In case you weren’t sure, waiting sucks

This is a quick note for the UI professionals out there in the land of engineering software development. When considering new-fangled ways to extract / engage data in CAD models, please review the following:

When the planning whiteboard includes ‘wait’ and/or ‘pause’ in the possible user responses, you should proceed with the following options:

  1. Take one for the team – erase the entire whiteboard, and tell the director that you are heading down the wrong road. You may get fired, but you’ll be one of the unsung heroes.
  2. Encourage your team to choose one of the other options
  3. If you passed up option 2, refer to option 1.

There are three types of design technicians left in the world:

  • Young, save the world punks and punkettes that are ever increasingly efficient with the software interface that become…
  • the old, cranky master technician who only has a job because they know how to fix problems on the fly, and can read a set of plans competently
  • the useless and unemployable

Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D Grip Hover and Wait... and I have 300 of these to do

In the image above, I was using AutoCAD Civil 3D to set and manage thousands of Point entities for a construction layout. Once set, the Point Labels begin to overlap, and must be rotated in order to read them. The process for rotating these labels is either:

  • Pick the Point Object, pick the Label Handle Grip that appears and wait/hover a moment for the Label context menu to appear, pick the rotate option, and pull the Label around the point until it is satisfactory.
  • Pick the Point Object, pick Edit Points from the context menu to initiate the Point Editor spreadsheet, and manually enter the angle desired

This operation is for a single Point and I have potentially thousands to do this way… for this job alone. Oh, and when the plans get revised, I get to do it all over again. This plan is in its second construction release. It was not too long ago many of you will remember when we could use the standard AutoCAD Grip edit methodology to “pick, grip, spacebar-spacebar pull, escape”. That was like lightning, as fast as you could hot key with one hand and pick with the other. [ed. It sounds like this process/feature is completely broken anyway, users shouldn’t have to spend this long doing remedial stuff like this].

When you ask a technician running CAD as if they were doing 300 knots in a 6G turn, command line shortcuts with one hand and every mouse trick with the other, having to ‘pause’ to get an alternate response from the software in order to select something  is about the equivalent of hitting the speed brakes…over and over again.

Please stop this type of UI development. It may seem nice in the planning room, and in testing. However in the real work environment, if this type of move, wait, move, wait workflow is acceptable, that team is sorely inefficient and poorly trained.

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