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Thursday, August 20, 2009

A CAD Coincidence, why I love Revit and beat up on AutoCAD. #BIM Rant

Sometimes I get caught up in the heat of the moment, write a blog post way too late at night, or on occasion may say something that isn't perceived as positive wholeheartedly by the world. Well, today was one of those days where I got hit from two totally random directions. I'm not sure how to present the following information in a proper timeline, but here goes nothing. In response to two of my posts, one about the AutoCAD update and the other about ITT teaching Revit, I got an email and a blog comment. It's interesting about the timeline because if the commenter had only know that I wrote a response to the email, I wouldn't be writing this now. I think it is important to write it, but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be apologizing or not changing a thing. First, I got an email this morning from Joe V.


You should stop making statements like,you know it's over for CAD.

Just fuggedaboutit!

Now, I want you to know that Joe has been using AutoCAD since day one, has taught drafting for 30 years, and is absolutely brilliant with Revit Architecture, Structure and MEP. Not wanting to offend any of my star techs, I felt it necessary to respond to his email immediately.

My response:
Thanks. I do know that for many industries, CAD will always have it's place. Also, for drafting details, it'll still always be a useful tool.

In the context of my statements, it's about using CAD for the creation of buildings versus BIM. Using the client from last week as an example, who just wrote Linda that Revit would slow down his production, so he wasn't going to buy it. It's frustrating to deal with that mentality of CAD vs BIM for the big picture.

I can't say I'll stop making the statement, but I will clarify the context of why I am saying it. I do say it as a sales tool to scare the architects into switching to Revit now. Things are going to pick up again, the AIA just reported that billings are up 5% and we're going to get into the cycle again of architects being to busy with work and deadlines to switch to Revit in the middle of projects.
We'll have an endless cycle of their BS.

I do say it to piss people off and make them think about switching because Autodesk doesn't say it to the architects that they want them to switch to BIM and leave CAD. They don't want to alienate their existing base of customers. I've told Autodesk to lower the price of Revit to that of AutoCAD Architecture, stop selling AutoCAD Architecture as an option and only offer it with Revit for the same price.

I'm trying to move the mountain for all of us. I've known for several years that it's not a good thing to say, but so many ask me when AutoCAD is going away, that it's a subtle and gentle push in the right direction.

If we're going to be a solution sales and technical team, then it's in our best interest to push them into BIM. I always openly tell people that they're getting a copy of AutoCAD with their Revit license, so they'll always have AutoCAD at their side. I've never sold Revit without it being part of the Suite because I do know that people want it and need it.

Hope that answers that in a happy positive way for you.
So, you can all see in black and white that Gregory Arkin, the BIM evangelist actually thinks that there is a place for AutoCAD in the world. I'll make it simple for you. I challenge the status quo. Using the workflow and process of CAD FOR THE DESIGN OF BUILDINGS was fine UNTIL Revit matured. I'd go so far as to say that until Revit 9.1, I wasn't really sure of it hitting the mainstream. Seeing what happened with 2008 and 2009, it became very clear that it got better with each release. We'll refrain from the 2010 Ribbon topic for now. I will say that I've been using Microsoft Word since release 1.0 and went so far as to buy Microsoft stock when it went public around 1987. I was young and dumb then and sold it when it went up 6 points. Stupid stupid stupid, but whatever.

I've always had a knack for technology, have always been an early adopter and 9 times out of 10, my technology picks were dead on for being the best. It's why I love Revit so much. I know that deep down in my gut, it's does the job better.
If you want to use AutoCAD for details, go ahead and I'm fine with that. Remember that I'm a General Contractor, not an architect. I'm doing what I can to help contractors get the building built. If I get an architect to use Revit, he'll model a better coordinated building, spend less time drafting, help the contractor and ultimately make more money. I'll fully acknowledge that Autodesk got to be a $2 Billion dollar a year company because of AutoCAD.

There are still millions of people using it in many industries and although I think it's way too complicated to use personally, if you like it, have mastered it and you do detailing and annoations, you have my blessing.
I must say, that I'm not thrilled with Autodesk's marketing department every year creating brochures stating that this year's AutoCAD will improve productivity and efficiency with it's new features. The reality is, if you're a die hard AutoCAD user, release 14 is all you ever need. All of those new features just bloat and slow up your computer, you need to buy new hardware and it still crashes.

Autodesk doesn't ever want to alienate a customer and they can't publicly tell a customer to use one product over another because of that legal liability. I can say what they won't for architects.
OK, let's wrap this up because you've been reading a long time and my fingers are tired. Here's the Blog comment I got at 4:51Pm today from who I think is a CAD Manager in Redding California.
antman has left a new comment on your post "Urgent Update- AutoCAD 2010 Update 1 - Hurry, befo...":

Hi Gregory. You must really be *really* good at what you do, for Autodesk to let you be a reseller and yet bag non-stop on their bread-and-butter program line.

I'm not saying Revit is bad or that we shouldn't use it, but I like AutoCAD and this post has finally pushed me over the tipping point of being able to restrain comment.

You consistently conveniently ignore (or have been blinded to by the Autodesk marketing team) the fact that AutoCAD Architecture is just as viable a BIM solution as Revit. That, coupled with your wholesale condemnation of those who aren't instant proselytes of this Reviligion (there, I coined a term, too .-) has made it increasingly difficult for me to follow your blog with any shred of open-mindedness.

Honestly, my respect (and $$) is much more likely to go to the salesman who can acknowledge the successful features of AutoCAD and fully explain how those processes are improved, or at least achievable, by Revit.
How ironic for me to have received that today after my email to Joe this morning. If I didn't write this post, at least I'd be consistent. If I do publish this post, then I'm being a hypocrite for saying nice things about AutoCAD. Since I did have the interaction this morning, I occasionally get reminded by others to tone it down just a bit, but Anthony, after all this IS a Revit blog. I don't see the word CAD anywhere in my title. You can call me BIM O'Reilly.

So, let's breakdown your blog comment. Yes, I am really good at what I do. Autodesk staffers do read my blog and they have been nice enough to not ask me to change a thing. Any publicity is good publicity. My belief is that what I'm doing is helping create a market for their products into emerging markets like BIM for Construction, LEED and Digital Fabrication. All huge places to expand into markets that have never been touched.

That will mean lots of new opportunities and growth from 2 Billion to 5 Billion per year. If you look at the adoption rate of BIM in the construction industry versus what's happened in the architectural marketplace, your bread is stale. No offense (which means I'm going to offend you), but Autodesk's sales are way down because of what's happened because of the recession and yet, sales keep growing in the construction market. Although 26 years of AutoCAD did get Autodesk to where they are today, the market is saturated, you don't need training, you're not upgrading and renewing subscription, so should Autodesk really have me stop promoting technology that is bringing in income? As far as being really good, I've lost count, but I think I've gotten Revit into over 400 firms in the past 5 years because of my passion, love of BIM and honesty in what I do. I know the products, I can actually use Revit and if I don't know the answer, I'm man enough to admit it and ask my techs for help.

To your next paragraph, I want more comments from people, good or bad. I'm thrilled I actually pissed you off enough to get a reaction. Did you watch Hell's Kitchen this week? The chef who got kicked off wasn't even one of the two that was picked. It was the chef with no passion or heart. Shocking huh? I was and wasn't surprised.

Ah, my favorite part....Autodesk Marketing. They're the ones that got you into this mess in the first place. Every year they told you how great the next version of AutoCAD was and if you paid Autodesk lots of money, then your productivity would skyrocket. What really happened? Crawl! You all just stopped upgrading and you don't believe a thing they say. What kills me the most is that because of all the previous hype, when I show upon your doorstep and tell you how great Revit is, you just look at it and say, great, just another Autodesk product that's going to slow my staff down and get the hell out of your office. Because all of the hype has made you all so jaded, no one believes anything a reseller says about how much better and faster Revit is compared to AutoCAD. We show you the software, show you the automatic elevations, stairs, sections, schedules and numbering, and you still don't buy it after saying wow. Why? 26 years of workflow and process so ingrained into the mindset of architecture that to consider changing anything would slow down an already slow, tedious and painful process.

So, yes, I condemn the process. I want to scream at you and tell you how wrong and stubborn you are and beg you for the sake of your own industry's future to please listen and heaven forbid, a salesperson is actually honest and correct about a product. Anthony, I've always been two things. I'm stubborn and flexible. Total mental conflict. I will always say no to anything anyone says and depending on the issue, either slowly or quickly study it and see that it may actually be better than something or some way I do something and I do change. Open mindedness? That's something I've seen very little of from my 5 years of interaction with your peers.

Just a bit on your ACA statement....phbbttt!!!!!!
AutoCAD Architecture as BIM? Anyone here at a firm of less than 8 people ever fully implement ADT/ACA, use the sheet set manager, constructs and keynoting/detailing library? Yup, didn't think so. If only it was all set up for you and didn't take 6 months to implement, it may have had it's place in the BIM world. I've had arguments, and lost them to my techs, that AutoCAD can be BIM too, if you wanted to spend that much time extruding, polylining, adding attributes, xrefs, etc.
Fact is, 85% of Autodesk's customers are firms with 5 seats or less. Only the really big firms could ever afford to implement ADT. Not a winning bet in my mind.

A typewriter can do spell checking too if you have liquid paper. There's a balance between BIM and BOG. The amount of time it takes to set up ADT/ACA, use it properly and SHARE THE DATABASE WITH THE ENTIRE DESIGN TEAM is what doesn't make it BIM. At the end of the day, it's still layers, line weights and isn't Bidirectional. So, in my opinion, if every architect who had ACA fully implemented it, shared the data with AutoCAD MEP engineers, then wow, BIM for everyone. Reality is, the only reason you bought ADT in the first place was because Autodesk had a promotion that made it cheaper to crossgrade to than just plain AutoCAD. That was until you got your first subscription renewal which expired of course.

I will tell you a secret. I think AutoCAD MEP is pretty cool after seeing what Joe V had been doing with it. I think it has more of a place in the world than ACA, but what's the point when no one uses constructs in ACA. That's what makes Revit so much better. It's just easier to use and not have to worry about layers, line weights and line colors. Out of the box, Revit is the easiest software to use if you've never used AutoCAD.

Anthony, I've heard the ACA vs Revit argument, I read the AUGI forums, I've talked with 1,000s of architects and drafters in the last 5 years and I read a lot of other blogs and quite honestly, if you really want to use AutoCAD Architecture as BIM, go ahead, but I dare you to ever try to do an IPD project with it and get one other engineer or consultant to do all of their work in 3D. Case closed. It's not Big BIM. That attitude is selfish and not helpful to building the building. Disagree if you'd like, but you will never change my mind on the equality of ACA to Revit.

So, have I gotten your respect now? Well, I didn't actually acknowledge the successful features of AutoCAD. Aside from drawing lines circles and arcs, cutting and pasting which ones shall we discuss? Dyamic blocks? Parametric modeling? PDF output? Automatic annotations scaling. Oh...I know...you love the new ribbon in AutoCAD. That is actually the one new feature that can actually allow me to draw a straight line and have the remotest of chances to print it.....on 8 1/2 x 11 of course. I'm still baffled by how freakin' complicated it is to plot anything on a wide format printer. Take an E sized drawing and print it on 36" wide roll of paper. Is it landscape or portrait? That's just way too complicated. Give me Revit's File Print OK feature anyday.

Just had a crazy funny ass thought. The newest AutoCAD features, parametric modeling and annotation scaling...Revit features stolen to extend the life of AutoCAD. When the developers do that, it just makes it even harder to convince you to move to Revit. Let's verticalize AutoCAD and give people the ability to use Revit features in AutoCAD so it will help them transition to the new product. More marketing crap that just pisses me off. Die AutoCAD die! Oops... I wasn't supposed to say that was I? Oh the successful features of AutoCAD. Well, how about that it gives you a comfortable environment for which you can draw details and callouts.

Anthony, what I think is really swell about you in doing a bit of research is finding this Autodesk discussion group forum thread about Revit Architecture Exterior Elevation lineweights. Of course you remember it because you posted an answer to it yesterday. I have to tell you, I think that's a damn fine looking elevation that the contractor can build from and not need to have any AutoCAD lineweights added to it to make it any better. It's documented the look of the building so the contractor can bid it and build it. Isn't that the point of what you do anyhow? Document the requirements necessary so the owner can receive his completed building timely from the contractor and have a team in place to do everything they can to complete the project. It's not about line weights it's about bottom line. Revit seems to be a faster and more productive tool that created these elevations. Lineweights...as if that's a feature.....

From the forum post:
"These are NOT 3D views. These are straight forward elevations of the building. I simply turned shadows on decides if light from upper left, or upper right looked better, and added annotation. We do add some Annotation lines in the elevation views to pop some of the edges that are not casting shadows, and these we align and lock to the edges of the walls where we want them. By doing it this way, and the walls, or roofs shifted slightly, the annotations lines moved with them. This is actually the easiest way we've found to get the elevations to read. Yes, the sun/shadow settings can be controlled by view templates, so it can be applied to a bunch of elevations at one time."

Anthony, if you want to have a discussion about how the process are improved, I can fully explain them all to you. Sure, I'd be much happier for you to think I'm the ultimate salesperson, relish every word I write here and agree with everything single thing I say, but let's be honest. That's just not going to happen. What I can tell you is that I do care about your industry and I really do want to help the ones who finally recognize that maybe, just maybe, there's a better way of doing something after 26 years (and thousands of years before that with hand drawing) with Revit.

Anthony, and I as mentioned to Joe today, I will try to be a little more careful in the context in which I slam AutoCAD, so as not to totally piss off everyone. I love architecture. I'm amazed at how complex a process it is to think in 3D, convert those thoughts to 2D lines on a piece of paper and I hope you and I can have a beer at AU and become fabulous friends. I did leave you a message at your office and would have loved to have had this conversation on the phone instead of spending the last hour writing this because my fingers are killing me. Maybe you'll read this and call me back. 305.992.4734 is my mobile number. I almost dare you....

To the rest of you Revit fanatics who are reading this, I'm in awe of how Revit is changing the architectural industry and I hope to keep providing you all of the best of the BIM world so you never have to use AutoCAD ever again. Anthony....you didn't see this last paragraph and the parts of AutoCAD that you love the most are the same reasons that so many people are abandoning CAD for BIM. Let me know when you're the national BIM manager of your firm.

Everyone....back to the drawing boards!!!! You've just wasted a crapload of billable time.


james August 20, 2009 at 9:44 PM  

Since you asked - We have a 54 seat implementation of AutoCAD Architecture with full implementation of BIM (Project Navigator, Schedules, elevations, schedules, etc.). We design buildings from 10,000 - 300,000 square feet. We do a lot of things that Revit can't and it took me little time to configure for our office. Many of our engineers are using ACad MEP and they work very well together.

As you stated, this is a Revit blog, not a CAD blog. I enjoy your posts about Revit. (Which I also use.) I don't enjoy hearing about how horrible CAD is. That really doesn't add anything to your blog.

BTW, how big was that first Revit 2010 service pack? About 3 times bigger than AutoCAD.


Luke Johnson August 20, 2009 at 10:00 PM  

Gregory, I think my blog post adds further to the coincidence you mentioned. Thanks for your comment too! http://whatrevitwants.blogspot.com/2009/08/stop-bashing-autocad.html

Your response to my blog post and this post on your blog do make sense.

It seems that bashing AutoCAD is a bit of a 'shock' tactic to encourage people to make the move to Revit - because in the end, every Architect should really be using Revit. AutoCAD is a powerful tool and it has its place. I guess if you really want to effect change, you need to make people think differently. And judging by the response to your AutoCAD bashing - you are certainly triggering an emotional response in people. Well done!

kris March 21, 2010 at 12:58 AM  

in the 21st Century, AutoCAD certainly has a place — in the trashcan!

AutoCAD is useful for those refuseniks that will never pay money for upgrading to BIM/MEP/CAM software — however they shouldn't be a part of Autodesk's target demographic.

why make all your products' the same or similar, that just weakens their global market position — the more similar ACA, ACAD, and Revit become, the less reason for people to upgrade to Autodesk's premier product line... and should they decide to switch software to a competitor, there are thousands of AutoCAD DWG-compatible clones on the market, some of them better, all of them are cheaper, and getting better and borrowing more ideas from CAD every day.

AutoCAD as a companion product to Revit works, but only just—in a fully converted Revit office, AutoCAD is used to cleanup DWG files (delete/edit/scale), trace raster images and quickly draw 2D 'detail items'. the other >95% of AutoCAD's potential is lost on us, and consequently makes it a efficiency dugong—what is needed is either a stripped back version of AutoCAD LT included as part of Revit, or better still a fast, massively improved detail/family editor.

whilst many people could use LT / Illustrator / Corel / Intellicad for 2D, or SketchUp / Rhino / Inventor for 3D — Autodesk ought to offer an alternative for the many users who have evolved to the next generation of design tools.

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