Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Different Parents

It might be surprising but I run into quite a few people who are not aware that Revit was not always an Autodesk product. I've encountered a few that think it's a bizarre offshoot of AutoCAD. I often hear people say AutoCAD as the same word as Autodesk, or at least as if they are interchangeable in meaning. Autodesk is a company and AutoCAD is software, a product created and sold by Autodesk.

Revit started out as an idea shared by two founders (Leonid Raiz and Irwin Jungreis) and they formed Charles River Software in the late 1990's (97-99). It became a formal product we could buy/rent in 2000 from a company called Revit Technology Corporation. Rumor mongering has it that Autodesk began considering a buyout within the first year of its existence. By May of 2002 it wasn't rumor anymore, Autodesk finalized the purchase of RTC and Revit for $133 million.

I tend to think of my software bias as having been influenced by "my parents". By that I mean people that are "raised" (began using or prefer) by CAD parents like Autodesk, Bentley, or Graphisoft. As such I don't find it surprising that Bentley family members prefer their family experience over the time they spend with another family, like getting adopted in your teen years perhaps. I started with CAD using Apple's MacDraw but my first real production CAD software was AutoCAD (technically I used Generic Cadd before AutoCAD but Autodesk bought it too). So my CAD childhood was in the Autodesk family. By the time I moved in with the Revit Technology Corporation family I had lived in the Bentley family for four years too. My multi-family experience has tempered my zeal somewhat but I still have a clear bias toward Revit...obviously.

When we start using Revit it's common to express dismay and confusion. It isn't always clear to someone that has been part of the Autodesk (and AutoCAD product) family why Revit seems to be a rebellious or stubbornly different child. It doesn't observe the same rules my other parents imposed on me? Well, it had different parents.

As a teen my parents gave me an allowance, enough that if I saved for a couple months I could afford to go to a movie. They insisted I go to bed at specific hours, gradually ascending as I got older so that I could stay up until midnight when I was thirty. I exaggerate just a bit but the point is that parents have different ideas about raising their kids. The founders and developers behind Revit are/were much like parents. They made decisions that formed Revit, determined how it should behave, who it could hang out with, play with, what time it should go to bed etc.

During a recent presentation someone asked me why Revit does "something", I don't recall what "it" was but my response was, "Because...". Many of us have heard that from our parents before, or "Because I said so!" Some laughter ensued thankfully, meaning they saw the humor too.

The truth is I didn't know why and I admitted that, but it is also true that it works the way it does "because", because "someone" decided it should be so or someone decided that doing "it" was something for later exploration and development. That someone is one of Revit's parents: a developer, product designer, marketing director, sales executive... Each product at Autodesk (and other companies too) has a different team that functions as its parents.

The next time you wonder why Revit doesn't let you do "something" like that other software, remember, "oh yeah, different parents!"

1 comment:

John said...

From the perspective of someone who is going through the stage of tearing their remaining hair out with Revit after "growing up" with AutoCAD, you offer an interesting perspective.

However, to follow your parenting analogy, surely there are some basic rules to good parenting that "society" considers to be common sense.

In the context of Revit, it astounds me that even today the Revit workspace is still such a polarised, black and white, environment. After all, even by the late 1980's, when I was first introduced to my "parents", CAD software was taking advantage of the 256 colour capabilities of VGA for the symbolic representation of differing types of elements.

Going further, some widely accepted parenting advice like "don’t run with scissors", has been translated in lots of different software into features like autosave and spellcheck functionality which Revit seems to stubbornly refuse to adopt.

... or are you suggesting that my "parents" set a bad example by doing the equivalent of letting me stay up late to watch Monty Python or to listen to jazz. Hang on, that’s exactly what my biological parents did ... :-)