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The Ghost of AutoCAD Past

Like the holiday tale from Dickens, I am reminded that often I am visited by a ghost... The ghost of "AutoCAD Past."  In the Dickens tale, this ghost was there to remind Scrooge of what he could have been, but chose not to be.  Business for Scrooge came before friends, family and fun.  I could launch off into a conversation about how we need to keep things in perspective, but that is not my point this time around.  This time I want to revisit and expand on a blog post that I did back in December 2005.

Many of us have been using AutoCAD for a long time. I find that many of the habits that I have acquired in the past are still "haunting me" today.  Sometimes these old habits help and sometimes they hurt my productivity. 

It might be that command line tool that I love and always default to, because I cannot remember where the icon is located or the toolbar that it is located on. It is the feeling of handicap I get when I open ADT and find that none of my old AutoCAD pulldowns have loaded. It is the strong desire that I have to create a CUI for every old MNU that I have carried along these many seasons. 

This may be the driving reason behind why Autodesk gave us the option of opening AutoCAD 2007 in "Classic" mode rather than the new 3D Mode.  Or why some of the old dialog boxes are still around. 

As Benjamin Franklin said...

 "habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for reason...  the contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and established, before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct."  - The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - Part II

He was just realizing that sometimes old habits take over even when we "know" that there is a better way.  Even when you are trying to work in new ways.  The hands move as if on autopilot.  Moving toward the old tools and methods.

Am I being held back by my fondness for old tools? Is there a better way of doing things that I have not embraced? Are my old tools really that old?

I have been thinking about this for some time and have decided that - YES - I am doing some things "the old fashioned way". But there are also many items that I have jettisoned along the road.

Is there a problem with using old tools? Here are a few:

1. Old tools don't fully exploit the new interface.  I am typing in commands that have been converted to icons.  Icons may be faster.

2. Old tools won't create new entities like Dynamic Blocks, Fields, etc.  I am missing out on some of the new items in the software because I am stuck in my old ruts.

3. Old tools are getting harder to maintain.  If I have old custom tools that I have created, I must verify that they all work in a newer release.

4. Old tools use the new software in old ways.  Maybe the worst "ghost" of all.  I am doing things the old way and it actually takes longer and often does not really work.

5.  Old tools may actually disappear.  Autodesk often takes away tools and variables and settings without giving me any warning.

But wait, I am productive.  I am creating.  I am working fast.  Is there a benefit in using "AutoCAD Past"?

1. The Old tools still works fine.  They get the job done.  They are still in "full vigor" as Dickens might have stated.

2. I don't have to think about which tool to use.  It is so natural for me to use the old stuff to get the job done.  It is a no brain-er.

3. I don't have to get retrained.  All of the old training that I took still works.  No need to jam more stuff into my head.

4. I am getting my job done fine without the new tools.  Ouch - it may be true, but it is very bad thinking. 

Failing to move ahead leaves you behind.  Soon you will be outdated.  So stuck in the old tools that you have been passed by.  Technology has marched on and you have been sitting on the curb watching the parade go by.

Be it old tools, old software or old methods. The CAD Manager and CAD User has to think these issues through and define the best and most productive environment possible.  The most effective methods become outdated as software moves ahead.  The best CAD Standard needs to be reviewed and updated.

I think that there are a lot of users out there that are happily living in the past. How about you?