I've had a chance to spend a little time in both applications now, and the programs are definitely showing signs of improvement. One of my pet peeves for the past few years has been the inconsistency of the interface, which a) doesn't follow the design process and put tools in logical places to follow that process and b) was in serious need of updating to reflect how the tools and the industry works. Medium to high marks are what I would offer in regards to the ribbon based interface of both applications. There are actually consistencies between the two interfaces to some degree (although naming the tabs home and insert make absolutely no sense to me), so a user that has to work in both applications, it should be easier to find tools and use them.
Biggest issue with AutoCAD MEP is the remaining palettes, which have gone largely unchanged for several releases and need to be scrapped for a simpler system. I still get new ACAD MEP users complaining about limited systems, tools etc. since the palettes only contain specific examples, when in reality there's a lot more to the program. The additional overhead of having multiple workspaces (one for each main area and discipline) needs to be cut completely out - Revit MEP has the right idea on this by having all of the disciplines under the home(?) tab. AutoCAD MEP should go the same way, and I'm working on a CUI that reflects that layout.
One of my high marks to the interface is also going take away one of my favorite in-class expressions (you want to change something, right mouse click). The interface changes to include a modification ribbon automatically - hence only a one click feature (look up - it's a bird,it's a plane - wait, it's a modification ribbon!!!)Pick an element or object and check it out - very cool!
There is some duplication of tools in the interface, such as having multiple locations to add annotation objects. How about this - a equipment tab, following by the connecting geometry tab for duct/pipe (and cable tray/conduit for ACAD MEP users), and then an annotation tab. This type of interface would follow the benchmarks of design and help the user use the tool to follow how the MEP portion a project is built.
I'd still love to see the interface tools on Revit MEP open up a little bit - I'm still toying with the macro tools and seeing what the program will do, so if I come up with something interesting I'll post it here.
One of the biggest challenges coming up is the ability of these applications to interface with other tools. IFC still needs work - MEP objects from both applications will have to be able to be exported sometime soon, as GSA is writing and updating its submittal standards to make the IFC file a deliverable. It's an area that Autodesk needs to invest in. The gbXML export also will be a big factor as more applications come on the market to perform various forms of analysis (now that we're all hyped up on green stuff). The third party applications that have had their heads stuck in the sand need to learn how to get more out of these exported files and learn how to communicate their data back to the model. A few such as IES Virtual Environment are doing it and doing it well, so it's time for them to get on the bus.
On the Revit MEP side - man, do we need oval duct, cable tray and conduit - any clue when these will be available? Adding pipe accessories seems to be more stable, but deleting inline components still doesn't automatically mend the pipe line (as in ACAD MEP). Hopefully some of these long-term needs will get met - we've got the interface, now get these features into the program.
My world still says that if the architect is in AutoCAD/2D Cad/AutoCAD Architecture, stick with ACAD MEP. If you're doing large industrial type projects (including water/waste water), stick on the ACAD Arch/MEP model (regardless of how Autodesk wants to position it lately), it's still Building Information Modeling and works extremely well. If the architect is on Revit Arch, it depends on the type of building as to whether or not I'm going to use Revit MEP versus AutoCAD MEP, but in most examples, the Revit to Revit model is the way to go.
Forward thinking firms that employ designers as the user need to go the Revit model, as long as the buildings they're designing are not process intensive. Once Autodesk can get the missing features in the application, and work out some kinks with Revit MEP, it'll be easier for these process and system intensive design firms to take a closer look at Revit MEP. Having both in one suite and giving the client the option to choose the best tool for the building type is absolutely the best way to go.
As I get some additional time before the product launch and get to look at other new features, I'll post a few previews here...stay tuned...
later - David B.