Recently Autodesk announced their new release of AutoCAD, version 2010. Many of you will immediately relate 2010 to a movie of the same name, and naturally your mind will touch on the prequel to 2010, the movie entitled 2001: A Space Odyssey.
One cannot think of 2001 without remembering HAL, the semi transient computer running the show on the space ship the movie was set in. As we know, Hal thought he knew what was best for the entire crew, so much so that he tried to snuff them all out.
Which, if you let your mind be creative, brings us back to Autodesk. If you haven’t been in the CAD Industry for over 20 years like I have you might not remember the early days of PC CAD. In the early days, when I was young and naive, I loved AutoCAD and Autodesk. I thought I could create anything, automate anything, and was looking forward to a future of wild adventure learning a growing with the incredible versatility of AutoCAD.
The industry was new, fresh, and exciting. Autodesk fostered a huge, and I mean huge community of third party developers who created products which ran on top of AutoCAD. You could get every possible application for every possible industry during those times. There were user groups everywhere, yearly shows that brought in CAD users by the thousands, and a handful of magazines written specifically for AutoCAD users. A person could have a good idea, program it up, and be on the market selling in mass quantities in a few weeks. It was exciting and the opportunities were endless…
Every large city had 5 or more vendors you could choose from, and practically everywhere was someone offering services for AutoCAD, either selling it, training people on it, programming it, or designing products for people on it. It was an incredible time. A time when we thought our good fortune of being the chosen ones, the ones with the guru knowledge, a time that would lead us to great riches and even bigger and better community with like minded geniuses. How we were so yound and naive, so eager to follow the great company to the ends of the earth, so eager to jump to her defense lest anyone speak poorly of her…
Yet Autodesk, like Hal, wasn’t happy just letting the crew live and work and prosper. No, they decided, through their infinite wisdom, that they wanted to get a bigger piece of the pie, add more dollars to their bottom line, and as with most big corporations, they didn’t care who they squashed to get to their ultimate goal, eradication of any and all competition. So they began to acquire the large third party developers, and to add features that third party developers had been selling for years into AutoCAD.
The net result was the behemoth you see today, and the lack of quality applications on the market. You either use an Autodesk solution to an industry specific need or you don’t use a vertical application at all. Oh, there are a few solutions out there, but the majority of those creating fantastic products are gone. Same with the Autodesk VAR or Value Added Reseller.
Is there hope that somehow the tables will be turned, that once again those who wish to prosper by innovation will again be drawn to create the type of community that will foster exciting new applications and solutions? Perhaps. IntelliCAD has always had that ability to give life to DWG based CAD again, with the APIs included allowing anyone who had the gumption to learn to be able to create the applications they thought would be successful. It has always been just on the cusp of recreating the glorious days we lived through, prospered in, and sorely miss now that everything is a one sheriff town.
What will it take to move again towards the industry thriving and prospering? One small step for anyone who is out there using AutoCAD, go download progeCAD IntelliCAD. Try it out for 30 days, and when it is time to pay the CAD tax to Autodesk, refuse, throw off the chains, and buy progeCAD IntelliCAD instead. If enough get to that point of refusing the demands of the ruling class, if enough decide they are fed up and have better places to spend their hard earn money, the tide will shift, and the pendulum will swing again towards the power put into the hands of the people.