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The Autodesk Myth at Autodesk University

Tags WATT, Autodesk University, customization, implementation

“Good God, man! What do you mean ‘Adaptive CAD Standards for AutoCAD Civil 3D’? We have a hard time getting to any CAD Standards working in Civil 3D.”

Now don’t get prideful. We were all there at one time. I hear statements like this all the time from people in organization’s you probably know or have heard of. I recently saw this post from only a year ago that talks about all the Civil 3D experiential adoption process pretty well.

Styles… styles… styles… Civil 3D 2015 for the Land Surveyor

Software Can Make a Smart People Stupid?

Yes. Aaron Byrd’s professional testimony matters. His is a story of success not failure. Can we all agree that his story is telling? Nope. I didn’t do the AutoCAD Civil 3D training. His tale to me sounds like the stock out of the box AutoCAD Civil 3D courseware sold and delivered by a competent Autodesk reseller. No, his company does not employ our Production Solution products. While they might be better served by that, this post is not a narrative ad.

Me? I want to know what’s happened in the last year? They learned a lot of AutoCAD Civil 3D or not.

Did The Lights Go On?

Training and real world project time makes all the difference. You do Civil 3D, or you don’t.

What I’m really interested in is the Civil 3D experience Mr. Byrd talks about. The almost instant aversion to AutoCAD Civil 3D for long-time civil and survey CAD users is all too common. Mr. Byrd alludes to the fact that the entire Civil 3D styles thing was a big issue for him and his company. Hence the title and substance of his post.

What’s Going on Here?

CAD is a visual experience. Well duh. But there is more to it than that. What’s on the screen, in my drawing, and in the interface defines for CAD users what is REAL. Of course, this was never true, but the CAD user experience strives to make the data behind to appear that way.

Civil Ghosts in the Machine

In the old Land Desktop days the data could be outside, but how many people actually trusted that? Obviously, this was a lot fewer people than the Autodesk Civil 3D development team thought. They listened to experts. Focus group brain freeze or at least Group Think.

The LDT geeks and TIN wizards got it. But most people trusted the drawings not the external data that vomited up the CAD pictures. LDT users had real world and very valid reasons for this mistrust of the unseen. Like I said, the visual CAD experience of daily use also confirmed their mistrust.

What I call “ACAD vomit” or “dumb down to AutoCAD” was/is the normal.

Users think and expect - Why should Autodesk change that? That would be crazy.

The official and unofficial Civil 3D demos and most Civil 3D training to this day reaffirms the old ACAD illusion to the unwary. Heck, Autodesk didn’t even change the interface names. An Alignment in Civil 3D has almost nothing to do with an LDT Alignment. Does it?

The Data Behind

As I said in a post just last month, real Civil 3D skill is about understanding the structures of the data behind, style management, and the practical daily management of that data in a project. Historically, very few support people are willing to publically share those type of skills even if they have them. This is advanced Civil 3D training.

I try do it here. Register and login for lots of advanced AutoCAD Civil 3D help and Civil 3D training videos.

Self Taught

CAD people are learn by trying users by necessity. This is a painful reality in the marketplace. This works fine as long as you get consistent and reasonable feedback when you are learning the software. Aaron’s testimony and the experience of many others out there in Civil 3D land says it’s a nightmare when you don’t.

The old LDT civil and survey working environment was included with the product. It was built-in. Softdesk/DCA considered this an essential part of their product. Indeed this was a very significant competitive advantage for their products in the marketplace from a user perspective. It’s about roots founded in real production work. You could tweak a few resource files (maybe just your SMH block) and you were good to go.

This is NOT true for AutoCAD Civil 3D

Autodesk abhors this idea. Autodesk preaches the Myth of AutoCAD Customization. You are responsible to make it your way. This is a business decision.

Autodesk has made it clear in the delivery of all of their model-based and BIM software that a production ready environment is an expense Autodesk will not bear. You still can’t make even a basic symbol legend in AutoCAD Civil 3D without considerable skill. The Autodesk Resellers can do the customization. “Certified” Consultants can do it. Skilled CAD people in firms can do it. It may take more than a year of experience to learn how but Autodesk doesn’t have to.

Maybe this is partly my fault? Our Production Solutions products exist so Autodesk doesn’t have to. Trust me. I recognize that we’re not that important. Certainly, no one at Autodesk listens to me or cares about what we do. There’s only chump change in content delivery.

The cost to fix this is less per year than a single evening event at Autodesk University.

Silly me. I am saying the Emperor is not wearing any clothes.

For the Lack of Vision the People Suffer

In any case the Autodesk policy of not to provide anything beyond basic example resources set back the adoption, acceptance, and actually the real world improvement of their software half a decade.
Instead of making BIM, model-based, and data driven software approachable and more productive for AEC professionals they made their software the problem for their own customers.

Ok? So the business concept is to make expensive problems for your customers so you can charge them again and again to fix it?

Tell Me…

Will you hear an apology from the main stage at Autodesk University for this kind of bone headed thinking?