The morning started out with a light breakfast and a little bit of socializing. We headed into the training facility adjacent to their cafeteria for a welcome message from Paul Sullivan and Jay Bhatt. They both stressed that they believe that this year's product releases represent evidence that they have been listening intently to customer and user feedback. You could tell they were very excited to share information with us. One of the slides that appeared during their welcome message was of this laser scan point cloud of the building, pretty cool.
The next session was dedicated to AutoCAD Architecture and AutoCAD MEP and presented by Jim Lynch. It was at this point that my visit took a different turn. It also represents the point at which I can't be really specific about what I did either. Well I can be specific about what I did, just not what I heard or saw. Killjoy, sorry!
My first secret session had me, Robert Manna, David Light and David Harrington mixing it up with Chauncey Wilson and Chris Yanchar. They poked our brains for information about the user experience as we know it to be. It was an interesting mix for them because each of the others work for firms while I bounce from firm to firm. It isn't an easy thing, making software easier to learn, more efficient and effective as well as incorporate new concepts and features. I had the opportunity to bring up several of the Dept. of Subtle topics I have posted about during our this discussion.
Time flies when you get into these sessions. It seemed like we only sat down and did introductions and it was time for something else. Robert and David H. went off to chase down different subjects while David L. and I stayed put for a discussion about my favorite wish list item, Stairs and Railings. Some of you have seen Erik Egbertson's post from the other day about railing components and language? If not check it out and offer some insight, it is a complicated subject and they are deep into research. Erik and Jean spent an hour with us and again none of us were eager to move on when lunch time demanded it.
After lunch as I was looking for my next session and I ran into none other than Zach Kron. It was great to meet him face to face finally. I've admired his work via his blog from the first post. I ran into Zach in this lounge.
I got to wave at Kyle Bernhardt who was deeply immersed in a phone call. I also managed to sneak over to David Conant's corner and catch up briefly, too briefly.
David Mills, my most excellent tour guide led me to an office that said it belonged to Jay Bhatt. Sure enough it really was his and David Harrington and I shared fifteen minutes in the sun. Jay stressed that cloud computing is going to be a big part of BIM going forward. If I thought an hour or so went by fast earlier, fifteen minutes was gone in a flash.
David Light and I rejoined Robert Manna in a session where we got to be "flies on a wall" during a feature scope briefing led by Greg Demchak (author of Mastering Revit Architecture 2010, among other things). It had something to do with Revit (big surprise there?) but that's as forthcoming as I can be. We got to add our two cents a few times so it was nice to be a fly that wasn't swatted!
My last session, before rushing off to the airport, was an informal conversation with Zach Kron and Scott Latch (RAC Product Manager). We discussed the new conceptual tools, the adaptive point family and some practical project examples that David and Robert had in mind.
I shared a ride to the airport with none other than Lachmi Khemlani, creator and owner of AECBytes. She's been building it for six years now and it is a well respected source of industry information. I remember clearly when she had the temerity to suggest, in a product review, that AutoCAD didn't need the command line anymore (late 90's). Sure enough with Revit we don't have one, never did and even AutoCAD can operate without one. Imagine that!
It's my opinion that, overall, the 2011 releases do address many of the concerns and needs of the Autodesk customers I meet and those that are still undecided. Revit MEP in particular has a good deal to crow about. Electrical engineers should find the new panel scheduling features far more capable and no longer a point of pain. The same is true of demand factors. While I've been bemused by the complaint about no conduit or cable trays, since we didn't really draw them extensively before Revit, it is good to see the building model getting more real object in its repertoire. On the HVAC side the addition of flat oval duct, a frustration for a fair number of HVAC designers I've met, should be welcome addition.
I'd like to thank David Mills and Jay Bhatt as well as Autodesk as a whole for inviting me to the event (and covering my travel arrangements entirely, full disclosure). They customized my visit to suit me, which ensured that I enjoyed my glimpse of the "factory" from the inside. All further evidence that they are listening and engaging their customers.