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Saturday, September 26, 2009

AutoBIM vs AutoCAD - 26 years of it ought to be 'Auto' not 'ManualCAD'

I was on the phone today with Jeff Pinheiro, better known as "TheRevitKid.com" and we were discussing a number of topics on BIM, LEED, IPD (and Phil B of course). 

We were discussing one of their projects with an architect still drawing by hand.  Hard to imagine in this day and age.  Jeff was making a point about CAD vs BIM.  I stopped him right there with those words ringing in my ears.   I said "Don't you mean AutoCAD?"  When did the word AutoCAD actually get truncated to simply CAD.  I broke the word into two pieces, Auto and CAD.  I told Jeff I had just started reading the book 'Crossing the Chasm' and it starts out talking about how the marketing people always get blamed for everything.

I think I've discovered a major flaw in the system.  First, I made up an new word.  I'm calling it AutoBIM.  If you're going to have an AutoCAD, then the opposite is AutoBIM.  So, here's where I think the architectural industry made a mistake and I'm not entirely sure it's their fault.

When your product starts out with the word 'Auto', you think it's referring to automatic.  Like the word automobile.  It's an automatic way to be mobile.  Makes sense and it's far easier than ManualMobile, known as walking.  I sometimes blame the marketing folks at Autodesk for overselling their products.  I told Jeff a story that 4 months ago, I had the IT manager at a firm how Revit increased coordination, accuracy and productivity.  He immediately said, "Greg, you told me that in 2005 when you were trying to sell me ADT."  My response was "yeah, but back then, I was just following the script, Revit really does increase coordination, accuracy and productivity."  I've learned a lot in the last 5 years, and one of the biggest things is don't listen to the marketing hype and regurgitate it.  I wonder what would have happened if Word and Excel were called AutoWrite and AutoSpreadsheet. 

I do have a self cleaning oven, but apparently, it really doesn't self clean.  Why do they call it self cleaning if it doesn't start the process automatically.  Another overly hyped product.  It should be called a 'Self cleaning after you lock the door, turn on the oven and push the self cleaning button' oven. 

Back on the subject of 'AutoCAD', I think the problem is architects thought they were getting a program that automated drafting and design.  Out of the box, AutoCAD is a very manual and labor intensive program.  It takes months or years to get proficent (26 years apparently from all of the AU classes still offered for AutoCAD) and after all that time, it's still a line by line by line process. 

I'm sure many not technically savvy principals were expecting something very special for all that money for software, training (you did pay for training didn't you) and hardware.  What they did get was clean crisp lines that printed out beautifully.
Jeff and I discussed line weights and how to make plans really stand out.  I asked Jeff how many different line weights his firm works with.  Waiting for the answer, I did a little quick math having taken a drafting class in college and having 4 mechanical pencils, #3, #5, #7 and #9, Jeff said 4 was the typical number and he told me how much effort is placed on the different line weights for walls, doors, annotations and dimensions. 

This whole line weight topic made it even more apparent as to the manual nature of AutoCAD.  Many times when I meet with architects, they see Revit, they like Revit, but they refuse to consider the move to Revit.  I think it's mostly because they see it as "just another Autodesk product."  After 26 years of ManualCAD and then Architectural Desktop, which most everyone uses as plain AutoCAD anyhow, what would be the point for them to learn an entirely new program when they know what they have, accept the shortcomings of it, and who's got any money to spend during the recession anyhow on software, training and implementation? 

I think so many architects are so jaded to the marketing hype of Autodesk that I don't make that much of an effort anymore to convince architects to make the switch.  I'm wondering if we all start calling it AutoBIM, if that would make a difference. 

On the bright side, on Friday, we finished Revit Architecture training for 45 students at Florida International University School of Architecture.  We've trained hundreds of students on Revit and they all have a bright future ahead of them.  I offered Jeff to have his entire class take our Revit Architecture Essentials class via live webcast.  If you know any students or unemployed architects, have them contact me so they can get up to speed in Revit in less than a week. 

I'm curious how all of this will play out and how quickly.  There needs to be a massive retooling of the architecture and engineering community.  On top of learning Revit, there's learning the workflow, collaboration with others, figuring out Integrated Project Delivery and then there's LEED, with its massive amounts of documentation, required energy efficiency calculations and an entirely new way of designing buildings.

What's your plan and timetable?  Are you expecting to switch to Revit in the next 3 months or 3 years?  It's time to cross the chasm and see that it's not such a far leap. When you've made that decision, take a look at BIMcycle.com and take a look at your future.  Don't worry, it's not as scary as it looks. Just ask the Revit Kid.  He'll tell you all about it as soon as he's done with his calculus homework.


The Revit Kid September 26, 2009 at 11:02 PM  

haha... the worst part is... I am still entering these problems into Word... UGH!

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