Moving is hard. Moving a website with an established community to a different platform is even harder. Remember when AUGI tried to change their forum software and it resulted in RFO, as well as a user-revolt that cancelled the migration and restored balance back to the universe? Have you experienced difficultly getting old wiki.help links to function now that Autodesk Revit help has moved, again? Sure, it’s faster, however the wiki nature is gone, and with it the richness of user-contributed content, filling a gap in documentation that has now returned. Well, some lessons are quickly forgotten.

Yes, moving is hard. Put some pictures on the walls and make it feel lived in. That’s sort of what I’d like to see with the new home for Autodesk Labs. Granted, I understand a little bit more about the situation after having an IM session with someone in the office of the CTO, I still feel I need to explain my tweckle.

You see, I am a huge, no an enormous, fan of Autodesk Labs and their super-adventurous cousin, Autodesk Research. Perhaps the frustration of losing something valuable like ease of access and a graphically-rich experience of the former Labs site got the better of me. You can go check out the link, although a better idea of what I’m talking about would be cached in the internet wayback machine, here.

When I heard the Labs site was shutting down (yes, the same site that nurtured the highly successful Projects’ Vasari, Inventor Fusion and Pinocchio) and moving to the same platform that runs the beta site, I was saddened. Labs started shortly after I began blogging, in mid 2006, so this all felt like I was losing an old friend.

To clarify: I enjoy the beta site, also known as ‘My Feedback’, for what it is and am usually only participating in two projects at a time. Who has time for more? So, with all the tech previews, as they’re called in Labs, how could you find what you’re looking for or understand what’s new or changed when all you see is a non-graphical list? The ability to filter items by industry or platform was very useful, and is sadly not available at the moment — I do hope that capability comes back, even if in a splash page that let’s you sign up for a project.

What’s going to be most challenging in maintaining engaged participation, for me, is that each discussion forum is completely distinct and separated. I’m not going to walk away by choice. The future still has some fun technology developments to come.

Why silo tiny projects in this way? Sure, metrics are important, however if the measurement gets in the way of the primary activity of testing new tools and connecting with the development team, is it really worth that loss? In an age of growing complexity and number of tools and communication platforms that we need to deal with regularly, this doesn’t need to be so.

If you agree, I hope you’ll let the Labs team know by visiting Scott Sheppard’s blog, and give them some constructive ‘You Feedback’, here: http://labs.blogs.com/its_alive_in_the_lab/2014/01/q-what-would-make-autodesklabs-more-compelling.html

(P.S. Some changes have already occurred since my initial rant, as I suspected the moving van was not yet empty. On the Labs walls now hang some very lovely artwork. Is it compelling enough yet? You decide. )

2 comments on “My feedback, your feedback

  • Thank you for being the catalyst for the improvements. Moving the technology previews to the Feedback Community allows for consistency as well as exposes those technology previews to that really huge beta audience. So many new Labs participants may come from it. The trick is to restore what is missing from the old Labs site to retain those currently in the Labs community.

  • Thanks for your comments Scott. I hope my dry cranky-old-man humor wasn’t a cause for consternation.

    The hard work that goes into running a collection of work-in-progress technology previews is very much appreciated. It is understood that having things rough around the edges is not just fine, it is also expected. Looking forward to more great things in 2014.

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