Mad at CAD - what
really ticks off users!
Having attended AU 2006 this
year I have come up with some issues that reverberate with users from round
the world. Some of these were shared with me in conversations and some
are gleaned from emails. I have also added suggestions to possibly fix
them (which may be too simplistic and impractical).
Functions that require exact steps to complete. I am
not talking about having a procedure for getting things done, I
am talking about an exacting process that if you miss one little
thing the software veers off in an unexpected way. I think
most of these are in the verticals and not so much general
Solution: Make functions a little more forgiving. When
something is done out of step - provide a warning.
format changes. When you move from one version of the
software to the next it becomes a great inconvenience when the
file format is not compatible. Now they have to save it
back to an older version (lost time). Or they get a file
from someone outside the office that is on a version ahead of
them and they can't even open it.
Solution: Allow older releases to open newer releases
as far as the older entities are concerned and provide a warning
that some entities may not be displayed. This would allow
users to at least see something. Or provide a patch to the
old software so that newer version files can be opened but not
saved back in the new release format.
Confusing messages about where products are headed. When
Autodesk acquired Revit then started giving out mixed signals.
Was Revit the only product for Architects that they would focus
on? What was to become of ADT? Was it to be retired
soon? I understand that new technology will eclipse
planning and it can be hard to read a foggy crystal ball.
Solution: Make sure that a unified message is going
out to the end users. Confusion among customers causes
slow downs in adoption of new technology and delayed purchases.
it too hard to get answers. Why do software firms seem
so distant when you have a question or concern. With the
maturity of software like AutoCAD, the level of complex
questions that users run in to is often only answerable directly
by the developer. I know that the reseller channel is
there, and discussions groups and AUGI forums, but many of these
are user to user. I do appreciate the knowledge base on
the Autodesk site. I am not saying that there is no
way to find out answers, I am just saying that we need more.
And users don't want to pay more to get it. This hold true
for all the big developers, Autodesk, Adobe and Microsoft.
Solution: Include support with the software
that allows users to directly contact people who know the
answers. Make it free. ( I know - a pipe dream)
too fast or too slow on software releases. Many are
frustrated that new software comes out so frequently (and with
no great tools included that satisfy a real need) and that
software comes out too slowly (that actually fixes real problems).
Solution: Software vendors should focus on real world
fixes to real world problems, then focus on new features.
This especially applies to mature products. Make the
old stuff bulletproof. Users are more forgiving of
newer software that is rapidly expanding in feature sets,
but less likely to put up with old problems that do not get
without context. No hint as to how to use a tool in the
real world. What are the exact steps to complete? Where should
entities go? Model Space? Paper Space? What
are the best practices that were mimicked by the developers and
programmers? What did they have in mind when they created
Solution: Beef up the Help files to show best
practices. Show exactly what is meant by each command
and what context it would be used.
old tools out of new releases. They are still there, we
just can't figure out how to get them to run.
Sometimes they are hidden in the command line. Sometimes
they are undocumented. Sometimes they are moved to another
Solution: Publish a list of commands that were
moved or deleted. Publish a list of the undocumented
commands. Oh - I know I can find these at many web
sites and blogs, but should it not be up to the vendor to
provide these lists?
names on commands. Sometimes these commands are not
removed or moved but they are renamed. This is very
Solutions: Don't change the names!
9. Make the
easy things work without my input. How many times have I
heard users say "It should know". This is because most
software has taken input that could be used to set other
variables to assist the software. Take text sizes.
Often the software knows what scale and size the text should be
based on scaling used for block inserts, dimensions, viewports
Solution: Make all of the scale related variable
set all of the scale related functions in the software.
All things being
equal, we have come a long way. But I am still concerned
that some of the functions that have been around for a LONG
TIME, have still not fully matured. Users complain, CAD
Managers complain and the industry suffers from long neglected