I attended the user group meeting from Autodesk during IMTS[International Manufacturing Technology Show 2016]. They paid the way for around 30 users who were selected in ways that I don't know. It was an effort to establish a group of users who will give the company feedback and who are (I imagine) regarded as litmus paper for how things are going. They spent a ton of cash on us and treated us quite well flying us round-trip and staying at the Palmer House Hilton, and a rooftop night at a Chicago Cubs game. A good chunk of the Autodesk leadership was there to hear our feedback. Here is what I came away with:
Future of Autodesk
I don't understand how Autodesk will make it in the future, which seems primarily to be Fusion 360, when it is so much cheaper [produces far less revenue at $300/year] than Inventor Pro HSM[$2,470/year] -- and even Fusion Ultimate is priced at $1,500/year, nearly half the subscription price of Inventor Pro HSM.
So, I began a more serious inquiry into Fusion 360. As it turns out, it works offline mostly, but to save a change, start to edit, or create a file I have to do so online using their server -- wherever it is, and with whomever Autodesk selected for this purpose. I am certain this is part of the future fee-building forced-ecosystem of additional unavoidable charges, such as per-gigabyte cloud storage fees, server usage, bandwidth fees, and so on. Think of Autodesk's online rendering "cloud credits" as the first of these.
I believe that this is the unspoken answer to the cheap upfront costs they offer now, and how they intend to make more money in the future over today's permanent-seat model. Not one person I asked at the Autodesk event was willing to say this will never happen. "Follow the money," I always have been told; future-fee building is the only thing I can think of that makes sense here for greater Autodesk profits in the future.
Lots of Fusion 360 adopters are small startups and with their millennial mindsets they don't get the value of intellectual property -- yet. They will, when they start acquiring wealth and realize they have things to protect.
Everything I have been told by both users and people in the employ of Autodesk -- those who are past users of software like Solid Edge or Solidworks -- is that hardly any use HSM with Inventor. Unless you use Inventor as your core modeling program, the rest of us just use Inventor as a way to place parts so we can use HSM. HSM: good, Inventor: bad, bad, bad. Some of these same guys also tell me that Fusion is more like Solid Edge in how it works, so over time I will find out.
Future of the Cloud
I don't see cloud for CAD ultimately being the only model for anyone. In time, I think the expense of subscriptions will not work out for CAD companies any more than mainframes did for users. I am not sure that subscriptions-only is carved in stone for Autodesk. Talking with them at the event, their staff did not have good answers for some of my primary objections to the cloud and subscriptions. I can't believe they haven't talked about these topics, but I can believe they have not come up with good answers to them.
Do you suppose the C-suite dudes are victims of solipsism ["I am the only mind which exists"] and honestly don't see the flies in the ointment? That objections from people like me have no value until the inevitable online hack makes them see differently?
Future of Solid Edge
Reading coverage of Solid Edge University, I am a bit horrified. I see that that the new, good stuff in NX won't bleed over to Solid Edge, whereas the Solid Edge staff created Synchronous Technology, which was then sent to NX. Funny how it is a one-way street.
I see things that improve the workflow, but nothing revolutionary like it used to be. I reckon that this is what happens to programs like Solid Edge and Solidworks when companies can't afford to kill them, but don't want to nurture them, either.
The Future of MatureCAD
As I get closer to the launching of my line of equipment for the baking industry, I find my interest in all this becoming more and more academic. At my closed shop, I run Solid Edge ST8 on Windows 7 and a permanent seat of Inventor Pro HSM. This will have to see me through the next 10 years or so easily -- I don't have to care about what any of these CAD vendors do.
I think Microsoft, PC makers, and CAD or CAM vendors are going to be facing the situation where customers like me have all they need, and see no reason to keep dropping cash for tiny incremental improvements that come with silly GUI changes that look new and improved, but really mean learning how to do all over again the same thing we already know. Upgrades will be far and few between for many of us.
Really cool things to talk about and get excited over dwindle with each passing year.
- - -
Dave Ault has been the self-employed owner of Fieldweld since 1981. Experienced in field welding of stainless steel, he today supplies OEM food manufacturing replacement parts and builds a line of depositors. His CAD experience includes SurfCAM, VX (now ZW3D), CAMworks for Solid Edge, Solid Edge ST8 (for design) and Inventor HSM Pro 2017 (for machining). Mr Ault's blog is "SolidEdging and Inventor Pro HSM" at http://solidedging.wordpress.com.
Mapping a Logo in AutoCAD 3D using Texture Mapping
Even More News
There is more at our WorldCAD Accessblog about the CAD industry, tips on using hardware and software, and our popular travelogues. You can keep up with the blog through its RSS feed and email alert service. These are some of the articles that appeared on WorldCAD Access during the last week:
We're on Twitter at @upfrontezine with late-breaking CAD news and wry commentary throughout the day, such as....
upFront.eZine (@upFronteZine) Jan 4: Economics and my old field of transportation engineering share this: they involve people, and people cannot be modeled mathematically.
Letters to the Editor
Re: Erik de Keyser on the Future of BricsCAD
Your title "Re: Erik de Keyser on the Future of BricsCAD" should be revised to reflect the AutoCAD letter of correction: "Erik de Keyser on the Future of AutoCAD". Autodesk may be worried about losing marketshare with their new pricing model, hence the correction. - D. C. Canada
The 2017.1 release contained several worthwhile improvements (and some nasty new bugs), but was not a "major" release by any stretch of the imagination. AutoCAD 2017 was a major release -- in name at least, but still nothing to write home about. It has been some years since we have had a new AutoCAD release of genuine substance.
Perhaps if Ms Bunszel took a closer interest in her product line, she would be aware that recent improvements to AutoCAD have been of marginal value, at best; she might even take steps to correct that.
I can't imagine [Bricsys ceo] Erik De Keyser displaying such a lack of familiarity with his products. Perhaps that's part of the reason Bricsys is doing so much better at improving BricsCAD than Autodesk is with AutoCAD. -Steve Johnson (via WorldCAD Access) http://www.blog.cadnauseam.com
The editor replies: The new feature list for AutoCAD's annual "big-R" release has become so short that I stopped producing my annual "What's Inside? AutoCAD" ebook series in 2013. I have my theories as to why the feature lists are short, such as "it gives AutoCAD for Mac a chance to catch up" or "more resources are being put into AutoCAD for Cloud, which is two years behind schedule."
- - -
You've historically taken a conservative view of the move to the cloud; you may want to subscribe to the alerts here that list the status of Autodesk’s cloud services: https://health.autodesk.com/.
They go down remarkably often. Notices aren't consistently sent. Autodesk University week saw a rash of outages. We’re nearing the 12-hour mark as I type this for BIM360 Docs, A360 Team, BIM 360 Team, Fusion 360 Team, etc. With the agility of cloud development, their QA/QC [quality assurance and quality control] and workflow planning has become horrible. - Darren Young, BIM application manager
Re: What was ANSYS thinking when they bought SpaceClaim?”
Regarding the piece about SpaceClaim in issue #922, I am not certain what the writer's agenda was but as a devotee of direct modeling I am compelled to respond.
To my knowledge SpaceClaim is still the only genuine direct modeling MCAD application. Others make the claim but, in my experience, they only add enough direct modeling functionality to justify the claim that imported geometry is not just dumb solids.
If the writer wants SpaceClaim to be more like Fusion 360, then I suggest that he use Fusion 360. As to the other items on his wish list, that is not what SpaceClaim is about. Please leave SpaceClaim alone, warts and all. - Ross Goulter Mecad Engineers, Australia
Your blog awakened in me the idea that I might get my beloved Generic CADD running again under Linux-64. I installed dosemu and got it to the point where the Generic CADD startup screen flashes by, but then dosemu crashes instantly. Not to bother you, but have you any ideas what I might try? The dosemu docs give me ten thousand options. -Ray Andrews
The editor replies: I am sorry but I have pretty much given up on Linux. I use it only to check out CAD software native to the operating system. One alternative: use VM software like Oracle's VirtualBox to run a freeware version of DOS. VirtualBox runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Have you heard of DraftSight? Been hearing about it, downloaded the free version. So far I kind of like it. - W. N.
The editor replies: I've been writing the "Inside DraftSight" book since the software was first released in 2012. The CAD program was designed by Dassault to be a low-end replacement for AutoCAD, in terms of creating 2D drawings and editing existing ones for use with Solidworks. It replaced the old DWGeditor, over which Autodesk sued because of the name.
Because it is free, even non-Dassault customers are using it to replace AutoCAD and LT in cases where they cannot afford the more expensive software (especially in third-world countries) and when they want to be legal with licenses. It is made by Graebert of Germany.
Thank You, Readers!
Thank you to readers who donate towards the operation of upFront.eZine!
Techevate Software: "Thank you for another great year of news and information. upFront.eZine remains the must-read source for all of us at Techevate. Happy 2017!"
Chris Needham: "Thanks for continuing with the great newsletter. It's always interesting reading about other facets of the industry."
Should you wish to support upFront.eZine through PayPal, then the suggested amounts are like these: