HumbleChief

Sneak Peak Into Chief X7 - Posted On Facebook

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I agree it really is a combination of many things. In the early days WordPerfect was way better than Microsoft Word but Microsoft bullied its way into market dominance using its OS as the vehicle.

 

That same Wordperfect company had an Adobe type PDF creator and reader that ran circles around Adobe's offering but Adobe bullied its way to market dominance.

 

In the music business ProTools dominates the market - not because they make great software or have a great GUI but because they have enough market share to dictate the next direction of music software. They are adding features now that have been available in other software for years. People hate the fact they have to use ProTools and their terrible upgrade policies and feature less software but they remain the leader and show no sings of being toppled because their GUI might suck or they are slow to add features.

 

ACAD dominates Architectural software, not because they make great software but because that Lion's share allows them to charge incredible amounts of money and change the entire direction of Arch software when they choose. They continue to be successful because they run a god business and their market share allows them lots of leeway in features and GUI.

 

In the music software world there are many smaller labels that are becoming more popular but if you don't know ProTools you won't work at a large production house - ever. I imagine it's the same with ACAD.

 

So getting and keeping your lead is way more complicated than just having great software with a great GUI. The above examples prove you don't have to have either to succeed but you do need a very focused business plan and must be able to execute same.

 

Not entirely true about Protools. They dominate because nothing came even close 20 years ago when the battle lines were drawn. They definitely had the best software and GUI. Same thing with Avid, which at the time was light years ahead of the competition and they still dominate today. Others are challenging, and Final Cut made a serious dent until Apple abruptedly dropped it and now Adobe is trying with Premiere Pro. But the fact is, when it comes to long form editing nothing really touches it, and for news and broadcast, no one offers the same system solutions.

 

One has to remember that all dominant players have become so because there were a reason. After you reach critical mass it then becames a tough player to bring down due to all the trained people and existing work pipelines. Adobe beat Quark Express by iteratively and aggressively produce better and better software until even the biggest magazines relented and agreed it worked better. These are not consumer goods decisions like VHS vs Betamax.

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Do you think that a new GUI, for argument's sake let's say it's the best GUI in the world, would that be a vehicle by which Chief would/could grab massive market share from its competitors? I mean would an ACAD house switch to Chief because the interface was 'the best in the world? Would a Revit house do the same? Individual users, much better chance but massive share grab? What do think? Genuinely curious.

 

No way. Functionality is king, but GUI the marketing vehicle. It's the combination.

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Not entirely true about Protools. They dominate because nothing came even close 20 years ago when the battle lines were drawn. They definitely had the best software and GUI. Same thing with Avid, which at the time was light years ahead of the competition and they still dominate today. Others are challenging, and Final Cut made a serious dent until Apple abruptedly dropped it and now Adobe is trying with Premiere Pro. But the fact is, when it comes to long form editing nothing really touches it, and for news and broadcast, no one offers the same system solutions.

 

One has to remember that all dominant players have become so because there were a reason. After you reach critical mass it then becames a tough player to bring down due to all the trained people and existing work pipelines. Adobe beat Quark Express by iteratively and aggressively produce better and better software until even the biggest magazines relented and agreed it worked better. These are not consumer goods decisions like VHS vs Betamax.

I would say my entire post is not 'entirely true' but do you think the point I was trying to make, which is that it's much more complicated than a single business factor, is relevant? Oh wait, that's the same point you made too. I agree with you.

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Very interesting topic.  As a consumer of computer software myself I would have to agree that having a nice looking and efficient interface is a pleasure to behold.  But, when you take this issue to the next, and I hope obvious level, then I can't in all honesty agree that a nice GUI is or will be the deciding factor in the survival of software companies.

 

I actually do agree with the above statements, at least in the sense that this is the way things have been for a long time now.  Big fish eat little fish "businesses" and the better at marketing a company is the more sway they will hold in the marketplace.  I would even have to agree that those in the construction and design industry are rather set in their ways and therefore rather resistant to change.

 

However, trends in the consumer marketplace are indicating that the winds of change are blowing, and rather briskly at that.  I saw a statistic very recently that predicted that within the next ten years only ten percent of brick and mortar businesses will still be standing.  Whether they will go away entirely or simply be eaten up by the competition is yet to be seen.

 

So then, where is the business going then if not brick and mortar?  Not a hard question to answer really, so I will attempt to answer it myself "It's the internet slash economy stupid" as Clinton would have put it.  But, and this is the crux of the matter, and why I do not see things continuing as they have in the past.  The new internet based consumer economy is predicted to not be driven by the influences of powerful marketing companies, but rather by consumer prefereces and information gathered through social media. 

 

The catchword tossed around these days is absolute value.  Kind of sort of meaning that with adequate and trustworthy information consumers will decide for themselves what products and services they would prefer to purchase.  In this environment traditional marketing mechanisms are actually being resisted, not considered to be trustworthy, and alternative sources of information are being considered.

 

So, what in the world does all of this have to do with GUI interfaces and Revit and Chief and or software in general.  Well, we are consumers, yes, but only if our customers see the value in the services we providel.  My point is that this perception of value is changing, and rather rapidly.

 

Customers probably won't care what software we like the look of, or how many extra clicks we have to make.  We certainly do, but they probably won't.  I can't see why they would want to deny us a nice interface to work with, but it probably won't be their primary focus.  What they will care about is how efficient and cost effective your services are, and how well they think they can trust us as service providers.  Not the wild west anymore, there is a new sheriff in town and he is the consumer, and it is about time IMO.

 

My own personal thoughts are that it will be more about the quality of the experience we can provide to our customers in the sense of visual presentations that will matter.  This may not be very popular to those who want a brand new GUI more that anything in the world, but those software companies who intend to be left standing will be those who can meet not only our needs as software consumers, but those of our customers as well.  This is a big part of why I keep going on about file compatiblity issues.  If there is a better sofware out there for a specific purpose, that means that it better meets what I see as my customers needs, then I fully well intend to use it.  I would also like a very nice GUI as well.  2 cents.

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I like cool interfaces. Who doesn't? But I like software that works even better. (If I could produce better plans even faster with a DOS version, I would.) With the improvements to Hotkeys, there is less and less need for a GUI. One nice thing about Chief is that every version still feels familiar. You can go back many versions, and it still feels like the same program, except lacking the improvements you've come to depend on. Is it better to have a radical redesign of the program GUI, or to have an "evolutionary" approach that makes each version less of a learning curve? Personally, I'm not feeling like the GUI gets in the way very much, even though it's a little graphically dated. Sure, it would be swell to feel like I'm working with an up-to-date program, but I'd rather have improvements to stairs and framing. As long as Chief is making baby steps with the GUI at each version, I'm okay with it.

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I would say my entire post is not 'entirely true' but do you think the point I was trying to make, which is that it's much more complicated than a single business factor, is relevant? Oh wait, that's the same point you made too. I agree with you.

 

Sorry, not my intention to steal your thunder and I mostly agree with you, I just wanted to emphasize that it isn't only because they are large bullies that they are successful. Sketchup came from nowhere and carved a niche because it had a great GUI combined with clever tools.

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Johnny - Yes, my cabinet supplier does recreate for several purposes. One is it ties into their whole system for ordering and tracking.

They don't do pretty pictures and I don't do ordering but we both get the sale! Also, many kitchen dn bath projects require moving walls, plumbing and maybe some structural work. THey can't design to those situations. Bottom line it works for both of us.

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Sorry, not my intention to steal your thunder and I mostly agree with you, I just wanted to emphasize that it isn't only because they are large bullies that they are successful. Sketchup came from nowhere and carved a niche because it had a great GUI combined with clever tools.

Good points.

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Very interesting topic.  As a consumer of computer software myself I would have to agree that having a nice looking and efficient interface is a pleasure to behold.  But, when you take this issue to the next, and I hope obvious level, then I can't in all honesty agree that a nice GUI is or will be the deciding factor in the survival of software companies.

 

I actually do agree with the above statements, at least in the sense that this is the way things have been for a long time now.  Big fish eat little fish "businesses" and the better at marketing a company is the more sway they will hold in the marketplace.  I would even have to agree that those in the construction and design industry are rather set in their ways and therefore rather resistant to change.

 

However, trends in the consumer marketplace are indicating that the winds of change are blowing, and rather briskly at that.  I saw a statistic very recently that predicted that within the next ten years only ten percent of brick and mortar businesses will still be standing.  Whether they will go away entirely or simply be eaten up by the competition is yet to be seen.

 

So then, where is the business going then if not brick and mortar?  Not a hard question to answer really, so I will attempt to answer it myself "It's the internet slash economy stupid" as Clinton would have put it.  But, and this is the crux of the matter, and why I do not see things continuing as they have in the past.  The new internet based consumer economy is predicted to not be driven by the influences of powerful marketing companies, but rather by consumer prefereces and information gathered through social media. 

 

The catchword tossed around these days is absolute value.  Kind of sort of meaning that with adequate and trustworthy information consumers will decide for themselves what products and services they would prefer to purchase.  In this environment traditional marketing mechanisms are actually being resisted, not considered to be trustworthy, and alternative sources of information are being considered.

 

So, what in the world does all of this have to do with GUI interfaces and Revit and Chief and or software in general.  Well, we are consumers, yes, but only if our customers see the value in the services we providel.  My point is that this perception of value is changing, and rather rapidly.

 

Customers probably won't care what software we like the look of, or how many extra clicks we have to make.  We certainly do, but they probably won't.  I can't see why they would want to deny us a nice interface to work with, but it probably won't be their primary focus.  What they will care about is how efficient and cost effective your services are, and how well they think they can trust us as service providers.  Not the wild west anymore, there is a new sheriff in town and he is the consumer, and it is about time IMO.

 

My own personal thoughts are that it will be more about the quality of the experience we can provide to our customers in the sense of visual presentations that will matter.  This may not be very popular to those who want a brand new GUI more that anything in the world, but those software companies who intend to be left standing will be those who can meet not only our needs as software consumers, but those of our customers as well.  This is a big part of why I keep going on about file compatiblity issues.  If there is a better sofware out there for a specific purpose, that means that it better meets what I see as my customers needs, then I fully well intend to use it.  I would also like a very nice GUI as well.  2 cents.

Interesting points Rod. I couldn't help but draw a parallel between your point and Johnny's experience with the transition from DOS to the modern GUI. It seems the opportunities during that transition were vast as the gap between DOS apps and modern GUI apps were huge.

 

Today maybe the opportunities with the advent of social media and that arising paradigm and the ease of which customers can demand and get what they want in a very fluid marketplace are just as vast. I can see how easy it might be to ignore that new paradigm and continue plodding down a path that might not end that well.

 

I for one do not have the answers nor do I have the business acumen to run a company like CA and really can't see a clear future for this or any other software app but I do love the discussion. All the posts here are very enlightening to me and appreciate the ideas.

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We are leaving Autodesk products not because of look of the GUI but because of the lack of NEW and IMPROVED features to make my job as an architect/designer easier, maybe not easier, but more productive - honestly, I don't care if CA's GUI is antiquated, I want to have tools that will help me be more productive, more accurate and more important that will allow me to design in real time, I think CA does that pretty well...now, if they improve their GUI that will be great, I would rather they improve the amount of "work arounds"

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Improvements to the UI have been very significant in X6. I'm not surprised that some of the improvements have not been noticed because we worked hard to make the transition as painless as possible while at the same time improving how things work. There is still a lot to do though.

 

The modeless interface is a good and important thing.

 

It would produce a small but measurable improvement in productivity in some cases.

 

However, there would be at least a short term decrease in productivity while the new interface is learned. And in other cases there would be no advantage while at the same time making it easy to accidentally change a property of an object. For example, someone complained in another thread how it was too easy on this forum to accidentally change the font size.

 

Still it is something we should do and will pursue in an order that hopefully won't cause a great deal of transitional grief.

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I wonder about some of the analogies. Remember the buggy whip? Well cars got rid of buggies and the whip didn't evolve fast enough... :P

 

Chief occupies a very unique niche market within the architectural and design world. Are they really risking going away because their GUI is outdated? It's irritating and old fashioned but I don't think they are at risk of disappearing like the above companies did?

 

Who is their real competition? It's not really ACAD, or Revit or Archicad. SoftPlan for sure but their price point ensures survival until another player comes along - into a very crowded marketplace. Wouldn't mind that myself but don't really see it.

 

If any of the market leaders turn their attention to residential tools (which they have been focusing mainly on commercial), I really could see a near end to CA as we know it now  - IF CA doesn't adapt before that.  Id say the same about Softplan.  There may always be faithful loyal CA users, but I also say there is a fairly good sized group of users who almost begrudgingly use this app since it is currently the best at what it does.  If I was CA id be getting out in "front" of that group to keep their attention only on CA.

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I don't want people to think I am campaigning for a visual overhaul of CA just to look cool - the concept of a new GUI is based first and foremost on speeding up processes - less dialog boxes, clicks, and manual input.  I also thing some of the quirkiness can be dealt with in the GUI redesign as well.  I personally think its "quirky" to use a design element called "slabs" for fascia....so on and so forth.  All this should be cleaned up so we are using generically labeled tools that accomplish the same things, but are easier to train people on.  CA is not easy to learn right now since its anti-intuitive.

 

I think looking cool and "clean" can be a bi-product of efficient design with slight effort in that regard.  

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I don't want people to think I am campaigning for a visual overhaul of CA just to look cool - the concept of a new GUI is based first and foremost on speeding up processes - less dialog boxes, clicks, and manual input.

 

I think looking cool and "clean" can be a bi-product of efficient design with slight effort in that regard.  

 

Well said Johnny

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If any of the market leaders turn their attention to residential tools (which they have been focusing mainly on commercial), I really could see a near end to CA  - IF CA doesn't adapt before that.

 

In the old thread a few years back I mentioned the hope a bigger outfit with resources investing in CA.. Always comes down to how large a market there is.. currently CA may be too US Residential focused for that... BUT whenever profit margin AND scale is detected competition ALWAYS shows up... Better build your mouse trap so good others buy yours rather that develop their own.

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The modeless interface is a good and important thing.

 

It would produce a small but measurable improvement in productivity in some cases.

 

Wow, statements like this from you as the developer makes me fear for the future.

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the GUI for framing /room setup for mixed framing models (concrete, trusses, rafters, split level, 2 story, midfloor trusses, ground floor subfloor, basements) leaves a lot to be desired.

can be done for conventional USA houses, but my experience is once you get slightly off the beaten track for other parts of the world where I live,

(piles with no perimeter foundations, garage slab connected to subfloor, it just doesnt lend itself well and modelling framing semi-accurately (which is a core functionality for me seeing as I do remodels extensively) to take proper backclipped cross sections is a challenge...best resolved I have found by modelling the framing in several .plan files then 'joined together' in final layout file.

 

A new gui for framing object setup on a per room basis would help and give more tighter control instead of a per floor basis which is what we currently got.

 

put the bunnies onto the new GUI

put the gurus onto fixing chiefs framing / modelling capabilities so you can set framing/foundation attributes on a (grouped) per room object basis instead of a per .plan basis.

put the super gurus onto macro improvements eg area measurement for closed polylines when working out site coverage calcs

and least we not forget auto updateable elevations (or some indicator that tells us they need updating manually)

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Wow, statements like this from you as the developer makes me fear for the future.

 

Sorry if I'm being dense here. But I don't understand what you mean. Are you saying that a modeless interface is not a good idea or something else?

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Wow, statements like this from you as the developer makes me fear for the future.

 

Just an FYI - 

 

Modal interface, such as CA now, means the app enters a mode where its only "thinking" and operating on a specific subject/state until the user makes another input leaving that mode.

 

A "modeless" based system just means the app doesn't have to "enter" a state to consider a specific operation from the user (might not be the best explanation).

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Sorry if I'm being dense here. But I don't understand what you mean. Are you saying that a modeless interface is not a good idea or something else?

 

No, I'm saying that if you as the developer thinks a modeless interface would 'produce small improvements in some cases', I feel you don't understand the significance of this part of a modern interface. For those who remember, the leading high end animation tool Softimage 3D was killed by Alias Maya in the 90's for failing to address this in time.

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Just an FYI - 

 

Modal interface, such as CA now, means the app enters a mode where its only "thinking" and operating on a specific subject/state until the user makes another input leaving that mode.

 

A "modeless" based system just means the app doesn't have to "enter" a state to consider a specific operation from the user (might not be the best explanation).

 

In Chief's case perhaps a way to think about it would be to never have to do 'Ctrl-E', instead the whole dbx could be a constant open window on the side like the library browser.

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In Chief's case perhaps a way to think about it would be to never have to do 'Ctrl-E', instead the whole dbx could be a constant open window on the side like the library browser.

I had already suggested this on the suggestions forum....I only got 1 reply! lol

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Can someone explain it better? For instance, Is Autocad considered modeless?

 

I believe the majority of current Autodesk products are modeless.  Id say most high end apps are "modeless".

 

Keep in mind, there are certain aspects in almost any app which would be considered Modal (settings/printing etc) but we are talking about the main workflow. 

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