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Friday, April 28, 2006

Ready or Not, Here We Come!

As I begin this last day of preparation for Alacad's 2007 product launch, I realize how excited I am about beginning this 14 city road show. The Alacad team will be traveling next week to Jackson, Memphis, Birmingham, and Montgomery. While I go over the product presentations, and proofread my power point slides, I can't help but think about the diversity of firms that I will come into contact with.

You see, this product launch is not just to demo the 2007 product line for me. I see this as an opportunity to meet people from the leading firms in the southeast region. I can't wait to talk to you, to hear your success stories, your questions, and yes, even your complaints. I am curious to see how you are currently using the Autodesk products. I want to find out what's working and what's not working. I want to be able to share with you strategies that work to get your company to that next level.

This time of year for many is all about the new release of AutoCAD. I see it as a new chance to get to know the leading CAD users in my industry. So I'll be looking for you in a city nearby soon. See for the complete schedule.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Real Estate Is Going Up

How many remember the DOS days? Autocad running on DOS. That infamous file menu on the right side of the screen. When the Windows version was released, we all went kicking and screaming without a choice. When we got there, we could hardly see our drawing screen due to all those toolbar buttons. Once we got use to the buttons, we all got toolbar happy. Creating toolbars for all our favorite commands and lisp routines. Then Autodesk introduced pallettes. What a neat tool. But boy, they take up a lot of screen space! Some switched to duel monitors, and some learned how to zoom and pan extremely often.

Well, Autodesk has heard our grumblings. In the 2006 and 2007 releases they have introduced Dynamic Input. This setting is down on your status line as simply DYN, and will enable you to free up some of that precious real estate on your screen. When you first turn it on, you might say to yourself, "what in the world is all that junk on my screen." But before you wipe it all out by turning it off... look at it... it's the command line information in your drawing area.

With the use of Dynamic Input, you can turn off or at least collapse your command line and the screen instantly gets larger. You might be thinking that you need it at first, and thats fine. With the auto collapse capability, you can wean the command line way slowly. Below I have the command line both minimized and expanded, but it still takes up less space.

This not only saves you screen space, but it will also enable you to keep your eyes focused on your crosshairs. No more looking up and down.. back and forth from your command line to your crosshairs. With the Dynamic Input prompting you next to your crosshairs, your eyes can stay focused on your drawing.

To try this feature out you can simply click the DYN button on the status bar at the bottom of the screen. Right click on it and go into the settings to make sure all the check boxes are checked as you see here to the left.

Take back that screen. No, we can't go back to DOS, and really, we don't even want to. But we can advance forward with the new features and tools without the command line taking up our screen space.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A 2007 Hidden Secret

I believe that the most appreciated little secret in the 2007 release will not be the improvements on the walls, AEC Dimensions, the ability to create custom stairs from linework, or the one click space creation with room tags. There is one feature that has not been discussed very much. I bet most of my readers have not heard about it. In my mind it goes against what Autodesk has been pushing on us for the last several years.

All right. Enough already. The little known feature is the improvement to electronic plotting. Autodesk e-plot format is the dwf. With the download of the dwf viewer, one can view AutoCAD drawings without having AutoCAD installed. The ability to view 3D dwf's was added in release 2006. With this, one might think they were trying to monolopize the market on electronic files.

As neat as the dwf is, users for some reason or another kept trying to figure out the best way not to create dwf's but pdf's. It has almost been like a small battle between dwf's and pdf's. But to my amazement, Autodesk has added the ability to create pdf's inside of AutoCAD.

There is a new "dwg to pdf.pc3" file that comes with AutoCAD 2007. No more having to purchase Adobe Writer or some other knock off program to create pdfs within AutoCAD. I think most users will appreciate this more then Autodesk knows.

So where does this position Autodesk in the dwf vs. pdf battle? We will have to wait and see. But while we are waiting, I am going to enjoy the new plot to pdf feature.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Texas In My Rearview Mirror….

As I fly back from a week long trip in Dallas, Texas for Autodesk Bootcamp, I am asking myself if the main question I had going into this training event was answered. I think I need to wipe the fog off of my mirror to determine if I got a clear answer.

Autodesk has strategically positioned themselves so that their main competitor in the Building Solutions Division is themselves. With the advancement of both Architectural Desktop and Revit, it leaves an architect with questions as to which solution is right for them. Now with the introduction of Revit Systems competing with Autodesk Building Solutions the MEP field is questioning which way they need to advance as well.

Coming into this week I was hoping to leave with a clear definition as to which product I should recommend for my customers. I do have a better understanding, but it is not as clear as I was hoping. I do feel confident that Autodesk is not going to abandon either product anytime soon. So either product will lead a company to long term advancements.

The marketing for Architectural Desktop (ADT) is selling the product as the AutoCAD for Architects. This program is meant to give Architects the tools they need to complete their projects better and faster using the AutoCAD platform that they have been using for years. As an ADT guru I tried to go into this week with an open mind to both products. ADT has made several key improvements in the AEC Dimensions and Walls and Scheduling areas that were long awaited. With these improvements I believe that architects can finally begin to use them the way they were intended.

Revit is now on version 9 and FINALLY has a real way to create 2D details other than importing in their AutoCAD details. (YEA!!!) The Revit platform is marketing themselves as the Building Information Model for architects. This program is meant to operate the way architects think. I tend to agree that this platform has some great tools to assist the architect in completing their projects. The fact that you are working on one model and any changes made are instantly made through out the project is a huge benefit for Revit.

Over the last several years, the Architectural industry has begun a transformation from Architects directing drafters to complete the drawings to Architects completing the drawings themselves. The position of a “drafter” in an architectural firm is vanishing. Architects need to have a good understanding of what they are drawing when they are drawing. No more drawing bogus lines and simply calling them out in schedules and notes. Now you are drawing with object based technology. As you create these drawings, you cannot simply draw an interior partition wall. You need to know if it is fire rated, structural, 8'-6" high, or does it extend to the structure above?

After talking with other resellers this week, I found that this country is split on both ends as to which product is applicable. Both the East coast and the West cost have jumped on the Revit band wagon, while the central part of the U.S. are die hard ADT users.

I believe it is a case by case determination as to which product is right for each firm. The one marketing strategy that has changed from previous years is that Autodesk is not pushing either product more than the other. This along with the amount of dollars being pumped into the development of ADT informs me that ADT is here to stay.

So if you are as confused as I am as to which product is right for you don’t feel bad. Let me leave you with a quote that hit home with me this week. “What is truly innovative today will be ordinary tomorrow.” AutoCAD was once an innovative software, but is considered ordinary today. Both ADT and Revit are innovative today. Don’t let your firm be considered ordinary tomorrow. If you are not taking advantage of one of these vertical products you will be left behind in technology. Take your firm to the next level by implementing one of these products.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Hut Two, Three, Four....

My first Bootcamp was not exactly what you might be thinking. I am currently writing this on my last night of a long, exhausting week of technical training for the new 2007 product line for Autodesk. Although we did not wake up the sound of a bugle playing and we did not have to do push ups, I am extremely worn out.

My expectations for this week of learning about the new versions were high. I never dreamed that it would be so intense. With 6 product lines in the Building Solutions Division it has been non-stop learning. I really look forward to being able to share with you all the things you don't know about the new version.

ADT, ABS, ARB, ARS, ARS Series +, and of course ACAD are a lot of acronyms. I am not even sure if I know what they all mean. But these are the products being offered to the Building Solutions Division to help us realize our ideas. Whether its AutoCAD for Architects or a better AutoCAD for MEP engineers or a total Building Information Model for both Architects and Engineers, 2007 has what we need to know. Below is a link to all the new products to get a closer look.

New Building Products Include:

I look forward to Alacad's product launch beginning in May. Check out for dates and times in a City near you. My co-worker and I will be doing a whirl wind tour presenting all the product lines.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Welcome to my first Blog

I was encouraged by a co-worker to begin this blog. This is a new experience for me. I hope that I am able to help architects and engineers become more knowlegable about what they don't know about the vertical product lines for the Building Solutions for Autodesk.

As this is my first post in my first blog, I will keep it short. I am excited to share my experience with the readers.