I haven't said much about the upcoming release of Revit. That's because I'm not supposed to disclose that I've been involved in a program that I'm not supposed to disclose that I'm part of. I've also been busy doing some technical editing for the Mastering Revit Structure 2010 book for authors Tom Weir, Jamie Richardson and David Harrington and their publisher Wiley/Sybex. So much for my true dream of being a professional "Couch Potato".
Much has been said lately in blog posts, youtube and AUGI about the upcoming release's user interface and the new "wascally wevit wibbon" (Elmer Fudd saying it). Most of it blasting the new UI. Rather than pile on I have these thoughts.
I can't help but experience some irony having watched the Revit user community grow since 2003 at Zoogdesign and since 2004 at AUGI as well as during the RUGI and alt.cad.revit years "Before Zoog" (B.Z. = 2000-2003)
- Users and potential users complained relentlessly about the "rendering engine" - The last release has a new rendering engine and for the most part users are ambivalent about it.
- Users and potential users complained relentlessly about the "modeling tools" - now new modelling tools and now users are saying most of us don't actually need them.
- Users and potential users complained relentlessly about the "dated and clunky GUI" - A new GUI is here and now users are saying that the old one was better and more efficient.
Those are three pretty big items. Revit has been pretty consistently beaten up about these by users and competitors alike yet when they've finally taken steps to address them. They are met with ambivalence, animosity and even rejection...
I wonder will Revit users ever be happy?
Rhetorical question, the answer is no. We'll always want more. Besides our subscription theoretically entitles us to something more in every release.
It's possible, if you've read this far, that you think I'm making excuses for Autodesk...being an "apologist". It is just an observation and for the most part, accurate. If it is unreasonable to have "some" empathy for the developers who've spent the last couple years working on these things...then I'm unreasonable.
I do understand that each of my statements has a back story, a side story and multi-level tangentially related stories that help explain the user "reaction". On a simplistic level I can't help but wonder what Autodesk's reaction ought to be?
One could be, "See we gave them a new rendering engine and they don't really use it either". Another could be "See, they've been hounding us for more free form modelling capabilities and now they are admitting that a very small portion of the real world will use them." My fear is that they are "learning" from "us" that we have no idea what "we" really need!?! They've been listening to the cacophony related to those three items and are now potentially facing the ugliest of times as a result?
I'm glad they've been tackling some of the issues that they've been getting beaten up about over the years. There definitely are, however, a lot of "little" and "big" projects that I wish Autodesk would just take care of. The agenda for this release doesn't begin to live up to what my own agenda would have been, assuming I had a say. What concerns me the most is that I'm hearing for the first time ever that people are willing to "take a pass" on this release. This is bad for BIM, bad for collaboration, bad for Revit.
The sky is falling, the sky is falling... Only it isn't, I'll take what this release offers and find a way to make the most of it. Some might say, "Steve's a trainer, this release will be awesome for business!". Maybe...but I doubt it, at least not because of the UI. Experienced users will certainly have some anxiety about the transition and feel frustration getting acquainted but it won't last long. A few hours in and it starts to "fit". Keyboard Shortcuts can help you through assuming you use them at all now.
I recall the 2009 release seemed pretty banal when most people's initial reactions were offered up. Yet I found that I was unwilling to use 2008 nearly immediately. I suspect the same will be true of 2010. I just wish there were more subtle things fixed as well, as there was with the 2009 release.
Every release should address a distinct if not large portion of the "points of pain" that have been identified for many years now. It is important that Autodesk not forget this because a year is a long time to wait for the little things that can change a frustrated user into a thrilled, happy user that goes home at the end of the day happy to have been using the product. Oh, right...Revit users will never be happy. Let's shoot for nearly happy?