CAD Management: Software Upgrade Jitters

The new releases of the Autodesk products have arrived. With great fanfare and hoopla, they were rolled out on March 25th via webcast and more. I was able to attend an event in San Francisco at which Autodesk unveiled the latest releases and features of the tools.

Last month I wrote about upgrading my hardware and this month I turn to software upgrades. Many of the same concerns and advancements come into my head with software as they did with hardware. Moving from one version to another can be seamless or it can be very tough.

Here are some of my reasons for resisting the move to new software… first the personal side.

  • I settle into a groove with my software, just like my hardware, because I know how it will react. I know the feature failures and the work-arounds. I know how to finesse my way around the problems.
  • I have to migrate all of my setting and setups that I had in the old software. Some tools require upgrades of all the components, families, or elements that go into the new tool.
  • I have to move any custom programming or scripts over and verify that they work. This can be a long process if you have created a lot of custom processes.
  • Some third party software may not make the jump. Most will but some of those old tools that functioned well in older tools may not work well in the newest release.

On the corporate side, a CAD Manager has to think about the following as well as the list above. The list above has to be expanded and takes on more weight as the process is multiplied by the number of users you have.

  • Time – it takes a lot of time to upgrade. Just the install process takes a considerable amount of time.
  • Training – you have to provide some form of training, even if it is just a handout or a one-hour "lunch and learn." You cannot just give a new tool to existing users without some information about the upgrade.

Some of the incentives for an upgrade may outweigh the above resistance issues…

  • My machine will run faster. Even if all I do is reinstall the OS and clean everything up, it will run faster. I have so much clutter in my system registry because my machine is a test bed for software tools. I install and remove more programs than the average user. I install and then forget to uninstall more than most use in a typical year.
  • My machine will actually be improved. If I install a larger hard drive, which I did, or add more RAM then I will get a better machine than the one I had before. These upgrades may not cost very much and the upgrade process is not that hard even for those that have not really cracked open a PC before. There are plenty of helpful sites on the web that will show you step by step upgrade processes for many machines. Be aware of the warranty issues of doing your own work on newer machines.
  • I expect to get rid of the annoying little quirks that have haunted me for a long time. The little freeze ups and hesitation that stop me in my tracks. The very things that make me love my machine are also some the make me hate it.

So as I move toward the transition, I am a little excited and a little hesitant. Through it all I expect to see some of my worries vanish and a few rocky steps along the way. All in all, transitions in hardware are usually for the better. Restoring a machine back to health, like I am trying to do, has its positives. Moving to a totally new machine has even more advantages.

If you get the chance, move forward.

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