CAD for the mad, mad world

Ever been involved in one of those projects where the client doesn’t know what they want? the budget and the goals keep changing and the deadline is yesterday?

Of course you have. That pretty much describes every project in the world of show business. The situation can get under your skin when you have work to get finished and there are consequences if you don’t. But that’s how the world is – the question is can we live in it?

Broadcast System Design
Photo by Jan Starzak

Back in the day when I was a broadcast systems designer it was terribly hard to progress under these conditions. Each change of wishes and resources meant painstaking re-drawing and re-calculating everything. Computers came along, but the software we had was little more than a glorified piece of paper. The big bonus was that you didn’t have to cover the screen in Tippex every time you needed to change something.

With CAD we got pristine beautiful drawings of the state of play about a week ago. But producing  drawings and keeping them up to date was almost as slow as doing them in pencil. Remember the old joke? ” What does IBM stand for? It’s Better Manually !!! ”

I have the advantage that I’m not that young and the first personal computer emerged just as I was finishing college. So as a true geek (to the consternation of my parents) instead of putting down a deposit on a house, I spend my entire savings and bought one. It was just as exciting as I’d expected. I switched it on, it beeped and a glowing green > prompt flashed at me on the screen. That was all. But you could program it in BASIC. And happy months passed as I taught this dumb box more and more tricks.
Hidden deep inside MiniCAD was a script editor and while I was spending another late night at the office drawing yet another distribution amplifier I began to think, ” what if I taught the computer to do this for me”. I stopped working on the project and dusting off my dormant programming skills I began to build some macros to make my life a bit easier.

The whole thing spiraled wildly out of control. The macros became longer and more complicated and then they started talking to each other. In the process I had bent MiniCAD (by then called Vectorworks) away from being merely tool for a visual  representation into an actual functional model of the systems I was designing.

example of schematic design in connectCAD

Suddenly deadlines held no terror for me. Change requests – welcome. Updates processed in seconds. Reports – no problem. It was way to good to keep to myself.

Finally CAD for the mad, mad world. A program that lets you get started on a “normal” project with no clear goals, unknown resources and budget. Where changing your mind is not a crime to be punished by hours of hard labour, but just a natural way of evolving your thoughts.

It’s called connectCAD.

One thought on “CAD for the mad, mad world”

  1. Hardly ever do I visit a blog that’s both educated and entertaining, and let me let you know, you could have hit the nail on the head. Your thought is outstanding; the issue is that not enough individuals are speaking about it.

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