An Odd or Even Civil 3D Update

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Out here in Civil 3D Land, some folks upgrade on odd releases and some folks upgrade on even releases. There are mythical and magical reasons for these approaches. There are reasonable and somewhat logical business reasons not to employ the latest and greatest release of Autodesk Civil 3D. There are sometimes reasons to wait for an Autodesk Civil 3D Update 1.

The odd or even is superstition - even if that all that jazz can add some great funk, Stevie Wonder says best:

When you believe in things
That you don't understand,
Then you suffer,

Superstition Ain't the Way

Trust me. I do not mean to imply here that the reader doesn’t understand Civil 3D. Quite the contrary. Too often we know and experience too much of the Autodesk Upgrade Flinch.

Official Autodesk Civil 3D release numbers often have more to do with changes in the AutoCAD platform code than the Civil 3D code itself. For more than a few years, most of the significant Civil 3D code upgrades occur in the release internal Updates. In other words, Civil 3D ####.0 has fewer Civil 3D changes than a Civil 3D ####.1 or ####.2 etc.

You can visit our Autodesk Online Help page and review the What’s New pages to confirm this for many recent releases of Civil 3D.

Autodesk Always Sells the Next Big Thing

What each of us decides is a significant Civil 3D change or improvement worthy of our effort to upgrade our production project software is a matter of constant debate. That discussion can be a bunch of fun like Stevie’s legendary pop funk. Some riffs are memorable. Many songs are boring.

It is also disingenuous to believe that all the Civil 3D development is all about the Autodesk corporate spin to sell more. You bet. That’s a frequent refrain.
All of us must sell something too or we find something else to do.

More significantly, Autodesk corporate bets on brand growth, the growth of channels, and the rise of stock price than any new release improvement spin to drive the global sales of all Autodesk products.
I always remind folks Autodesk is a Big Gorilla in the land of technology giants. The T-Rex beasts hunt in packs.

We in Civil 3D Land face other business and technical Upgrade challenges.

The Business Decision Mechanics of Upgrades

The decision to Upgrade our production project software from one release of Autodesk Civil 3D is not like the coin toss at an NFL game.
Wait a second.
Isn’t that decision exactly like that ritual coin toss?
The coin toss is not about a win or a lose, but how we start to play the next game.

Only our preparation and ability to deliver repetitive execution matters when the coin or a Civil 3D release Upgrade or incremental Civil 3D Update drops.

Civil 3D is a Team Sport

Whatever Civil 3D release we are in, our team must be prepared to play the game like our livelihoods depend on it. No matter which way the coin toss falls, we have work to get and then push the project work out the door.

Upgrade Avoidance Strategy

We can all choose to forego the use of any of the specific Civil 3D Upgrade or Update features and benefits in the short term. Project completion deadlines are a reality. Clock management is an important component to our success.

No long-term Upgrade avoidance strategy I have heard of or seen implemented, can ignore the inertia of software change in the competitive AEC environment.
Worse, an Upgrade avoidance strategy usually increases your Total Cost of Ownership (TOC).
The software is the least of our expense problems. Why?

Incremental Change

Repetitive small incremental technology changes are demonstrably less expensive. Why we purchase subscription and why Autodesk wants to sell that too.
Unquestionably, it is much less expensive to update the customized systems that Civil 3D depends on incrementally.
The Framework for Civil 3D could not exist as a product if that is not a fact.
Down and distance matter in the block and tackle game of daily production work.

Notably more frequent and regular small changes are much easier for Civil 3D users to adjust to. The cost and depth of the retraining time investment required is considerably less.

Train or Retrain

I am definitively saying here that we always have a retraining issue not a training issue in a production environment dependent on modern continuously developed software.

The work we know how to do does not remain the same unless we perceive the work to be that way.

This nuanced effect is intentionally built into how modern software is developed.
Continuous development works better for software vendors whether we like that or not.

We learn to help our Civil 3D users to adapt to the changing environment or we don’t.

A Brief Example

Let’s employ a simplistic example to make the point.
The Civil 3D How to create an Alignment from a polyline tool hasn’t changed in Civil 3D since it’s initial beta release. A Civil 3D Alignment is still an alignment. Right? Not exactly. I can argue that Autodesk spent more on Alignment-related code development over the last decade than all the rest of Civil 3D.

What we can achieve with a shared project-based Alignment changed significantly between 2019 and 2022. The prior 2018.1 Update was technically the biggest public upgrade to Alignments. Those older code ripples continue to cascade. There are important changes within many of the incremental Updates that those numbered releases contain.

If we employ Civil 3D 2019 or 2020 with the latest Updates, the Civil 3D Alignment, Pipes, and Corridor a code is better and less buggy because of development done for 2021 and 2022. We get some production benefit via the Civil 3D Updates without changing releases. Hoorah.

We hear that there is some new Civil 3D bug that creates fake Alignments and may make entire Corridor Baselines built from Features Line disappear. Safer to stay in 2019.
The 2019 Update is released that fixes this bug and a bunch of other things.

The Magical Thinking

We go on doing what we do happy that we beat the system.
We only avoid the Autodesk Upgrade Flinch.

We can totally miss that some of the work we must do in 2019 has been significantly reduced by many changes up to and including those in 2022. What that might be often doesn’t matter.
People favor a consistent narrative over inconsistent facts.
Humans tend to argue in ignorance or denial if you like.

We painfully deploy 2021 or 2022 usually because a new project demands it, or we finally see something useful in there.

Our users employ the software like they did in 2019 because the older method and practice (workflow) continues to work.
Autodesk is very careful not to allow that sort of failure to happen for well-learned and painful reasons. Autodesk history says that programmers, like the rest of us simpletons, tend to learn the hard way. Eheh.

Read and React?

I trust you get it that the specific Civil 3D release numbers be they odd or even have almost nothing to do with our actual Civil 3D production environment challenge.
The challenge is not about our capacity to react.

The real challenge is all about our ability to proactively adapt.

What if the Civil 3D Upgrade release or Civil 3D Update hardly mattered?

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