Autodesk Offers Free Access to Cloud Collaboration Products autodesk covid 19

Autodesk Offers Free Access to Cloud Collaboration Products

Here in the United States, the last week has seen practically every aspect of daily life turned in its head. Schools closed, public places have closed, and instead of driving to work, many of us now walk to work as a matter of social distancing. Of course, calling it walking to work is but an attempt to put a normal wrapper on the obscurity of commuting to an actual office, to the new reality of working from home. In practically every way imaginable, life, as we knew it a short time ago, has changed because of the global pandemic known as COVID-19.

We’re each finding our own way to navigate this strange new world we find ourselves living in. Amidst all that madness, one thing I feel blessed by is the technology that similarly defines our world. Tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams let us narrow the gap of social distancing, and maintain some level of human connection with friends and colleagues.

Working from Home with Autodesk Software

Of course, while there are plenty of tools to bridge the human gap of social distancing, bridging the gap of design data is another challenge altogether. The data created by tools like Revit and Civil 3D is unique. Not only are the files far more extensive than your everyday Microsoft Word file, but the inner structure is also far more complex. Revit has Worksharing, whereas AutoCAD has External References, and Civil 3D has Data References.

Each of these, while critical to support the way project teams assemble projects, adds to the complexity of finding a suitable method for project teams to work from home. Of course, while remote working solutions do exist, most not only cost money but take more than a few days to implement. With the economic impact of COVID-19 still unknown, teams need a solution that is both simple and affordable to implement.

Introducing the Autodesk Extended Access Program

Recognizing these factors, Autodesk announced on Thursday, March 19th, they would make extended access to several products and services available to customers at no charge. As part of Autodesk’s response to COVID-19, customers can get free extended access to BIM 350 Docs, BIM 360 Design, Fusion 360, Fusion Team, AutoCAD Web and Mobile, and Shotgun.

Like all of us, Autodesk is also monitoring the ever-changing impact of COVID-19 on business as usual. At the time of writing, Autodesk has promised to make the Extended Access Program available to customers until May 31, 2020. While that timeframe will not contract, Autodesk may choose to extend it as the needs of their customers warrant it.

As a CAD manager focused on finding the best way to support our team of surveyors and engineers, I sincerely applaud this move by Autodesk. Just as we’re each trying to maintain business as usual during these uncertain times, we should expect the same from Autodesk.

Defying Expectations

Just as we still expect our clients to pay us for the work we perform, Autodesk has similarly reasonable expectations that customers pay for the products they use. During these extraordinary times, Andrew Anagnost, the CEO of Autodesk, has chosen to do what I believe is the morally conscionable thing by helping their customers as best as possible.

From the time Andrew Anagnost hosted a dinner for employees impacted by California fires in 2017 to this response to COVID-19, I see this as a reminder the people behind the software we use every day aren’t too different from us. They’re just people trying to provide for their families like you or me.

Therefore, it’s through that lens I extend a sincere thank you to Autodesk for taking action to support teams as we collectively find a way to overcome COVID-19. And finally, with the shadow of COVID-19 lurking atop all of us, I pray for each of you to stay well and remain safe.

Autodesk Announces the Retirement of Multi-User (Network) Subscriptions autodesk multi user subscription changes

Autodesk Announces the Retirement of Multi-User (Network) Subscriptions

Today Autodesk announced the discontinuation of multi-user (previously called network) subscriptions. As part of this announcement, Autodesk also introduced a trade-in offer for current multi-user customers in advance of all multi-user licenses being retired on May 7, 2021. This announcement comes less than a month after Autodesk increased the suggested retail price (SRP) of new multi-user licenses by approximately 33% on February 7, 2020.

As you might expect, there's a lot to process here. To help customers understand this transition, Autodesk launched several resources for customers to communicate the change. The first of those resources is the following video:

In addition to the video above, Autodesk also introduced a landing page summarizing all things related to the transition to named-user subscriptions, and added an Autodesk Subscription Changes section on their user forums.

Before diving into the specifics of the announcement, a few essential points:

  • Except for named Autodesk accounts, all subscriptions will be single-user.
  • Autodesk will maintain its previous price assurance promises and increase prices by no more than 5% in odd-numbered years through 2028.
  • Beginning May 7, 2020, customers will receive 2 single-user licenses for every current multi-user subscription at a similar cost to what they pay today.

Why the change to named users?

With so many mid to large-sized organizations choosing multi-user subscriptions because of the benefits it provides to them, why is Autodesk making this change? The explanation offered by Autodesk is to provide a more relevant user experience. While it will be interesting to see how this goal is realized, but I think technologies like Microsoft's MyAnalytics for Office 365 are a present-day example of where Autodesk is going with the single-user model.

Although future-looking benefits are great, it still leaves the question of how this shift benefits you today? The named-user model is being promoted as a simplification of existing licensing management. Since software access is granted to individuals, there are no serial numbers to manage and keep track of and is, therefore, a more accessible model for customers to manage.

By contrast, under the current multi-user model, customers must install, configure, and manage a FlexLM network license server of their licenses. Since license (LIC) files include but one product, each product or contract in your portfolio must be combined into a single LIC file. Additionally, software managers must create new license files each time Autodesk releases a new version of the software.

Whether the present-day management of multi-user licenses is a pain point for you will likely depend on the size of your organization. As someone who has managed or helped clients manage FlexLM license servers for roughly 15 years, none of this is a big deal to me. On the other hand, after supporting clients with network and multi-user subscriptions for approximately 10 years, I also appreciate how many Autodesk customers struggle with FlexLM.

While plenty of Autodesk clients are perfectly comfortable managing and maintaining their own FlexLM license server, I'd wager a majority of customers consult an outside resource, like their Autodesk Partner, for help with this. Recognizing this dynamic, if you're Autodesk, it's never a good thing when your customer has to consult a third-party to get the software they paid thousands of dollars for to run. Even if this change delivers little value to me personally, I do believe the change will deliver on the promise of simplifying what many views as the complex world of Autodesk licensing and installation.

Single-User Subscription Tiers

Since the perpetual license changes introduced in 2016, Autodesk has offered two subscription options to customers. Those options were single-user and multi-user. Under this model, single-user subscriptions were the least expensive way to gain access to Autodesk software, whereas multi-user subscriptions, while more expensive, offered the greatest flexibility.

Put another way, as the more expensive option, if you chose a multi-user subscription, you did so because the existing single-user option didn't meet your needs.

To address at least some of these needs, Autodesk is introducing a second single-user subscription tier for customers. Autodesk is branding the current single-user subscription offering as Standard and the new tier targeted at larger businesses as Premium. As a solution focused on larger companies, the Premium tier will offer advanced administrative tools, security, and dedicated reporting.

As an upgrade to the Standard tier, the new Premium tier adds the following benefits:

  • View and export product usage with user details.
  • Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • 24 x 7 voice support
Autodesk Announces the Retirement of Multi-User (Network) Subscriptions single user subscription plans

Every organization will value the benefits offered by Premium in different ways. Like choosing between single-user and multi-user subscriptions today, whether the value of Premium is worth the extra cost is a new purchasing decision customers must determine.

Introducing the Multi-User Subscription Trade-In Offer

A crucial part of today's announcement is the trade-in offer designed to support customers in the transition from multi-user subscriptions to single-user subscriptions. Apart from the central objection regarding the retirement of multi-user subscriptions, the trade-in offer does at least check several critical boxes for existing customers. Most notable among those is promises made as part of the Move to Subscription (perpetual to subscription) program are being maintained.

Autodesk Announces the Retirement of Multi-User (Network) Subscriptions ongoing autodesk renewal discount

Recognizing Autodesk is keeping their price assurance promises, what is the trade-in offer? Put simply, beginning May 7, 2020, you can trade-in your current multi-user subscriptions for twice the number of single-user subscriptions, thus establishing a 2:1 ratio. Additionally, as part of this switch, you'll have the choice between a Standard or Premium single-user subscription.

Autodesk Announces the Retirement of Multi-User (Network) Subscriptions autodesk multi user trade in

As you can see from the graphic above, pricing for a Standard single-user subscription will be about the same as what you're paying today. By contrast, customers have the option to upgrade to a Premium subscription for $300 per new subscription.

Do pay attention to the way Autodesk is advertising the Premium upgrade option. The $300 upgrade price is based on new single-user subscriptions, not your existing multi-user subscriptions. Put another way, the cost to upgrade one multi-user subscription to a Premium single-user subscription is $600.

The Cost of Moving to Single-User Subscriptions

Looking ahead to the pricing example shown below. While Autodesk is providing a cost-neutral path for customers to migrate to single-user subscriptions, maintaining many of the business benefits of multi-user will be a considerable price increase. In the example above, a client with 5 multi-user subscriptions today would pay approximately $3,000/year more to maintain comparable business benefits they enjoy today.

Autodesk Announces the Retirement of Multi-User (Network) Subscriptions multi user trade in m2s

This $3,000/year price increase on 5 multi-user, now 10 Premium single-user subscriptions assumes your licensing utilization follows a 2:1 ratio. Under the current multi-user subscription model, it's not uncommon for customers to achieve a 2.5:1 or even 3:1 license utilization ratio. If your current license utilization exceeds 2:1, you'll need to purchase new single-user subscriptions at today's SRP to maintain the level of access you have today.

Multi-User Subscription with Move to Subscription Promotional Pricing

Using the hypothetical customer with 5 multi-user subscriptions to the AEC Collection as an example. Under the trade-in offer, they now have 10 single-user licenses they paid $3,000/year to upgrade to Premium. If they attained a 3:1 license ratio under the multi-user subscription model, an additional 5 single-user subscriptions are necessary to maintain their current level of access.

According to the Autodesk website, the current SRP for a new single-user subscription to the AEC Collection is $2,825/year. That cost does not include the additional $300/year cost for the new Premium single-user subscription offering. Adding that cost, a new Premium single-user subscription to the AEC collection is $3,125/year.

Based on that forecast, 5 new Premium subscriptions to the AEC Collection would cost $15,625/year. This is on top of the $3,000/year cost to upgrade their current multi-user subscriptions to the Premium tier. Therefore, the costs of our hypothetical client achieving a 3:1 ratio on 5 M2S multi-user AEC Collection subscriptions would increase by approximately $18,625/year.

Added together, this hypothetical customer would need to invest $24,550/year to maintain the level of access they have today for a cost of $5,925/year. That's an increase of nearly 315%!

Multi-User Subscription without Promotional Pricing

Now to be objective, the above example is the worst-case scenario and does leverage promotional pricing offered through Autodesk's Move to Subscription program. Before the 33% multi-user subscription price increase on February 7, 2020, a new multi-user subscription to the AEC Collection was approximately $3,125/year.

Using the pre-February 2020 multi-user subscription cost as guidance, a customer would pay $15,625/year for 5 multi-user subscriptions to the AEC Collection. Upgrading those licenses to Premium would cost the same $3,000/year outlined above, and bring the cost of 10 Premium single-user subscriptions to $18,625/year. Finally, the projected cost to add 5 new Premium single-user subscriptions is $15,625/year.

Taking advantage of trade-in pricing and adding 5 Premium subscriptions to maintain a 3:1 ratio, this hypothetical customer would pay $34,250/year. That's a forecasted increase of approximately 120% to maintain their current level of access to Autodesk software.

In summary…

As always, it's important to note the scenarios outlined in this post are for reference purposes only and represent only hypothetical pricing scenarios. Everyone has a slightly different portfolio of Autodesk subscriptions, and those subscriptions likely include a mix of promotional pricing, such as Move to Subscription. For an accurate breakdown of how Autodesk's retirement of multi-user subscriptions will impact your business, it's best to consult your Autodesk reseller. Likewise, it's worth mentioning reputable Autodesk resellers will work hard to build out the most economical solution for your business.

Finally, I encourage you to visit the customer page explaining the program on the Autodesk website. In addition to providing an overview of the program, it also includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions surrounding the specifics of the program. Lastly, Autodesk also launched a new Autodesk Subscription Changes forum where you can ask your questions to the community.

AutoCAD Dad Jokes

The Best of The CAD Geek's AutoCAD Dad Jokes

To all the dad’s out there – Happy Father’s Day! I hope you’re able to spend the day with your own father and/or your own children.

With my son turning three at the end of the month, I couldn’t be happier to celebrate my third Father’s Day with him. He’s such an incredible dude, and I couldn’t be prouder of him. The biggest word he knows how to say and apply is doppelganger, and most recently we’ve been working on learning our shapes.

The Best of The CAD Geek's AutoCAD Dad Jokes Fathers Day

After mastering basic shapes like triangle and square months and months ago, we’ve started work on more complex shapes. Things like equilateral, isosceles, acute, and right triangles, and even some parallelograms for good measure. My son can say the names of all those shapes, but we still have some work on identifying them. Of course, should it be any surprise geometry is a front-and-center topic when your father is a CAD Dad?

Odd geometric terms for an almost three-year-old aside, something synonymous for all types of dads are jokes. But not just any jokes – dad jokes! As much as I’d like to say I’m immune to such jokes, my Twitter feed tells a different story.

There’s a good chance you know what I’m talking about if you follow me on Twitter. My good friends on the AutoCAD team at Autodesk sure have. In fact, in celebration of Father’s Day, the AutoCAD team scoured my Twitter feed for a compilation of what can only be described as CAD Dad jokes.

You can read the full post on the Official AutoCAD Blog, but here’s a preview of some of the tweets they found (plus a few they didn’t):

Of course, even the AutoCAD team couldn’t resist to join in the fun of that one.

And although I didn’t end up using the titles for my Autodesk University 2018 proposals, it doesn’t mean the thought didn’t cross my mind.

Speaking of Autodesk University, there were the t-shirts my company, CADD Microsystems, gave away in 2016.

You’ll have to wait until Autodesk University 2018, but we already have some AutoCAD-related t-shirt ideas in the works.

The Best of The CAD Geek's AutoCAD Dad Jokes home from autodesk university

Although every Father’s Day is special in some way, this one is extra special as it will be my last with just my one son. Arriving home from Autodesk University 2017, my son surprised me at the airport with the incredible news he’s going to be a big brother. Next year, I’ll be blessed to celebrate Father’s Day with my (two) SONS!

Autodesk 2019 New Feature Webinar Series

Autodesk 2019 New Features Webinars by The CAD Geek

Last week, the technical team at CADD Microsystems came together to put Autodesk's 2019 products through their paces. I already shared my first impression of AutoCAD 2019 several weeks ago, but the purpose of last week was to look at the holistic portfolio of products. We tested out the new features and collaboarated with one another to discuss how the release stands to beneft the real-world projects of our clients. Beyond the enjoyment of having the team together, seeing how each of our specialists priortized the new features is incredibly beneficial as I begin recieving questions from clients and readers of The CAD Geek.

New Features Webinar Series

While last week we focused on exploring the new releases, this week our focus is on sharing what's new in Autodesk's 2019 products. Our eight-part webinar series begins tomorrow (April 17th) at 1:30 pm EST, and concludes on Thursday (April 19th) at 3:00 pm EST. In addition to the full webinar schedule found on the CADD Microsystems website, you can conect with me as I present the following presentations this week:

Wednesday, April 18th

Thursday, April 19th

I do hope you'll be able to join me for at least one of the webinars I'm hosting this week. Of course if schedules or time zones do not align, we'll have recordings of each webinar available shortly after each broadcast.

The CAD Geek's Productivity Tools for 2018 productivity tools

The CAD Geek's Productivity Tools for 2018

One month into the New Year, and hopefully your resolutions are still intact, and 2018 is poised to be everyone's best year yet. Even if your resolutions have waived some, the start of a new month is a great milepost to check yourself and make any necessary adjustments to keep on track. With that in mind, today I've chosen to focus on the all-too-common resolution of productivity.

It's been a while since I pulled back the curtain to share some of the non-Autodesk software I turn to on a daily basis. For the purpose of this post, I have omitted the usual suspects like Microsoft Office and instead focused on the other productivity tools I use most. Though there's no lack of productivity tools on the market today, here are the tools I've chosen for myself.

Todoist [Free - $29/yr]

Todoist Task Manager

 

When development ceased for my former task manager, I found myself on a quest for a replacement. Little did I know how long that pursuit would be. From Asana to Trello, Toodledo, and Wunderlist (among others), I tried nearly every task manager I could find. While all fulfilled the basic criteria of being a task manager, all had something missing, and my usage of each waned rather quickly.

That process repeated itself until I discovered Todoist, and it quickly became my go-to task manager. So what made Todoist stand out for me in an otherwise crowded field?

The interface is what first caught my eye. Todoist's minimal interface is not only a joy to navigate, but its many tools and functions are intuitively placed within it. Although good looks make for an attractive tool, the tool itself isn't genuinely valuable unless it excels at its core function as a task manager. Todoist certainly does that.

What I found most impressive about Todoist is how many platforms its available. From PC to Mac, iOS device to Android, and even Microsoft Outlook,  your tasks are available wherever you're working. Though other task managers accomplish a similar feat, what Todoist does exceptionally well is implemented a consistent interface across all platforms. If you know how to use Todoist on a PC, you know how to use it on your phone.

Grammarly [Free - $29/mo]

grammarly-spell-grammar-check.jpg

From this blog to the numerous documents (even emails) I author for my job, writing occupies a significant portion of my day. You're probably familiar with the spell and grammar checks built into applications such as Microsoft Word.  Though each of these has seen appreciable improvements over the years, they still don't pick up the many nuances of the English language. This is where Grammarly comes in.

Grammarly is what I wish spell and grammar check inside Microsoft Word would be. It brings a polish to your writing that no other spell and grammar check I've tested can. The free version will work inside your browser and provides several checks to let you try out the tool. As wonderful as these checks are, my biggest regret with Grammarly is not upgrading sooner.

Beyond the critical grammar and spelling checks included within the free version, the premium version adds a wealth of additional features such as the ability to specify the type of document you're authoring (business, technical, casual, among others), and offer genre specific punctuation and vocabulary recommendations.

TextExpander [$4.16/mo, $39/yr]

textexpander-writing-macro.jpg

Speaking of writing, there's a lot of repetition in what I write on a daily basis. Think about it, how often do you type something like "Bob, Thank you for your email" on a given day? If your email inbox is anything like mine, the answer is roughly equal to the number of emails you send each day.

The basic idea of a tool like TextExpander is you can define any number of snippets that will automatically expand as you type them. For example, typing "xtfe" will automatically expand to "[Clipboard], Thank you for your email." You can create any number of snippets to automate just about anything you write.

Although I initially began using TextExpander to automate the repetitive things I write, an unexpected use case for me is the ability to more easily paste the contents of my clipboard as unformatted text. I copy things from many different places, but typically prefer pasting without any formatting. To help me achieve that, I've configured the snippet "xpst" to paste my clipboard as plain text.

TechSmith Snagit [$50]

snagit-screen-capture.jpg

Much of my day is spent supporting CADD Microsystems clients with their Autodesk software. On a given day that support will range from a simple screenshot calling out an overlooked setting, to something as complex as a howto video. In all of those scenarios, the tool I turn to is Snagit.

There are undoubtedly other tools that let you take a screenshot, but where Snagit stands out for me is how easy it is for me to capture, edit, and share the images and videos I take. The Snagit Editor is like a lightweight Photoshop with essential tools for editing screenshots. Tools to annotate, highlight, and moving the on-screen cursor are each at your fingertips. Once edited to your liking, the next big differentiator of Snagit is its integration with Screencast.com, another TechSmith product.

Though a paid version of Screencast.com is available, I've found the free version entirely sufficient for my needs over the last decade. By choosing Share on Screencast.com, Snagit will upload my edited image or video online, and place a link on my clipboard. If I'm chatting with a colleague in IM, I can just paste the URL into the chat thread to show them a portion of my screen.

Beyond my day-to-day use, Snagit is also the tool I used to capture all 1,000+ image assets in each of my six books (AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT: No Experience Required). I question just how I could have accomplished that feat without Snagit and the library it maintains every screenshot you capture.

Dashlane [$40]

dashlane-password-manager.jpg

Passwords are simply a way of life at this point. Of course, we all know that using the same password across multiple sites is bad, but who has a good enough memory to remember unique passwords for every one of our accounts? I know I sure don't, and that's why I turned to a password manager.

The basic idea of a password manager is you have a single master password that unlocks all of your other passwords. Beyond simply remembering all of my passwords, Dashlane will also generate unique passwords for each account, recognizing when I change a password, and syncing the change across all of my devices.

Beyond simply storing my passwords, Dashlane also performs a security audit of my entire portfolio of passwords and alerts me if it's been too long since I last changed my password, if I happen to use the same password across multiple sites, along with an audit of several other password bad practices. Additionally, for a growing number of sites, Dashlane can automatically change your password, forgoing the need to manually visit a site and find the change password section.

Furthermore, an increasing number of mobile apps now support Dashlane, so you can use the fingerprint or face recognition features on your phone to unlock your password vault and sign into your mobile applications and websites. Likewise, password changes made on your desktop automatically sync to your phone and vice versa - automagically.

I certainly have a handful of other productivity tools in my arsenal, but those highlighted in this post are the ones I turn to most. Beyond simply being the tools that see the most mileage, these are also the tools I have personally purchased with my own money. Put simply, this is not a sponsored post, and I have not been compensated in any way to highlight the tools outlined above.

As we all continue striving to make 2018 the most incredible year yet, what productivity tools do you rely upon on a daily basis? Let me know in the comments below.

Touring the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco autodesk gallery lego

Touring the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco

If you ever find yourself in San Francisco, do yourself a favor and visit the Autodesk Gallery. Over the years, I have had a chance to visit the Autodesk Gallery several times, and from interviewing a robot to seeing how Autodesk helped capture the hallowed grounds of the USS Arizona, the sights inside are nothing short of exceptional. Not only does Autodesk offer tours for free, but the exhibits will also open your eyes to the world around you.

So what is the Autodesk Gallery? In the simplest of terms, it is where Autodesk showcases the many incredible things people imagine, design, and create with its software. With tools like AutoCAD being synonymous with buildings and bridges, you might expect The Gallery to be little more than a building museum. Although you will find both bridges and buildings inside, you will also see:

  • How movies are made…
  • How cars may one day be grown in a garden (not manufactured in a factory)…
  • How a soccer ball can let kids learn at night...
  • Even digitally peel back the layers of a mummy that are part of the Smithsonian collection.

Intrigued?

Attending the AutoCAD Influencer Event last month, Scott Sheppard known for the It’s Alive in the Lab blog was kind enough to give our group a tour of the Gallery. During our tour, Scott was also kind enough to let me record a video of the visit. Thanks to his generosity, you can experience a tour of the Autodesk Gallery without leaving your desk.

Have a look at the video above, and let me know what your favorite exhibit was in the comments below.

Autodesk Answer Day

Autodesk AEC Answer Day - March 8, 2017

From the increasing use of reality capture technologies, to virtual reality and even everyday design documentation, it's an exciting time to be an AEC professional. Over the last year, Autodesk's portfolio of Architecture, Engineering, and Construction technology has grown rather noticeably. From the introduction to Revit Live, tools like BIM 360 Docs and Collaboration for Revit, to the many new features of InfraWorks - there's been a lot to keep up with.

answerday_schedule_mar'17

To help customers like you get your questions answered, Autodesk is hosing an AEC Answer Day tomorrow. From 6:00 am to 6:00 pm Pacific Standard Time, members of Autodesk's AEC product teams will take your questions on the Autodesk Community. Participating in the event is completely free, and there is no limit to the number of questions you ask. Some of the Autodesk team members you'll have access to include:

  • Product Designers
  • QA Analysts
  • Technical Support
  • Customer Service
  • Community Managers

The following AEC-focused forums will participate in the AEC Answer Day:

Learn more about the March 8, 2017 Autodesk Answer Day on the Autodesk Community.

 

Autodesk Show Reel HBO Westworld

Autodesk "Make Anything" 2017 Showreel

With so much talk about tools like AutoCAD, Civil 3D, and Revit, it's easy to forget just how far Autodesk technology reaches, and how it allows designers to make anything. From the buildings and parks we walk in, to the movies and television shows we watch, to the vehicles we drive to see those movies in theaters, I find it fascinating to see just how often we come into contact with things created inside Autodesk software.

Showcasing the very fabric of the fantastic things Autodesk customers create is the newly released Make Anything showreel. The video itself is admittedly pure eye candy, but nonetheless inspirational and eye-opening to what is typically one of many invisible layers that define great design. The video is only two minutes, but I bet it's two-minutes that will make you look at the world around you in a different light as you think about what makes the world around us.

Celebrating ten years of The CAD Geek

Celebrating 10 Years Of The CAD Geek

Ten Years Blogging

I published my very first post to The CAD Geek in January 2006. It’s now February 2016, and my humble corner of the Internet has appeared in web browsers around the world for an entire decade! If I were to choose just one quote to embody the last ten years of The CAD Geek, it would have to be from Steve Jobs’ commencement speech:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.

Starting The CAD Geek

During my junior year of high school, I was able to co-op out of my drafting class at Hermitage Technical Center, and go to work as a CAD Technician. I learned more than I could ever capture in a single blog post at that job, but I’ll never forget the empty binder my boss handed me on my first day of work. My boss suggested I use the binder to collect interesting articles, tips & tricks, and other industry related things I stumbled across.

I kept that binder for many years, taking it from job-to-job, adding to it along the way. Complete with food-stained lunch & learn printouts, Lynn Allen Tips & Tricks booklets, and more - the binder became a survival guide of sorts for me. That was until the binder contained so much information that I struggled to quickly find the information I needed within it. Had I met the same challenge today, there’s a good chance I would have chosen a tool like Evernote or OneNote instead of the blog known today as The CAD Geek.

With few options for keeping a digital notebook in 2006, I matched my curiosity of WordPress with my need to digitally capture information. That combination served as the foundation for this humble corner of the internet that has subsequently connected many dots for me over the last decade.

Connecting the Dots

Adding up web hosting, domain registration, and other associated costs; running The CAD Geek for ten years has easily cost me thousands of dollars. As I connect the dots over the last ten years, it begs to question whether the investment was worth it?

If you simply consider the revenue earned from things like Google Ads, the short answer is absolutely not. This site has easily cost more to run than it has ever directly earned back in revenue. But that’s not to say The CAD Geek hasn’t been a worthwhile venture. I have absolutely profited from The CAD Geek in many less tangible ways. From the people I’ve meet, the doors those people helped me open, to the opportunities that emerged as I walked through those doors - The CAD Geek has been a rich experience.

Among my first "CAD Geek" stepping-stones was writing in AUGIWorld magazine, and speaking at Autodesk University. Speaking at Autodesk University and being published in a magazine were two dreams I believed were so far-fetched, so unattainable, that it would be foolish of me to define either as a personal goal. It wasn't long after that I was asked to write my book AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT: No Experience Required. As both an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor Member in the Order of the Arrow (Scouting's National Honor Society), the Boy Scouts taught me public speaking skills, but writing had never been a strength of mine. Writing a book was so far fetched to me that the first time I thought about writing a book was when an acquisitions editor at Wiley approached me at Autodesk University.

It's been a little more than five years that so many of the people I met as a result of The CAD Geek helped me open the door at one of the top Autodesk Partners - CADD Microsystems. In September 2015 I celebrated five years with CADD Microsystems as their Technical Product and Online Manager. So much of what I do in that job today comes from lessons I first learned from The CAD Geek. The dots have absolutely connected in unimaginable ways for me.

My Advice to Other Bloggers

Nearly every blogger I’ve spoken with began blogging for a different reason. Whatever that reason, my biggest advice to new bloggers is to be yourself, be truthful, and to make mistakes. You’ll make plenty of mistakes early on (I sure did), and that’s okay. It typically takes years to build a significant blog following, so make mistakes early, and use the time to find your voice (not a copycat voice of other bloggers, or the voice you think will draw more visitors). Don't get caught up in analytics when your blog is still new, and instead invest that energy into content. If your content is good, Google will find it, and the traffic will come.

Put simply, there are no shortcuts to building a blog. It takes consistently writing content, observing what works, changing what doesn’t, and continuously learning along the way.

What’s Next

Interestingly, one of my biggest challenges as a blogger have been the very opportunities The CAD Geek helped me develop. Projects like my book AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT: No Experience Required has been an incredible experience, but writing a 1,000+ page book has certainly impacted The CAD Geek during what I call book season. Looking ahead to what I hope will be another 10 years of blogging, I’m excited by the innovation in the industry, and can’t wait to share my experiences here at The CAD Geek.

Thanks for making the first decade of The CAD Geek so incredible!

Donnie

Celebrating Five Years with CADD Microsystems CADD Logo RGB 2C

Celebrating Five Years with CADD Microsystems

Last week marked my fifth anniversary at CADD Microsystems. The last five years have been amazing in so many ways, and I am absolutely thrilled to see what the next five will include! Something that impressed me well before I ever joined the team at CADD was the many community-based events they host for their customers.

CADD sponsored events like the Revit DC and Revit RVA user groups have seen attendance in the hundreds. Next week, I will present at another one of CADD's signature community-based events named Tech Tour. My presentations will encompass many infrastructure topics including; Master Planning Design Concepts, Transportation Planning and Design, and Grounded Collaboration between Architects and Civil Engineers. During those presentations, I'll share how to use tools like Civil 3D, Map 3D, Revit, Navisworks, and InfraWorks in tandem to solve common planning and design challenges.

Those who live or work near Washington DC, Baltimore, MD, or Richmond, VA can learn more about Tech Tour and register for the event on the CADD Microsystems website.

Whilst the reach of Tech Tours and user groups are limited by geography, something that's not limited by geography is the internet. It's for that reason CADD has also built CADD Community for its customers. With CADD Community, customers get the benefit of the knowledge shared at events like Tech Tour PLUS the industries best on-demand training through our partnership with Global eTraining. Those interested in learning more about CADD Community can learn more on the CADD Microsystems website.

Ask me anything at the All About AutoCAD CADD Chat

Just last week (September 20th) I celebrated my fourth anniversary at CADD Microsystems. During my first week at CADD I recall our CEO asked me to sign a copy of my book AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT: No Experience Required. While I’m not sure if the autograph increased the value of the book any, I do remember signing the book by stating how impressed I was by the expertise possessed by each of my then new colleagues. Over the last four years, I feel like I have learned as much from my colleagues as I have had the opportunity to share with them. That fluid exchange of information is one of my favorite things about working at CADD.

I've always wished that unscripted exchange of information was something our customers could experience first-hand. Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, it is something our team has found a way to share. Next week you can step into the digital hallway of CADD Microsystems, and experience what it’s like to bounce ideas off some of the most talented experts I have ever known.

On Wednesday, October 1, 2014 we’re hosting what we’ve chosen to call a CADD Chat All About AutoCAD. The CADD Chat is being hosted by my colleague Daron Moore who is both an AutoCAD expert and Autodesk Instructor of the Year, and I will be participating as a co-host. The presentation itself has no script, and will be entirely driven by your questions.

We would love to have you join us if you have some time next Wednesday. You can register for the (free) event on my company’s website. And if you already know what you would like to ask you can even submit your questions in advance (link on the registration page below).

Register Today: CADD Chat: All About AutoCAD

Join CADD Microsystems for their February Tech Tour

Join CADD Microsystems for their February Tech Tour

Kicking off the first of many TechTour events my company hosts each year, CADD Microsystems is excited to return to the Grand Hyatt in Washington DC on February 15, 2012 to share a one-day learning experience with our customers. For those who have never had the opportunity to join CADD Microsystems for one of their TechTour events, the events are first and foremost completely free to attend. For your free registration, attendees receive breakfast and lunch, along with their choice of nine outstanding presentations. Our February event will feature the following sessions:

February Tech Tour Sessions

  • Keynote: How and Why Should I Use the Cloud?
  • Building Design Suite Workflow: Revit, Max Design, and Navisworks
  • Civil Transportation
  • BIM for Contractors 2.0
  • Revit MEP Tips & Tricks
  • BIM Data Management
  • AutoCAD Tips & Tricks
  • What to do with Showcase and Sketchbook
  • Space and Facilities Management with FM: Systems

As you can see, no matter the industry you work in, there’s a good chance the agenda includes several sessions to help elevate your workflow. Once again, while there is no charge to attend the event, we do ask that customers pre-register for the event. You can learn more, and register for the event using the link below:

Registration for this event is closed. See a complete list of upcoming CADD Microsystems events at https://caddmicrosystems.com/events.