AutoCAD 2015 Blogger day – One Market Street San Francisco
For a self confessed CAD geek like me, the opportunity to visit the Autodesk’s One Market street Offices is akin to being invited to look round Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory!
Did you know that there are 350 people in the AutoCAD development team? So it’s not surprising that they need such a big office to hold everyone! As part of the AutoCAD blogger day we were given the ‘Guided tour’ of the AutoCAD design process by Ux (User Experience) director Joanna Cook.
It seems that just organising 350 people round a common goal is a communication challenge in itself. I was fascinated to see how Joanna’s team used internal advertising (Printed and video campaigns) to communicate the design principles of AutoCAD 2015.
Joanna showed us how the link to the end user is being improved in the design of AutoCAD by including users at the start. The Ux team interviewed users at AU and the AUx events extensively to try and pick out the core themes of how the users are using AutoCAD, what they are struggling with and what they would like to do with AutoCAD that they can’t now.
The AutoCAD researchers and software Engineers are also encouraged to work out on site with AutoCAD customers, to literally look over the customers shoulders and see how they are really interacting with the software.
This research and observation is combined with data from other sources such as the Autodesk discussion groups, idea station, AUGI wish list and bug reports to give a long list of items to develop and deploy in AutoCAD. It was interesting to note that feedback from AutoCAD360 is also used in the design of desktop AutoCAD.
The web based version of AutoCAD allows Autodesk to gather metrics on commonly used commands and work flows, as well as allowing the Split Testing of enhancements. So if AutoCAD360 looks different to you today than it did last week – you may be testing a new feature!
All this hard work gets distilled into a six month period at the beginning of each release cycle. Using principles of Agile software development the AutoCAD team aim to have a version of AutoCAD with all the useable new features in it available for customer testing at the end of this period.
This ‘Beta1’ version is given to ‘Gold Customers’ to use in production, with the full support and back up of Autodesk (This is even before the before the Beta version is opened up to Geeks like me!) so the version of AutoCAD 2015 that you finally receive will have already been thoroughly tested for at least six months by the time you install it.
All of this gives fascinating context into why AutoCAD 2015 is how it is. The focus on this version of AutoCAD has been on improved productivity, with lots of minor changes to common tools that simply make them easier to use. Why are there not more ‘Big Ticket’ items in AutoCAD 2015 – because that’s not what we asked for!
Over lunch I challenged Joanna with a question. I told her how impressed I was with all the work they are doing to put the customers needs first, and communicate this internally to the AutoCAD team. But I asked her if she thought that Autodesk were doing a good enough job of communicating the same message to AutoCAD customers?
Personally, I think knowing a bit more about how AutoCAD is designed would reassure customers that their money and time invested in AutoCAD and Autodesk is well spent. I recommend that you check out AutoCAD 2015 – this is a version you will want to work with.
Thanks very much to Joanna for her presentation. If you’d like to find out more vist ‘Designing the UX’ dux.typeped.com