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Christiaan

Architosh talks to Sean O'Flaherty

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Architish interview with CEO of NNA, that apparently answers many questions I've seen posted to this forum:

http://www.architosh.com/features/2008/chatside/nemetschek/080217_1a.html

(only two sections published so far)

One of my favourite quotes:

I still hear architects talk wishfully about their own hand-drafting techniques. They enjoyed the mechanics of it. You know, it was a very tactile thing they were doing and I think they miss a little bit of that. And I think that is why you still see a lot of the partners taking out a nice sheet of paper and a really nice pencil and doing drawings. And we are trying to bring some of that fun back, and if you bring that quality of look in the CAD system that you use, then you start to get that fun in the system. We want people to sit down to VectorWorks and say, "this just feels better."

This, strangely enough, is one thing about VW that really makes me think twice about switching over to ArchiCAD. VW is also a much more "Mac-like" experience compared to ArchiCAD.

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Its a very reassuring interview that gives me confidence that NNA are moving in the right direction with their development. I'm looking forward to reading the subsequent interview parts to get even more insights.

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Focus on CAD/IT managers is bad.

Maybe I'll wind up back with Autodesk.

Because Autodesk doesn't listen to CAD/IT managers....

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If Nemetchek focuses future development on the large firm market and the wishes of CAD managers (like ADSK), that's likely to occur at the expense of small firms like mine.

So in the long run, why would I stick with them?

I have a PC, and therefore options.

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He didn't say they were going to focus on CAD managers. He said the "small offices are still a big priority for us but in order to continue our growth we need to make sure there is a configuration for everybody."

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I don't think there's cause for alarm.

I agree with brudgers that Ottocad's tradition is a product so complicated and counterintuitive that the ordinary user can't function without a technical expert closely overseeing the work, and that a close oversight approach like that tends to be detrimental to the user who could otherwise manage alone. But even Otto has moved away from that in this decade, and it's only Otto's legacy combined with the management philosphy of US firms that keeps people working that way.

Note what Flaherty said about large firms in Japan. We've been told for years that their management is more oriented toward empowering rather than subjugating the worker. That may explain why more of their large firms can see the advantages of VectorWorks. I assume he meant that he's listening to managers who take that approach, which no doubt includes Christiaan and many other UK/NZ CAD managers.

And he made it clear that the impact of the change is mostly in features that facilitate large projects.

Anyway, brudgers, even if the changes work against the small firm, it wouldn't make sense to go back to Ottocad. If that happens, someone else will deliver a product to fill the gap. Maybe Google will make a CAD program with a Sketchup-like interface. Or India might come out with a Tata NanoCad.

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They're changing the entire development cycle to meet the priority of CAD managers.

That's pretty substantial.

And that probably means that small firms will be on a yearly upgrade cost cycle rather than every 18 months.

Will you be surprised if the upgrade price doesn't drop?

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The whole first page was about how Nemetchek plans to market itself to big companies as a big company.

It describes a strategy where they will talk less to architects and more to CAD managers.

Page two is about opacity.

Do you think CAD managers care about that?

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OK, you answered my question, plus you seem to be reading things that aren't there. How about a quote from the article stating they will be talking less to architects.

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Maybe you see the big firm strategy for growth as strengthening the influence of small firms.

But that's not consistent with my experience.

Or with the statements about the reasons for changing the release cycle.

Was anyone around here complaining that they weren't paying for upgrades often enough?

Don't get me wrong, it may increase Nemetchek's revenue stream and be sound business practice...but features like dual rendering veiwports and sketch modes aren't the sort of things CAD managers demand.

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Different viewpoints because of different needs. To survive into the future Vectorworks needs to satisfy the needs of all users, both big and small, for a diverse range of project types and sizes. Having the ability to collaborate and have multiple users working on the one project in 3D is essential, as is the development of better more efficient workflows.

At the same time there are primary needs which have to be satisfied. For me the most important ones are:

- Being able to do better 3D more easily and more quickly,

- Having better 2D drawings and schedules generated from the 3D.

- Having the processes of document publication and issue automated (both PDF and DWG).

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brudgers, it may be of some consolation to know that what matters to small firms also matters to large firms. It's just that larger firms have other things to worry about too.

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Disclaimer: I'll qualify my postion as relating primarily to US practice, but reserve the right to point out that US practice was a large part of the context in which O'Flaherty's comments were made.

If you look at software tailored to large firms, it's compartmentalized...how many flavors of revit do you need to model all the systems in a simple building?

3 - Architecture, MEP, and Structural.

Add land development desktop to model the site.

Add Autocad to handle the 2d work.

And add Impression to handle the presentations.

That's what listening to CAD managers gets you...$20,000+ worth of software...and a rack of servers...

No problem if you're big enough to employ a full time CAD manager or two.

Sure some big firms care about output, and some small firms don't.

But architects in big firms are far less likely to operate autonomously and vertically.

And this is reflected in the products targeted at those markets.

I've worked in large firms and small firms and with a varitety of software.

There are tradeoffs in using Vectorworks, the postitives are flexible workflow and superior graphical byproducts of that workflow...the downside is that it is not nearly as rock solid reliable and many architectural objects are mediocre.

Flexible workflow is antithetical to the employment of CAD managers...and poor graphical output is more readily accepted by such people.

Again the Disclaimer: I'll qualify my postion as relating primarily to US practice, but reserve the right to point out that US practice was a large part of the context in which O'Flaherty's comments were made.

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brudgers does have a valid point. NNA need to be mindful that the IT manager is unlikely to be the decision maker. The decisions about which program is used and why will be made by the principals of the firm, who more often than not are at the design end of the spectrum. These people are rarely involved in the CAD to any extent, or have any interest in the nuts and bolts of how it works.

All they will be interested in is if the program can deliver the visions in their heads. These are the people NNA should be talking to.

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Great series so far.

Really interesting.

As some who straddles the divide between big and small firm. It really confirms that VW is heading in the right direction. It's mind full of our craft/art of our profession, and of the pressures of delivering quality on time and budget.

I agree blindly following IT folks would be bad, but to be understanding that timetables for upgrades and budgets adds confidence in the product in it future and opens doors big and small.

And if a yearly Developement cycle means ticking the big feature boxes like 2008 has then bring it on.

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More segments added. It's excruciating. I wish they'd just post the whole interview.

Anyway, here's a quote from O'Flaherty:

It is great to see people for the first time saying, "before I go and buy the windows machine, I keep hearing all this buzz about Apple, let me take a look at Macintosh? ... Maybe by raising our brand profile we can do what is happening successfully with Apple.

Which is a total misunderstanding of Apple's success. Apple isn't successful because it thinks about raising its brand profile. It's successful because they try to design the best stuff they can, that they themselves?as normal people?would want to use.

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