CAD Manager's Newsletter (#335)

14 Jan, 2015 By: Robert Green

How Much CAD Software Can You Manage?

How many programs are you responsible for — three? Four? Or more? Learn how to allocate your time and skills to best avoid problems.

A decade ago, most CAD managers only had to manage their main CAD package — but those days are long gone. I've watched as CAD managers have taken on the burden of supporting more and more applications during the past ten years. In fact, my recent surveys show that CAD managers now have to support four CAD software programs, on average.

With this demanding workload becoming "the new normal," where do we go from here? What types of software products should you know, how much should you focus on each, and what problems should you watch out for? How can you best support all these software products for optimal project flow? In this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll share some of my suggestions for allocating your time among different types of CAD software to best avoid problems. Here goes.


The reality is that most of us still have to be proficient with a major 2D CAD package, such as AutoCAD or MicroStation. So many contracts and projects require data formatted in DWG and DGN file formats — often with specific annotation requirements — that 2D CAD simply won't disappear anytime soon. Like it or not, 2D CAD is still essential, and it must be managed and supported adequately.

I make this point because there is a real danger of your 2D skills atrophying. Consider the following possible scenarios:

  • Out-of-date experience. If you haven't touched AutoCAD for years and don't know how to navigate the latest release, you're sure to have a problem supporting users.
  • Configuration knowledge gaps. When was the last time you had to configure an AutoCAD plotter or PDF driver? Would you have problems if you received a new plotter or project? Do you remember what master, sub-, and positional units are in MicroStation?
  • Eroded standards. Have you ignored your standards for so long that a real standard no longer exists? If so, your 2D CAD environment is headed for anarchy — you just don't realize it.

Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox

Required Reading for CAD Managers: Automation Makes Us Dumb

Over the Thanksgiving holiday break in the U.S., an article by Nicholas Carr in the Wall Street Journal caught my attention. I noticed the title — "Automation Makes Us Dumb" — and thought, "Wait a minute, I recommend automating tasks all the time, and I don't think it has made me or my clients dumb! What is he talking about?" As a result, I was compelled to read the article.

I'd never heard of Carr before, but I was impressed. I've already ordered his new book, The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, from which the WSJ article is derived. The way Carr articulates the difference between machines performing tasks autonomously and the partial automation that is used by humans — what the author calls human-centered automation — perfectly summarizes what many CAD managers have thought for years. Read more »

Do you have a helpful tip, recommendation, or question for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at If I use your tip in the newsletter, you'll receive a Cadalyst prize!

:: Resources

New Report Sees MCAD Software Market Growth Near 11%
Research and Markets has published a report that forecasts the global MCAD software market will grow 10.81% over the period 2013–2018. The Global MCAD Software Market 2014–2018 ($2,500, single user), is based on market analysis with inputs from industry experts and covers the Americas and the EMEA and APAC regions.

:: Events

Presenting Teamcenter Product Lifecycle Management Solution
January 15, 2015
11 a.m. ET
In this webinar, Siemens PLM Software will show how its Teamcenter software brings together product information and processes in a single, secure system. Read more »

REAL 2015
February 25–26, 2015
San Francisco, California
REAL, billed as the first reality computing conference, is a new event that will address the convergence of the professional 3D sensing and 3D making industries. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

:: What's New at

AutoCAD Layer Tips and Tricks
Do you know the fastest way to create new layers? What if you don't want "U" to undo everything you did when you were in the Layer dialog box? Learn the answers and put yourself on the road to a faster Layer experience in AutoCAD! Watch the video »

HP Expands Workstation and Display Options for 2015
Two workstation Ultrabooks lead the lineup of offerings for professionals in AEC, manufacturing, and entertainment. Read more »

New Dawn for 3D Reality Computing
More sophisticated scanning hardware, easier manipulation of captured data, and shrinking costs all contribute to a bright forecast for the technology. Read more »

Herrera on Hardware: Same Hardware, Different User Experience
With components in common, what factors distinguish entry-level workstations from business-class PCs — and do they justify the increase in price? Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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