Letter from the President - October 2016


Those of you who know me are likely aware that I am a big fan of customization. Some of the most fulfilling things I have done in my career relate one way or another to customization. Sometimes it wasn’t about my own customizations. I love being able to help other folks with their own efforts.

That is one of the strengths of AUGI. You may not know how to solve a particular issue, but 
if you ask the question on AUGI’s Forums someone will likely leap at the chance to provide 
you with a solution.

As big a fan as I am of customizations, there is a risk associated with them. They were obviously developed to make your job easier. Or perhaps they help make sure that work is consistent across the company. Some are likely needed to deal with client requirements. 

But are they at a point where they are actually stifling innovation? In my job I often work with companies that cling to things that really don’t make sense in today’s design world. Other times the sheer number of customizations makes it difficult to upgrade the applications themselves.

Here is a good example of the issue. I’m going to keep this as generic as possible to protect the unfortunate.

Layer standards for AutoCAD® are important. They promote consistent representation and clear understanding of the drawings. A particular organization developed a layer standard that definitely promoted clear division of objects. They even developed tools to check drawings for compliance to the layer standard. Tis compliance check was necessary because most of the drawings were produced by external consultants.

So far, so good. Tat all makes perfect sense, right?

But wait! The layer standard was developed before 3D modeling became common. Do you see where I’m going with this? Each layer has a suffix to indicate what level that layer is for. So lines representing walls on level 1 would be on layer A-Wall-01 but lines for walls on level 2 are on layer A-Wall-02. Hey, it makes perfect sense if you are only working with 2D plans, but what am I supposed to do with a 3D conduit that rises from level 1 through level 2? 

There were several conversations about the issue of cramming a 3D world into that layering standard. But the real thorn in the side was that they were worried that any changes would make their compliance checking tool invalid. Innovation was halted because of the customizations that were in place.

I learned a lot from that particular example. I took a hard look at how much customization we used internally and determined where some of it could be cut loose in order to be nimbler. And it helped. The next year when it was time to upgrade AutoCAD, there was less work involved to make sure things ran on the new release.

Don’t let your customizations prevent you from doing things better.

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