but …

The big Bricsys interview 10 – platforms

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. In this post, R.K. McSwain asks about BricsCAD running on three different platforms. Erik explains why BricsCAD for Mac (and Linux) is so much more complete than AutoCAD for Mac, which has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. R.K.: Do all three platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac) contain the same functionality? Erik: Yes. Sometimes it’s a bit hard with the Mac to bring it along but so far, so good. The only problem sometimes is …

The big Bricsys interview 9 – treading on developers

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. Erik explains that Bricsys won’t trample over its application partners in Autodesk-like fashion, except… Steve: Autodesk is known for treading on its third-party developers and replacing their market. Can you tell us about your attitude to doing that? Erik: We have always said that we are not stepping into any application market. We will not do it. There’s only one exception, that’s where there is no [other] possibility. There was no sheet metal. There is no …

The big Bricsys interview 8 – boundaries and BIM

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. Erik discusses where Bricsys can go in future and the place BIM has in that. Cyrena: So what is your vision, ultimately, of what Bricsys will become in tandem with your partners? Do you have limits or boundaries of which markets you will address and which you won’t? Are you going to be bigger than… “somebody else” one day? Erik: If it comes to the number of customers, challenging AutoCAD is difficult. 12 million registered users. …

The big Bricsys interview 7 – the applications ecosystem

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. In this post, Erik discusses the Bricsys efforts to work with and assist third-party developers. He does this without being prompted by a question – it’s obviously very important to him. Erik: For our future growth it’s very important, the ecosystem of the applications we have now. We have talked a lot about what we are doing and about our own products, but we should maybe have spent more time on the importance of the ecosystem. …

The big Bricsys interview 6 – lean and focused

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. In this post, the dynamic duo explain the mystery of how Bricsys can sell smaller numbers of a more capable product than AutoCAD for a fraction of the cost – and still make money. Steve: It’s kind of interesting that your product is so much cheaper than AutoCAD, and more capable. They’re making a loss and you’re making increasing profits. How does that work? Erik: I think it has to do with being lean and being …

Props to Bricsys for supporting education

Some time ago I raised a glass to Autodesk for supporting students and educators by making its software available free. I have been remiss in neglecting to point out that Bricsys also does this. So I raise a glass of dark, tasty and ridiculously strong Belgian beer to Bricsys for doing this. Cheers!

The big Bricsys interview 5 – perpetual licensing and choice

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. In this post, Erik confirms the Bricsys commitment to perpetual licensing. That’s a statement important enough to preserve, so here’s the recorded audio for posterity. We also learn what proportion of CAD customers choose perpetual licenses over rental when given fair pricing and the choice. Hint to Autodesk: it’s not 0%. Steve: Are you committed to the perpetual licensing model? Erik: Yes, yes. We are committed to choice. If somebody wants another way of licensing our …

The big Bricsys interview 4 – thank you, Autodesk

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. In this post, we learn that Autodesk’s move to all-rental has helped drive BricsCAD sales higher and continues to do so. Cyrena: Backing up just a step to sales, were you able to track any impact on your sales numbers with the chronology of Autodesk’s announcements of ending perpetual? Did you see an effect that you could map to that? Erik/Mark (together): Yes. Erik: We see that especially with large companies. I hear it from Mark …

The big Bricsys interview 3 – looking after people

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. In this post, I learn about Bricsys’ astonishingly good staff retention record and the reasons behind it. Autodesk likes to periodically pat itself on the back for being a great employer, but history shows it’s a company that discards about 10% of its workforce every few years to keep the share market happy. I suspect another round is coming up soon, unfortunately. There’s a stark contrast between a company that disposes of its chattels in that …

The big Bricsys interview 2 – making money

This is one of a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. In this post, I ask about Bricsys’ profitability and growth. Steve: Do you publish your numbers? Erik: No we don’t. We are a private company. Steve: Can you give us an indication of what’s happening with your sales at the moment? Erik: Last year we grew in revenue 25%. First quarter this year was up 27% over the same quarter last year. If you compare the sales in total of 2016 compared with 2015, it was …

The big Bricsys interview 1 – why invite the press?

This is the first in a series of posts covering an extensive interview with Bricsys CEO Erik De Keyser and COO Mark Van Den Bergh. On April 26 and 27, I attended Bricsys Insights, a press event in Ghent, Belgium. Other attendees included Cyrena Respini-Irwin (Cadalyst editor in chief), R.K. McSwain (CAD Panacea), Ralph Grabowski (upFront.eZine), Randall Newton (GraphicSpeak), Roopinder Tara (Engineering.com), Martyn Day (DEVELOP3D), Jeff Rowe (AEC Café), Anthony Frausto-Robledo (Architosh) and Paul Wilkinson (pwcom). Although Bricsys has invited some of these people (including myself) to previous events, this was the first gathering of such a significant number of …

Bricsys shows Autodesk how to do mid-term updates

BricsCAD V17.2 is out. Although there’s nowhere near as much new and useful in this mid-term update as in the full upgrade from V16 to V17, there’s more here than in Autodesk’s last mid-term update, AutoCAD 17.1. There’s even arguably more than in the uninspired AutoCAD 2018 upgrade, including those 17.1 features. But that’s not the main reason I say Bricsys is schooling Autodesk in how to do mid-term updates. While Autodesk is restricting such updates (including the bug fixes and security updates included in those updates) to subscription and maintenance customers, Bricsys is doing no such thing. BricsCAD V17 …

Autodesk license costs options 6 to 10 – abandon maintenance or Autodesk

Note: due to new information from Autodesk, an updated summary has been posted. In this series of posts, I’ll examine various payment options for CAD software and compare them with the cost of staying on your Autodesk maintenance contract long-term. In this third post, I examine what happens if you do something out of the box. Something Autodesk didn’t plan on you doing, and something it won’t like. What if you don’t renew your maintenance and then maybe hop on the subscription gravy train later? What if you don’t renew your maintenance and switch to a non-Autodesk product? As stated …

BricsCAD’s LISP kicks sand in the face of AutoCAD’s

If you’re a power user or CAD Manager transitioning from AutoCAD to BricsCAD, one of the things you’ll like is that almost all of your LISP routines will just work. That’s not an statement that can be made about various Autodesk products that bear the AutoCAD name, such as AutoCAD 360, AutoCAD LT and AutoCAD for Mac. It’s not just simple old AutoLISP code that runs in BricsCAD, but complex dialog routines that use DCL, and Visual LISP stuff that uses ActiveX. Yes, even on the Mac and Linux platforms. Some DOSLib functions are built in and the rest can …

Undo, U, Redo, Erase, Oops differences explained

It’s been a while since I posted any beginners’ tips, so here goes. There are several commands in AutoCAD to do with reversing things you’ve done. They are in some cases subtly different and this can confuse newcomers. Here’s what they do: U – reverses the last command you used. Redo – reverses the last U or Undo operation you performed, if that’s the last thing you did. Undo – displays a set of command options that allow greater control over undoing things. (This is rarely used directly by a user, and is more of a programmer’s tool, so I …