I upgrade, you upgrade, we all upgrade

Or at least you better. No one should be running ArchiCAD 6.5 on Windows 2000. It just doesn’t make sense. And  it is a huge loss of value and wasted effort. No one should have to deal with plotmaker ever again. Ever. There is just no acceptable argument as to why someone would still want to use it.

A few weeks ago, my brother Mike sent me a link to Andy’s Tech Experiments Blog. In it Andy installs and tests every version of Microsoft Windows and also talks about the evolution of Windows Internet Explorer. For anyone who enjoys learning about the history of computers (or used Windows in the 90s and wants to feel nostalgic), it’s worth the twenty minutes. Watching the versions of Windows and IE evolve in these short videos, it’s impressive to see what we once thought Earth shattering seem so clunky and old.

It would be interesting to see a similar migration done with ArchiCAD. How much subtly changed between the versions? When did that tool we can’t live without first come into being? Was it crude beyond belief or did it arrive fully formed? Did we use the tool instantly or ignore it, fearing its imperfection? Did we realize how much we needed plotmaker integrated into ArchiCAD when version 10 arrived? What about version 15 will bring a similar moment of revelation? What features are in it that will render what we thought great in earlier versions instantly outdated? I have my suspicions, but I won’t know until I get my hands on it (you can watch a lot of videos about various features at the ArchiCAD Youtube channel).

I’m very excited about this release. And I’m kind of shocked (well not really) that there are a fair number of people on the ArchiCAD-Talk Forum, facebook, and elsewhere already disappointed. They haven’t even used it and yet are complaining that, while the features looks nice, it doesn’t do this or that or read their minds or make them breakfast. They complain that Graphisoft once again ignored some esoteric need and is failing to catch up with that other company’s program. Boring.

A new release means new and improved (different) features, though maybe not the ones you want. In addition to staying relevant, aware, and capable of using the software, each release is an opportunity to rethink how one works and improve that process. If someone currently using version 14, 13, 12, etc. can’t figure out how to make the upgrade pay for itself within the first few months of owning the software, then they’re not trying hard enough. Quick example. When I jumped from version 9 to version 11, I started using the sketch rendering engine. A lot. I loved it. I thought “How did I ever live without this? It’s so easy to put 3D on my cover sheet. Clients will love this.” My process and work improved. I took a step towards the future. When I got to version 14 I figured out how to use the 3D Document tool to get closer to the aesthetic I was chasing. The 3D Document tool was faster, cleaner, and more flexible. I wasn’t expecting or looking to replace my rendering solution. But by continuing to search and explore I changed my ways for the better. I thought “How did I ever live without this? It’s so easy to put 3D anywhere. Clients and contractors will love this.” My process and work improved. And so with the arrival of version 15 only a few weeks away, I ignore all the whining about what is or isn’t in the latest release. I know there’s going to be enough to keep me busy and improving until the release of version 16. And I’m sure I’ll blog all about it.

Update 04/17/13 — I expanded this post into an article for ArchiMag back in 2011. You can read the full article here: ArchiMAG 2011 Q3 What’s Your Research and Development Policy?

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