Martyn Day of X3DMedia joins me on #TRXL to talk about the current state of AEC tech. In part 1 of the conversation we specifically focus on our challenges, potential avenues for growth that exist within the industry, and cover an amazing amount of valuable insight into the industry's dynamics, both seen and unseen.
For a bit more context, we discuss the lack of a standard workflow in AEC, the NXT BLD and NXT DEV conferences, similar challenges in the Mechanical CAD ecosystem, the future of Revit, problems with the shift to the cloud, the importance of IT and digital practice leadership roles, software business models, concerns about data security, BIM 2.0, and the dynamics of VC funding. We also touch on the impact of AI tools, the automation of 2D drawings, and the link between design and fabrication.
Watch Part 2 Next
- Martyn Day on LinkedIn
- Martyn Day on Twitter
- AECMagazine on LinkedIn
- AECMagazine website
- AECMagazine on Twitter
- NXT BLD website
- NXT BLD 2023 livestream on-demand videos
- NXT DEV website
- NXT DEV 2023 livestream on-demand videos
- Future AEC Software Specification overview
Connect with Evan:
Watch this episode on YouTube:
TRXL 133 - ‘The (Chaotic) State of the AEC Tech Industry, Part 1’, with Martyn Day
Evan Troxel: [00:00:00] Welcome to the TRXL podcast I'm Evan Troxel. I have a little bit of housekeeping to do here before the intro to reminder this podcast and YouTube show are made possible by sponsorships, and I've got sponsorship slots open right now. If you'd like to get your message out to the TRXL audience and support the show, please visit TRXL.co/sponsor to learn more and get in touch. This show is also supported by memberships. To learn more about how you as a listener can directly support what I'm doing here via membership, please visit trxl.co that's TRXL.co and click on one of the many subscribe buttons on the site. There are a lot of things that I want to be able to do with TRXL and that can only happen with sponsorships and memberships.
All right. In this episode, I welcome the journalist publisher and conference director Martyn Day. You likely know of [00:01:00] Martyn through his critical and opinionated writing and publishing at AEC Magazine, both in print and online, and as the host of the NXT BLD and NXT DEV conferences. I'll note right here that this episode is part one of our very long, wide ranging conversation. And I'll also say that this is exactly what I love about podcasting as a long-form type of media. Martyn says in this conversation that he writes long, as do I, and that his thinking is unstructured. And that actually lends itself very well to podcasting. It's one of the only ways that we can actually do that anymore. Besides the kind of writing that Martyn actually does at AEC Mag. But I also acknowledge that I'm attempting to weigh the appetite of what constitutes an episode for my listeners. So I've decided to break this one up into two parts. In this conversation, we delve into the current state of AEC tech. And specifically focus on [00:02:00] our challenges, potential avenues for growth that exists within the industry, and cover an amazing amount of valuable insight into the industry's dynamics.
As you might expect to hear from Martyn's global perspective on AEC tech: Solidworks, Catia, Archicad Revit, Navisworks, AutoCAD, Inventor, Rhino and Grasshopper, Onshape, Nemetschek, Snaptrude, Arcol, Adobe Creative Cloud, Serif/Affinity, SWAPP, SketchUp, BricsCad, MicroStation, Speckle, BuildingSmart and IFC, IFC.js, OpenUSD, Nvidia Omniverse, Spaces (now rebranded as CoDesign), Enscape, Rayon, Figma, Finch3d, and Hypar were all mentioned during our conversation.
And for a bit more context around the conversation before we get into it, we discuss the lack of a standard workflow in AEC, Martyn's work on NXT BLD and NXT DEV conferences, similar challenges in the [00:03:00] mechanical CAD ecosystem to that of AEC. The future of Revit, problems with the shift to the cloud, the importance of IT and digital practice leadership roles, software business models, concerns about data security, BIM 2.0 and the dynamics of VC funding. We also touch on the impact of AI tools, the automation of 2d drawings and the link between design and fabrication or lack thereof. This is a big conversation and it's only the first half. So without further ado, I bring you part one of my marathon conversation with Martyn Day.
welcome, welcome to the podcast.
Great to have you.
Martyn Day: Thank you.
Evan Troxel: a long time coming. I know you've been very busy. I've been consuming the, uh, the. NXT DEV videos, uh, on that were recently put on demand. I've I linked to those [00:04:00] in some of my, my newsletters as well to hopefully get other eyeballs on those, which is, is cool.
Um, a lot of great information in there and I would love to talk about the conference and, and like where that came from, but also just kind of, uh, takeaways from, from this most recent one for sure. But,
Martyn Day: Yeah.
Evan Troxel: about, like talk about your role, what you're doing, and then let's, let's talk about your research project that you embarked on a few years ago just to, because I can definitely speak to that as well. I.
Martyn Day: So, um, I've been writing about computer aided design, BIM, um, since I was 22, I think. So, we're getting on for 30 plus years, um, I, but I started, my father was an engineer and he told me I was going to be an engineer. So I went, okay. I was pretty good at maths and I was interested in science, so it wasn't a bad idea.
Um, but when I went to university, all my friends turned out to be architects, and I loved what they were doing. And [00:05:00] because they couldn't use CAD, I used to model their, their designs, help model their designs. in, uh, in AutoCAD at the time and, uh, get involved on that side. So I was kind of part, part in their projects and it was actually a time when they got marked down if they did their designs in CAD and not drawing
Evan Troxel: right.
Martyn Day: So that wasn't too, but it was a, it was an interesting, um, start point. And I thought then maybe I should, I'd like to be an architect. And then I.
realized it was nine, seven years plus, um, and there was a hulking recession, uh, in the eighties and so forth. Yeah, maybe not. So I just, uh, carried on. Um, and I had to take another, um, had to pick a third option.
I picked publishing, which is kind of weird because I didn't really read that much. And, um, it was fantastic. I sat in with the first lecture and Two hours, this guy waffled on, he had corduroy jacket, corduroy tie, corduroy trousers, brown [00:06:00] shoes, hair over his eyes, and after two hours I wrote one line which was, Don't publish a book if no one wants it, you'll make a loss, and I was like, oh, I can do this, so then I got into publishing, but they had, they had all the machines that could print and stuff, and I was like, oh right.
machines, I loved it.
So that kind of gave me the spark, and then various engineering jobs, I kind of ended up writing about CAD in London. Um, and I started at the bottom as a staff writer, so I was getting all the press releases and meeting Autodesk, the kind of like, these mythical people behind the software that I was pretty much, you know, that was my thing.
Trying to use AutoCAD Release 12 was my thing. I knew I could use that without any interface on it. I was, I was totally into it. Um, and then... Kind of rolling forward, I think release 13 came out, and that was a, uh, a real test because it was, it was kind of a moral quandary of, I've got this magazine, I write for [00:07:00] this magazine, and Autodesk has released this pile of rubbish, and...
Uh, I've been very nice about the part of rubbish because everyone could tell me to ignore the machines it was running on. They were saying like, Yeah.
it's on a 486 with 16 gigs of RAM, which at the time was, was like a hundred, uh, a 50, a megabyte, it was like 15, 15 grand worth of computer. I said, Yeah.
Oh, that's great. You know, 3D modeling ACES. Fantastic. And then I did these, I had all these little bench tests that I'd written and I was finding it was a thousand percent slower or it was actually crashing. And I was like, Oh, and, um, I, I, I sent it into Autodesk in the, in the UK and said, look, this is what I'm finding.
This is really bad. And they said, we guarantee that all the things that you're finding will be fixed. And I rang a friend of mine and I said, This is pretty, this is pretty bad. These aren't going to be fixed, are they? And they're like, nah, nope. And so luckily my publisher said, said, Yeah.
write, [00:08:00] write, write what you want.
So I did, um, 10 pages. Some of that, something stupid on, on how bad this was. And, uh, then that just set off a bomb. It was, it was pretty, pretty epic. And then so suddenly I was at the, the real end of journalism, which I'd never really set out to, to do. Which is kind of like, um, Get involved. So, I kind of feel that, you know, that, that was pretty much setting out my, my personality in terms of, I like, I like to be honest and I like to write about things that I care about and if I'm passionate about them and then they disappoint, then I'm going to say I'm disappointed.
Um, if you've made some errors or if there's something that makes me scratch my head, I'm going to kind of question it. Um, and then sort of, Yeah.
roll forward. And then, Eventually I left that company, um, we set up our own magazines, oh my god, almost [00:09:00] 16, 17 years ago, I think now, it's been a long time, and so we had a mechanical CAD magazine, an AEC magazine, um, then friends of ours forced us to run a show that we didn't want to do, which became Develop 3D, which is a live, which is a engineering event, and that kind of grew and grew and grew.
Um, and then one year, some other friends of ours from Lenovo said, Oh, why don't you do an architectural show? And... Um, we had a little conversation, I thought, I'd like to do one, and they said, how about doing it in 10 weeks? I was like, uh, next build was, was kind of rushed through.
It was a bit of a success, it was a small number of people. And the idea is to try and keep it to the, the folks I talk to are design IT directors, uh, heads of R& D, they're people that are involved in research, and... You know, I, I, I don't really go to see many companies that use products out of [00:10:00] the box without really doing any extra development or plugging in or creating a tech stack to, to actually deliver a workflow.
I mean, that for me is the most interesting thing is, is, is the creativity. They're in firms that are capable of, of matching products, point products to, to make it end from start to end and trying to make things work. And then you speak to someone like, Zaha's or, and, and you kind of think, Oh my God, every single project they do.
They don't have fixed products. It's down to, Okay,
this is the team we're assembling and you seem to be strong on Catia and you're strong on Rhino and Maya. So that's, that's it for that project. And these guys over here are strong on Rhino and maybe something else. And they're going to use different products.
And that's, so that's kind of also an eye opener that there isn't necessarily, there isn't one workflow for the industry. Everyone does it differently. and so, Yeah.
and then, uh, this year we kind of [00:11:00] threw Next Dev in, and that was another one which was kind of like 10 weeks before. I was oohing and aahing about it.
Um, we, we, the previous year we had Michael Marks from ex Katerra, one of the founders of Katerra, um, come over and talk. And at this point he's a investor, he's a, um, he's someone who's interested but isn't necessarily, he's more interested as an investor. And so we had this kind of like, so you and I might be Mr.,
uh, he's billionaire Michael Marks. He's not me. And it was just interesting to watch people come up and approach him. And people come out to say, can you put a good word in? And, you know, we need some, I've met him twice. I have no, no say, but, um, I got to know him quite well. Um, we had some kind of interesting conversations and I started learning about more about the VC side of the industry and I kind of spent a bit more time then that year talking to VCs and understanding.[00:12:00]
What's going on? I've always talked to lots of startups, but now I'm kind of entered this zone of Because we tend to cover new firms because I get excited about their technology Then we put that in the magazine. We have now a bit of a reputation for kind of showing these new firms off. And so that means I get more people coming to me saying, I've got some new stuff, what do you So NXT DEV came out of an influx of people contacting me. And part of it was looking for what's next after Revit. What is going to be the next thing? Is it going to be We don't know. We don't really know enough from Autodesk's point of view. Um, and there are loads of startups. And ever since the open letters came out, there has been a lot of VC activity and development activity with people sensing blood.
Rightly or wrongly, I mean, products are [00:13:00] sticky, and even in the mechanical CAD world, I've seen this with SOLIDWORKS, which have farted around for years, trying to kind of get people to move from SOLIDWORKS to CATIA, and they're bringing out all these Need new technologies that SOLIDWORKS people aren't interested in, um, and everyone's, everyone else who's hoping to get into that market is sat around waiting and just quietly developing their products.
Um, so even Dassault can't get their customers to move from one to another. Autodesk knows it's going to have a serious problem getting people from Revit to a brand new, and I kind of think that's why, in some ways, from my understanding, of how they're going to do it. You know, this is kind of thing at the moment of connecting Revit to this new unified database.
So you're translating, but you won't know about it. And then eventually they'll rip the database out of Revit. So it's talking directly to [00:14:00] the unified thing. Then Revit really is a front end and then they can start. reworking the features if they so choose, but Autodesk as usual might acquire something.
Um, so Autodesk has never developed a BIM tool of its own. It bought, it bought Architectural Desktop. It bought Revit. Um, at the moment, it seems like the Revit team aren't necessarily In that involved with Forma, it seems to be very much the Spacemaker dudes. Um, and, you know, I think there's still a lot of work to be done, kind of fleshing out this database, which is fundamental to the next generation.
but at the moment Autodesk is trying to keep Revit, its income, its customers vision saying this is a... You know, uh, a product which will get some new features every year, but the reticence to go into the deep guts of it. Just aren't there. Because every time you go into the deep guts, [00:15:00] you start making, you start breaking it.
So we're kind of seeing, um, I think the biggest one that I know of that's going to go in there is the OneGraphic system, which is a kind of like a new graphic subsystem, uh, which they've stuck in all the other products, but it could be like one or two years still before they get it into, um, uh, Revit. It could be the next, next, next year.
But, um, That will give people a big boost as well in terms of speed because, because graphic, which is what people, I mean, this is the thing with Revit is that I always saw Autodesk desperately trying to get more performance out of it and then literally someone would get the new version, which was maybe 10 or 15 percent faster and then they'd start modeling in more detail or just adding more and more to it, which would then kill it.
And in the analysis of all of this and looking back, I think we were absolutely insane back in 2010, 2008, to think that BIM was all going to be done in one single model, [00:16:00] in a file. In one product, it's just insane, it, it just is the most stupid thing that I can think that we all fell for, thinking this is, this is the right, way to go, um, and it's only now that we're seeing that files aren't the future, it's databases, and databases will give us that ability to, to all work from home.
One version, one version without the kind of slowing down that a file or, or, or, you know, if, if it does get a lot larger, at least it's on server somewhere, it's not on your desktop when you're trying to send it to somebody, you're going into a, uh, a, a, a customer's, this is the thing, um, Going to these customers, seeing that they had all these, um, compressors and, uh, encryption things to shunt Revit models around.
It was instead of spending a fortune in hardware, trying to send big models to one another, uh, in different countries or [00:17:00] wherever. And then we had COVID and the greatest thing that COVID ever did for the industry was... It reminded everybody that there's a different way of working, and this stuff's been developed for ages.
It just, You didn't feel comfortable maybe using it, and it saved a lot. It saved a lot of people's backsides, and um, it also created some interesting hardware conundrums. In the UK, you couldn't buy a workstation laptop for love, no money, come May of the first lockdown. so yeah, that was, that's, that's kind of where we're at in terms of, AEC Magazine.
we tend to not bother with the mundane. We tend to try and look at... Things that are actually moving forward, things that are going to make improvements. so I do these little projects, I was explaining to you before that, uh, in the summers I like to try and, I always write big, I don't write small, so I'll, I'll go off and research a topic, and then, um, splurge it out in a big article [00:18:00] coming out the other end of it.
so I've done that with 3D printing, so I went on all the 3D printing companies, this was a couple of years ago, about 5 years ago, and then... Uh, in 2018, I went round to design IT directors to talk tech stacks and to, and I learned so much about the kind of world of pain that they're in with license models, changing technology, changing, uh, software, not working, uh, one thing upgrade updates, and then it breaks everything else.
Um, uh, ongoing costs, uh, and then the demands of their. And then the demands of their users. Um, and then things, you know, it doesn't really help when software companies don't give them the tools to track software usage and then is more than happy to go in and. Give them some kind of non compliance fine, um, which isn't particularly fair.
I [00:19:00] mean, it's, it's not as if they're trying to steal software, it's the case of they haven't got the tools to track it and they've got, they're in an organization that's running multiple license types over multiple, uh, different countries. Um, they've got to go backwards and forwards between releases of things like Revit because the, you know, you have to lock in if you're going to work together because of.
That kind of limitation. These people have to be master jugglers and I, I had a new appreciation for that, that person, whoever it is in a company to keep everything going. Um, And so from that focus, uh, I think pretty much that's kind of really impacted the way that AAC Magazine has looked at technologies, identified things to, to review, um, looked at pain points.
Obviously we've been very hot on things like open [00:20:00] letters, um, because I, I always kind of feel the users don't really have a lot of say. You're, you're, you, Yeah.
specifically in an Autodesk world. You, you're locked in. You're using that file format. You're using that software. You've got all that training.
Everybody in your company uses it It's ported at the board. Okay, you're using it. You're gonna use it and you're not really gonna swap out very easily and because of that that makes you Um, uh, you know, it puts you in a problem position because you've got no leverage, uh, and subscription makes it even worse.
And before you could say, we're not upgrading, uh, come back when you're doing something that we're interested in. But when subscription's there, you're, you're tied in. That's it. You've got to keep on going. so Yeah.
that, those kind of things are, uh, obviously become quite passionate and you'll see that in the magazine.
the role [00:21:00] of the, um, IT design director, I think is, um, not respected enough. Um, uh, I've kind of been hanging out with these guys now for quite a while. And it's, they all, the thing that's great about. Since the open letters, and since, thing is with the open letters and then NextBuild and then now NextDev is these guys are meeting each, they didn't know each other, they're now meeting each other and, um, uh, it's great to see the connection between these very large architectural firms, mid sized architectural firms, and now we've got construction firms joining in as well.
So, um, yeah. If the industry can work together more, not, not on a, the federated way that they do it, but just discussing the day to day issues that they all might have with a vendor, or they all might have with a piece of software, or, [00:22:00] uh, you know, that they're all actively discussing who's being offered sweetheart deals at the moment, because sweetheart deals sound great, but they are a ball and chain for some time in the future.
Um, so they're all trying to be made aware of, of, Trying to avoid some of the slippery slopes.
Evan Troxel: It's interesting to me how you like looking back, you can piece together the, You were talking to VC people, you're talking to the developers, and then you've kind of put that together so that everybody is in the same room having these conversations at the conference. And I mean, those are some of the most interesting points from the videos that I was able to watch about the conference was when you have somebody in an investment firm and they're talking about what they're watching in the industry and how they're watching growth happen, because they're purely interested at in this.
from a financial standpoint, but they're talking about it out loud to the people who actually use the software [00:23:00] and the people who are developing the software and kind of painting the picture of what they're up against, right? Because we do have these incumbents in the industry who They hold so much of the market share, the lion's share of the market share, and they're basically saying like, they're still acquiring users, they're still growing, there's even, even with the dearth of development that's going on.
And so you start to see where the opportunities are, right? Uh, and obviously the people developing software. alongside or in lieu of, uh, you know, features that maybe don't exist yet looking for the they, they see those opportunities, but it's also showing that like, it's actually a hard road to toe.
There's going to be, there's going to be a lot of competition in this space. There's going to be a large slog to get there because it's like you
said, uh, Dassault can't even
get their customers to move to. Uh, a different piece of software that they offer themselves. Right. And let alone, look how many firms are still using AutoCAD or [00:24:00] LT even to smaller firms, but they're still using AutoCAD to deliver their projects.
Right. And they haven't even moved to Revit that's been out for 20 plus years.
Martyn Day: But this is the thing that kind of freaks me out is the, the, the business side. It's as if software companies don't realize their business motives are So, absolutely obvious to the rest of us that they can somehow spin them as being beneficial to customers. Autodesk, for instance, said it would never force customers to go from perpetual to subscription.
It did, it basically did, it gave them a very nice reward for doing it, but even they got bored waiting for that. and so, that was kind of, those kind of things, you know, never say never. and the reality is that once Autodesk did it, then every other software company that's competing with Autodesk saw the revenue bump.
And it's going on, alright, okay, yeah,
they've done it, but we've got shareholders, we have to do the same thing. [00:25:00] So then, you see subscriptions starting to appear, then you start seeing named user licenses start to appear, you start to see the end of network licenses. Suddenly, it's not just one company that's decided to squeeze the lemon harder, it's the whole industry that's squeezing the lemon harder.
And these are the same people, because it's a tech stack of... of stuff to be squeezed on and I feel that pain and software companies have less accountability because of software subscription, because you have to buy it to use it. So you have to keep paying. There's no, how do I tell you?
What I want and I will pay for what I want. I don't like paying for stuff I don't want. And that's currently what people are doing is paying for stuff they don't want. Um, Adobe, uh, another company that kind of went through, I, you know, a lot of the firms I'm talking to in London are trying to get rid of their, uh, creative suites because of the cost per individual so high.
So they're going to [00:26:00] go to. Serif, Serif company, and then saving some money that way. Um, and it's, people are throwing out brand names now to try and save money. Uh, I've had some people tell me that Autodesk are possibly 60 to 70 percent of their entire IT spend. So, that doesn't really leave a lot in a company to buy other stuff.
Which then limits other companies coming into the market. Not to compete with something like Revit but to offer a... Nice applications. So like, um, I'm using this, but it's, it's expensive. So, uh, NVIDIA or Omniverse, for instance. That's like another four or five grand per user. That's like, it's, it's, it's, you can't really have that throughout your entire company unless you're, you know, you, you can justify it by having huge fees.
So there's, there, there is a limit to how much money people have got. I kind of get tired of people keep quoting, Oh, this industry spends less than fishing. It's like, well, the companies I'm going to [00:27:00] see are spending a shitload of money and they are Um, always increasing that budget. And if you look at the entire construction industry and you have all the subs and the contractors who are lucky to have a computer or, you know, they might have a copy of LT running on something.
Um, they don't spend a lot of money on it. I get it. Maybe they swamp out the rest of the market, but the kind of design firms I'm talking to are spending a lot of money on subscriptions to software and, and expensive workstations. And now expensive servers and, um, you know, there's costs involved. These people are, uh, when I go to a mechanical CAD company that's doing design, they have one really good workstation with a decent graphics card in it.
If they're really good at product design, they might have a VR headset, maybe it's a 10 gram one. But they don't really have this other plethora of other software applications that [00:28:00] they, they use, which is what happens in design. You know, um, and I, I always try and explain to people the differences that, In the users, user case is a triangle, the bottom end of the triangle is people who make rectangles, and they are the, the average building, and then the people in the top 25 percent of that parameters, all start their projects in Rhino Grasshopper.
They care about the geometry more than they care about anything else. Revit and other products are merely a documentation tool of their crazy geometry. Um, a friend of mine who worked at a Foster + Partners said, We have to sell experiences to clients. When we sell them the experience, we're not worried where the toilets are in the building.
We're not worried where the piping is. That's a problem for us to solve later. We need to create a design so captivates this, this customer that they want to sign up and buy it. And when they want to sign up and buy it, then [00:29:00] we'll worry about the details. Uh, but it's, it's geometry first. Um, and so I kind of split the market into geometry first, architects, and then people who make rectangles.
Um, and so I'm, I'm guessing, I'm guessing I'm kind of specifically aiming at that top 25%. Uh, or the aspirational firms that want to move into that kind of, want to compete. Um, and they might have a lot of Rhino, uh, or wish for Rhino geometry, Rhino, um, Grasshopper geometry. so what I, what I started off doing was trying to say, well, what is going to be the, I talked to a lot of these guys and I said, look, there's, if you're really fed up with Revit, then there's ArchiCAD.
At least they've been redeveloping the underside of it, the, the architecture of it over time. It does multi threaded. processes that they've got some kind of cloud installation. They've got some new stuff. So there is an underlying reworking of ARCHICAD underneath, which I've not really seen [00:30:00] so much so in Revit.
Um, and they just said they didn't want to swap one BIM tool to another BIM tool because they were fundamentally questioning. BIM as, as the computer science is today, because if you think about it, all of BIM, nothing's different. I mean, uh, if you spend any time talking to Jonathan Ingram.
Sonata, back in the day in the 80s. You know the logic of of bim where you have a wall, windows and doors go into walls, floors attached well should attach to walls, ceilings attached to, to all this stuff. This logic hasn't changed since the eighties, and and it's almost the same in. Uh, in the mechanical CAD space, well, you can look at that and say, oh, they're much more advanced than this.
They're not, because Parasolid, which is the most populous, uh, uh, solid modeling kernel, hasn't fundamentally changed for 40 [00:31:00] years. And so, uh, the, the product that came in and kicked PTC's backside was SOLIDWORKS. SOLIDWORKS uses a parasolid kernel. So, okay, that dominates the market. Then, John Hirschtick, who's the guy behind it, then thought, I'll put SOLIDWORKS on the cloud, basically, is the concept.
So he did, um, Onshape, which is parasolid, but on the cloud. So they have, it can't actually do anything different because it's limited by the fundamental underlying technology that was decided decades ago. I think this is the issue now, as I'm looking at BIM 2. 0, next generation BIM. Are we seriously going to take Revit as it is and just shove it on the cloud?
Or are we going to say, you know what, computer science has changed. I know that there's a lot of work that's gone into data. Actually, is this the Right.
way to work? Is this really the Right.
way to work? I mean, you won the architects over, but you didn't really win [00:32:00] over MEP very easily. Uh, structures, they've still got their own tools, and it's kind of like another thing that they use.
So, and sticking everything in one file was dumb, so let's, let's rethink what it should be. Um, and people have accused me of saying we should throw the baby out of the bathwater. The logic might be Right.
for most of it, but there has to be a rethinking of how you go about doing this and making it easier, because, you know, all old products are just an actual bunch of wires.
They're just a mess. Um, it happens over time. That's why. Products eventually have new generations because you have to try and start from scratch to clean out the mess to have some clean code and then please have some new ideas while you're at it. Um, and I was, you know, looking at things like snap through thinking, I talked to Altaf in 2018, 2019, he showed me his sketchy [00:33:00] stuff.
This was in a white space. No top, No. bottom, no grid, blinds at some obtuse angle that he was like playing with and it was very interesting for, um, parametrics, the parametrics was interesting. And I said, Oh Yeah.
come back to me when it's kind of, you're building it. Um, and then the more I talked to him, the more I realized this, this guy is incredibly bright, very serious.
Um. He got, he got some money. He started developing. I was very surprised when I saw what I saw the next time around. Then he got WeWork to help him. Um, I've seen, uh, obviously V2's come out now. I mean, and he's now got something like 20 million in the bank and he's got... He's got five years runway with 40 developers to go at it and in five years time, he's going to, if you look at, he's going to put Revit on, on the cloud.
Um, how different is it going to be in my kind of. Ways and wishes of [00:34:00] it actually being beyond, uh, what we've had before. I don't know. But, um, you know, that's, that was what I was thinking was gonna be, uh, a contender. Probably Autodesk would buy it. Maybe Nemechek will buy it, someone's gonna buy it. Um, but he's got in five years time, I, the, the velocity that they're producing, uh, stuff, there's, there's nothing quite like Snaptrude's development at at the moment.
Um, but it is, on the cloud, um, as you know and love, it has families, it's, RVT is, is the core of it, and a file format can be so. limiting, um, because it, there's a limit to what you can store in it, Because the very definition is the thing you're copying, rather than going beyond it. And, um, if you look at Autodesk, when they developed Inventor, they, they were given carte blanche.
They were allowed to forget that they ever created AutoCAD. And [00:35:00] Inventor didn't do DWG very well for most of its early life. Because they had to free themselves of the past to try and create something new. Um, so I'm hoping that we're going to see some new stuff, um, from other developers. And then I kind of saw the swap stuff, um, which kind of blew my mind.
Suddenly I'd gone from, Oh, this kind of cloud stuff's kind of interesting to, Oh my God, AI is going to decimate documentation as a workflow. And it might actually also impact some. very basic, modeling detailing. and at that point, then I had to completely rescramble my brain as to thinking what the future is in this industry is going to be, because I honestly believe that even though.
BIM tools should have automatic 2D drafting. That was the thing that they were sold on. People don't like the automatic output. And so they stick it in order to cut and they break [00:36:00] it. Um, I think that AI with, with the stuff I've seen lately, you're going to be able to upload a model from anything and it will produce.
2D drawings, of all floors, of all your elements, and there might be some bits you don't like. Um, there might be some bits that you can retrain it, so it'll do it the way you want it. But I, I just don't see the future, uh, Architects spending a whole load of time and money in developing drawings in the next five to ten years.
Evan Troxel: hope so.
Martyn Day: Well, it's gonna be
Evan Troxel: not what we should be competing on. We shouldn't be competing on that, I firmly believe that that's, like, that's not our best value. It is what we all do, and we, we, obviously compete on it in a capitalism sense, but it isn't where our value and our time should really be spent. And it is an enormous time suck.
I mean, it's, it's like you said, as soon as the computer got faster, we just drew more detail, and we filled [00:37:00] the computer back up again. And that isn't, I mean, it was interesting to think 10 years ago, Or let's say 2008, your timeline when, when Revit, you know, was really starting to gain a foothold when, when firms were actually switching from AutoCAD to
doing their projects at Revit and to think of what's happened since then with, you know, it was Moore's law strictly back then.
Right. And so it was like, well, you know, it might be slow today, but next year it's going to be faster. And the year after that, it's going to be faster. And so everybody just had this expectation that that was going to keep happening. Except that it didn't, and then GPUs came along and kind of gave second, it breathed new life into that way of thinking, right?
Martyn Day: Yeah, but Jeep, but Revit, Revit hardly used the GPUs. And so we were, so we were, people were going out there and buying loads and loads of big graphics cards. We were like going, stop. CPU, by the fastest CPU you could ever. And then SSDs were the biggest boost you could get. [00:38:00] And it was just for the hardware guys that advertised with this, they were like banging their heads against the wall for about five years saying, give us something to hook into so we can accelerate this thing.
And, um, it just wasn't there. And, um, and the interesting thing is the stuff that's being developed now is nearly all in the cloud. So. You don't buy a graphics card to make it faster. What, what, what, what happens to make it faster when it, when it slows down? I have no idea, but, um, and I'm, I'm a big fan of having local desktop power.
I think it's important to be able to walk away and do your own work, off grid and then somehow computationally.
Computational science is very hard if you've got lots of people, it could be slightly easier than some guy who's a SketchUp guy coming along halfway through the detailed design phase saying, Hey, I've made some changes to the SketchUp model, how can we incorporate this in Revit? And then all [00:39:00] the design managers are there trying, ready to beat him up and work out what it is that he's changed so they can incorporate it.
So, um, yeah, I'm just looking forward to the end of some of these historic pain points that we're at. I think people are fed up of doing it, they just do it. but I do worry about the job situation because how many people are employed in producing drawings? Just producing drawings as opposed to doing the design.
I think that, um, I think that whatever anyone says, once you have automated drawings, um, reliably, reliable automated drawings, then you're going to see a dynamic change in firm structure, payment structures. Um, and you might have more people, you know, get to be an architect, which would be fantastic. Um, there is a shortage of people coming into the industry.
I, I completely buy into the short term gain, no real pain, but I'm just kind of [00:40:00] thinking long term here where... Once it gets good at modelling, then, we'll, we'll, and you'll just, you'll, I was watching Star Trek the other day, and I used to take it for granted that they were talking to the computer all the time, and uh, That is actually here now, people can talk to their computers, And you can get stuff done, but obviously, it's not fully, fully cognisant of what we're actually trying to do, but, This is coming, you, you are, Your input to the computer is going to be speaking, input with a mouse or whatever, still, uh, it's going to be images, it's going to be, um, music, God knows what it will be that will just generate this.
So, um, I kind of feel that there's a, uh, a change in so many different, you know, the interface to the computer. The computer itself, is it on your desktop or is it in the cloud? Is it a CPU? I mean, these are all, uh, uh, you know.
[00:41:00] uh, are you just seeing a screen that's, that's a computer somewhere, you know, a thousand miles away?
All these things are changing. And then there's the software, which the laziest thing is, is what's happening in the MCAD space, is a lot of people have taken their code and they've just shoved it on a cloud instance. And that's what you get, so you're still running the old code, but it's, it's running, it hasn't been optimized necessarily for the cloud.
I think it, I, with Autodesk and Forma, I, I obviously know they are starting from scratch and they're actually not going to throw the old code up. Um, they have definitely bigger plans for It And for people like Nemechek, it's a concern because nearly all of their software is. desktop based. The stuff they're doing to, uh, ARCHICAD is interesting where you can choose, you can run some of the processing on the cloud or you can run it locally.
And I'm fascinated to learn a little bit more about their flexible architecture [00:42:00] because that's what I'd want. I'd want to be able to choose because you're still paying money to run it on a, on a fast, someone else's computer as opposed to your own. Um, and I, um, so Yeah.
there's, there's that. And then AI, uh, everyone immediately jumps to chat GPT or stable diffusion.
And that's such a immediate low. Um, BAR, to set yourself when you're talking about AI in this industry because all buildings are recipes, all building codes are variables, the ease with which if someone sat down and put all that stuff into an AI. Um, uh, just to check your models, to check your, your designs against, uh, is, is, is not far off.
Um, and that could happen in real time. There's no reason why you have to submit this model. It could be there in, in, in the background all the time. And then also, but drawings are something you [00:43:00] get on demand. They're not things that are created in a set phase. They're always there until... You know, I need to submit my drawings.
No one's doing anything for planning. Good grief. So what's the point of doing all this? You can still speed up and use SWAPP.Ai and Hey, in 40 minutes I've got a design, I've got all the drawings and then you submit it for... Planning and that still could take three, four months before anyone looks at it or they actually understand what they're looking at.
So, um, you have to speed up all parts of the industry if you want to get real acceleration. Um, but I kind of, after spending a lot of time with the AI guys, there's a lot of concern about IP. Um, I think Martha wrote something in, I think it was building design or she had Martha from Foster + Partners wrote something.
She really is quite concerned about Theft of design and knowledge. and it's not just, competitors. [00:44:00] There are real big issues with software companies. Not just having all your data on, on their servers. And, um, I've, I've, I've lined up, I've lined up an article, I won't go into it, but I'm about to look into this, where, according to the EULAs, when you're storing your data on people's servers, on your software provider's servers, how much insight do they have to that knowledge?
And, Um, because you're using not just their point solution to create the design, you're also using their software, their design distribution sign off, maybe ERP, maybe bidding software. They have actual insight into... Your entire business, who you work with, how well you've worked with them, the number of, um, revisions that were made on every single project.
They know the design information. [00:45:00] It's, it's, it's a incredibly powerful place to be. And... The question is, can these people be trusted to keep their fingers, not just off your designs, but off your, your network, your private network? And, um, I think that's a concern. I, I, I do think that they obviously want to run AI to, to train, to be better, to help people.
And, uh, there's a limit, but I feel there's a, there should be a limit to what that is. Um, and I, I kind of, I get a feeling from a lot of these larger practices, they don't really want their design data on a large software developer's private or public, um, uh, cloud solution because they just don't quite know what's going to happen to their information. And would, would you be happy to know that your competitor, you, your, Software is being, your, your process [00:46:00] is being shared with your competitor, or the, your design, nows. So there's, there's issues. Um,
Evan Troxel: And you saw recently like Zoom change their EULA there and, and talk about using anything in those meetings to train AI. Then they walked it back. It was probably a little bit too late for many of their customers at that point. But then we've seen the same thing with Adobe. I've, I've seen people posting, here's how you go in and tell it to opt out of training because you're opted in by default for Firefly and
Martyn Day: That should be made illegal. That, that should be, it should be off by default. I've got a friend who's an MIT graduate who teaches high school kids that kind of like that last year of maths, private schooling, all on Zoom. And he just went, I'm gone. There is no way on earth that having access to my.
tutorials and it's my IP. Um, uh, I think we were having maybe a silly moment where we think we can [00:47:00] do this. Um, and in Europe, I think there'll be laws against it. I'm pretty Sure.
they're quite hot. They're quite hot on that. Um, I mean, even though I know that they're looking into this whole issue, having software vendors.
Having such a huge insight into business processes as opposed to, um, you going to a company and saying, analyze my business processes, improve my company. No, no. It's like, we're keeping a tab on everyone. If you're a, if you're a. If you've got such a powerful position in the software, uh, software tools market, then, you know, there is, there is reason to be concerned.
Um, so I'd like everyone to sort of think about their cloud services a little bit more than they do at the moment. Um, and this is the other problem at the moment that I'm seeing is sweetheart deals where. It's easy in, [00:48:00] low cost in, but you know it's going to be ratcheted up, and once you're in there, it's going to be really hard to get out.
Not saying the services that you get aren't bad, but it's, they know it's kind of like a drug. Um, and nobody should really be getting a sweetheart deal, it should be this is the cost. This is, this is absolutely the cost and you need to know about it, not have it sneak up behind you, um, and wallop either not you, but your replacement as a design IT director in three or four years time.
Evan Troxel: Well, you've talked about kinda the next wave and I, I want to, maybe we can shift
into the NXT DEV and NXT BLD conference
and, and kind of the convergence of enough energy. that you have coined the BIM 2. 0 term, not, not on your own, but you're, you're using that to kind of talk about the next wave.
And, and one of the big pieces of that is this data framework, these, this kind [00:49:00] of standards body that's come together with European firms. And then I think Greg is, is brought it to the LFRT as well. And in the, in the U S and kind of talking about setting up a data framework that serves AEC, kind of in a, in a similar analogy of the way that USD and, you know, these, these large companies have gotten together on the visual effects and the, the gaming side to kind of make these definitions at an industry level that then software providers Uh, deliver on, right?
And that's kind of the idea here is like, here's a wishlist and it's not like specific tools. It's data framework. It's how do we get data through the entire pipeline? I'd love it if you could just kind of get into Aaron's talk and, and, and how that all came together. And then, and then, you know, cause there's also this other stuff that's actually people producing apps that maybe started [00:50:00] before this framework came out.
And there's a bit of a mismatch there already, even though it's like early days for a lot of them, right? And so it is a, it's
Martyn Day: It's complicated. It definitely
Evan Troxel: It's really complicated. Yeah.
Martyn Day: So, I think the, the thing that we have to realize, the fundamental thing that everyone has to realize is that files are going to go away. And the way that you do an RVT file or a DWG file, they will probably be some kind of output as a last resort in the future, because as we move to cloud, then we have a live database.
Well, whoever owns it or whatever system it is, whoever you're subscribing to. The database has so many more advantages than the file and files are, I think, Andrew Anagnost described them as dead things walking, and it's true that they are going to go. And As we move towards this BIM 2. 0, and I kind of wanted to, with BIM 2.
0, my aim [00:51:00] was really just to try and explain to people that there is a change happening. Even though, I've spoken to a lot of people who are on Revit now.
and they're just saying, you know, Revit isn't dead, or whatever is going on. And I have to try and explain to them that actually, There is no new generation of Revit.
So what happens to software that doesn't have a next generation? What happens to your knowledge with that next? There is a finite point. It might not be now, it might not be 5 years, it could be 10 years away, but at some point... Autodesk's gonna get bored with trying to support 50 users who don't want to move or whatever the number is that they decide.
So it, it is going on. It will have some updates. It's not gonna, it's from what I can tell, it'll never have a significant rewriting and they're not gonna go into the guts of it. 'cause it just, it just creates, um, quality issues. So if we're gonna have BIM 2.0, if we're gonna move. Then this, this is the kind of [00:52:00] thing that happened with the open letter group, but it kind of, the first part of this It was the Open Letter Group getting very fed up asking Autodesk for features and then them combing through the future feature lists that they'd planned and not really seeing much, much of what they'd asked for.
And then they kind of realized that these were Revit fanboys and they kind of got to the point saying, There's no point asking Autodesk for any more because we know that they're not going to do it. So what do we do? So they started talking to everybody and stuff. But in a conversation I had with a group, a smaller group of them, they were like saying, well, Maybe we just need to tell the industry as a whole what it is, and it's not like a, we can't, they can't be, they're architects, they can't tell people what software they want, but they can tell them what kind of things they want the next generation to be able to do.
And this [00:53:00] conversation was picked up by the Open Letter Group in the UK, and they started a work group, so they've been working on this for over a year. of what kind of capabilities would we like to see? What kind of problems do we have in our day to day work that's not being addressed by anybody? And so, that work was, was started and, uh, you had Aaron from AHMM, uh, and Andy from Grimshaws who were kind of like, uh, leading the, the kind of thought on that.
Um, and so while they were working away on that, Uh, Greg, I probably, I think I met Greg in a bar with, with Bob McNeel, um, uh, as all good things start. So my friendships with Greg started somewhere in Sweden with, with, with Greg Schleusner and, uh, we were talking about getting rid of 2D drawings. That was our, our conversation and he was actively trying to find a solution to this problem.
And could it be BricsCAD? Could it be... Is this someone [00:54:00] else who is actively actually trying to do something to solve this problem? And so that started with a conversation about drawings, and then obviously the discussion in the industry was about next generation. And Greg started talking to me about, um, his ideas for, uh, a database that was owned by the AEC industry, not owned by a vendor.
Because the last, so, if you remember back in the days of AutoCare, we all had DWG. DWG was the, Lingua franca of of design and literally every other CAD package had to import or export D W G normally pretty badly. And uh, uh, I remember spending a lot of time with, uh, Bentley systems and they ended up to actually.
properly support DWG, stop complaints from their users. They had to go through AutoCAD and find all of the element types that, that, [00:55:00] uh, had to be translated into things that didn't exist in the definition of, of, of microstation schema and add them into microstation. So the, the, there was a really good map between AutoCAD entities and microstation entities, and I was like, Oh my God, this is the way you solve interoperability is by.
Literally creating, making Sure.
you've got a map to map feature set. And so, Yeah.
a lot of work from, from, uh, Bentley from Keith Bentley on, uh, I model and skip, talk to him about schemas. Um, so there's, there are people who have been working to try and think of. A bigger thing, but the one thing that mustn't happen with BIM Level 2 is to be DWG'd or RVT'd again.
We don't want to go into a new generation and immediately have interoperability problems. We need to have clarity. Data needs to flow between all the people in a [00:56:00] project like water. It shouldn't, you know, I go see companies that have professional data wranglers. They sit there and their job is to... Ted wants this in DGN and these guys want an RVT file and these guys want an IFC but they only want the kind of the, the, the fire doors.
So he's there and he's like trying to shuffle out the stuff. And this happens in so many companies because they're, they're, they're playing, you know, um, Tower of Babel. So the discussion with, with Greg and his idea was to try and, Create a open format that uses open standards, that is, isn't owned by anybody, that can sit in the cloud and be a reservoir or a data lake for project information.
And now, and not, and not to be something where you just fire and forget, but the information that you create is information that you still own in the data lake, [00:57:00] but the idea would be... A lot of this comes from maybe Speckle and also IFC.js and this kind of stuff where you have these little server codes running on every single machine.
You atomize your model to every single element and you're sending individual elements to the data lake. So every time you create a door, the door is then sent up into the data lake. You still have an RVT version of it, but there'll be a data lake version, which we formatted maybe in IFC or something else.
I don't know. Um, but the idea being that you still create and broadcast the things you create, but it doesn't mean that people can change your designs. So structural engineers and everyone else can actually then subscribe. To your components. And so every time when they subscribe, they can import the IFCs of them as, as individual components.
If there were any changes or updates, they get notified. They get that information coming through. And so [00:58:00] you end up with this kind of, um, arbitrage. This is kind of exchange system where the data lake is live and everybody is still in control of their own data yet it's shared to the moment, you know, you've got.
Idiots saying, uh, oh, you got a guy saying, I need an IFC of this work package. And then someone just goes, oh Yeah. I can do that. IFC out. And then you've got the whole, everything. Oh, there you go. That's what you asked for. Uh, this is so stupid. We can get past this. So Greg was working on this idea of this kind of data lake.
And then within that, within his kind of journey, he's kind of identified, um, You know, uh, steps within, within sort of, uh, data creation to try and capture the knowledge that went with that data and to try and also capture the history of that information. So you've got, um, all, all types of capabilities, um, within it.
So rolling forward. Now, [00:59:00] now this is kind of where it gets a bit confusing because people are looking at, uh, things like, uh, Speckle and they're saying this is kind of what Speckle does. Why? Speckle is predominantly about files. It's predominantly about me connecting you with my files. So, it's like a point to point plumbing system between things.
It's not this, this kind of communal data lake that just sits there and then has. All sorts of, uh, knowledge information added to the elements. But the thing that Speckles is great at is it will get you the geometry, the IFC information from A to B. And... I know that, um, Greg's had some conversations with Dimitri and Mateo.
about what it is, but I just don't, I just don't think that there's, um, there's necessarily an [01:00:00] understanding about what Greg is doing and why it's different to what they're doing. And, um, and the other thing is, is that the, um, IFC is obviously the start point for this, but it's, it's got limitations and it's not.
Brilliant, but it's start point. Um, and then the idea from that is that, uh, Greg's, uh, Schleusner is highly involved in BuildingSmart. So he can help influence his ideas from the idea of, um, uh, he, he's calling it strange matter because when we, when we spoke to him, he kind of came up with lots of three name acronyms and I was like, Oh, I'm so done with three name acronyms, but we've got to have something else.
So strange matter it is. And there's this extra level of information that's beyond, beyond BIM, beyond, it's more practice centric, it's knowledge centric, it's AI, it could be, it's whatever, you know, your secret sources, but you can [01:01:00] have Um, you can share more information, um, than IFC, which is the current limitation.
Now, jumping aside and talking about USD, USD is fundamentally geometry. It's geometry with lighting and textures. It's not a standard, number one. It's owned by Pixar, so it's, it's not an, it's not like an international ISO standard. Um, uh, they did open it in terms of publishing it in 2016, but, um, since then, they haven't necessarily been too willing in expanding it.
The only expansion I've... Read about was when they took USD and they did a USDZ or an X with Apple for some of their kind of immersive VR X tests But then you got people like Omniverse and NVIDIA who were scraping the the RVT turning into USD [01:02:00] Scraping some more from the RVT and adding that into the USD which wasn't standard It was still a standard USD and you could open it and you can see the geometry and you can see the textures and you can get the lighting but The extra stuff.
The, the, the extra BIM stuff that Nvidia had scraped and stored wasn't in a open area. No one understood that data 'cause it was theirs. So we, they were extending it secretly, but not for their benefit and for omniverse benefit. And the idea is that if we are gonna expand USD for this in industry's benefit, then everyone needs to be on board.
And the alliance for OpenUSD, um, It's predominantly about everybody agreeing what things that could be added into USD from various different, not just architecture, but, you know, other areas, what are, what are Pixar willing to allow it to expand to, because the last thing they want is it to bloat.
So there's going to be a [01:03:00] subset. of other stuff added, and then there might be sort of a, uh, a, an AEC variant afterwards. But the idea is to try and drive it to becoming an ISO standard, I believe. Uh, but this is, uh, uh, you know, I, I think NVIDIA told me once they wanted to take IFC and USD and slam them together and make a new, uh, uh, uh, open for, open format.
And I was like, If you add two open formats together, you do not get a third new open format. You just get a, you just get another kind of hybrid that's your own. So, um, this is the way that, that the industry can do that. So you might see more, you might see some subset of IFC ending up within. The actual USD and then there'll be a little bit more outwards.
Ultimately, it's still a file. We've still got this problem. It's still a bloody file. And that means that it's still got a limitation. So there needs to be an implementation of USD, which is a schema. It's a [01:04:00] structure. It's basically a wrapper around the data. There needs to be, um, A, a cloud-based data lake version of it.
Now, again, that will still be a subset of data because everyone's trying to designed by committee. Everyone's got to agree with it. It'll be better than USD, it might be better than IFC, but it will, it will still be a incomplete version of everything that's added into a a, a CAD system. The reason we had DWG, the reason we had RVT R B T. while we might sort of, I, I'm, you know, slagging, uh, a lot of these, these proprietary file formats off. You need to, you have to have a proprietary format, otherwise you can never develop your software to do more. You've got to be in control of your destiny. And so, uh, Autodesk is going to have its own unified data environment.
That is not going to be published. That is not going to be [01:05:00] open. That is going to be sat on their database, on their servers. But, if you want your data out, then you've got these exchange servers where... You request certain elements, certain geometry, and you can get it out in whatever file you want. Which you then, but it's, files are going to be this kind of like subset, where you kind of think, oh Right.
I just need to get that information out to stick it into my thing.
It's not going to, or you might get it out through an API. You might have a, you might load a forge element that has a Revit model. You select the elements that you want. And then you just press a button and somehow it connects to another bit of software that you own that means that's what you get sent, you don't even see it.
And I kind of, I do believe that Autodesk is, is fairly sincere about open, uh, a new open front in terms of next generation technology. It's in their favor, it's just at the moment, I think [01:06:00] the way that they're going to be spinning it is that they're going to be charging for individual services. So if you want to exchange and get a file out, that will come as a micro cost.
So everyone's going to end up with a kind of a cloud wallet, just to do some things maybe with some data that's not theirs but with someone else's. the problem comes when companies need to grow and they need more revenue, and four billion a year isn't enough and you need more, so therefore you change the licensing model.
Um, I was talking to a developer who said that, um, One software company was now charging developers per API call. And so to do a transaction, uh, it might be 40 API calls, uh, but if server's down or if there's some traffic or whatever, it can be 90 API calls. So as a developer, you don't know. Each transaction, exactly how much you're going to get charged by the software developer.
I hope that doesn't become common, but [01:07:00] there are going to be some bumps in the road as we move towards this kind of, uh, cloud infrastructure with let's change the licensing models to try and make more money because we've got to grow because we have shareholders.
Evan Troxel: I mean that to one of the points that was in that panel discussion that I that I watched on your website was, I don't know if it was Aaron or if it was Andy from Grimshaw who talked about Just the business model of not, of who your customers are and where the feedback comes from has completely shifted just to shareholders.
It's no longer the users of said software in said industry. It's, it's delivering a return on investment for shareholders. And when that's the driving force, all bets are off, right? As far as like what happens next, because your incentives. To buy software are now misaligned with their incentives to develop that software.
Martyn Day: Yes, and it's, uh, it's, it's, it's painful. Uh, and you know, a lot of these [01:08:00] people, I remember the first time I spoke to Jens from Big, I knew he was a massive Revit fanboy. So I was like, okay, I didn't really know if he was just like, bringing me up to keep the tires or whatever. And we would just had a.
Discussion and Yeah.
the, the, this guy absolutely loved Revit he, he was, he is, he, he, he, he was, it was as big as a religion. It was, you know, there was some of these people that kind of get religious by their software. It was a religion. And then, uh, the more he stepped up and the more that he was doing big, the more his software of choice was causing him problems, or the company that owned it, or the, and for him.
Um, he was just deeply frustrated because, you know, he, he wanted to fly and the software wasn't flying. It was, if anything, I was seeing these guys, they were all adding up how much money they spent in work around software. So for the longest time, PDF was [01:09:00] crap from Revit, so they were all buying stuff that was doing that element of it.
And when they were asked by Autodesk what features they wanted, which is great, um, They kind of were sat down and said, look, we'd sooner not ask Autodesk for things that we've got workarounds for because it's sorted. There are things that we don't have workarounds for, that we need sorting.
Evan Troxel: Mm-hmm.
Martyn Day: When Autodesk then would go and ask the great unwashed at the bottom of the triangle what they wanted, they all want the things that were obvious that they hadn't paid money for to get the workarounds.
And so you kind of ended up with this, you know, someone at Autodesk years ago, when they only had AutoCAD, said to me, Hey, the great news is we've sold like 1 million copies of AutoCAD! Hey, the bad news is we've got 1 million customers of AutoCAD! Asking for features. And it is true. I mean,
Evan Troxel: sure.
Martyn Day: a software company and be successful is a double edged sword.
Um, and you have to put the resources in to try and keep everyone [01:10:00] happy. Um, and every year you used to proffer up some features in the hope that people would upgrade. And some years they didn't. And on average, it was every three years they upgraded. Um, and there were some customers that never upgraded.
Um, so it, it, you know, I, I try and see it from all sides, but I'm always going to err on the side of customers who are paying for it. Um, and then this kind of like going back to this big data thing is we, we, we have to free ourselves and free the data. We have to be able to interface and connect together better.
It would be much better if the files and the data and your IP was not owned by a software company and was in fact your, under your control. Um. And so I think that there is going to be, Yeah. he's got, he's got, uh, 39 firms are now backing his plan. Uh, he's done a lot of [01:11:00] development work. He's got some money.
They're all subbing money together. my concern is that it's all US firms. Um, and every time the Greg's come over for NXT BLD, I've run this thing, which I comedically called, um, Fight Club. Um, And it was just to get, it was to get the people who kind of, I knew were on the same wavelength as Greg Schleusner together, so that he can tell them a little bit more about what he was working and thinking about, than the stuff he could really say on the set, on the stage.
And that would normally descend into a bit of a bun fight. It actually did turn into a fight where people were arguing amongst themselves as to, you know, Uh, what they wanted to see, or, you know, if this was even valid. Um, and we ran it again just after, uh, NXT Dev and that really turned into an absolute screaming argument, which was, which was healthy and, uh, interesting 'cause everyone's got a different perspective.
Evan Troxel: Yeah.
Martyn Day: but the reality.
Evan Troxel: concern with [01:12:00] that, that kind of a situation as well. And I mean, this is, this is something that I don't think firms. It's hard to, it's hard to say. I watch those presentations and I see this list and it's really well delivered and it's really thought out and it's really structured.
And then there is the reality of developing software. And if the firms are the ones deciding what the software is going to be, who's going to be the decider? I mean, you can't have everybody being the decider. I think that's going to be, that's going to prove to be a very difficult challenge, which is like,
Martyn Day: So yeah, let me,
Evan Troxel: what the features and the way that you build the tools to actually deliver on those features.
Martyn Day: so on that note, so up to this point, pretty much everyone that Autodesk had, so Autodesk had heard from 25 architects plus some in the UK, some in Australia, that was the first letter, then. Very few American firms signed up to that. It was a lot of Dutch people, a lot of [01:13:00] South Africans, the subject of Japanese.
And then the next letter came out from the Nordics. So that was kind of like, um, uh, obviously quite a few, quite a few big companies signed up to that. Um, while the original letter was being. Digested by Autodesk. These other signature architects of about 11 of them didn't want to sign this letter because they thought it was too full frontal.
So they went behind and they started talking to Autodesk and secretly ran the back saying, look, we didn't do the open letter, talk to us. Well, they got treated exactly the same over the next three years. And they, these got no benefit out of it whatsoever. And obviously they talk to each other because they're all, like, signature architects and stuff.
So it was, it was, it was very, very interesting to watch how this transpired. And, uh, the thing that, that, all of that discussion, all of that [01:14:00] discussion about what they need, what they want, was framed in a Revit framework. And once you, once you have that Revit framework, It really limits to you as to what it is that you're gonna get and what it is that it is capable of and everything.
So by stepping out, I think the Open Letter group and sitting and especially Aaron's uh, sat out and started saying, there's no point in writing a spec for a, for a CAD system. There's no spec in saying what, what Revit needs to be added onto. Let's create a, a feature set and give it to the entire industry.
'cause Autodesk, obviously, I've got their hands full because they're doing. Revit, and trying to keep that alive while they do Forma, and Forma is, nothing was coming out of Forma at the time, um, and what we actually did get was really, um, uh, uh, one of the products that was kind of like just being re, re, reworked.
Um, it's the, it's the [01:15:00] database underneath it that's the real big work. So. So let's step back and let's just tell everybody and we, uh, uh, these guys had seen Data Systems, Nemechek, uh, Hexagon, Trimble. Uh, anyone who had an interest in maybe trying to get into Revit's shoes was talking to these people who complained to try and find out.
Some of them were trying to sell them the software they already had. Um, uh, when really they should have been going in and saying, what is it that you want? And so this feature list benefited from not having the Revit framework around it anymore. Because suddenly you start thinking about, I am, it's like throwing away RVT, throwing away DWG as a software developer.
You're unconstrained once more. You don't have to reverse engineer this into something else or into something old. You can start talking about it. And I think Aaron, I knew Aaron. was working on It And because of my ridiculous timescales, I [01:16:00] knew I threw him in the toilet. Um, uh, cause he didn't have long.
He worked, he worked for weeks on that trying to get the text ready and then more people wanted to see it. And so it was like distributing it around and getting feedback. And, um, he gave. I think it's the best presentation I've ever seen and, uh, I can only, I only sat in awe because it's one thing when someone gives a great presentation.
It's another thing when the pauses and the gaps in the way he delivered it also meant something. And I'm just like thinking, Oh my God, he's actually speaking with space. This is, this is incredible. So, and I,
Evan Troxel: wasn't just reading off the slides, it was very, it, it
it was so well communicated, and it was digestible. It was, like, the vocabulary was totally digestible by everybody in the room, everybody who's watched that, and it came across as written prose. Like, there, there just wasn't, there were no mistakes in it at all.
It was incredible.
Martyn Day: And the thing is, [01:17:00] so since then we've had something like one and a half thousand people sign up to watch it. And I, we've got pretty much everyone in Vectorworks. I've got a list of Autodesk is the size of my arm. I've got a Graphisoft strategy guys. I've got Dassault systems. I've also got loads of mergers and acquisitions people are watching as well.
And it's kind of like, this is a different kind of people who are watching dev. And, and it's not, the thing that I wanted to do was to. These design directors know their stuff and they know What the pain points are. And I just thought, well, I'm fed up of seeing 25 different conceptual design tools come out.
And all of them, I didn't even know we had such a big problem with massing. Why, why the 25? Products that all do roughly the same. It doesn't make any sense. What a waste of money. If the VC guys, the developers can be presented with an array of options of all the pain points we've got, [01:18:00] all the new areas that we're, we're faced with, like, you know, um, Sustainability and CO2 stuff, um, maybe some of that money will get spread a bit thinner and we'll start seeing a proper range of tools, not just, you know, for this next five years, all you're going to see is, uh, is conceptual design tools.
Oh, here is another one. Here's another one. I just stopped reviewing them in the end because it just didn't make any sense. The ones that are around now and surviving probably have a life, but for five years, it was bonkers what we were getting out. So Aaron gave this talk. It was fantastic. It was superbly received and...
It was food for thought. So the people in the room that caused a massive discussion afterwards, um, the people from NVIDIA weren't particularly happy because it wasn't USD. They're talking about this other framework, you know, but, but you have [01:19:00] to understand that USD is not. It's a transactional, uh, format.
It's not going to be this new sta it'll never be this new standard for people like Greg Schleusner and the uh, LFRT. They're aspiring to have something that's a bit more beyond just data in the cloud, just, you know, geometry in the cloud. And, um, and so that was, that was, uh, that was the, that became the kind of core.
It, Aaron kept saying to me, I gave him 30 minutes and then the next, a week later saying, it's going to be maybe 40. And I gave, the night before he said, it's kind of more of an hour. Because we'd all been drinking, I thought he was joking, I was like, ha ha ha ha, and, and Andy went, no, no, no, no, he really means it's going to be an hour, I'll be with it.
So, we, we ended up with a very, very compressed post, uh, discussion, because, but I just, I knew that that was, that was like, gold, that was [01:20:00] the, that was the thing that was going to get everyone talking. And, and immediately after that, the next few days, they, these, The Open Letter guys are being taught, uh, contacted by large, um, construction firms and, uh, structural firms.
So it, it, there are going to be other names that are going to be added to it, and then hopefully next year we can get a, a similar thing from a construction, perspective, not just a architectural design perspective, but cause they, they too need to buy into the idea of having this data layer, because again, it, it, it needs to benefit everybody.
And so, but, but, um, construction's in a different, different world. So literally all the new stuff for construction, all the AI stuff for construction is nearly about management of. It's not about site materials, timelines. It's not about design tools. They're not
Evan Troxel: Mm
Martyn Day: getting the love in that, in [01:21:00] that respect or the startups.
They had a whole load of money for three or four years was piling into construction and they ended up getting You know, uh, tools to get documents on iPads on construction sites or, um, you know, Alice Labs was one, whereas, and then Slate AI, but it's, it's just not the same level of kind of development that I'm seeing for design.
There are at least six or seven Revit competitors in development at the moment. Um, you haven't seen them all yet. Um, some, some uh, are gonna, you're not gonna see until maybe next year or the year after. Um, so this game is, that game isn't over. But that has to feed into general construction and I was having a conversation yesterday with not Speckle, but Sparkle in Norway, uh, Magnus.
And we were just talking about how the other [01:22:00] thing that was the whole idea about having a single building model in a single file. So fail, failed so spectacularly that we ended up with a. Architectural BIM model, Structural BIM model, and MEP BIM model. Uh, we have, uh, Construction, uh, uh, Quantities BIM model.
It's, the, the, we've, we've replicated the work, we've created more. We've actually created a worse, worse scenario. And on top of that, if, if the architects were never accurate in 2D drawings. or didn't have good quality in house, when you take that to 3D, it just really falls out of the, the, the edges. Uh, uh, uh, I always remember the first time an architectural practice asked me if I knew a way to, um, erase the, um, uh, the dimension on, on the, on the Revit drawing, um, so they could just write it in rather than actually change the model.
And I was like, no, this isn't, this [01:23:00] isn't good. And then it wasn't that many years ago, I went to a company that had, uh, the British kite mark for, for bim, and they had modeled, they had modeled a multi-story apartment block. The only person in that whole large firm that had 200 seats, uh, that actually saw the all of.
All of the, uh, different, uh, levels was the guy in 3D Studio Max because they'd modelled every single floor separately in Revit. They actually didn't, and I was like, well, this is, how can you do any clash detection or anything when, when everything's just like in, you've broken it down to, to the point of, why, why bother?
Evan Troxel: you'd be blown away by how much time is wasted at the beginning of every single project about how that project is going to get tackled. That example is one way in which firms will tackle a project, right? Multiple [01:24:00] buildings on a campus site, like for a school. Multiple floors, core and shell. And this is like a hours long discussion with multiple people every single time.
Martyn Day: it's painful. And then they go about it and then they, then they, Halfway through they want to get some more benefit from their data because they feel that data is dark But they haven't modeled it in a way which gives them any extra insight. It's it does make me kind of question
Workflows how how how they have workflows I think when the open letter came out I spoke to Bob McNeel and I say well Uh, he's just said I'm fed up of answering the phone to all these large architectural firms that are telling me what they want and when you detail it, they, they actually all want different things because there's no one wants the same thing because they've all got different workflows and, and this
Evan Troxel: concern with, with 39 firms, like putting money into the pot to develop something is, is who's the, who's going to [01:25:00] decide, right? Because to that point right there, it's just,
Martyn Day: where I saw, I saw Greg, I saw Greg Schleusner go from this is the way, HOK, to starting to talk to people and then suddenly he's like going, Hmm, I can't go around, I can't go around assuming that this is actually the way that everyone works or that we've got the best way of doing it. And so that was quite an experience.
Um, and there's a big question of should, should practices be doing software development? Period. Should they be involved? And I, I think, I believe we've got to a point where we have in house expertise in the industry that can Guide the software companies better than before. When you know the last thing you want, uh, on what this is, what normally happens is you have a board meeting.
The head of some large software firm's gonna rock up. It's the CEO and the VP. And do you think you are gonna [01:26:00] have a one-to-one frank discussion with them about. What it is that you want and they turn up and they show you something that they've they're going to launch in Six weeks time they spent 18 months developing with some california firms And they think isn't this great and you're going to you'll be able to buy this And that's like Well, that's not really answering our problem.
That's, this meeting really isn't, it's not, it's not a, sales meeting. it's not for you to tell us we, how much, you know, how much, how much feedback do Skanska get to give in software development or, and that's why these guys are spending a lot of time with these startup firms and they're shining a little light on them so that maybe they can get some of their problems sorted.
Greg is taking this approach of There is a much bigger problem,
that if we crack, that if we, we are no longer, you can, you'll be able to [01:27:00] use whatever, it turns your, any BIM system into a HTML, because it's, it's, it, all you're doing is producing, uh, components, uh, BIM components, and those BIM components go to the BIM component database in the, in the sky, and, You can swap, you can hire an ARCHICAD user, you can, it doesn't matter, It's suddenly,
Evan Troxel: a browser.
Martyn Day: Yeah.
and if you've got, it's a skill base, you, you can hire people with the skill sets that, that you want, without having this kind of draconian, I only hire people who do this, I only hire people who can use that, and there are going to be different CAD systems that come along, um, that people are going to want to, uh, or are going to want to move.
I think. You know, people like, uh, Snaptrude for instance, you know, on its feature set. I mean, this is, uh, I saw a video today of somebody reviewing, uh, uh, Arcol and saying, Oh
it's, it's kind of like SketchUp. And I was like, ah, it's... [01:28:00] This isn't even beta software. This is a software company that sees a problem and wants to put BIM on the cloud.
Don't limit your thoughts to what it can do now. You have to think about these are the fundamental basics that have to be built before you go for the higher stuff. And so, yeah.
okay, you might think about using it for conceptual design too, because it's not deep enough, but this is years of development.
Snaptrude is at least five years of development before it gets to, what, 80 percent of Revit. The whole capabilities of, um, If you think of all the years, even though it might have had five years of having hardly anything done to it, it's had a hell of a lot of development to, to do all those edge case, edge cases that were, that when they were in the mode for changing and doing stuff.
And I think that that is, um. That's something that people don't realize with software development is what you're seeing now is literally just the base rocks and [01:29:00] they, these guys are all aiming for the sky. They're all aiming for the stars. Now the question mark is going to be funding and who's going to get behind them and they're going to have continual funding to keep going or are these guys going to get eaten up?
And, and I have to ask everybody that the only way you're going to get different software. to play with to add to your tool sets is if you give them some time, play with, play with them, give them your feedback. Um, if they, if you can pay them some money for development, maybe it's for features that you want, do it because they need to have, there's this really strange, the thing I've kind of discovered that's strange.
It seems to be very, fairly easy to get money, maybe like 500 grand, to start your company, your software company, and that's great, and then you should have developed something, and then you've got a framework, you might have something that you can show, but when you go back for more money, for Series A, [01:30:00] they're kind of like saying, well, what traction have you got, well, I've got this kind of like, thing, it's not really, Yeah.
to get some traction, and maybe if you, I'll give you half of what you want, If you, if you can get someone else and I'll give it.
And so I had this very strange conversation at NXT BLD two years ago, where someone said, it was Michael Mott. I'm not interested in anything under 3 million. Oh, Wow. Right. Okay. Well, I'll keep that in mind whenever I speak to anyone, but there are so many firms that aren't asking for that kind of money.
But you can't get a VC interested because of the risk reward for them that $500,000 isn't worth it. So there's this strangulation point and then, then how can they show traction? If the agency kind of companies are sniffing around, maybe trying it, but they're not actually giving them any money, then they're not going to be around because they can't get any more funding.
So it's really, really [01:31:00] important that the AEC industry looks at these startups. If they're Interested in some of the stuff they're doing, invite them in, uh, play with it, try and get them to divide some of the stuff you want, pay them, it's like, it's like, you know, it's corn feed money, a tiny amount of money could be enough to say, hey, we've got these firms interested, and then they can go back and get VC funding to fund them for another couple of years, but it's, um, if you saw the VC panel session, Dev.
The other thing is that this year there's money, but next year's there doesn't look to be a lot of money. So if you've started this year, um, uh, get, fill your boots because you, you might be starving, uh, through next year before you can go back to the market again. And it's, um, Yeah,
these are the kind of dynamics that you just don't think about.
I had no, no comprehension of, [01:32:00] um, But, you know, I am so excited that there are so many good ideas coming through and I wanted to showcase them. And I knew it was kind of, you know, doing NXT Dev and having one track was kind of like, alright, and then that became two tracks and all these people love them.
I mean, I didn't have really budget for NXT DEV at all. These guys all flew in from wherever around the world. To give their 20 30 minute demos and I said, look, I don't know if anyone's going to be in the room because I know what Aaron's going to do, but If I, I'll video it and then we're going to promote it and so, you know, this is a good, good launch point for you and they all love them, they all did it to however many people were in the room, um, but it was, you know, mergers and acquisition people are watching the videos, um, it's possible to go in and see stuff, it does have life after the day, but, um, And I didn't realize by having, um, [01:33:00] uh, well, I think we had about 70 or 80 speakers.
I think there's an order of magnitude larger than normal. So, um, I was like juggling, um, we had nine people on a panel, which was just incredibly crazy. Um,
Evan Troxel: hard. Yeah.
Martyn Day: it was, but they were all, they were all fantastic people. They all got to have a say, not necessarily as in depth as perhaps, um, with the AI stuff. But, um.
We've learnt some lessons. Next year will be a little bit different, and 40 minutes isn't long enough to discuss some of these topics, because... Um, I mean, I could have done a whole morning with Aaron and then the, the architects discussing issues and it's very important that the people in the audience get to ask their questions.
So it becomes, I don't want just talking heads. I want the, um. the audience to also have their point of view shared. And then we went all day, we went through down [01:34:00] different little, uh, kind of alleyways all day through different people saying things. And there's a lot of, there's a lot of people who've been around for a long time who just don't believe that, that change is coming.
Uh, "hopey-changey" stuff is, is, uh, so we had quite a bit of that and British people are quite well known for it. Um, But the other thing that happened is, is, is pretty much like the back end of my LinkedIn. So, I've got people contacting, Oh, do you know this guy? Can you put me in touch with this guy? And I was like...
Okay, and then all those people were in a space for two days. So I could say, Oh, you need to speak to that guy, and it could happen. And then the night before, uh, during the drinking, uh, evening, uh, Aaron was talking to Jess, who's a VC, who was talking to, I think he was talking to, uh, one of the guys from Spaces, that's now CoDesign.
And Aaron just said, where on earth can you find... in a [01:35:00] bar, an architect talking to a VC and a software developer about licensing models. And they were, Yeah.
Aaron could have done a whole morning on licensing models and the pain that it causes companies. Um, it's not going away. We're definitely going to do it again.
Um, I think we've kind of sparked something and the, and the, the great thing is I kind of have said privately, I said, well, Autodesk had this access. To all of these guys for three years after the open letter to get this information. But it's not true 'cause it was always in that. Revit construct that, that the, the walls of Revit were limiting the conversation.
And I think what we did with Dev was we, we took the walls off and even Autodesk would find things that they wouldn't have found out in the three years of those discussions that they had in the future of Revit, because by freeing yourselves of your [01:36:00] constraints, funnily enough, then you're, you can actually think clearly.
And I think that, um, the Open Letter Group did a fantastic job. of, um, kicking off that debate and doing some of that kind of out of the box thinking. Um, and the VCs were fascinated because it was, um, I kind of thought McKinsey were in the room. I was like thinking, what McKinsey report would ever have this information in?
You know, it's just Absolutely. fantastic stuff. Um, to hear it from the, that was the real concept of the day was. VCs, they said, we already know the software companies, they're interested in hearing from the actual users. Software developers wanted to speak to the VCs and the users, and the actual users wanted to talk to both.
because their pain points are business models and capability. And, um, so it was kind of like a [01:37:00] slightly wonky, but, um, uh, three legs stool. And then it's, it's free for everyone to go and just watch, listen, think, um, I had some negative feedback from some software developers who are really unhappy with, you know, the discussion about licensing models because they said, Oh, it's as if they don't want any, any, any models aren't good enough for them.
And it's kind of, well, try just talking to them. Don't copy Autodesk, don't copy, who copied Adobe, who then cop, everyone's copying each other on business models as to how much they can extract from people. And There is a limit and, and you're at the back of the queue depending on your pro, your product.
There's a lot of software companies that completely overrate the value of their service or product to the, to the customer. And at some point, those customers make a decision. To remove it and, uh, it's happening, you know, [01:38:00] Adobe, as I said, it's getting a kicking over here and the same in the States, I think, as well.
Um, and, uh, and people, at some point, people will go, I mean, it's like, why does 2D CAD cost so much? I mean, that stuff's as old as the Ark. I mean, why are you paying so much for a license of 2D drawing software? I mean, it's insane if you think about it. I mean, it's probably, if you do the math, I'm sure Autodesk will... write in and say something like, well, AutoCAD hasn't gone up in price over 10 years and due to inflation, it's actually decreased in value. This has been about the same price for whatever, I kind of feel that tools cost too much and the things that you, you only have to go and speak to people like Bob McNeel or anyone who.
who works with Bob McNeel or buys from Bob McNeel no one ever complains about how much Rhino costs... No one ever complains about how much Grasshopper costs because it doesn't. [01:39:00] Um, they only complain about how often he updates the software as opposed to. I would literally update it. Um, and, and it's not, it's, it's love, you know, people actually can feel love for a software company.
And then you go to this kind of volume products. Um, when it's, there's the love is evaporating or is long gone. Um, I don't know, I'm quite passionate about that element of it, I think, you know, companies that come along, Enscape are another one who are always good for their customers, um, well it was, it's like building that, that communication, it's much easier to do it when you've got a small number, I, I'd hate to be in Autodesk's Position trying to please so many customers who are all doing different things, who have all different workflows, different, different in house capabilities.
but ultimately everyone gets treated [01:40:00] pretty much the same is the, is the, is the bottom line there. yeah, but, um, I think the industry's heading For a better place and what we're trying to do is to, uh, have a look under some of the rocks so that we can see. Um, what's coming, try and encourage new startups and doing interesting things, connect people.
Um, that's a, another important thing. and then also, you know, speak truth to power. I think that, that, that is something that will always be in my DNA. Um, and I, it, it helps. I just, there's nothing wrong with complaining. If you've got a valid complaint, then all you're doing is helping somebody. And it might not look like helping, but it is, if you listen, um, then, then you're helping.
And if they, if you do something, it's even better. Uh, cause they're probably not the only people [01:41:00] complaining. Um, and this is,
Evan Troxel: For everyone that complains, there's a hundred more that are just
Martyn Day: I
Evan Troxel: heads right
Martyn Day: I can go into nearly any EBA agreement customer and, uh, outline the sales pitch patter and they will, they have, every time they've done it going, yep, it's the same. And that kind of galls me. So it's, it's, it's, it's, sales is sales. And um, Autodesk is amazing in that it's managed to keep it's sale, it's resellers.
I know that they've all kind of collapsed into these huge, big, big firms, but I am amazed that they're still there, because it's the only companies that I know where it's your own company, but really you don't have a lot of say in it, because so much is dictated by your franchisee, or whatever it almost is.
Um, and then the software. [01:42:00] The thing I'm not looking forward to is when software gets complicated. So all the new stuff is great, it's easy to get into, quick to learn. You can spend four hours on Arcol and you pretty much know what it can do. Um, the problem is in 10 years time, that software would have had,
Evan Troxel: Mm
Martyn Day: the real skill is trying to keep old software simple to use. And I think the industry needs to learn a few more lessons in how it does that. Um, no one does it.
Evan Troxel: Excuse me. That was one of the big points in the standards talk that Aaron gave, right? Just the complexity of the software alone. Is where everybody's spinning their wheels, trying to figure out how to, how to draw the things that they have to draw that day. And I mean, my, my wife's a Revit user and, you know, as, as an example, and every day it's like the hand goes up multiple times.
What, where, how do I find, where, where's this thing? Which way did they choose to [01:43:00] go about doing it today? Works for different architects. They all do it differently, right? And so
Martyn Day: it's the same with AutoCAD. AutoCAD was,
Evan Troxel: reality.
Martyn Day: even in release 12, there were about 13 different ways to do dimensioning, and
Evan Troxel: Yeah,
Martyn Day: it always gets complicated because people ask for things, and they put it in the software, and it's yet another feature, which they then have to support for another 10 years, while they add another whole lot of stuff on it.
It's upon layer, upon layer, upon layer, and... Um,
Evan Troxel: need expiration dates, right? ?
Martyn Day: Yeah, I, it's, it's like, yeah,
but I, I love, I love, uh, Graphisoft rewrote the stair tool completely. And that was tho that those kind of things excite me. They're not, they're not particularly exciting, but it's like, yeah. you, you get to a point where, you know what, there is a better way of doing this.
Um, um, And you, you run the fear of upsetting your customers because you've changed the way something is hallowed, that is used all the time, [01:44:00] um, runs, um, and you're gonna, I mean, for the longest time, I remember around 2010, nearly every release of Revit seemed to change where functions were. It was like hunt, hunt the feature through all the, all the, all the different menus.
Cause you just didn't know what they were, what they were doing. And then eventually they kind of learned. That isn't really a sustainable way of working. So things kind of settle down. And again, software companies always tell me, we don't know how to size up these portions. Are we giving people too much per year?
Too little? How much is, how much is right.
before, you know, and when you see a release come out with 200 features, you know, Oh God, oh boy, there is some, some working that needs to be done here. Um, so that, subscription forced this yearly update mentality as opposed to two or three years or whatever we were having before.
Um, it got, it was very difficult for Autodesk, I know, to... Size that [01:45:00] portion. Some were too big, some were too small. Um, and then, you know, some products just don't need updating out. Yeah. it's just kind of like AutoCAD. What's been added to it that is really useful. Um,
Evan Troxel: Yeah. Who knows?
Martyn Day: and then, you know, it's like, and then there's, there's this, the other thing that's interesting.
So even though. AutoCAD is huge. It's everywhere. Everyone knows it. They're still selling more of it every year. I'm sure there's LT. In Japan, there was this moment when Autodesk removed LT for the market and they dropped AutoCAD to the same price as LT. And that's, that was there for a couple of years and it sort of transpires. I think that they were under some pressure from BricsCAD and GraeberCAD uh, because all of those had all of the. Reverse engineered or rebuilt the APIs that went along in AutoCAD, so you could, you could still run code and expand it and do, and in [01:46:00] Japan, that's a big thing, doing customization is a big thing, and LT at the price didn't have that because obviously it was removed.
Um, and so they removed it from the market, brought in Autocad, but now they've just introduced LT with, uh, capabilities of, of, of running apps and stuff and developing apps and all of it. So I think Autodesk has sensed that it needed to be defensive against these kind of like, um, startups. I know, um, BricsCAD had one of the best years they've ever had last year.
I know, uh, uh, Graeber had a fantastic year as well. So either the whole market's floating where there is some kind of. Decision making, specifically in the Asia world, so Korea, Japan area, where again, they might be having this moment of, you know, Adobe, it's really expensive. Maybe this kind of like cheaper stuff, [01:47:00] which has pretty much the same stuff on the tin, maybe we should be trying that.
So I'm kind of wondering if we're heading towards... Um, more of that, and I think with a cloud based world, and the desktop apps, the Autodesk you've got, maybe there is this time when, you know, CAD, 2D CAD, might be the thing that you've got on your desktop. And that's the thing that you use. Modeling software is the stuff that's on the cloud, but you end up with buying lower cost apps to do some of this stuff.
But then, if you're, again, you're going to be doing a lot of 2D detailing on the, automatically on the cloud. Um, But I'm looking at Rayon this week. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they've done. The demos look amazing. Uh, I don't know if you've seen that. It's kind of Figma for, AutoCAD for Figma, Figma AutoCAD.
Uh, but it's more specific to architecture than, [01:48:00] than you'd expect. Uh, so it's R A Y O N and they're based in France, in Paris. so that could be another kind of challenge. I was thinking, so you've got... You've got things like Arcol and Snaptrude which are proving that you can, you can do some pretty decent rectilinear models.
Uh, BIM, but then, you know, you don't necessarily want to detail it out fully, but you might want drawings from it. Well, RAYON, if there was a link with RAYON, you could take that. Or if you have spaces on your iPad and you've modelled a, a kind of skin of a, of a building, you know where the floors are. If there was a link between that and Rayon, Rayon, you could do the 2D drawings and you could also make edits, which would then maybe change spaces.
So, but it wouldn't necessarily have to be this all encompassing huge BIM system that you have to learn. You can just use two cloud based apps, [01:49:00] um, and get, and get drawings out or do experimental layouts. If Rayon linked to Finch 3D, for instance, All those kind of 2D drawing. If you have the walls of the building, then, you know, the AI can take care of the layout and you can just make some edits.
This is, Yeah.
that's, I think these things are so exciting. I think Finch3d were, were very hard to get hold of and very hard to convince, because their software wasn't, isn't really ready for the prime time. And so they came over and they said they wouldn't show it. But I think loads of people are going to freak out when that stuff comes out, because they've really got to...
A very, very good idea of what it is that they're solving for architects. Um, so I was very happy to have Paul, uh, uh, Jesper, um, and Pam over. Um, I don't know.
Evan Troxel: I think one of the, the big pieces, I mean, that it was said over and over again is the best tool for the job. And like, that's what you're speaking to right now. You're speaking to use this tool for this [01:50:00] part, use this tool for this part. Why? Because they're incredibly adept at that part and they can focus solely on solving for that piece of it.
And if the data can flow freely between these. Then it makes a ton of sense in firms. And practice, people who are in practice would be willing to spool those up when they need them. I think that's another important part about this is, I don't need the design tool the whole time. I don't need the documentation tool the whole time.
I don't need the presentation tool the whole
Martyn Day: But it has to be easy enough to pick up And
Evan Troxel: are so hard. Yeah, it does. It really, I want to be able to turn it on and off whenever I need it. And it is interesting to see how Autodesk now has, and I think it was brought up during the, that where the guy from, um, the analyst presentation, the
Martyn Day: Oh, Jay. Jay. Jay
Evan Troxel: talking about. He was talking about how there was the new token system for Revit where you could buy tokens and just turn it on and off, you know, just [01:51:00] use it whenever you want to use it and you won't, it takes a token away. It's like putting a coin into the, the, the pinball machine, right? It's like when you play it, you put a coin in and, and it's interesting to see that kind of thing coming from such a big company.
I mean, it, it makes sense to me where I'm not going to use Revit. But more than three times a month. So why should I pay for it for the entire month? It does make sense, but it's interesting to how, how it is going to get so granular now I have to manage all that as a user or as a firm, and that could be, that could be difficult.
Martyn Day: Well, firms, firms are having to do that already. People on EBA agreements who... Have moved to token based systems, they have to predict their usage for three years, and if they under undershoot it, then they have to buy more tokens at a higher price. So they end up obviously losing and if they overshoot it, they end up with tokens that they've not spent. They the only way to keep them [01:52:00] alive is to take on another agreement. And I, you know, there's, the house always wins. I mean, this is essentially, it's a casino. I see cloud tokens as, as being Bitcoins. It's, it's, it's, uh, autodesk's crypto. I, I, i, I think flexibility is good. If those crypto coins, uh, w were, it's all about value.
Is it worth, is it, does it save you money? Is it worth value? But the problem is, is that Revit is, Not a product that you can switch on and off, and if you only use Revit three times in a month, I hate to see how good you are at it in a year, because... You have to keep using this stuff to keep the, the, the muscle memory and the flexibility.
Otherwise you're gonna be wasting your time. I think, I think the cloud unit. or the cloud token is literally a whole day. It's 24 hour, uh, 12 hours, I think so, um, there's no smaller, [01:53:00] you're not renting it for an hour or by the hour. It's kind of like, One day that's, that's, that's your unit and everybody will pay.
Everyone pays differently for those units. So the EBA agreement, which is under an NDA. Um, dictates your personal company, uh, price of however many those cloud credits are. And as an individual outside, I'm guessing there's going to be like a very standard price that you will be paying, but it'll be a lot more than these other guys.
But, um, one company with an EBA agreement in America will be paying a different price per crypto coin for a cloud coin, uh, than one in Sweden or Norway. And it's all kind of hidden behind their EBA agreements. And so that, that's kind of a, an issue where, um, Yeah. I just, it should be dollars, I don't, the whole idea [01:54:00] of, of having, uh, this kind of, uh, arbitrary fake coinage really
Evan Troxel: Currency
Martyn Day: Yeah.
it, it doesn't give clarity to the industry as to what they're paying, uh, or what the industry's paying, or if you're being ripped off or if you're got a really great deal, you know, um.
So I, there is no way that Autodesk will want to change the model to the point where it doesn't make, it makes less than four billion a year. It's got to be about growth. So whatever the new business model is going to be, it's not particularly clear yet what that will be with, with this kind of move to the cloud.
This is what they've got at the moment. How can you do? Non compliance when, when you're, you're using Forma and all your software is on Forma. Autodesk makes a lot of money from non compliance. And suddenly that non compliance money will disappear if everybody, if there's [01:55:00] no way to accidentally install or copy or whatever.
So what would be the new, how would you replace the non compliance money? How would you, you know, uh, re, uh, if, if, uh, at the moment, I think the open, open letter group said that. Um, they get 39 applications in the collections, or the suite, whatever it's called. They only, on average, they only install four of them.
And so, it's, it's AutoCAD, Revit, uh, 3D Studio Max, and, um, uh, Navisworks those are the, the rest of it is rarely ever installed. And so, that's, that makes it worth their while buying a collection. Just those four on it's 39. But if you start mixing and matching with other tools, uh, what point do you not need to have that kind of like big collection?
So that'd be another kind of, um, issue for Autodesk to address in terms of. How much, how much does it [01:56:00] cost to have, can you have like Mr. Potato Head and, uh, instead of the fees of 39, maybe you pick out of the suite a bunch of features and services now that you can use. Um, I think, you know, the one thing we know is that Autodesk does like changing its business model and adapting its business model to squeeze the lemon harder.
Um, and then, you know, we'll have to wait and see how that goes. But, um. Customers, I think the one thing that everyone's, I'm concerned about anyway, is that the next move means, means putting your data on a server. It's not going to be your server, it's going to be your vendor's server. And, you know, it's, it's, it's suddenly how do you get your data out?
Can you get your data out? Do you want to migrate or move elsewhere? How can you do that? How can you terminate some of these agreements? Uh, how do you know what they're doing to your [01:57:00] data? What are you letting them do to it? Um, as it is, nearly all software is automatically reporting back all the time to you.
base, telling people what you're doing, um, giving them insight into, um, how you use the software, what functions you use, what you spend most of your time doing, and they hopefully use that to improve the product and, and stuff, but it can be used, um, in a business case way. Um,
Evan Troxel: Well, look at your cell phone. I
Martyn Day: yeah.
Evan Troxel: mean, I mean, people are pretty oblivious to it, but, but talk about reporting back, right? I mean, different apps with different qualifiers for everything under the sun there that's reporting back on your, your usage, your location,
Martyn Day: I always tell my friends with Chromebooks that they're basically running, they're basically running a virus. It's, it's there, uh, reporting back every single thing they do. Um, and part of the free software and all the Google [01:58:00] nice apps and stuff is, is that you are literally selling your entire usage, um, uh, back to them as knowledge.
We haven't got quite that far back, that bad in, in, There's no kind of advertising model in, uh, in, in, in that yet, but. You know, when I'm talking to, um, Graphisoft seem very much, uh, against that, against, um, cloud based models, at least pure cloud. They think it's insecure. that's the story they're telling me.
Um, but they
Evan Troxel: a lot of firms who can't do that either, right? They're just, they can't have their data off premises for the type of project that they're working on.
Martyn Day: Well, there's, there's a, I think Autodesk are kind of suffering at the moment that there's a lot of people with Autodesk ACC that need some kind of special governmental approval in the [01:59:00] States for defense stuff. And I think they've been promising it for a number of years that they're getting, it still hasn't come.
And they're kind of getting people getting a bit, um, um, upset about, well, Yeah.
I need this. I need, I need this so I can use these tools on this job. Um. And I don't, I've already come across that a couple of times. I haven't seen, um, I think COVID got rid of a lot of people's worries in that it's just enabling people to, to downsize their offices.
There's a hell of a lot going on now. Um, people are in two or three times a week, if that. Um, so Yeah.
we, we really are working in a very distributed way and I don't think it's going to change because I'm seeing. Really large corporations here, not necessarily architects, making substantial changes to the amount of office space they're letting.
This is multi year, forever decisions. [02:00:00] Um, and it's happening. Um, this is, this is gonna stick. It's not, it's not short term. And the generation that complain about it, are the ones that are kind of in God's waiting room. They're not, they're not necessarily the younger people.
Evan Troxel: No,
Martyn Day: The quality of life is, it's so much better to work from home if you can.
I know people with children may be a willful dog, but, um, it's a, uh, We're, we were always kind of in a world where change was a given, but I think in the last five years, the amount of change that we've done has shown that we're very adaptable as a species and we're willing to roll with it. Um, and it, you know, the cloud stuff, even though it wasn't selling, has saved people's arses.
And I think that it'll continue to change the way that people work. I just [02:01:00] really hope that, um, uh, that the way things work are actually for the benefit of customers, not just shareholders and not just, uh, business models. Um. I think with NXT BLD and NXT DEV, NXT DEV will continue, we'll have a new batch of startups next year doing different things.
Um, they're going to have some more VCs, um, maybe some more Americans because the American market for VC is so much more.
It's so much more engaging. In Europe, you have to have a product that's ready to go before you get much funding. People in America are much more likely to make a bet. There's something inherent in American culture which is... You know, to be admired, in terms of taking risk. I [02:02:00] mean, you guys crossed that continent not.
knowing what the hell's on the other side of it.
Um, I think that still continues. Um, so I, I think, I always get very envious when I go to Boston. So, on the mechanical CAD side, nearly all 3D printing came out of Boston.
Evan Troxel: Mm
Martyn Day: Then you've got PTC, Onshape, John Herstick, SolidWorks. Everything, the Boston, the Boston area for MCAD is huge. Um, and you go there and the, the, the startup environment and you go to these incubating buildings, the buildings for incubators and you talk to these young kids with these amazing ideas and it's so inspiring and it's concentrated.
We don't have that.
Evan Troxel: mm.
Martyn Day: We just don't get the
Evan Troxel: Mm-hmm.
Martyn Day: same level of intensity and the same risk taking. Um, so the majority of the majority of firms that came over [02:03:00] were, uh, America, Canada, Israel, um,
Evan Troxel: Mm-hmm.
Martyn Day: uh, Scandinavia is a little, seems a little bit better. Um, but Yeah.
um, the UK is not a brilliant part for that. But the idea is we have.
a brilliant city in which to hold the event because we've got so many construction and architectural firms that are global there and now running it two days mean people are more likely to fly in so they're more likely to come in for both days but there's a limit to how many people I can fit in the space.
I've got the idea of NXT BLD is going to be the top 100, uh, AEC firms. And now it's 450 people. I think my limit for the room is 500. Um, so I kind of, I've still got to try and keep, keep the kind of the same. Quality of [02:04:00] people, um, in the space, um, and now I'm kind of adding to it by adding VCs and software developers.
So we'll wait, we'll wait and see. You might have to move dev depending on how many people want to come to it. But, um, Yeah.
it was a, it was a, it was a risk. We didn't have it funded. Um, uh, we've got some sponsorship from Lenovo and, um, Nvidia who were brilliant, um, didn't ask for anything. And, um. Yeah.
it's going to be interesting to see who wants to come next year.
I'm sure there'll be plenty of people from these software companies that now want to come and sit there and listen. It was great. We had DPR, so we didn't just have, We had an international group of speakers as well, but I'm hopefully going to get more American companies over. But there's this, there is a [02:05:00] cultural thing where Uh, American firms don't like rocking the boat too much.
Uh, but in private, they're saying exactly the same things that I'm getting from everyone else. But politically, there are bigger risks deemed to saying exactly how you feel in a public forum. So, um, and the great thing about Dev was that there was, because there was no Autodesk, no Graphisoft, no Trimble there was no exhibition per se, it was essentially, totally, uh, devoid of the main players, uh, they were there in the audience, they sent people from their strategies and from, uh, strategic development, but They weren't dictating the event.
And I go to so many events where... Because someone is exhibiting, they're expecting to talk, and it's kinda like, No, they're just gonna give you a sales pitch. And so that's the one thing with [02:06:00] NXT DEV and NXT BLD is a, you know, I don't really care, if you're doing something interesting, if you've got something that I don't think is valid, then you, you, you can talk, but it has to be in the context of something, and this time, you know, I think I was chatting with Richard Harpham and, um, Um, uh, Charlie from DPR and they just said, you know, as an event to go to, it was a unique experience because no one was there to wrap their BIM colours in it or, or their product.
Um, it was very much, it was very much based on customers talking, um.
Evan Troxel: Yeah.
Martyn Day: VCs were kind of like the latter part, um, and then software devs took their opportunities where they could to have some, have some corridor conversations and they had one room, had that one room, which was like a machine gun of, of demos. Um, but yeah, I could do
Evan Troxel: in the shadows of, of [02:07:00] any large player that, that really does kind of tend
to overshadow any, any one event.
Martyn Day: and to be honest, I think all of them, all of them have. Mergers and acquisitions. All of them have individuals whose job it, job it is to go and look at the market and see if there's any technology they should buy and I think all of them have accessed those videos or were there on that day.
To have a sniff around. I mean, even Dassault Systems, M& A, and people I wouldn't expect, so it's, it's, it's a place to come to see the stuff you don't, you're not going to see. I mean, a lot of it, so, um, Konic, uh, Top Lid, Secret Squirrels over in Belgium, Eric, I love to bits, but there's Secret Squirrels, and their software isn't even in beta, and it won't be till the end of this year.
And yeah, they were willing to come over and talk about what they were developing. Finch 3D, again, not even in beta, they were willing to talk [02:08:00] about it. Um, Paul from Arcol, kind of, was oohing and aahing and he sort of pulled out. He's very, very precious about, well, he's in the middle of doing that now. It wasn't, just wasn't good timing for him.
Um... So I think Snaptrude has, were on V2, so they were the, they were kind of commercial. Um, Marty Rosemaneth, I don't think that stuff, it just launched half of his application, which is that kind of sketch, uh, tool, but the other stuff is, is yet to come out. Um, Yeah.
so, it's a bit annoying when you go to a conference, you see something cool and you actually can't buy it, or you can't do anything because they're in front of you.
So, SWAPP I think SWAPP and Snaptrude were the only two players to actually have commercial products out of nine or ten people who gave presentations. All the rest of it you couldn't buy. Um... But you might be able to sign up for later. So
Evan Troxel: Hypar
Martyn Day: oh, Hypar,
Evan Troxel: use
Martyn Day: you can as well. Yeah. [02:09:00] But I mean, that'd be fun watching those, those guys.
I mean, Ian's very funny. Um, uh, I always loved talking to him, uh, and cause Yeah.
he just followed his Twitter and he kind of really, it's, he's always seemingly anti IFC, so we had a good conversation about that. Um, Hypar's gone through several rethinks and, and the technology is still the same, it's just how it's pointing and the orientation of, of, of who they're talking to.
And I think they've really got a really good story now, and they're working with DPR to do some very, very interesting stuff. If that takes off, that's another direction there where BIM... You know, there's this, there's this huge problem in, in fabrication, digital fabrication, linking design to digital fabrication is a mess, absolute mess.
Um, and, [02:10:00] uh, Hypar working with, with, uh, DPR, the connection capability of Then also, Yeah. okay, you can speak into it and it'll design something. Okay, fine, tick. Uh, a, a nice execution of, of a, uh, of a parlor trick. But working with DPR, all of those components in that conceptual building can be swapped for one to one representations of the model.
So you can go from conceptual to full one to one fabrication model in a flick of a switch. Um, that's mind blowing. That could be big and, uh, that would totally annihilate the design modeling in any tool. But then that could only be maybe, maybe that's the construction BIM for QA. Maybe that'll never be the design model.[02:11:00]
Who knows? But it's, it's a, I think everyone's, all the VCs are looking for, I'm just looking for a design tool. They're looking for a design tool that can somehow drive fabrication somehow. Drive, Fabrication. I had a VC lady contacted me before we ran Dev, had a conversation with her and it was pretty clear that maybe she didn't really know that much, um, about the industry and was kind of learning.
And so we had a half an hour call, not a lot came out of it. And then she contacted me after Dev and just said, okay, we've sorted, we're looking for firms that can remove architects. And I'm like,
What? There isn't one piece of software that was demoed anywhere that could remove an architect. There is no such thing. You're still gonna need people who've got indemnity. You can still need people to check everything. There is no way you can remove There might be fewer of [02:12:00] them, but it's not necessarily, so this is, this is the kind of the, the next kind of set of conceptual problems that we're going to be facing is the VCs are going to be looking to knock out part of the industry because they think that it's possible with
Evan Troxel: Yeah.
Martyn Day: AI.
So in that industry we can get rid of the lawyers, in that industry we can get rid of the doctors.
Evan Troxel: Everybody wants to get rid of somebody. The architects want to get rid of the plan checkers, right?
As an example.
Martyn Day: Yeah.
And then with AI, everyone's thinking, Oh my God, they're going to steal my designs. But at the same point, all the same companies are talking to me and saying, what we really want is an internal AI that learns from our designs. So that we can get rid of our people, we get rid of our people, not other people get rid of us.
And I'm like, oh Wow.
So everyone's, everyone's going to AI each other. It's just like these big huge whacking sticks at some point. And I think at that point it [02:13:00] becomes very difficult to predict the future. Because what, what it gets settled upon is nothing that we can possibly imagine at the moment.
All right. That's where I'm cutting off the conversation for part one. Join us in the next episode where we'll jump back in and continue with part two. See you next week.