Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My first "negative" post

I'm a pretty positive person, but when I smell an odor I don't like, my face will show it. So please accept my apologies for this somewhat negative post. It doesn't have to do with Revit, but it has to do with the direction that the marketing engine within Autodesk seems to be taking.

Autodesk is hosting World Press Days and thanks to the wonders of blogging, you can see exactly what is going on almost in real time. Take a look at this post and judge for yourself. I love fish, but I don't like the smell of this.

Now I don't know about you, but it seems that Autodesk is going to take the route of pushing other products into our industry and this makes me very pessimistic regarding the improvement of Revit's modeling tools. The beauty that most of us see in Revit is the fact that it brings together a lot of people within a firm that are talented in varying parts of project delivery. I find that the use of Revit helps to build a better team, a wholistic work environment. When we allow a practice to be fragmented in departments and separate disciplines (design separate from documentation for example), it gets to be quite destructive in the long term. BIM is not an easy thing to implement. Learning Revit or any other BIM capable software is a monumental task. I shudder at the idea of having to learn/teach/support more complex programs in order to find the forms that create great architecture (ps: most of us don't really need fancy tools as we don't design blobs). I'm not advocating the use of only one tool: always use what's best to craft the idea that's brewing in your mind.

Now you don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that the larger the number of products you own that can be sold separately, the more money you can make. I honestly hope I'm wrong, but this marketing strategy doesn't bode well for making Revit do a lot more than it currently does. What's the incentive if Autodesk can sell you more software? Keep in mind how hard it is to learn and teach complex tools and use them at full capacity....now multiply that by 3 or 4.

I would rather learn a complex software so I'm able to use every single tool available properly and produce at 98% efficiency, than learning 4 different softwares that have different interfaces and lots of different tools to achieve different things, and be lucky to hit 40% efficiency. I'm not so sure it's "healthy" to have desigers becoming specialists of designing in one software versus another one. By the way, I know that already happens, but now if we introduce more packages into the mix, we start losing the fidelity that we're all striving for in a BIM environment, requiring us to hire a lot more software expertise within firms, because you need even more specialists to understand the complex behaviors and interactions between different software packages.

At the last AU, one of the big points that Autodesk made was that they were going to focus on interperability between their software. I actually chuckled when I heard that: partly in disbelief that such comment was a key hot topic of Autodesk's strategy (hmmmm, what have they been waiting for to make this happen?!) and partly because of a dose of cynicism that this could actually be achieved. And as I said, if the key goal is to sell us software, our industry will get tools that aaaaaalmost get us there: "But hey, if it doesn't fulfill all your needs....take a look at what other wonderful tools we can sell you to get you there!"

Ok, I'll put an end to this. I promise to be more positive next time :) I would really like to hear your points of view. I hope I'm dead wrong about my perceptions.



Jeremy Stroebel said...

Your worries make alot of sense, but I think your reading into it wrong (and the post you referenced got it wrong too). Sometimes, for some people, the best tool to make the basic design is not revit, or autocad. For these people, inventor might be an answer (although I'd probably see a maya or max as a better alternative). Its about options...

About your worries in Revit not pregressing, we have a new massing tool in 2009 that'll help to create more complex forms that were not possible before, and Autodesk is exploring other massing options and workflows to further help the initial design process.

Lastly, interoperability is coming. FBX is going to be the file format that does pretty much everything as seen in Max 2009 and Revit 2009 talking back and forth for easy freeform modeling as well as seamless transitions for rendering.

I think autodesk is going in the right direction and its more about choice in the tools you use to get the job done.

Dave Baldacchino said...

Thanks Jeremy. As I said, I just hope I'm wrong. The pessimist side got the better of me I guess :) I just wouldn't expect Autodesk to be marketing to a very small group so publicly. Why not target those individual firms in a more private fashion, rather than in a venue like this? And yes, I'm all for options too.

As for the new version of Revit, I'm VERY excited about it. Perhaps the push to use other tools is just a temporary "band aid" which can get the job done until Revit catches up? Now that's the optimist side talking!

Anonymous said...

I think it's safe to say that some of this "other tool" marketing is in reaction to the traction applications like Rhino are getting with big firms like us.

To be sure, I'd like to a more focused effort on Revit development, particularly in the areas of form-making and lighter weight activities in early design stages (massing & planning), but we would gladly trade feature bloat for scalability, performance and multi-office data management.

I'm seeing precious little from the blogosphere, forums or Autodesk about any hope we can have about Revit Architecture 2009 addressing those "big-firm" issues.


GeoffB said...

The use of heavy weight modelers is a common enough response to the lack of features we BIMers suffer. Graphisoft made a deal with Maxon to bring freeform modeling to ArchiCAD by way of the Cinema 4D engine (repackaged as MaxonForm). Autodesk is in a similar (but better) position given it's assets of Inventor and Maya. It's easier to create the translation pipeline than add those features to an application built on a completely different code base. And it's a reasonable short term solution.
What's more troubling to me is the unequal deployment of new modeling tools within the various Revit flavors. This was already a big bone of contention and will surely be more so now. Case in point the new Space element available in Revit MEP 2009, something all users need for proper energy analysis.
The development of tools, techniques or methods that could be incorporated into all versions of Revit but are instead reserved for only one goes against the concept of integrated design that BIM is supposed to enable. Worse, it appears downright greedy.

Miguel Krippahl said...

I would like to respectfully point out that you are, after all, talking about a company that has been pushing for the last 25 years a inefficient design tool (Autocad), knowing quite well that there always has been a better method (BIM).

They know this because for those 25 years other companies have developed and deployed those tools.

Knowing this, they insisted (and still do) on selling outrageously expensive 2d drawing software.

This simple fact speaks volumes on the priorities of Autodesk.

So, this new strategie should not come as a surprise.

Their main goal has always been pleasing the stock holders, not the end users.

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