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August 17, 2009

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Hey there Factory Folk,

I'm going to go and complete the survey, but I just wanted to say that this is good progress in the sense that there's a new dialog between you all and us the users.

As to the design ideas, I really like the idea of keeping icons in the same place. That is one of the more troubling aspects of the new UI. I have to remember that when doing this, "oh the icon is over there", but when doing that, "oh, yeah the icon is over there now.

BTW, don't forget about Revit ITSELF. Tweeking the UI is fine at this point, but remember, there a million things on y'alls honey-do list to complete that have to deal with site tools, text tools, stairs, railings, etc, etc, etc.

Ok, I'm off to complete the survey.

Uh, the link to the survey is broken.

Erik,

What he Said (The link is broken).

This may be in the survey questions, but besides the modify area the other major area missing or broken is the collaboration tab. This need to be visible at all times and easily accessible. 99.9999999999% of the projects I do and see are multi user. Placing the current workset pulldown in the QAT is a workaround not a solution.

The link worked for me using Google Chrome. Thanks for the opportunity to help with this. Looks like I'll still have to fill up my QAT, though.

An important aspect of this design is keeping the first 8 panels, up to and including the Match panel, of these tabs consistent and tools stay in the same position. Each time a tool is presented, it is in the same location.

This is exactly where you should be headed. I'm getting excited just thinking about how productivity would increase and my frustration using the Ribbon would be reduced. Go for it....

It definetely looks better than the current release. Putting the context stuff at the END of the ribbon is nice, because we will start to "remember" where things are.

But im worried that "Finish sketch, cancel sketch, edit sketch, finish sweep, edit sweep, cancel sweep" will still be whack-a-molers.

Maybe they should be far right justified, the way the other panels are far left?

And (quite possibly im the only one who thinks this...) But i cant believe the buttons changed size and all got LARGER. I was hoping you were going to make them all SMALLER. The released QAT is too small, but the current Wall and Door button are rediculously huge. Its a complete waste. I ***really*** dont want buttons that large across the whole screen. Its more mouse travel. At the very least, can we get an OPTION for smaller buttons? The Roof/Ceiling/Floor buttons in the current iteration (released) are about perfect. Compare them to the actual size of the ones from the old Design Bar... Or the icons in ACA's ribbon (which is largely static since SO MUCH STUFF fits in the Home Panel... Hint Hint).

Remember, if you stretcht he ribbon across 1400 pixels, that means- completely disregarding the mouse travel we need for actually drawing- weve got 1400 pixels to cross just to get to everyday commands...

Hi guys. Thank you for considering us on this design process. I´ll take the survey right now!.

Aaron, I've echoed your comments -- the icons are too large, and making these icons string out forever across a wide screen -- this is taking up MORE space. We need the UI to take up LESS. I suggested a vertical left-hand Ribbon to replace the classic Design Bar, leaving the top of the UI nice and narrow for persistent tools.

Idea 3 is missing the point a bit.
Having no labels shouldn't be so much about fitting more buttons onto the Ribbon, as it should be about reducing the space that the Ribbon takes up in the first place.

As well as the labels, the icons need to be smaller, a size in between the small and large is required.

Given that the Ribbon already suffers some considerable lag when compared to the Classic UI, how is performance now going to be affected when you add more to the Ribbon?
How are the increases in system resources going to be tamed with these new improvements. It almost seems as though you may end up compounding the issues which already exist unless you can optimise what you already have.

I am of the same opinion as Wes and Aron a left hand Ribbon and Persistent tools on the Top and Medium Size Icons.

In summary, I'm not a fan of idea 1. Visually I prefer the small icons with text on the right. I rather the addition of more tools on the extra space rather than spreading out the existing tools into the big dumb buttons. The big buttons mean more mouse travel and more eye travel. I believe that with the smaller icons and text, I could fit 80% of the tools I use into the Home panel, raising productivity by eliminating the constant flipping through tabs.
Idea 2 I think is a step in the right direction, but I rather see the modify tools be added to the Design Bar.
Idea 3, I rather see the small icons with text on the right side. The text is a lot easier to understand than the icons.

First and foremost, if you guys can't fix the ribbon display lag and fuzzy text then don't even bother releasing a 2011 version of Revit. Just keep it to yourselves until 2012.

Second, if you can't come up with an elegant fast, functional, and user click friendly UI this time around then you absolutely must provide full support for the 2009 UI. It is going to take a lot more than shuffling a few icons around to get the 2010 UI up to speed.

Third, we need a fully functional version of the minimized ribbon. This means some sort of type selector bar that tells you the component or line type before you place it as well as easy access (perhaps persistent) to line drawing tools. The minimized ribbon in 2010 is an afterthought and a joke.

That said I always appreciate being given the opportunity to give early feedback.

I think the idea of making a longer ribbon and reclaiming some of the wasted screen real estate is good. I don't buy the argument that the tools are too far away. You are always going to have to move your cursor to the top edge of the screen to access tool icons. It makes little difference which end at the top of the screen. I agree with early comments that the big buttons could shrink a bit. Not as small as the QAT buttons but "medium size".

For some reason you guys at the Factory are stuck on the idea that the ribbon must maintain its current height. When I look at Idea 1, I see a ton of wasted space underneath the icons. I would love to see an icon only option. By removing the icon text you could cut the ribbon height almost in half. Moving just a few of the icons around, you could have a very streamlined ribbon. The text free icons in Idea 2 don’t bother me a bit. As long as the icons have tooltips my users will get up to speed quickly. Also, I think two rows of icons is much more comprehensible and easier on the eyes than three rows of icons.

Finally, I think the edit and finish sketch buttons should pop up in the upper left hand corner of the drawing area similar to the edit group buttons.

One more... The "thin lines" icon should be added to the row of tools in the bottom scroll bar.

By and large, I see the possible changes as mooted above as improvements to the Ribbon UI. This is however, an improvement on what I believe is a fundementally flawed concept.

Having now had the opportunity to work with 2010 in the debug mode for a bit over a month, it is simply fantastic. Had 2010 been released with the classic UI, I would have rated it a huge success as the speed of operations and stability is breath taking.

I understand that from a corporate perspective the Ribbon has some appeal, but from my perspective as one of the many who sit at the computer hours at a time getting documentation out for my clients, the ribbon has no appeal.

I am hopeful that Autodesk will provide the Classic UI as an option either as a point release for 2010 or with 2011 or at least until the ribbon is as fast and as stable as the Classic UI.

As with many others here, I too think the icons can be made significantly smaller.

Prior to using the debug mode, I had purchased RevPac 1.0 from CadWerx http://www.cadwerx.net/default.aspx?Path=RevPac
Have a look at how they have addressed and responded to the issues users had raised. The size of the icons are fine, and the ability to have whichever command I want as a persistent icon in whichever location I choose is a highly desirable feature for me.

Getting better, but still fundamentally flawed in concept and implementation.

Any commands that appear in multiple contexts should be in the same place all the time. Commands that require context or are primary creation commands should be revealed as needed.

Just like previous releases did.

Windows has built-in routines for drawing buttons and dropdowns. They are incredibly fast and are hardware accelerated by default. Use them.

Just like previous releases did.

Improvements -
Idea 1. Larger real estate / Bigger icons.
I'd much rather SMALLER icons, there is so much software out there that has such large icons, you NEED a 24" wide screen for the application AND a dual monitor for the menus, I'd like the choice, just like we had back in the ACAD days of 16 / 32 pixel Icons.
Idea 2. The modify tab.
Consistancy, I think this is where most existing users have an issue. For the past 9years (7 in my case) the user interface has not changed. Icons and toolbars didn't move. The Ribbon is different and as a species, we don't (generally) like change. And this one is so radical its annoying a huge amount of people (well, those existing users anyway. We cannot compete with the Autocad numbers, but I expect that now everything is 'ribbonised' the expectation is that people will migrate between apps)
The Ribbon is not only change, but its inconsistant change, buttons jump around, existing users feel frustrated, productivity goes down...
New Users kinda like it, especially those who are used to the technology from other applications.

One thing stands out though. Performance sucks. Especially if you need to swap between families and projects a lot, the ribbon has to rebuild and decide which environment its in. For this one reason I'll stick with the 'classic' UI for development and upgrading work.

Idea 3. No Labels - Please, put it in the "options" box, along with USER profile options.

Reading this Blog, there are already people like Scott, finding ways around an interface that isn't fantastic. I'd tried RevPac, but was put off because the interface struggled with workset enabled files (it might have changed since), and that is all I work with. Autocads first stab at the ribbon wasn't that great either, and now a year on, it is more polished, lets hope the same can be said for Revit.

And lets not forget development, and the disappointing lack of new features in all Revit versions this year. I'm expecting that this was in part due to the 'behind the scenes' work - Ribbon, API, Modelling (conceptural at least)... but lets hope that this side of Revit doesn't suffer any more than necessary, especially MEP where there have been no REAL new features since 2008.

These opinions are my own, but I'm in a position where my opinion does count. That being said, I could not contemplate going back to documenting a project in AutoCAD, I'd rather get the Rotring pens out of retirement!

As a new user, I'm OK with the ribbon, but I do find the icons & area used larger than required. Figure 2 is more sensible, although omitting the text labels should be an user option. A vertical ribbon which can be moved to a second screen would be more flexible.
Keeping standard buttons stationary does make a lot more sense.

I agree with most in that the size of the buttons on the Ribbon are too large. Please, Please don't just stretch them out to 'fill up' the wasted space on the Ribbon. We need to have persistent locations and buttons on the interface. I don't even think you will have a need for all the tabs if you make some of the more used commands persistent.

Having used Revit since version 8, I do like to see a new look to the program. I don't really agree that we should jump back to the 2009 UI, but I would say the performance of the current system has to change to keep users happy. We upgraded computers to more than suitable specifications and I am very unhappy with the speed Revit is running at right now.

I also don't see a significant response to the wish list items. Some of those that have been around since when I started using the software are still there. I will continue to support Revit and it's development, but would appreciate a little more attention to our needs.

I'm not going to rehash what others have said, but no one seems to have said anything about the Type Selector. I'm still in favor of making the type selector persistent for a number of reasons, call me old school, but I like having it there. Makes it faster to swap stuff, pick stuff, and adjust View/Sheet sorting options (which should be user based, and not persistent to the Central file).

Wow, i do really like Scotts suggestion that Sketch Finish/Cancel pop up like the Group Edit USED to. I actually wish it went back to that too. That, or right justify in the ribbon, so theyre consistant.

But the notes about performance are PARAMOUNT.

Working in Production, typically when i go to users desks they have a model and a couple of families opened. Tabbing/switching windows is AGONY right now, sans Debug mode.

I dont mind the ribbon UI all that much, particularly less with your changes above. But i despise how slow it is.

Make it good, but PLEASE make it fast...

I really appreciate the request for feedback but an architectural analogy is the kindest way that I can respond.

A client hires you to design a building, one component of which is the mechanical system. They don't know anything about mechanical systems, they just want be able to control the temperature in their space so that they can get the work done. We discuss with them the big picture ideas, sustainability, program-ability, fuel types, etc. We get into some details in terms of where controls are placed... thermostat by the front door or by the back door. And then they trust us to layout and coordinate the ductwork. To make sure that it works with the structure of the building and that it meets their needs to get their work done. They take fore-granted that it will heat and cool and not get in the way of their work in the space.

This feels to me like the client is complaining about the room being to cold and the designer returning with questions about which duct layout is preferable.

I appreciate the request for feedback, but don't pick out a ducted system for me when I requested radiant system and then ask me for my comments on the duct layout.

My input and mockup...
http://forums.augi.com/showthread.php?t=92112&page=26

Another item that should be cleaned is the type selector drop down. It should scroll to the list so the current family name is at the top with the types listed below. Right now it scrolls so the instance is at the bottom of the list. This almost ensures you'll have to scroll to find your item.

Idea 4 - Have large and small buttons that can be placed where you want, removed, added, with or without text, make custom tabs, or no tabs.

My point is: Why not let the user do what the user wants? Why must an entire community decide on one option?

Because we dont want to spend weeks and weeks and weeks managing CUIx files like we have to in AutoCAD and ACA.

The BEAUTY of revit is how simple it has always been. Consider that for the last ten years, EVERYONE in Revit has had the same UI, and everyone has done wonderfully.

A completely 100% editable UI stinks to take care of.

The beauty of AutoCAD is that it is customizable, IMO. I don't like either Revit interface, but prefer 2010 solely because of the QAT. Not everyone here is going to agree.

I could definitely deal with customizable files over having an interface work completely different than the way I work, which is completely different than the way the next person works.

There are only so many ways one can "work" in Revit. It is not like Autocad, in Revit we are using tools to build a virtual representation of what will be constructed, not using "drafting" tools to create a graphical interpretation of what the building might look like. I despise UI's that can be customized to the extent that Autocad can be. To me that is a sign that the UI was not well designed in the first place, or the tool is trying to be too many things to too many people. Autocad is generic, Revit is not. On top of all that managing a program with a customizable UI in large firms is a real PITA, especially when having to do training and support.

Well, it's obvious there's either more ways, or they didn't get those couple ways people work down, or there wouldn't be half the community complaining about it.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Put the tools at the focus of work. The less mouse movement and eye movement the more productive we all become. When I select a piece of text, show me the buttons you have on the modify text notes right at the cursor point on my screen. If I select a few characters in that text note show me the bold, italic, underline buttons only... becuase that's all I can do with that selection. Show the user what they can do with a selection instead of having the find a button elsewhere on the screen unrelated to the area of focus. I know this was a simple example but some serious thought and research into that concept will reap huge benifits to autodesk, new users (via discoverablity), and existing users (via productivity).

Also the idea of a vertical ribbon "option" is much better and more like the 2009 UI would likely be a welcomed feature. I say option because some peoples screen resolution might not support a vertical style.

We've not upgraded to 2010 for several of the same reasons as others, but mainly becuase we're too busy treading water right now. But my limited experience with it tells me that we're not missing much that is useful to us. A slope tool and some graphical/stability boosts (which are argueably offset by ribbon behavior/performance... from what I've read.

Frankly, it looks as though someone is trying with bandaid ideas, but the right people aren't listening to get the surgery done that needs done.

Thanks for sharing, but I, too, feel like this is too little in the direction I want. The ribbon really is a flawed concept for a program with so many tools that get such high usage. For MS Office, with much fewer tools, maybe it's ok, but Revit? Not so much.

Every time the Revit ribbon comes up, people BEG for persistent tools, but the ribbon simply does not allow this. The QAT is a terrible stand in as it is too small, limited in placement options, and offers no way to organize contents. Until tools are persistent, many repetitive tasks will feel more burdersome since they will take at least one extra click to expose the desired tool before it is activated. No fun!

Specific feedback:

1 - I applaud the effort to actually use the available space, but simply making existing icons bigger only increases mouse movement, which I am not in favor of. What I'd like to see in the ribbon scenario is that overall length of the ribbon is limited to that needed for the tools currently available; the remainder of space should be available for model views. So a shorter rather than longer ribbon is then desired, with a higher density of tools. The requirement that the ribbon span the entirety of the Revit window is itself a dated concept, and the limiting factor in this instance.

2 - A baby step in the right direction; modify tools are statically located across contexts. w00t! If only we could tear off the whole dang ribbon and shrink the icons! We'd be on our way to persistent tools!

3 - Dropping labels sounds like bringing back icon toolbars, with the disadvantage that they are not persistent, and there are multiple icon sizes, both of which would seem to inhibit muscle memory production efficiency. Which is less good.

In addition, a greater reliance on icons requires that the icons are clearly distinguishable from one another, and that they rarely change between releases. Well conceived icons should last for 5-10 years. Unfortunately, my experience is that Autodesk can't stop monkeying with iconography, which undercuts it's usefulness. Match Properties in Autocad has changed so many times, that it's a standard moan from my users when I have to mention it yet again.

I'm not especially a fan of labels, though they're really useful when searching for something I don't use much; tooltips are slow if exploring dozens of commands, while digging through menus is more palatable.

I wonder if the ribbon wouldn't be better thought of as replacing file menus in a more accessible manner; it contains EVERY tool, and is accessed somewhat less frequently. This makes the auto hide mode more palatable. For commonly accessed tools, a higher density of statically located tools is desired, basically like toolbars. The options bar is then a specialized instance of this. This hybrid scenario is one I could embrace.

Good to see the Type Selector has been removed from the Ribbon, see Figure 2 Option C. Hopefully it has been moved back to the Options Bar or possibly a new floating Properties dialogue.

One thing that *really* concerns me is having the Type Selector in full display where new users working on a Workshared project are now tempted to change global parameters when they don't fully understand the consequences of their actions. This is *really* dangerous stuff.

Sorry, I meant Type *Properties* in my previous post in the second paragraph.

Oh jesus. I didnt notice that. That *might* be a good thing, depending on WHERE it went. If it disappeared because you can only see it by now hitting instance/type properties, that would (to me) negate the worth of a lot of these improvements.

I dont suppose anyone will tell us where the type selector went in these variations, will they? :O

I said this in my survey response and I'll say it again here. Please go back to 2009 and look at the simplicity of the Basics tab of the Design Bar and the static nature of the Toolbars for standard functions and frequently used tools.

That was the majority of the tools that I needed were right there. The ribbon does not perform like that in its current iteration. I do not know how things could be stated any simpler. If that can be accomplished in the "ribbon" then fine but right now it just takes too much time to cycle through these ribbon panels.

can I ask a dumb / obvious question? did the factory make a list of all the user complaints and feedback from the last 9 months? Can you quantify where that has gone and how it relates to what we're looking at here? Otherwise, I'm just giving the same feedback I've given over and over again....

Why is it that the properties area is always on the left side except when you are editing a floor? And why does the modify button disappear when you are doing certain functions? You have to then hit escape to get out of the command.

From what I have seen feedback since the release has been varied but fallen into two comprehensive categories - desire for feature attention and the ribbon (pos and neg). Since different people are involved I am soliciting them to summarize and reflect back on the large number of comments coming in.

I'll reflect some of the top items:
- Ensure access to frequently used tools
- Reduce context switching
- Movement of tools (stabilize/minimize)
- Consistent icon layout for better scanning
- Performance
While 3 concepts were posted each should mitigate something in the list above.
Again, I'm soliciting more follow up.

Thank you all for the discussion and the survey participation.

Erik,

One category you overlooked is screen real estate. The value of screen real estate cannot be underestimated. This applies both to shrinking the height of the full size ribbon and to making the minimized ribbon fully functional.

Also, rather than just reducing context switching the goal should be to all but eliminate context switching.

Thanks Scott. I didn't list everything but quite right real estate is also important. There are other non ribbon UI items such as re-sizable dialogs, full shortcut access, more direct access ect... I won't list everything but do want to assure all that if you gave certain feedback its recorded and analyzed.

Keeping the "constant" commands available at all times is great. Unfortunately the ribbon still takes up too much space as others have said. For new users this will be helpful, but in my office I've told everyone to go to the keyboard instead, thus I don't have much skin in this game anymore.

Please include the new customizable-shortcut-menu thingy you posted about before, and open up as many commands as possible to shortcuts.

Despite Autodesk's best efforts, we now again have access to the 2009UI. I would like this access made permanent and the minor parts of the 2009UI that aren't there put back in place. You don't have to test it or support it, just give us back what we had before we paid $595 or more to have it taken away.

It further appears that a huge percentage of our next year's subscription money is going toward continued fussing with the ribbon and not toward the text tools, stair tools, railing tools, site tools, etc that we say we want.

The 2009UI had dozens of persistent tools. Put it back, call it a ribbon, and move on. Otherwise, there is no way I will be happy. (Or in Autodesk speak, there is no 'supported' way I will be happy.)

Priority #1 should be to stop the ribbon from crashing Revit.
http://usa.autodesk.com/getdoc/id=TS13641513
Good thing that the Classic UI switch was leaked to the public, so we can have a somewhat stable version of 2010.

Erik, regarding your comment that the three ideas posited should mitigate some issues listed, I have to note that mitigation is a lousy design goal. What happened to making something awesome? Where is the big idea, and why is such a thing never discussed?

Modifying Erik's list a bit:
- Ensure *persistent* access to frequently used tools; no extra click to get to them. Persistent includes keyboard access (shortcut definition by contexts has GOT to go, fast)
- *Eliminate* context switching; even switching to sketch mode and variants should have minimal impact on interface. Exposing tools by context, if indeed this is worth while, should not be done at the expense of the rest of the interface.
- Movement of tools (stabilize, across releases; users don't want UI changes every year)
- Consistent icon layout for better scanning
- Performance, performance, performance, for both the software and especially the user

Joel,
I've been working on defining a vision in earlier posts and in-house. If you can elaborate on what you want to hear in this area I can certainly work on some future posts to discuss it further. Feel free to email off-line if you prefer.
All,
This post has gotten a lot of good feedback. Thanks again. It has also been part of a continuing effort to be more open about items that are being looked into but is in no way comprehensive. I don't want there to be new reasons for holding back on discussing any one item to avoid it being misinterpreted as the only thing under development.

That's an awesome list you've made:
- Ensure access to frequently used tools
- Reduce context switching
- Movement of tools (stabilize/minimize)
- Consistent icon layout for better scanning
- Performance
I understand it's not complete, but that first item says it all: access to frequent tools. They also need to be in a predictable location. Sorry, while these images are better, they still don't solve this issue. I use maybe 30% of the tools 80% of the time. Maybe divide the ribbon into 2? (or one horizontal, one veritical) Put all my frequent tools on one half and the other half can dance around and do crazy things that I can't predict. That would allow me some level of sanity.
My goal is to design and document architecture. that's what the tool needs to do. The UI just needs to work and support that. I don't need 64 bit graphics and fancy icons. Reliablity, stability, a good toolset, performance.

Hi Erik-

Your post about Revit-ness was great, and speaks about the vision behind Revit. There has been no comparable conversation about the interface; mostly it's users expressing their frustrations with the ribbon. I have yet to read anything about why the ribbon is a good fit with Revit, or what the goals are with the interface. Without a statement regarding goals, we cannot have a productive, high level conversation about the decisions that have been made, nor provide optimal feedback about possible directions.

Instead, we "hear" that a mandate from above dictated the ribbon for all Autodesk products, to supposedly aid users moving between programs and to ease the learning curve for new users. There has been plenty of discussion about why many including myself believe these to be inappropriate goals to impose on everyone else; pursuit of the casual user at the expense of the expert undermines expertise.

If the goals for the interface are to itself display Revit-ness (ie. have a unique awesome-ness), I believe that the ribbon will quite simply never achieve that.

To give credit to the ribbon, Microsoft has quite clearly articulated their rationale for creating and implementing it. Thus a discussion can be had as to a) whether or not the particular implementation meets their design criteria, b) whether or not those goals are appropriate, and c) if there are other goals also or more appropriate for the software. By presenting their rationale and data, Microsoft has given us something to discuss beyond merely stating personal preference.

Autodesk ought to do the same, but many of us believe that the reason they do not, is because no such rationale exists, and no such discussion is sought.

I for one, am convinced that the problems that the ribbon was designed to solve, as stated by Microsoft, are at odds with the needs of users of Revit. Autodesk has made no effort to convince me otherwise; there has been no discussion. Yet the world is expected to train users on this highly flawed implementation of what perhaps is itself a bad idea, and to do so again next release. And maybe again the year after. Iterating designs of the interface in production is most un-productive, and certainly un-Revit-like. Thus the loud, continuous clamor for the classic interface, fully supported, until something that users embrace is developed. Which I for one would be most excited to see.

I see. The articulation you ask for is reasonable but should come from a company level. This blog is Revit focused - like Word in the context of the Office suite. I'll relay your desire for the higher level discussion. There have also been many requests for a Revit futures forumns and many have agreed this is a good idea. There is much much more than the UI alone.
The classic interface is what it is so there is not a lot to discuss here design-wise except to compare with the ribbon. I can't make statements about its future but will certainly pass on your desire for its continued support as well as the desire for release to release stability. This has been re-iterated by many and noted as a Revity trait. Thanks.

I agree with much of what has been said - I like the direction of figure 2 over the current Ribbon, but it's still putting a band-aid on it.

The large icons are too large and the QAT seem to small. There should not be two icon sizes displayed at the same time... it's visually confusing and it contributes to inconsistency in icon location. I like the option of having a text label next to the icon.

I just wanted to "vote" for making the Ribbon as much like the Classic UI as possible. Tool persistence, get rid of the drunken leprechaun, the whack-a-mole, eliminate the "contextual" panels as much as possible, etc. Ideally, Revit will just bring back the Classic UI and dump the ribbon altogether.

Hi Erik, I apologize both for the length (again), and for veering off topic.

I don't understand how this is like Word being a piece of Office. Are you implying that there is a correlation to Revit being part of Autodesk? I though that Revit was its own platform. Or is that implicit confirmation that the ribbon was a mandate from above, rather than something anyone thought was a really great solution to the perceived Revit UI problems?

While I would welcome high level conversations about Revit in general, in this context, I'm still speaking to the UI. If you haven't seen Microsoft's presentation about the ribbon, go watch it at http://videos.visitmix.com/MIX08/UX09. I'll cry if the Revit ribbon was developed without seeing that, though. MS actually had reasons for everything they did. I'm wondering what reasons Autodesk had, and if they're willing to revisit it at that level, for that is where the problems lie. I'm hardly the only one to have asked. As I have stated, I believe that the MS's reasons are not applicable to Revit, and thus the ribbon is not a good fit. This is the high level part that is missing from all Autodesk-to-customer dialog thus far. Why the ribbon? Do they understand WHY people dislike it so much? Are other solutions being explored? If not, why not? How much value is placed on user preference? What does Autodesk think of the AUGI poll overwhelmingly panning the ribbon? Can Autodesk convince us that it is a good path to follow? If not, then maybe it isn't a good path, after all. Being unwilling to try is certainly hurting the cause. The lack of ribbon evangelists speaks volumes to me.

Revit users spend a LOT of time using Revit, and part of that is wanting it to get better. It has many rough edges. We eagerly await progress. We pay our money. But when barriers are placed in our use of that with which we spend our days-weeks-months-years trying to do good things and make clients happy, we wonder what happened. And how can we help move it back it the right direction. The UI lies between the user and the software, and getting it right is crucial to success.

I worry very much that Autodesk is reassuring itself that the ribbon UI is only reviled by a few, outspoken, hardcore fanatics, and that some tweaks will appease enough of them that the problem will go away. So far, I have read nothing that would dissuade me from that view. Further, my experience regarding the proportion of dissent is the opposite. The hardcores are talking because when they show it to the folks in the 2009 trenches, the response is universally negative. I've seen vendor presentations of the new UI to our local user group, and everyone hated it, didn't want it, had no plans to use it. Each of the vendors quietly admits that they get that reaction at most user groups and client demos. Since users can't even phase it into live projects because of the whole backsave limitation, few have done more than play with it, and when they have, they reject what they see. I'm convinced that the negative response is actually under-represented because so many actual users are being sheltered from the new UI. I may be the only local user to spend any real time with 2010, and every time I do, I shake my head in disbelief.

The outspoken who participate here and on AUGI do so to try and help, not out of malice. Were it the latter, they would simply go use some other software. So the people making the hew and cry do so because they care, and since they use it every day to do things that others pay them for, they have insight that the Revit devs simply do not have, claims to extensive user research to the contrary. This blog is trying to tap into that insight, but wants to play everything close to the vest. That places severe limits on what Autodesk can get out of this exchange. The processes that gave us the 2010 ribbon are unlikely to magically get it right for 2011, so my belief is that the processes need changing. My confidence in Autodesk to do so is not great. I am looking for reassurance.

The decision to not maintain the old UI mystifies me; historically Autodesk has been very good about not forcing new UI's down users throats. Because it has become an all-or-nothing game, no one can get the other benefits of 2010 without also swallowing the UI. If we make that leap and accept all of the UI flaws, then we have to make another leap in a year, since something is being done to improve the UI. We don't know what scale of the changes, or if they'll be improvements. My faith has been shaken by the disaster that is 2010. So we're back to this: the users want a dialog about the UI, at a higher level than little snippets, both about how we got to the 2010 ribbon, and where we're going.

I agree with all Joel has said.

I would love a "company level" response relative to the Autodesk vision for Revit, but they've had since April to do that, and they haven't. Instead, they continued to promote misinformation about the 2009UI even as they raised upgrade prices.

So far, the "United Breaks Guitars" videos have been entertaining, but the videos have not changed the behavior of the airline. Likewise, the tremendous user uproar against the ribbon UI has not changed the behavior of Autodesk. We gotten the following responses:

1. You can't have it back. It's gone.
2. You still can't have it back. But it's not really gone; it's just that only we can access it. (After all, some of us at the factory have to use Revit, and we don't like the ribbon either.)
3. Okay. So you figured out how to get it back. Well, we're not gonna support it. Read our lips! But we did change our FAQ page to something closer to the truth. Of course, we don't support that either.
4. Wait until 2011. You'll like the interface even better when it's different again. And you'd better like it, because we've got more than half the company working on it. We know you would rather have functionality you could bill your clients for, but we really like coding flyouts and stuff. (Stair tools are hard.)
5. And through it all, we want you to remember that "Autodesk Cares."

It sounds about as sincere as "Fly the friendly skies."

Meanwhile, the Gibson guitar and the Revit interface remain broken.

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