The Software Obituaries of an Architect’s Practice

All those lists that well-meaning architects make of their favorite software become outdated quickly. I thought this would be a more interesting way to talk about personal software preferences than the usual “what I use” software lists out there. These obits will be limited to software I actually used on real projects. Software that never made it out of my testing phase was dead to me before it ever really got going — plus any list I make of software I’ve merely tested would be long as hell!

Before you dig into these, be sure to open this song in another tab and leave it playing in the background as you read. Have a tissue handy, this is going to be emotional. Deep breath…here we go…

🖥 Desktop/Laptop

BIM

  • Revit 2009-2015
    • Man oh man were you a dysfunctional piece of shit when I met you. I stuck with you though, and you got better with each version. One thing that never improved though was the TurboGrafx16-like graphics of your 3D window…or your ridiculous cost of ownership…or your inability to work well with others…or how slow you were in handling larger BIMs…you know what!? You’re still a dysfunctional piece of shit.
    • Survived By: Archicad

CAD

  • AutoCAD 1993-2006
    • A mainstay of my architecture practice for many years. I invested time and energy mastering its programming language and managing its deployments. It rewarded that investment with limited functionality and inexplicable crashes and network license errors (it was really the only reason to ever reboot an NT server). You won’t be missed.🖕🏻
    • Survived By: AutoCAD’s web version and DraftSight (the only reason anything replaced it is so I can validate DWG and DXF exports from Archicad)
  • Architectural Desktop 1997-1998
    • You were a bloated version of AutoCAD that thought it could do something resembling BIM, but without the reliability or lowered effort. Good riddance.
    • Survived By: No next of kin…

Visualization

  • 3D Studio MAX 1998-2006
    • I won’t miss how slow this software was nor how unpredictable its output could be sometimes. It tied up endless hours of processing time with its renders that I look back on and laugh. Like its late cousin, AutoCAD, network reliability was horrible as well.
    • Survived By: Lightworks (Archicad)
  • SketchUp 2000-2006
    • It came on the scene like a breath of three-dimensional fresh air and swept us all off our feet with its beautiful, simple, intuitive interface…but then you had to edit/revise what you just modeled. The rest, I’m afraid, is ancient history.
    • Survived By: Archicad
  • Piranesi 1998-2001
    • Piranesi was a revelation. Its EPix technology was (and still kind of is) a very cool way to edit depth in 2D imagery. You were quick and easy for making renderings, but maybe a little too specialized for your own good.
    • Survived By: Lightworks
  • Illustrator & Photoshop 1998-2018
    • When architects need these two capable titles, they really need them. I relied on Illustrator and Photoshop for all sorts of tasks that helped make me and my work look good over the years. I want them to remember (up in heaven) that it was never about them, it was about their creator, Adobe, who’s a total asshole that I hate.
    • Survived By: Affinity’s Designer & Photo
  • Lightworks 2006-2014
    • I only liked you because you were built into Archicad. Everything else about you was clunky and unintuitive.
    • Survived By: CineRender
  • CineRender 2014-2019
    • Ditto what I said for Lightworks, but at least your were slightly faster.
    • Survived By: Twinmotion

General/Productivity

  • GoLive 1997-2007
    • I loved you and you were the best WYSIWYG web tool ever…and then Adobe bought Macromedia and was like, “Hey, everybody! Use this bloated piece of shit instead!” You are missed.
    • Survived By: WordPress
  • WordPerfect 1994-1999
    • I doubt any word processor will ever be able to handle templates as slick as you. Alas, the age of email made me adopt Office (and Word along with it). You will always be remembered and loved though.
    • Survived By: Word
  • Fusion 2013-2015
    • No one emulated a beige box PC as fast as you, and the best part was I could just shut you down and make that beige box disappear.
    • Survived By: No next of kin (I just avoid Wintel software nowadays)
  • Wind2 1999-2010
    • You were certainly reliable, if not attractive. Updating your database was an epic undertaking that consumed hours of my life.
    • Survived By: ArchiOffice
  • ArchiOffice 2009-2015
    • ArchiOffice was a breath of fresh air relative to the dinosaur that was Wind2. It was built upon FileMaker’s database technology…then its developer migrated to MySQL…and sadly ArchiOffice succumbed to its injuries.
    • Survived By: Toggl
  • Acrobat 2000-2016
    • I never liked you, but you knew that. I was all too happy to send you packing.
    • Survived By: Revu
  • Revu 2016-2020
    • I liked what you were capable of on a good day, but you became even slower than Acrobat, and that’s really saying something.
    • Survived By: TBD (still testing my options)

📱 Tablet/Smartphone

I definitely tested a lot more software on these portable devices than I ever did on the desktop. Very few apps ever make it out of testing and into my tablet/smartphone workflows though.

  • ZipCAD 1999-2009
    • Still the 🐐 CAD app for smartphones. I managed to keep this old beauty running on Visors and Treos well into the iPhone era. No one to this day could interface with a Leica DISTO like you, my beloved. Always remembered. Always loved. Let’s pour one out for ZipCAD.
    • Survived By: DISTO Sketch
  • DocumentsToGo 1998-2009
    • You were kind of helpful at a time when being able to open Office files on a mobile device was groundbreaking. Viewing was your specialty, editing was your downfall.
    • Survived By: Word, Excel, PowerPoint (iOS versions)
  • SketchBook 2012-2018
    • I thought you were really great, but then I realized I needed something much simpler. Goodbye.
    • Survived By: Linea Sketch

🔗 Web/SaaS

It’s funny how much in this realm is absolute garbage.

  • Lucernix 2009-2012
    • Your interface looked like web 0.1 technology and you were slow af.
    • Survived By: Accruent
  • Accruent 2012-2015
    • While far from perfect, I generally admired IBM’s efforts…until I met you, that is.
    • Survived By: Smartsheet
  • Buzzsaw 2009-2015
    • I always wondered how you were so much slower than all the other cloud services using Amazon S3, then I remembered Autodesk made you.
    • Survived By: Smartsheet

What have I learned from all of this software death over the decades? Don’t get seduced by software that promises to work miracles, as very, very few miracle-workers ever live up to their potential and several even end up making more work for you. Most software is simply okay, and as long as its reasonably priced and reliable, you should rely more on your own imagination and creativity with that software to make it work miracles for you. (also, this statement is not to be misconstrued by Luddites who think it’s okay to still use CAD, it’s not, get help)

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