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AEC Inflection Point — The Story of the Revit Revolt

Less a revolt and more a signal, the current groundswell of protest over Revit is actually a symptom of a larger looming change.

THE STORY OF THE REVIT OPEN LETTER deserves to be told in three separate acts. Problematic in this unique moment in AEC history, where a prominent group of architects published an open letter condemning a lack of progress and attention to their needs by US-based Autodesk, is the faulty notion that this moment is fundamentally about Revit. It is not. It is fundamentally about broader changes in both AEC technology and broader waves in technology transformation. They both conspire to form a pivotal inflection point in AEC as we head into the next decade.

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Over the next few days, Architosh will publish three major stories that lay out the case for these broader waves of technology transformation. The Revit open letter (link to it here) is a symptom of the difficulties facing all stakeholder participants in AEC, as Revit gets caught between its development history and a mismatch between old technologies and new technologies, between old paradigms and new paradigms.

An Introduction

In the first article, we discuss many of the pre-revolt factors that led up to the open letter by a specific group of mostly British architecture firms (there were also Australian firms in the original 17). The second article is from a post-letter conversation with Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost where he looks beyond this present moment and most importantly lays out details about Autodesk’s AEC futures. The wrap-up third article frames and delves into details about the forces impacting technological change and looks to re-lens AEC futures.  It importantly adds analysis of Anagnost’s vision for Revit’s future. Finally, a sidebar article to the Anagnost discussion is planned for our new issue of Xpresso coming out on the 4th of October (subscribe here). One of those issues has to do with the specifics of multi-platform development and the possibilities of a Mac Revit.

While the Revit open letter movement may make licensing costs the center pole issue in the tent of its argument, I prefer to see this whole moment from the standpoint of “democratization.” The democratization of user data, the democratization file formats, and the democratization of the AEC industry’s digital backbone (ie: processes). It is democratization as an umbrella philosophy about how digital workflows are created such that an open market of solutions can best compete, serve, and develop higher and focused competences to lift and advance an industry forward.

A Story in Three Parts

Here’s a breakdown of the three main features:

  • The Pre-Revolt Factors — Why the Open Letter — this article begins with a brief history of Revit, not from its business or acquisition beginnings but from what phase it emerged within the ITC revolution. We end by looking at the specifics of the open letter. (Published: 1 October)
  • What’s Beyond Revit — Anagnost on Autodesk AEC Futures — this second feature based on an hour-long discussion with Autodesk’s CEO delves into one of the main issues in the open letter—interoperability! Anagnost describes where Autodesk sees the future of “interop” and the future of AEC solutions including what happens next with Revit. (Published: 1 October)
  • Synergy and Alignment — The API’s Democratizing Role — this third article re-lens our look at the future of AEC during the emergent “synergy” and “maturity” phases of ITC’s final deployment. (Published: 3 October)

A final sidebar story details Anagnost’s discussion about AEC and manufacturing and also the multi-platform support for future Autodesk AEC software solutions. This includes a discussion about possible Revit for the Mac commentary. You can sign-up for our newsletter to read this story coming Sunday, 4 October 2020.

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