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P Retondo

Etiquette, etc.

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Dear all,

This bulletin board is an extremely valuable resource, which is why I have continued to follow it for several months. Not only does NNA check in now and then with important information, but the users have supplied me with invaluable and intelligent advice, warnings, and perspectives for the future of the application. I would hope that a few occasions of intemperate expression on the part of some do not spoil anyone's appreciation of the discussion, either at NNA or among VW users.

Both users and NNA engineers should spend more effort expressing appreciation for the time spent by each other on this site. It would be nice if NNA could respond more frequently, but I am sure we all understand that they are spread thin. It would be equally nice if users would think twice about venting their frustration with the program and the software engineering process in a way that might create bad feelings. Software is not an easy thing to create, especially in a real world with budgets, deadlines, and marketing. That said, I think we all know how it feels to use an imperfect product day in and day out.

Let me ask both "sides" the following question: how much would it be fair to pay for a program that was significantly more useful, bug-free, and responsive to user requests for modification? I'm now a grad student, but used to work in architectural offices and managed the CAD systems there. I'm positive that my former firms would have paid 2-3 times as much for a program with improved capabilities and productivity. Is there a way to increase the ability of NNA to hire more programmers without threatening the base of new users attracted to the initial buy-in price? For example, would architects and engineers be willing to pay extra for a subscription that gives professionals faster fixes and access to new features that others would have to wait for the next release to get?

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I have no intention of writing to the top management of this company. I hope they are reading this forum... If they are not they are burying their heads in the sands of denial.

I have been a user for 5 years and have resisted the pressure to work in ACAD. I have called and written letters to Diehl about marketing and some of the concepts expressed in this thread. No one calls back. No one replied to my letter.

This product has enormous potential, but they are doing their best to run it into the ground.

I will continue to read the forum to see what the USERS have to say about the product and will never ever again buy a new release from this company until the USERS declare it a better mousetrap.

It is unfortunate that a software product built on a bad foundation... like a building built on a bad foundation will not support more and more development... but will ultimately collapse on itself.

I returned VW9 after a few weeks of crashes and problems... and mysteriously they still sent me 9.01 which is in its proper place - the trash.

I sincerely hope that more users express their opinions about the company's overall approach to their product as well as individual specific issues.


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A reasonable amount to pay for a piece of software is $200.

If you have 100,000 users. That would be sales of $20MM.

If you use the billing multiple model in reverse say.... 2x direct expense and the wage of the average software personal is $100,000 / yr or about $50 per hr... Then the cost of producing $20MM of sales should be 200,000 man hours. So if I assemble a staff of software engineers, secretaries and so on using $100,000 per year as the average salary... it would take a company of 50 employees 2 years to develope the product. $10MM for salaries and benefits.. $10MM for profit and overhead.

That's how I see it.... since you asked.


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This bulletin board provides excellent feedback for NNA to hear the rants of the installed base, as well as the praises. If they do not respond to this FREE feedback, (some companies pay big bucks for this kind of info), then they may find themselves relegated to a path of slow extinction. I for one do not think this a likely outcome, but given enough time, NNA's responses will dictate how long their customer base will stay loyal.

NNA needs to improve their discipline of product development for the system to work better. The reward for their efforts will be an increase in units sold. The lure of providing more service for an added price is a negative incentive. If they are to live up to our expectations, they need to do less - they need to do it better. The laws of economics are strongly at play now - evolve, or go dormant. As simple observation can easily point out, not all evolutionary steps are beneficial to an organism - case in point VW9. With limited resources at hand, NNA must balance their repair efforts with their development efforts, but if they cannot find balance, I pray they err on the side of repair.

I don't believe you can get better service just by throwing money at a service provider, especially if it is thrown AFTER the service is provided, as would be the case of increasing the product price. If you were to offer the money BEFORE service is provided, that would be more akin to investing in the company, and can readily be done by purchasing stock.

If NNA reads this, I am still using VW8.5.2 and MC6, and will continue to do so until the tone of this bulletin board tends toward praise for their efforts. Please keep the rants coming. I learn much from them and I hope NNA does too.


Raymond Mullin

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Of course we are going to vent. Would you sit idlely by if you bought a car, regardless of whether it was a Mercedes or a Huyndai, which crashed by itself, with switches which didn't work, steering that was unstable, and which forced you to spend countless hours and money trying to diagnose its problems? NO!

At some point the laws of supply and demand are going to begin to operate here. How much money and time can those of us trying to earn a living with this software afford to lose before it becomes more effective to invest in a better mousetrap? Version 9 and its offspring are proving to be an abysmal failure which is going to spell the end of user loyalty. Programs like Archicad or Revit, which are initially more expensive (in the case of Archicad), appear to be more stable, less cumbersome, and not loaded with all kinds of extraneous bells and whistles. Focusing on the difference in inital cost is clearly becoming a false economy. Many have wasted hours of billable time performing what is essentially beta testing. NNA ought to think seriously about some kind of rebate.

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Perhaps I can be more succinct.

On one hand, say I purchase a CAD program which costs $5,000. For many, this is a large intial investment. But lets assume the program is well written, does not crash frequently and is not driping with extraneous features which unused by most architects. While my up front costs may be great, I can amoritize the cost of the program over the course of its version issue.

On the other hand lets say I purchase a CAD program which costs half as much, say $2500. But it is less stable, crashes, and is full of little used features which inflate the amount of code need to run the program. Now over the course of its version issue I now spend countless hours diagnosing problems, hours on the phone with tech support, and not only can I not produce income with the software, I have to pay employee salaries while they spend time attemting to simply produce what they were trained to do: ARCHITECTURE and not BETA TESTING.

Believe me it is much cheaper to spend the money up front than it is to bleed it out over the life of the software. It is completely false to think it is more cost effective to not make the initial investment. I have learned this the hard way unfortunately. And like others, have too much invested in the software to incure the hugh expense of switching horses. However if this software continues to FAIL, I will have no choice. I can't afford it.

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R Mullin and jnr,

You speak of economic realities, but I think you're choosing to ignore the fact that VectorWorks is significantly less expensive than competing fully capable CAD programs. In my own experience, an architect dealing with a client who demands first-class service should respond with something like a first-class fee estimate. Should the economic logic be different for those who create software?

The tone of entitlement and outrage from some of the users on this bulletin board suggests that they had paid something like $2500 per station for the software. Criticism and suggestions are useful information, as you point out. An insulting tone towards NNA engineers is, however, not useful, and my comments were directed in part to a discomfort I feel about that.

I'm not claiming that all is well with version 9. In my own work, I have limited use for 9 since existing work from 8.5.2 doesn't migrate well. I could have returned my copy of version 9 for a refund, but found it worthwhile because of some of the new features. I agree also that the difficulties with the new version do not bode well for the future of the product, and understand that users who have paid thousands of dollars over the years and have a huge investment in the viability of this program might be upset at the moment.

I hope that NNA can somehow pull it together. My reading is that they have big plans for VectorWorks, but tried to take too big a jump after purchasing the company.

[This message has been edited by P Retondo (edited 10-20-2001).]

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There is an expectation that our software will be productivity tools in our work. Accordingly, we need to learn how to use the designed functionalities of the software to produce our products which are design drawings and construction documents. We all have our wish lists which would make out software more useful. In fact, there are productivity upgrades we are even unable to conceive of... thankfully other visionaries do! Not being a software engineer I do not understand how a program evolves new features. Not being a software company manager I do not know the decision process which leads to new releases with new feature sets of a software product.

What I can say is that, it is completely unacceptable to issue a product which is full of defects which result in financial loss to the users. Of course, we expect a learning curve with a new product and the loss of productivity while the new product is integrated into our busines practice. However, it is my belief that a series of flawed decisions and poor management decisions has resulted in a seriously flawed product release which has cost many users enourmous amounts of money.

As a small practicioner, I cannot afford days of down time messing about with software glitches, and endless hours debugging and finding work arounds. This is unbillable time and would kill my business. I cannot imagine the cost to a multi license user having a staff thrown into chaos because the software is full of bugs.

It is my belief that the upgrades must be very seamless. This seamlessness has to be the foundation of the evolution of a software product. It must be engineered into the upgrade to allow users to access the new features... or revert to the former "tools" or features. The failure of being able to easily migrate files from / to upgrades is a serious flaw. The number of reported almost random crashes is unacceptable and represents a major failure of the software engineers.

I suppose that decisions may be made as a result of new hardware available which forces the engineers to create a new product which looks very similar to the older product but underneath the hood a new engine is at work. These marketing decisions force the users to not only upgrade the software, but their hardware as well. There must be very clear productivity benefits to make such an upgrade. Remember if it aint broke dont fix it!

I would like very much to see how the upgrades target productivity increases for the user. A series of tools which are not used makes the product complex, error prone and like asking a locomotive to haul a long train when you only have an interest in the contents of two freight cars.

At some point it becomes clear that CAD software has to be modular so that the user can assemble the functionality he requires. The modules are essentially tools and features... like Renderworks, which sit on top of the basic CAD engine. Some users have no use for cartoonlike 3D images and are focused on 2D drafting. Their product should not be burdened by unneeded capabilities.

It appears to this user that the decision was made to make the basic product more robust, filling it with capabilites that many users have no need for. This seems to have created a product which is full of serious errors.

It is my belief that MORE focus should have been made to allow files to move accurately and seemlessly from / to other CAD platforms. This would allow the VW product to find its way into all workig environments.

It is my belief that the product should be made MORE intuitive and easy to learn and teach. Many firms are reluctant to use a product which has a small market share and seems to stand apart.

I believe that if some serious policy re examination is not undertaken.. the product will not survive. I see other CAD products adopting the more intuitive and user friendly features while VW offers releases that crash and burn.

This forum should be a wake up call to VW. A word to the wise is sufficient!


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Very impressive and articulate response. You have hit the nail on the head. I would very much hope that you would be willing to copy your text and send it to the President of the company. These guys need to be hit over the head! Personally, Archicad is starting to look better all the time...

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