Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Understanding the Limits of using Software in Design

I was following up on one of Greg Arkin's posts about licensing, and after reviewing the new license agreements, I came across a section that refers to limitations. Since I know everyone actually reads and understands their software license agreements, I thought I'd elaborate on this:

"Functionality Limitations. The Licensed Materials (except for Licensed Materials designed for non-commercial use, such as Autodesk Materials designed to be used for household or other consumer purposes or licensed only for purposes of educational or individual learning) are commercial professional tools intended to be used by trained professionals only. Particularly in the case of commercial professional use, the Licensed Materials are not a substitute for Licensee’s professional judgment or independent testing. The Licensed Materials are intended only to assist Licensee with its design, analysis, simulation, estimation, testing and/or other activities and are not a substitute for Licensee’s own independent design, analysis, simulation, estimation, testing, and/or other activities, including those with respect to product stress, safety and utility. Due to the large variety of potential applications for the Licensed Materials, the Licensed Materials have not been tested in all situations under which they may be used. Autodesk will not be liable in any manner whatsoever for the results obtained through use of the Licensed Materials. Persons using the Licensed Materials are responsible for the supervision, management, and control of the Licensed Materials and the results of using the Licensed Materials. This responsibility includes, without limitation, the determination of appropriate uses for the Licensed Materials and the selection of the Licensed Materials and other computer programs and materials to help achieve intended results. Persons using the Licensed Materials are also responsible for establishing the adequacy of independent procedures for testing the reliability, accuracy, completeness, and other characteristics of any output of the Licensed Materials, including, without limitation, all items designed with the assistance of the Licensed Materials. Licensee further acknowledges and agrees that the Licensed Materials form part of Licensee’s total unique hardware and software environment to deliver specific functionality, and that the Licensed Materials provided by Autodesk may not achieve the results Licensee desires within Licensee’s design, analysis, simulation, estimation, and/or testing constraints..."

There's a great misconception that using tools like Revit, AutoCAD MEP, Bentley, etc. that optimize the design process by eliminating redundant tasks, are "easy buttons". I had an architect (who tried Revit 4 years ago, and did not have a successful project) complaining to me that Revit users had to be designers...duh. Even in plain AutoCAD, or on the board, people that produce the documentation needed to construct a building still need to know what they are drawing...hence the above verbiage. The reality is that all employees working on a project have to understand what they are creating, and why.

Even now, we're going through the same discussion - where do you use Revit and where do you use AutoCAD 2d, etc., using the excuse that my techs don't know design. So the idea is to break a project up (and lose money because of it) because we're unwilling to spend the time training someone not just how to do BIM, but how to design.

A great example was Greg's comment about 2D DWG still being a part of a project. Let's use Fred as an example - he's been with the company for 25 years, never learned more than he really needed in terms of technology, and has a crappy attitude about learning anything new. The company, trying to find something for Fred to do, has him creating 2D details and then either sketching them up on paper and handing off to a CAD technician to model. The other case is Fred actually doing the work in AutoCAD, but not enforcing little details...like following CAD standards. The cost for this attitude is staggering, all for the sake of not ruffling feathers.

And the reality is - our industry needs their feathers ruffled now more than ever. In a global environment, we've got to be more competitive, leaner, faster and smarter to survive. When other countries are paying their engineers and designers a fraction of what we do, we have to be able to produce better and more defined work to compete - value to value, per se.

Autodesk recognizes this, as does Bentley and other CAD/BIM applications developers. These are the same tools we started with...the hammer, the chisel, the pen and the paper...it's just the modern version. What separates us are the ideas and concepts we create...and the tools, when used properly, give the project room to explore these ideas - to make the building more interesting, more efficient and more sustainable. Don't come back to me with the excuse that the tool doesn't work for me...until you've pushed it to the point where it can't do what you want - then we'll talk...and stop blaming the software for your own inadequacies - and go back to learning something new every day...whether you're using plain AutoCAD, Revit, Ecotect, 3D Studio Max, Inventor, etc., the reality is that YOU are responsible for your success. Learn how to fit these tools into your design process and leverage what they have to offer - and you WILL be successful.

Thus endth the soapbox for today - David B.

1 comment:

Erik said...

Amen, Amen, Amen.