AutoCAD and 3D

A reader of my earlier post “SolidWorks, Siemens and their AutoCAD Strategies” didn’t quite like my view that AutoCAD users need to move to a 3D modeling system to effectively design in 3D. He wrote, “To state that AutoCAD users need to ditch their tool in order to design in 3D seems to me at least disingenuous and possibly even a little insulting.

Maybe I need to explain where I am coming from. Before I started my CAD software business I worked for a company that built bus bodies. I was an AutoLISP programmer and we used AutoCAD 12 for DOS. We used 2D drawings in the entire design process and not a single DWG file had an entity with a Z coordinate in it. And yet our buses turned out to be completely three dimensional when they were finally built. All was well.

Then one day I was given the task of creating a walkthrough animation of our new model to be shown to a prospective client. So I modeled the entire bus, complete with seats, upholstery and all, in AutoCAD 12. It took me a week and drove me to the brink of my sanity. I then exported my model into 3D Studio, applied materials, adjusted lighting and rendered a fantastic walkthrough animation. This was a decade ago. Now if you ask me whether I would do the same thing today, I’d prefer to shoot myself instead.

If a user believes that AutoCAD is the best tool to design in 3D, I strongly urge him to stick to AutoCAD. Then someone needs to tell me why Autodesk has gone ahead and created Inventor. And why Autodesk is trying every trick in the book to get AutoCAD users to upgrade to Inventor? And why are AutoCAD users themselves wanting to upgrade to Inventor?

According to Autodesk, FAQ No. 1 for Inventor is:
Can I upgrade from AutoCAD to Autodesk Inventor?
Yes, AutoCAD users can upgrade their existing software to Autodesk Inventor software. With Autodesk Inventor you get the best of both worlds, with 2D and 3D design tools in one package delivering enhanced 3D mechanical design productivity while preserving your company’s 2D engineering designs through native DWG compatibility.

Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Autodesk implying here that Inventor is the better tool for 3D?

  • Marijn

    Some autocad users have there heads up there …
    Autocad is like paint it is for users that are afraid of change. They will keep fighting till there retired. And bosses that don’t want to invest in 3D because they don’t have the knowledge or the money to work in a modern 3D program.
    Autocad is only there for the people that are already using it nobody is starting to use it, so in time there will be zero users left. (there are always the exceptions, and it is my opinion.)

  • Marijn

    Some autocad users have there heads up there …Autocad is like paint it is for users that are afraid of change. They will keep fighting till there retired. And bosses that don’t want to invest in 3D because they don’t have the knowledge or the money to work in a modern 3D program.Autocad is only there for the people that are already using it nobody is starting to use it, so in time there will be zero users left. (there are always the exceptions, and it is my opinion.)

  • Anonymous

    Hello Deelip,
    I did not mean to infer that either you, me or anyone else would find it entirely comfortable going back

    to 3D on AutoCAD after using any of : -MDT, IV, SW, SE or others.

    My beef lies with your leading statement which can be read all too frequently and from many sources: –

    “whether the bulk of AutoCAD users are going to switch to 3D”. My belief is that many of those that

    need/want to do 3D, already do 3D, it’s just not with the particular software that Autodesk, SolidWorks

    etc would prefer them to use.

    Your sentence would be more acurate and on topic if you had asked “wether the bulk of AutoCAD users are

    going to switch to IV, SW,SE,ProE…..” and if they did what real benefit would they gain?

    Inventor/SW/SE users do not have a sole monopoly on designing in 3D.

    However, the intent was to put forward my view that it was entirely possible to produce serviceable

    designs in 3D with AutoCAD R12 for an outlay of approximately 4000.00 pounds(GBP) in 1994 and I’m

    probably not wrong to assume that many AutoCAD users have over the years at least partially evaluated 3D

    for their work in a similar fashion. After all it’s all there in the AutoCAD manual and can be tried

    out at leisure, using familiar commands and interface (important bit that).

    If the object is to get the job done, and you have a tool to hand that will do it (AutoCAD) then what is

    the problem with using it and why should it be viewed as somehow inferior?

    If in the course of ones experience and time it is again possible with the tools to hand to make

    comfortable excursions into enlarging the scope of ones expertise and enhancing the end result, why not?

    If in light of the above you can see a worthwhile benefit in ditching years of expertise in driving the

    peculiarities of one particular piece of software for the struggle of doing it all again with another,

    then all well and good. Just don’t let anyone kid you that it will be painless or that the software

    will be any less buggy or that your designs will be any better. Also if it’s your own money then make

    pretty sure of where you would be best spending it.

    My opinion (and that is all it is) is that the CAD business and those that write about it have vested

    interests in producing ever more voluble churn about why designers that refuse to ‘upgrade’ should be

    viewed with distain and that their class or calibre of work is somehow inferior because it is produced

    with out of date or out of fashion software. I don’t buy it and I’m not sure that the majority of long

    time users of AutoCAD do either.

    To re-iterate, as I think it may have got lost, I currently use a number of CAD design tools but MDT6

    mostly as it has some advantages over vanilla AutoCAD for much of the work that I do. I learnt my 3D

    modelling with R12 AutoCAD and it served me well for many years. I suspect that many AutoCAD users have

    evaluated 3D at their leisure and those that needed to go further, either have or will do so when they

    have the need. There will be some who are not convinced that 3D with a different software package will

    bring them much benefit.

    I have no illusions that my brand loyalties could just as easily lie with SolidWorks/Solidedge or ProE

    but that is not my point. I have more than a little regard for Cadkey~:-).

    So why are users of AutoCAD and it’s verticals are not upgrading or changing to some other programme?

    For my money it is not a question of 2D/3D because it has both capabilities to a useful degree . Sure

    if there is a lot of 3D design editing to do then upgrading to MDT (oops!) is a no brainer. But

    changing to a totally different package? You’d better be an employee with a boss on vacation or running

    a business with plenty of slack time.

    I’m just using the tool to get a job done and not trying to sell the software or write about it.

    Kind regards,
    Jonathan

  • Anonymous

    Hello Deelip,I did not mean to infer that either you, me or anyone else would find it entirely comfortable going back to 3D on AutoCAD after using any of : -MDT, IV, SW, SE or others.My beef lies with your leading statement which can be read all too frequently and from many sources: – “whether the bulk of AutoCAD users are going to switch to 3D”. My belief is that many of those that need/want to do 3D, already do 3D, it’s just not with the particular software that Autodesk, SolidWorks etc would prefer them to use.Your sentence would be more acurate and on topic if you had asked “wether the bulk of AutoCAD users are going to switch to IV, SW,SE,ProE…..” and if they did what real benefit would they gain?Inventor/SW/SE users do not have a sole monopoly on designing in 3D.However, the intent was to put forward my view that it was entirely possible to produce serviceable designs in 3D with AutoCAD R12 for an outlay of approximately 4000.00 pounds(GBP) in 1994 and I’m probably not wrong to assume that many AutoCAD users have over the years at least partially evaluated 3D for their work in a similar fashion. After all it’s all there in the AutoCAD manual and can be tried out at leisure, using familiar commands and interface (important bit that).If the object is to get the job done, and you have a tool to hand that will do it (AutoCAD) then what is the problem with using it and why should it be viewed as somehow inferior?If in the course of ones experience and time it is again possible with the tools to hand to make comfortable excursions into enlarging the scope of ones expertise and enhancing the end result, why not?If in light of the above you can see a worthwhile benefit in ditching years of expertise in driving the peculiarities of one particular piece of software for the struggle of doing it all again with another, then all well and good. Just don’t let anyone kid you that it will be painless or that the software will be any less buggy or that your designs will be any better. Also if it’s your own money then make pretty sure of where you would be best spending it.My opinion (and that is all it is) is that the CAD business and those that write about it have vested interests in producing ever more voluble churn about why designers that refuse to ‘upgrade’ should be viewed with distain and that their class or calibre of work is somehow inferior because it is produced with out of date or out of fashion software. I don’t buy it and I’m not sure that the majority of long time users of AutoCAD do either.To re-iterate, as I think it may have got lost, I currently use a number of CAD design tools but MDT6 mostly as it has some advantages over vanilla AutoCAD for much of the work that I do. I learnt my 3D modelling with R12 AutoCAD and it served me well for many years. I suspect that many AutoCAD users have evaluated 3D at their leisure and those that needed to go further, either have or will do so when they have the need. There will be some who are not convinced that 3D with a different software package will bring them much benefit.I have no illusions that my brand loyalties could just as easily lie with SolidWorks/Solidedge or ProE but that is not my point. I have more than a little regard for Cadkey~:-).So why are users of AutoCAD and it’s verticals are not upgrading or changing to some other programme? For my money it is not a question of 2D/3D because it has both capabilities to a useful degree . Sure if there is a lot of 3D design editing to do then upgrading to MDT (oops!) is a no brainer. But changing to a totally different package? You’d better be an employee with a boss on vacation or running a business with plenty of slack time.I’m just using the tool to get a job done and not trying to sell the software or write about it.Kind regards,Jonathan

  • Anonymous

    Hello Deelip,
    I need to take my own advice and answer the question posed rather than the one I imagined! I’ll try

    again.

    I totally agree that MDT/Inventor/SW/SE/ProE/Cadkey are more effective 3D design tools than vanilla

    AutoCAD.

    It was your original statement : – “The question is not whether the bulk of AutoCAD users are going to

    switch to 3D”, this has the direct implication that AutoCAD and its users are not capable of designing

    in 3D and it was this which I disagree with.

    I didn’t intend to imply that AutoCAD is the best tool to design in 3D. I’m not sure even that I

    actually did, but let’s not quibble about semantics too much lest we loose our way?

    Autodesk had their own reasons for creating Inventor….

    The reasons that they are “trying every trick in the book” to get AutoCAD users to upgrade to Inventor

    is their own business but I strongly suspect that if you could cop a look at the analysis it would have

    little to do with the direct interests of the AutoCAD users. Incidently, these “tricks” are I suspect

    one of the main reasons for the continuing disenchantment of users and may even be holding back some

    upgrade business.

    Autodesk are of course free to both pose the question and also its rank on their own web site but it

    doesn’t neccessarily make it so.

    Inventor is indeed the better tool for 3D. But, if you already have AutoCAD you already have a 3D

    design capability which may suffice for the work in hand. It can also be enhanced with a low cost 3rd

    party add on (presumeably still available?). It’s not Inventor I’ll grant you but it’ll get the job

    done without a massive investment

    If Autodesk, SW, SE,et al want to harvest the AutoCAD users then they’ll have to do a sharper analysis

    of what the AutoCAD user needs. So far, and from what I read, it would appear that they don’t much need

    Inventor, SolidWorks, SolidEdge…..

    I don’t think that AutoCAD users are fighting shy of 3D, most of them will have tried it out. They may

    well be avoiding the cost of new hardware/software and re-training in the knowledge that the actual

    returns for them may be small.

    I’ll re-state for the record that I design almost exclusively in 3D and use MDT6, Cadkey 99 and Inventor

    5.3.

    Kind regards,
    Jonathan

  • Anonymous

    Hello Deelip,I need to take my own advice and answer the question posed rather than the one I imagined! I’ll try again.I totally agree that MDT/Inventor/SW/SE/ProE/Cadkey are more effective 3D design tools than vanilla AutoCAD.It was your original statement : – “The question is not whether the bulk of AutoCAD users are going to switch to 3D”, this has the direct implication that AutoCAD and its users are not capable of designing in 3D and it was this which I disagree with.I didn’t intend to imply that AutoCAD is the best tool to design in 3D. I’m not sure even that I actually did, but let’s not quibble about semantics too much lest we loose our way?Autodesk had their own reasons for creating Inventor….The reasons that they are “trying every trick in the book” to get AutoCAD users to upgrade to Inventor is their own business but I strongly suspect that if you could cop a look at the analysis it would have little to do with the direct interests of the AutoCAD users. Incidently, these “tricks” are I suspect one of the main reasons for the continuing disenchantment of users and may even be holding back some upgrade business.Autodesk are of course free to both pose the question and also its rank on their own web site but it doesn’t neccessarily make it so.Inventor is indeed the better tool for 3D. But, if you already have AutoCAD you already have a 3D design capability which may suffice for the work in hand. It can also be enhanced with a low cost 3rd party add on (presumeably still available?). It’s not Inventor I’ll grant you but it’ll get the job done without a massive investmentIf Autodesk, SW, SE,et al want to harvest the AutoCAD users then they’ll have to do a sharper analysis of what the AutoCAD user needs. So far, and from what I read, it would appear that they don’t much need Inventor, SolidWorks, SolidEdge…..I don’t think that AutoCAD users are fighting shy of 3D, most of them will have tried it out. They may well be avoiding the cost of new hardware/software and re-training in the knowledge that the actual returns for them may be small.I’ll re-state for the record that I design almost exclusively in 3D and use MDT6, Cadkey 99 and Inventor 5.3.Kind regards,Jonathan

  • Deelip Menezes

    Jonathan: “I totally agree that MDT/Inventor/SW/SE/ProE/Cadkey are more effective 3D design tools than vanilla AutoCAD.”

    It will help to note that the money you pay for the software is not the only money you spend in designing. People sometimes forget a business owner needs to factor in the salaries he pays to his employees. If he gives his employees the right tools to do the job quickly and effectively, as opposed to the tools that he currently has that can do the job, he gets more from his employees. This directly affects his profitability and bottom line.

    Ultimately, the choice to switch software, upgrade or stick with your current software is a business decision that you have to make, after weighing in all the pros and cons of doing so.

    Recently we received an inquiry from someone who wanted to use our AutoCAD plug-in with AutoCAD 14. Unfortunately our plug-ins work with AutoCAD 2000 and above, because that when we started writing plug-ins for AutoCAD. I fully understand that software, however old and outdated it may be, can still be useful if it is still effective at it’s job. I am sure the AutoCAD 14 user is quite happy with his software. thats why we support version of software which the CAD vendors have long retired.

    I have AutoCAD 2000 through to 2009 installed on my computer. If I want to draw a quick sketch I fire up AutoCAD 2000, quite simply because AutoCAD 2000 can still do what I want. And also because I usually don’t have the time to sit around and wait for 2009 to start up.

    Every tool is meant to be used for a cetain job because it has been designed for it. Also every tool can be stretched to do other jobs as well. Its finally up to you to decide whether you want to stretch the tool beyond its designed limit or use a different tool just right for the job.

  • Deelip Menezes

    Jonathan: “I totally agree that MDT/Inventor/SW/SE/ProE/Cadkey are more effective 3D design tools than vanilla AutoCAD.”It will help to note that the money you pay for the software is not the only money you spend in designing. People sometimes forget a business owner needs to factor in the salaries he pays to his employees. If he gives his employees the right tools to do the job quickly and effectively, as opposed to the tools that he currently has that can do the job, he gets more from his employees. This directly affects his profitability and bottom line.Ultimately, the choice to switch software, upgrade or stick with your current software is a business decision that you have to make, after weighing in all the pros and cons of doing so.Recently we received an inquiry from someone who wanted to use our AutoCAD plug-in with AutoCAD 14. Unfortunately our plug-ins work with AutoCAD 2000 and above, because that when we started writing plug-ins for AutoCAD. I fully understand that software, however old and outdated it may be, can still be useful if it is still effective at it’s job. I am sure the AutoCAD 14 user is quite happy with his software. thats why we support version of software which the CAD vendors have long retired.I have AutoCAD 2000 through to 2009 installed on my computer. If I want to draw a quick sketch I fire up AutoCAD 2000, quite simply because AutoCAD 2000 can still do what I want. And also because I usually don’t have the time to sit around and wait for 2009 to start up.Every tool is meant to be used for a cetain job because it has been designed for it. Also every tool can be stretched to do other jobs as well. Its finally up to you to decide whether you want to stretch the tool beyond its designed limit or use a different tool just right for the job.

  • Anonymous

    Hello Deelip,
    I can’t argue with your last points.

    My musings and comment are both from the perspective of being a past employee (and wingeing with the best about not being supported with the right tools),and for the last 10 years, as a one man business needing to balance winning the work, increasing my expertise, investing in capital for the future oh, and paying the household bills each week.

    As an employee I was possibly more interested and focussed on maintaining my position on the technological edge because someone else was paying! I observe this attitude to be fairly common and one which the CAD industry fosters. It’s not dissimilar to the pester power used by children on their parents.

    As the proprietor of a business and being directly responsible for the bottom line then I guess you could say I’m more commercially aware of the implications of my spending activities.

    I have enjoyed your comments, the discussion and above all, the opportunity to voice my own contrary opinions. Thank you and kind regards, Jonathan

    ps sorry about the previously awful formatting, I was writing notes in Wordpad and then pasting into the web browser

  • Anonymous

    Hello Deelip,I can’t argue with your last points.My musings and comment are both from the perspective of being a past employee (and wingeing with the best about not being supported with the right tools),and for the last 10 years, as a one man business needing to balance winning the work, increasing my expertise, investing in capital for the future oh, and paying the household bills each week.As an employee I was possibly more interested and focussed on maintaining my position on the technological edge because someone else was paying! I observe this attitude to be fairly common and one which the CAD industry fosters. It’s not dissimilar to the pester power used by children on their parents.As the proprietor of a business and being directly responsible for the bottom line then I guess you could say I’m more commercially aware of the implications of my spending activities.I have enjoyed your comments, the discussion and above all, the opportunity to voice my own contrary opinions. Thank you and kind regards, Jonathanps sorry about the previously awful formatting, I was writing notes in Wordpad and then pasting into the web browser

  • R. Paul Waddington

    Deelip, is it a sense of déjà vu or is it groundhog day?

    “According to Autodesk, FAQ No. 1 for Inventor is:
    Can I upgrade from AutoCAD to Autodesk Inventor?
    Yes, AutoCAD users can upgrade their existing software to Autodesk Inventor software. With Autodesk Inventor you get the best of both worlds, with 2D and 3D design tools in one package delivering enhanced 3D mechanical design productivity while preserving your company’s 2D engineering designs through native DWG compatibility.”

    Sale pitch Deelip; these comments are misleading, and not too be believed for a single second!

    “Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Autodesk implying here that Inventor is the better tool for 3D?”

    More than willing too: Autodesk have implied this for a long time but it also is a ‘car sales pitch’. Autodesk have never been able to justify these statements and neither can any of their “productivity case studies/adds” be verified or validated either.

    All the statements in Marijn’s paragraph are incorrect – the exception being the last.

  • R. Paul Waddington

    Deelip, is it a sense of déjà vu or is it groundhog day?“According to Autodesk, FAQ No. 1 for Inventor is:Can I upgrade from AutoCAD to Autodesk Inventor?Yes, AutoCAD users can upgrade their existing software to Autodesk Inventor software. With Autodesk Inventor you get the best of both worlds, with 2D and 3D design tools in one package delivering enhanced 3D mechanical design productivity while preserving your company’s 2D engineering designs through native DWG compatibility.”Sale pitch Deelip; these comments are misleading, and not too be believed for a single second! “Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t Autodesk implying here that Inventor is the better tool for 3D?”More than willing too: Autodesk have implied this for a long time but it also is a ‘car sales pitch’. Autodesk have never been able to justify these statements and neither can any of their “productivity case studies/adds” be verified or validated either.All the statements in Marijn’s paragraph are incorrect – the exception being the last.