Which Direction is Autodesk Headed? A tech info rant

When Milt (a.k.a: Drafter1981) posted this I was intrigued and couldn’t help but respond.

Just a question sort of….”Which direction is Autodesk headed?” What I really mean is “What is the best way to work or use Autodesk products?” I’m sure this discussion has come up before and maybe I just missed it. The big thing lately has been to use BIM related products…I think. Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know and that is why I’m asking. I know with AutoCAD things have changed quite a bit and again, “What is the best way to use AutoCAD”?

before anyone makes any assumptions or jumps to conclusions: “I am not out to bash any of the Autodesk Products”, I am however looking for some clarity.

Since I use AutoCAD to make simple diagrams I am now torn between upgrading my skills just to use the “newer, or replacement commands” verses the “old school pull-downs and command alias” which still work quite well if you load the proper lisp routine.

Again, with BIM becoming more and more a significant way to work, is it even worth the time and effort to upgrade our skills? Once I get a Revit file converted to AutoCAD for a customer to use, do we really have to do anything with the file? That is why I’ve ask this simple and yet complex question of which direction is Autodesk headed?

I’ve paraphrased this slightly – you can read Milt’s Rant in full here: Tech-Info and Rants: Which Direction is Autodesk Headed?

The Autodesk range of Cloud based CAD Products

Let’s start with:

Where is Autodesk Headed?

Christmas past

Up until recently Autodesk have distributed their software through a network of wholesalers and distributors. The distributors (a.k.a ‘VAR’s, Value Added Resellers) make a commission from each seat of software sold. The cloud has disrupted all this, and we now have a transitional phase – to where?

Christmas present

A few years back, a couple of guys walked into Carl Bass’s office to pitch him an idea. The idea was to re-package Autodesk’s Sketchbook software as an App on the iPhone. Carl thought the idea of finger painting on an iPhone was nuts, but let them go ahead with it.

Scroll forward to today, and the Sketchbook smart phone App is Autodesk’s most popular product ever. EVER!. You can read more about the story here: How Autodesk Disrupted Itself with an App | MIT Technology Review 

Sketchbook mobile hasn’t created a lot of revenue for Autodesk, but it has proved to be great advertising, and it’s helped Autodesk to realise a brand new market – the public…

Christmas Future

So – where is Autodesk headed? Here are my observations.

Perpetual licencing – This isn’t going away. If you bought software in the past you will be able to use it for as long as you can find a computer/operating system to run it on. You will continue to buy this through a VAR (unless you are a really big customer).

Rental Licenses – This is a market Autodesk closed down may years ago and has recently re-entered. You have a perpetual licence on your machine, but it will regularly ‘ping’ the Autodesk license server to make sure you’ve paid up. This is a boon for VARs who have already started offering CAD stations for hire, with the software already on them.

Cloud only – Autodesk’s latest products, such as Fusion 360 and PLM 360, are true Cloud based applications. You will pay for access to these these on a monthly basis. You will be able to log into your account from any computer, but you will only be able to use the software if you have an internet connection.

Subscription? – Autodesk recently announced that it will no longer be supporting upgrades of their products from 2015. This means that you will only be able to buy new licenses if you buy Subscription support.  The best deal you can get under subscription is to buy it for as many years in advance as you can afford.

What is the best way to work or use Autodesk products?

So how does this help us with the second part of Milt’s question? Well, currently the best way to purchase Autodesk is on subscription. To make subscription attractive, Autodesk have bundled in lot’s of software into each subscription ‘suite’ . The amount of software you get can be a little overwhelming. What do you use them all for? How will you find the time to learn them all?

My advice is to keep it simple – your current subscription software is on a perpetual licence. Once you’ve bought it you can use it forever. Could you do more by using the other software titles in your suite? Maybe – but you don’t have to give up the tools you are familiar with until you’re ready.

Organise – optimize – automate. And use the best tools you can afford (without chasing the latest trend!).

4 Responses to “Which Direction is Autodesk Headed? A tech info rant

  • It does feel pretty rough to be so locked in – no matter how glamorous and expansive the prison!

    But it’s not just Autodesk. Did you read this from Adam O’Hern over on Solidsmack?

  • Mike Thomas
    11 years ago

    Great post.

    All the extras Autodesk has bundled as “value-added” into the Suites has turned into nothing for us. We continue to use Inventor and various flavours of AutoCAD, and nothing else. We don’t need Navisworks or Sketchbook and don’t have the time or get enough benefit of learning and implementing 3DS Max.

    We’re not much different than Milt as we like our Inventor. We are happy with the new features that come out each year, but don’t need the other stuff going on around it.

    Oh I get how the Suites are a real gain for certain people and business. I also think Fusion and what Autodesk is doing in the cloud is also great. Its just focused on a part of the industry that doesn’t apply to us.

    • John Evans
      11 years ago

      The best advice I ever received on the topic is to honestly evaluate your situation and how you work. If you absolutely won’t pay someone to prepare simulations and rendering, then having some of the suite items is probably a no-go. So Simply get the single licenses that you need. With more titles going up on rental options, you can rent those suite packages as you need them.

    • John Evans
      11 years ago

      Mike, [I think] your sentiments are reflected in most of the companies using Inventor. Most inventor groups are focused on production. If they needed some benefits in a bundle, usually it is a small cross section of users from that company.
      Fusion is going to change things in a way that is going to be difficult to predict.