Getting Out Of AutoCAD’s Shadow

We recently received reports from users claiming that our IntelliCAD plug-ins were not loading in their versions of IntelliCAD. We had tested our plug-ins with a few IntelliCAD variants, not all of them. So this time around, I decided to get a hold of all existing versions and variants of IntelliCAD out there and test our plug-ins with them. This began the process of visiting the web sites of all the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium (ITC) members and downloading trial versions of their products.

While doing so I could not help but observe how almost all the ITC members were raving about how IntelliCAD “almost is” AutoCAD but is priced much leser. Some were talking more about AutoCAD than their own product. I was literally fed up of reading the word “alternative” over and over again. There were just a couple of members who seemed to get it right. They mentioned DWG compatibility as one of the many features and not the main reason to buy their software. I really liked the way they portrayed their software as a fully functional and extendible CAD system ready to do some serious work for the customer.

Let’s face it. Low cost CAD software does not get noticed anymore. Almost everyone is offering a low cost (or even free) version of their software. What gets noticed is how a CAD software can make a difference in an end user’s workflow. Most of the ITC members still seem to be stuck in the AutoCAD alternative rut.

I am eagerly waiting for “The New IntelliCAD” which is supposed to be released early 2008. I hope the “20 man years” invested in the “complete redesign” has not been wasted in merely aping the features of AutoCAD. In a press release on 27th February 2007, ITC President Arnold van der Weide said, “The mission of the ITC is to bring high-quality CAD technology to the industry.” By high-quality CAD technology I hope he means new technology and not what Autodesk has already come up with in the year before.

Autodesk itself is trying hard to add new features to AutoCAD every year. And all this while the ITC has been spending its resources in reinventing the AutoCAD wheel. If they had spent it on innovation, they probably would have something different, which may or may not have been better than AutoCAD.

It looks as if Autodesk is beating a dead horse and the ITC is beating the people who are beating a dead horse.

Autodesk has often used FUD (Fear Uncertainity Doubt) to discredit IntelliCAD, the ITC and the OpenDesign Alliance. And why wouldn’t they? How would you treat a person who keeps following you around and does everything you do? I guess, you would first try and shake him off. Then pretty soon you are going to start telling people that he is not mentally stable.

I believe that IntelliCAD has quite a few things going for itself. However, it badly needs to get out of AutoCAD’s shadow. If you continue to portray yourself as someone’s whore, nobody is going to treat you like a lady.