Every other week, the office buys us lunch, and we sit around a table and learn about the latest CAD stuff or new problems to solve. Lately, we've been learning about a new type of drawing software called Revit. Revit is owned by the same company that makes ADT (the Software Formerly Known As AutoCAD), but it's poised to surpass ADT as the most-used architectural drafting software. In our case, it's a matter of the partners at Design Associates got it from somewhere that Revit is the shizznit for drawing in 3D and it's the next step in software. At first, the partners wanted Sarge to just flip every project in the office over to Revit in, say, a month. Sarge advised them against this, explaining that the learning curve on Revit would shut DA down and the frustration of teaching Revit and dealing with the waves of ensuing questions would cause him to douse himself with kerosene and light himself up like a Vietnamese monk. Sarge convinced them to scale back their aspirations simply to converting all projects to some kind of 3D drawings, be it Revit or ADT. Since some project teams are using Revit now, we're having to learn how to use it in the event that we might have to help someone solve problems in it.
Here's the deal: software, schmoftware; if the user isn't on board with the whole shebang, it's pointless. There are a variety of reasons why the person doing the drawing wouldn't learn or use new software:
- The user is understaffed and pressed for time. This is the most valid of reasons, and not just because it happened to me while working on Wheatlands. When working 7-day, 60-hour weeks for months on end, and one is forced to choose between learning the hippy-dippy software and just getting phone calls returned and plans and casework drawn for the next client meeting, one will inevitably choose to do architecture in lieu of doing cool-ass software stuff. This happens time and again when project managers promise mad deadlines and pass a heavy workload onto only one or two people.
- The project team is unstable and there's no continuity of learning. Quel coincidence. This also happened on Wheatlands. In the last month of design development, Howie finally put a very bright and talented coworker on Wheatlands, just in time to help my intern and me finish up. However, my new help had no experience with my software and was forced to go back to basics in terms of drawing. My intern was pulled off Wheatlands a month later, so he didn't even get to develop a full understanding of the software and use it through an entire project, while my other coworker had to keep on with the old system of drawing due to time contraints (see Reason #1 above). If the same people don't get to work on and learn the software while applying it to a project, then they never really learn it. And then you can never really use the software. Reasons #1 and #2 have caused problems on Pomme de Terre as well. But the worst reason of all is....
- The user is a fucking idiot or stuck in his or her ways. Sadly, this happens more often than we'd like. I can tell when Sarge has been helping one of these people because he has a resigned look on his face and marks on the side of his head like he'd slammed it in a car door. Some people simply cannot--or will not--retain new information when it's given to them: they won't write it down, make a note, repeat it back to whoever taught them, whatever. Just as difficult is a user who's been doing CAD for several years and refuses to acknowledge that technology is changing. These people especially suck when they are the only members of the project team not using the software correctly--suddenly, everyone has to drop what they're doing to help them navigate a drawing or they open a drawing and fuck it up, so then someone has to fix the drawing. Or, they can't fix it and call oneof us on the CAD Helpline. And then we can't fix it and have to call Sarge, who arrives with a baseball bat in one hand and a bottle of NyQuil in the other. This makes for an unpleasant afternoon.
I wish I had something better to talk about than software, my dear new WAD Readers, but it's such a huge part of what we do. You do a lot of hand drawing and drafting in college, but precious little hand drawing in the workplace. Projects are ALL drawn on computers, and when the way we draw is made difficult, it makes...architects...drink.
I'll have a more pleasant post tomorrow after something happens after work. More architectural enlightenment to follow....