Autodesk is pushing its globulous mass (I mean that in a nice way) into every corner of everything that has anything to do with creating–Engineering, Architecture, Manufacturing, Media and the community-minded machine of fabbers, modders and tweak-freaks. They delivered their 123D software to make it all so much easier, but as Wired reports, the software may be making the ‘Make’ too hard and leaving makers skeptical.

Make it Simple

Autodesk rode into simplified-app stewing greatness with Sketchbook Mobile. That was a great move into a broader consumer market–a simple app with simple UI and no other app around that approached sketching the same way, with the higher-end app to push its popularity. So why not do the same with 3D modeling? Makes sense, especially if their manufacturing products represent the largest segment of their revenue, right? They should know how to deliver based on previous success. However,

123D initially fell flat in Autodesk focus groups and is being tweaked. “People who had training with professional tools struggled with 123D because it’s designed to be intuitive,” says senior public relations manager Noah Cole. “Ultimately we decided we’re going to make this for 10-year-olds.” And yet it’s still too hard for nonprofessionals, according to Christy Canida, senior manager of partnerships and community marketing. “It’s still not accessible to people who don’t think of themselves as CAD jockeys,” she says.

If you’ve used 123D you may agree. For me, it’s easy enough. I just found it odd that it started lagging after a few simple features. I want to see it work, if nothing else than to provide a good starting point for my kids. Right now though, Tinkercad is the go to app. No software to download, just load and go.

I pulled a big, fat negative bit out of that article. It is however a wonderfully written, candid look at the software giant, and the inspiration behind what’s pushing their app development, how they’re using them as a test bed and where they want it go next.

Photo: Mathew Scott


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.