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?