So, for those of you who don’t work around CAD (computer-aided design) technologies, which is likely most of you, it’s where I spent roughly 25 years of employment. I wrote software for AutoCAD for various US defense companies, mostly to automate design operations and ancillary processes. It also automated a decent paycheck.
Anyhow, Ralph Grabowski publishes a fantastic newsletter named upFront eZine, focused on all-things CAD/CAE/CAM (you can figure out the other acronyms). I occasionally respond to his articles with (usually brief, but always positive) feedback. The latest edition caused me to respond with a bit longer (but still positive) email. Anyhow, here it is…
First off – your most recent issue on hardware hacking was outstanding! Thank you!
Regarding the “Missing Developers” discussion:
I loved working with AutoLISP/VisualLISP from 1988 to 2004. But Autodesk beat us over the head repeatedly, that they were dumping LISP in favor of sexier (e.g. more marketable) tools like ObjectARX (.NET). Moreover, the LISP community was being left behind with outdated tools and no clear path forward. The incredible community base, and content abundance, that had evolved until then, had zero value to Autodesk, or so it seemed at the time.
I also tried my hand at writing books on the subject of Visual LISP, but I couldn’t seem to get any help or feedback from Autodesk whatsoever. I never asked for free licenses or special treatment. Just things like fact-checking, and peer review, etc. Nothing. Other authors seemed to figure out the magic formula for getting support, but it seemed to align with non-LISP subject matter. I continued on through several editions only for the benefit of my readers, who still buy them (I’m still surprised at this!) The writing, for me, was on the wall.
I do miss working with CAD programming very much. I would say it was the most fun I ever had within the development realm. There was something magical about writing code and watching it draw and manipulate things on a screen. Taking it further, into business process automation, reporting, materials ordering, construction planning, machining, robotics, and so on was icing on the cake. They were good times indeed.