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Open letter to Autodesk from building industry community
We are writing this letter to express our concern about the level of development and sales policy of Autodesk software for building industry (Revit, AutoCAD) in recent years.
The general feeling of a large part of the professional community is that the changes and improvements implemented in recent versions of Revit (2011-2015) have been far below expectations and do not satisfy most of the essential needs of the design and construction industry, while pricing and licensing conditions for all the Autodesk software are becoming less and less favorable.
The issues, which cause our greatest concern in various areas and proposals for improvements, are listed below:
We see the recently announced changes of the Autodesk licensing policy to “network subscription” as very unfavorable, because after they are introduced:
• Any investment in Autodesk software in our budgets will change from “initial” to “permanent” causing eventually a significant cost increase in a few years' perspective.
• For the existing licenses we will be denied the right to upgrade, but forced to buy new licenses of the same software if we want to keep them up to date.
• For the new licenses we will be denied the right to use the software after the “subscription” period even if we do not need to keep them up to date (as it is often the case with AutoCAD). Therefore we
will be forced to pay for the services we do not want only to keep the software running.
Building Design Suite (BDS) introduced in 2013 is more expensive than the earlier Revit Architecture Suite, but gives no real advantage to architects and other disciplines and seems to be driven more by marketing benefits of Autodesk than the by the real needs of the customers.
We would therefore welcome flexible software bundles where the customers are able to choose what products they want to buy, rather than are forced to buy BDS, which contains many unwanted or undeveloped programs (Showcase, ReCap, Inventor, AutoCAD MEP, etc.) in cases when only AutoCAD and Revit are needed.
Maintain a fair balance between cost and features is important to keep the business of Revit users sustainable. Mandatory subscription costs effective in 2016 will increase operations costs for architectural firms significantly, with no real added benefits and locked in recurring cost cycles. Added features of Autodesk are perceived as mere smart marketing ploys to justify the annual subscription policy, rather than actual enhancements to productivity.
Despite increasing costs there have been little significant improvements in recent editions of Revit, although many of them are badly needed and have been reported by the architectural and BIM community since many years. This includes, but is by far not limited to:
• Introducing major improvements in upgrades and reducing the frequency of upgrades, which adversely affects projects spanning more than a year. Recently we have seen new versions of Revit not
much different from earlier ones (especially Revit 2015 and 2014) while prices for upgrades are still the same.
• Inconsistent UIs and functionalities that comes with annual upgrades leaves little time for staffs to adopt and companies streamline workflows. By the time new features are fully adopted and
streamlined productivity resumed, (approx. 6-8 months for large firms), another upgrade would be due, forcing practices to re-adopt and repeat streamlining process.
• Reviewing all the existing functionalities and improving their implementation. Many of them, although based on good concepts are not finished or not implemented properly and as such useless or
difficult to use in many situations, e.g. Roofs, Stairs, Schedules, Filters, family parameters and formulas (terrible syntax).
• Improving many long neglected essential areas of Revit like Topography, Curtain Walls, Coordination tools, etc.
• Eliminating the confusion of two different family modeling environments (for “mass” families and for other families) and unify them into one, 3D modeling environment.
• General improving of the very cumbersome 3D Mass modeling tools by making it more intuitive, user friendly, enabling visibility of Reference Planes in 3D, implementing NURBS surfaces, etc., etc.
• Removing incompatibilities between Walls, Roofs and Floors “drawn” and built “by face”, so that Walls can be properly connected in 2D and 3D, regardless of their shape and the way they were created.
• Eliminating the constant need of finding “workarounds”, of which Revit is infamous, by refurbishing the tools to be really able to do, what they are meant to and what is advertised by Autodesk.
• Enabling saving project files in earlier versions of Revit (backward compatibility). Lack of this functionality (which is present in competitive BIM software – ArchiCAD) causes enormous problems with
managing projects involving several companies, some of which may still be using earlier versions of the software. Lack of backward compatibility, force upgrades for all platforms on an annual basis
makes firm operations difficult and expensive. Most projects (especially larger scale projects) span much longer than a year, resulting in drain in resources to maintain and monitor many platforms
across different firms and disciplines to ensure compatibility.
Autodesk has been since long focused more on marketing its products, than on helping customers in using them to their best advantage. This resulted in:
• Oversupply of sales specialist, who do not have enough understanding of architecture and construction industry.
• Shortage of proper technical support staff – people who are software specialists and at the same time industry professionals and are able to apply Autodesk technology to real situations.
• Time consuming, complicated and completely ineffective system of dealing with customers’ requests and problems, which in extreme cases results in fixing a simple bug in Revit for several years (!).
• Complex licensing procedures, which add complications for the IT managers and limit end users from generating additional revenue stream from REVIT models.
Such situation is very frustrating for us and also not beneficial for Autodesk in the long term. We are convinced that changing proportions and employing more technical staff who could also perform sales duties is a model, which would serve the community much better.
All the above issues are only selected and most pressing examples of a long list of problems, which we have to face in our daily work. As it is not possible to present all of them in this letter, we would welcome Autodesk to establish a platform for presenting our concerns in detail through a series of meetings or workshops.
We believe that the strong position in the market, which Autodesk still enjoys, should not be maintained by clever marketing strategies but by a real commitment to the users and by being responsive to our needs and requests – an attitude we have yet to observe.
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