CAD Manager's Newsletter (#371)

28 Sep, 2016 By: Robert Green

The Minimalist's Guide to CAD Software Upgrade Decisions

It's a chore you'll have to tackle sooner or later, so apply this methodology and make your evaluation as quickly as possible.

Editor's note: Until Robert Green returns, we'll be revisiting a few classic CAD Manager columns and their timeless advice. This column was originally published on January 25, 2012.

It's a fact that sooner or later, an upgrade will be released for your CAD software. When that happens, you'll need to make a quick decision about whether implementing the upgrade will be worth the time, effort, training, and expense.

In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll share my methodology for evaluating upgrades, which seems to work for every type of CAD software. Here goes.

Always Test the New Upgrade

Whatever else you do, you simply must put the new upgrade through some basic testing. Of course, if you have a product support subscription you will get your upgrade automatically, but if you don't, consider the following approaches:

  • Use a 30-day trial version to test
  • Get involved with beta-testing programs
  • Ask your software dealer for a limited-time loaner version.

All these methods can offer you a limited amount of time for testing. The beta version has an added advantage: You'll test new software before anyone else can!

By the way, these methods work great for exploring new software as well. So whether you're evaluating the latest upgrade to your ol' faithful program or just looking to kick the tires on an unfamiliar product, do what it takes to actually get your hands on the software.

Document the Evaluation Process

Make sure you build the following elements into your testing protocols:

Use your own data. Don't use test data supplied with the new software. Instead, use data that you already have, or create new tests using the same types of projects you would normally design. The goal is to see how the software works with a typical cross section of data you would normally use.

Note changes. Any differences in elements such as ribbons, toolbars, browsing interfaces, or content libraries may cause problems for your users. Sometimes an upgrade can seem like a downgrade when old familiar commands change!

Evaluate new features. Take some time to go through the new features touted in the upgrade's documentation. Sometimes you can find a new feature that perfectly fits your needs — those are the features you're looking for! Read more »


:: Resources

ARCHVISTA Launches ARCHICAD Training Platform
ARCHVISTA, a GRAPHISOFT reseller and building information modeling (BIM) consulting firm, has launched LEARNVIRTUAL, an online learning platform. LEARNVIRTUAL features ARCHICAD case study presentations, virtual courses taught by experienced coaches, and hundreds of OnDemand Courses that teach the fundamentals of ARCHICAD.

:: What's New at

SOLIDWORKS 2017 Introduces New Modeling Tools, Licensing Options
With the new release, Dassault Systèmes continues its promotion of model-based design, adds a PCB solution, and offers term licenses. Read more »

Autodesk Gets Serious about Manufacturing
Additive and subtractive manufacturing solutions developed by Autodesk and others form portfolio for machining, simulation, 3D printing, and more. Read more »

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Configure AutoCAD Electrical 2017 Databases for Use with Microsoft SQL
Follow these simple steps for quick configuration. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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