cross-159805_150Many of my colleagues have recently expressed concern regarding the future of Revit. It’s not a terribly difficult observation to make; from the end-user perspective, Revit (the client application) has shown a reduced pace in the development of new features. Yes, there’s seemingly been for a number of years the long list of requests for better or new features in the core Revit product that are still unmet. So, is Revit dead? Certainly not. I don’t think any of you should be worried. I’m very hopeful for the future of this tool, and feel this lull is merely the calm before the storm.

Will something replace Revit as the de-facto BIM application? Perhaps. Nothing lasts forever. I cannot predict what Autodesk or its competitors will do over the next decade, however I’m sure we will see some significant advances in technology. Infinite Computing? What the naysayers may be missing is that Revit is no longer just a single desktop-based client application. It has evolved into a platform, or perhaps something more like a BIM ecosystem. It’s about connected-ness.

Autodesk is in this for the long-haul. And it’s not just about you and I, it’s about the next generation and ensuring the company can engage and continue to provide relevant innovation. Take for instance the Design The Future US campaign, to donate tools to STEAM schools across the United States.

I sincerely believe the Revit development team has taken a page from the Apple playbook. Much like the iPhone has become a new digital hub, replacing the Mac, the new, more mature Revit ‘the platform’ is replacing the Revit ‘the client’ of old. Revit is repositioning itself to replace, well Revit. The other page they are taking is more secrecy, which makes one wonder if they might just be working on that Next Big Thing.

This new role as platform is allowing Revit to stretch its legs and become even more important as it moves away from being perceived edge of design and focussed more exclusively on documentation. Revit has now and will become more deeply integrated with the core of planning, conceptual design, detailed design, fabrication, and operation of our built environment. Take, for instance the tools that integrate with BIM 360 Glue and Field as more details of the upcoming release are revealed.


The Revit 2015 BIM 360 ribbon panel

To better predict what Autodesk might have up its sleeve, let’s look at the shape of the current ecosystem that may not be completely obvious, especially to those who only use a handful of these tools and services.

Let’s look at what we know from publicly available information:

  • With ‘prosumer’ iOS apps like FormIt and SketchBook mobile in the iOS Apps Store and Google Play, in-browser apps like Project ShapeShifter and Fusion 360, and mature professional creation tools like Maya and AutoCAD for Mac – the exclusive focus on Windows-based desktop applications is long behind us
  • Autodesk is investing heavily in the cloud – by some accounts up to 500 million USD per year
  • With Rendering, Daylight, Energy, Material Life-Cycle Costs, Wind and Structural Analysis all now available in the cloud, simulation is getting closer to the design tool, more real-time and more accessible
  • No longer just Buzzsaw and Vault, arguably little more than file management systems with some data capabilities, collaboration is something that they now are exploring on multiple fronts. With communities and tools such as: Autodesk 360, BlueStreak and the new iOS app Autodesk Instant, expect more to come.
  • Design computation within the Revit environment, with a relative newcomer named Dynamo, has become a reality in the last year. While still in Beta, the active community and rapid development pace has been really exciting. This is especially true since Dynamo is an Open Source project (found here), with a few interesting forks, including one for Autodesk Inventor on GitHub. Even though this is Open Source, it is a project that Autodesk is spending significant time and development to bring to bear.
  • Revit in the Cloud – with the last few releases being certified for Citrix, creating your own private cloud to allow access to your models, even while away from the office or without a powerful laptop is completely possible. When at home, I don’t need to bring my workstation laptop home. It’s very simple to access the Citrix farm from my own personal computer, even a Mac. With any stable internet connection, I sometimes use an iPad to quickly view models. I’ve written about the experimental cloud solution Octane Cloud Workstation in the past, and this now seems to be getting more recent press coverage – see this article on Architosh.
  • Revit interoperability with fabrication tools, facilities management platforms, Civil 3D and Infraworks means the useful data accessible to your fingertips is growing exponentially – to help make better decisions and incorporate the knowledge and experience of those in allied disciplines to ensure your architectural designs both take their environment into account, and are also more easily made and deployed and integrated into the built environment.

So, while some of you may not be pleased with the new features list (described in my previous post), you need to see the bigger picture. It may be made from Sketchy lines today, and it will sharpen over time. The new BIM workflow focusses more on collaboration, construction and not just design and engineering, simulation, visualization, and most of all harnessing and contributing to Big Data. I, for one, welcome our new digital design hub.

The future of design looks bright. Viva la Revitlution!

91 comments on “Is Revit dead?

  • I quit Architecture due to Revit. It was not as if I was bad at it either as I was the best at it in an office of 30 and knew more than anyone else. It is just a bad program in my opinion. My best friend’s company tried to introduce it over a 6 month period and ended up firing the bloke trying to implement it and scrapped the idea. Good idea for a program but badly executed. I miss my old job using AutoCAD but would never go back to Revit.

  • Funny. I find it the best tool available for architects and would never go back to AutoCAD. I guess it depends on many factors, including preference.

  • As a 20 year experienced plumbing designer, Revit, imho, is for the most part a very tedious, time consuming and non – user friendly pos program. My biggest issue with this pos is the inability for revit to copy items on different worksets to the workset that they were initially drawn on. Essentially you will have to move whatever it is your working on to the appropriate workset. With lab research type of buildings and in regards to the isos, for one sink, the designer may have to individually move 4-5 items, (acid vent, lab water, tempered water ro water and gas piping) to the appropriate workset so that they appear on the appropriate drawing.

  • Well, sorry that’s been your experience. I simply wouldn’t want to be working in any other tool available today. There’s significantly better ways to manage visibility of elements in views than by workset. Filters, element categories and object styles are some of my typical techniques.

  • Revit is NOT as popular as Autodesk would have you believe. In the UK the greatest number of practices use Vectorworks and Archicad is more useable in the real world. even Sketchup can be used for BIM (apparently). Revit is OK, but nothing more and the steep learning curve counts against it when a novice in the real world can be up and running and proficient in Vectorworks or ArchiCad in under a week.

    Unfortunately AutoDesk WILL bully its way to domination through hype and helping to spread lies. The number of times I’ve been very forcibly informed that Vectorworks is just for 2D CAD by Autodesk customers is laughable.

  • You can BIM-hack with Vectorworks just fine 😛

    I do get the vitriol John has for Adesk: their sales chain is often uninformed and technically ignorant.

    Regardless of how much sales guys know, there’s no lie about Revit, it works and works well. With a Revit mentor in your office, the software will not disappoint. It’s entirely equivalent to Archicad. And like Archicad, most firms will need an expert to teach them the ropes. After a couple of years most firms will be flying high with Revit or Archicad.

  • Agreed, Wes. Expecting a car to operate the same as a horse doesn’t make sense, just like expecting BIM software to act like CAD is not the right expectation.

  • There’s a recent article from an ArchiCAD user who I respect (Shoegnome) who posted an article on LinkedIn where a Brazilian firm – a large one – was ditching Revit for ArchiCAD. Why? Cost. Autodesk products are absurdly expensive in many locales. If Adesk isn’t going to make their software affordable, people will drop them like a rock. And Adesk has earned a bad reputation for profiteering, greedy sales people, and just being uninformed about the other products out there, and not working to make their software interoperable with other products.

  • Ha! But you can go sideways with a horse! and jump things!
    and feed it and brush it and shoot it when it breaks a leg. It poops all over the place and you sweat when its hot, freeze when it’s cold, get wet when it rains. Horses are great!

    I bought the building design suite (pro) last year wanting to get in before Autodesk implemented the subscription only payment model. I’ve only used it in a couple projects – with so many remodels having CAD backgrounds already available, it doesn’t make sense to redraw everything in Revit. But I find myself say, man, this task would have been faster.

    Still some things are not pretty & can be frustrating: text editing chief among them. I’m really looking forward to dynamo 1.0 and the ensuing productivity enhancements: excel linking for key schedules and elevation renaming per room name/number are high on my list. I acknowledge that this stuff can be done now if you either purchase a (often expensive) 3rd party app or have some knowledge of the API, but for the rest of us…

  • I’m looking forward to Dynamo 1.0 as well, because I’m already making Revit jump through hoops that would otherwise be impossible or take far too long to be valuable without scripting tools.

  • I’m Looking forward to finding a job in architecture again, after 10 years of past experience with Autocadd architectural, and a Bachelors Degree in Architecture. Great! It seems I’m not going to have to draw as much construction documents, or I will save much wasted time with this Revit program. Also, wow! design as well, that’s like the icing on the cake.

  • Good luck. If you believe in something. And have a passion for working efficiently, you’ll find many opportunities to push the software to new heights.

  • The plumbing aspect of the entire BIM process is years away from being helpful . It is like any other massive change , the people who use it will have to figure out how to make it viable . For right now it is a major obstacle for plumbing .

  • No software is perfect. So, BIM isn’t useful for plumbing at all in your opinion? Would you prefer lines, arcs and circles with no intelligence?

  • Getting construction documents out of Revit without having disappearing dimension strings and making sure your view templates show what you want and not everything in the cut plane is too time consuming. We use Revit for elevations, roof plans and exterior renderings. It’s easier and faster to paste a .png image of the CAD completed floor plans and electrical plans into a drafting view and rescale them to 1/4″ scale then drag them to a sheet.

  • Well, as someone who’s been using Revit for nearly ten years, I can say the problems you’re describing are a training and process failure.

  • Pardon my impertinence, but: Holy crap, does that sound like a lousy workflow!
    So, you draw your plans in CAD.
    Then you model the same thing in Revit.
    Then you export a PNG.
    Then you (hope) you scale the PNG somewhat accurately.
    Then every time you make a change anywhere you change all three?
    And that’s assuming you remember to change them all.
    Might as well throw scanning and faxing it, too!
    And good luck getting an Opening Schedule out of that PNG.

  • Hello sean,
    I am a fresher and looking forward to work in MEP field and decided to learn Revit MEP. Some of my friends who already working in those field asking me to do Autocad MEP as they are saying Revit not yet been implemented completely. I just need to know the opportunity in the Revit MEP. From the above conversation i found it will be hard to convert from Autocad to Revit. Is it that much hard for change over from Autocad? Thank You

  • The concepts are similar, however the tools are very different. I recommend learning Revit. Neither one is perfect, however Revit will continue to grow in adoption and therefore available jobs.

  • Hmmm

    Having owned licenses (and actually still own) of AutoDesk architectural and mechanical products which have been dropped I can attest to the fact that that evidence of Revit is slowly dying on the vine is a sure sign of planned obsolescence. In my humble opinion, like Microsoft, AutoDesk software isn’t just yesterday’s news, it is yesterday’s mindset. To put it another way, both companies are already dead, they just don’t know it yet. Like giant ships, their sheer size and mass means it will take quite a while before they grind to a halt. Just my 2 cents

  • Interesting. So, what would you see as replacing Autodesk’s strong hold on the BIM and CAD world? With millions of customers, I fail to see anything out there that is fresh and new and also approaching the capability of Revit. There are other BIM tools in the market place, however they are either built on top of CAD platforms, only able to mature to a certain level or things like ArchiCAD, which is significantly older as a platform and also struggling to advance beyond minor tweaks.

  • I find it interesting that a cynical article which actually points to what’s happening in the positive development of the cloud received the most visibility and comments. Even years later. Thank you all for your readership. It is much appreciated.

  • I agree that the mighty Autodesk ship is a broken rudder 2D cad developer, slowly killing what is cutting edge 3D software from the original developers of Revit and Inventor. Autodesk really should of stuck with their MechCAD line, people were using the 3D component of manufacturing software to draw buildings and bridges before BIM. Luckily they kept civilCAD, it still plays catch up in some areas to there competitors but it has its merits.

    Looking forward, My expectations from cloud is full project integration between civil works, structures and MEP design and construction detailing. As a simplified example; a decision is made to move a drain pit near a new bridge or warehouse extension to allow services route widening. Designers from various locations should be able to contribute ideas and make changes to a cloud model as agreed.

    Otherwise its still clear skies with no rain, no floods and no regrowth.

    And no pressure I want it yesterday so I can start using tomorrow.

  • Can a non architect business owner learn BIM effectively ? Will revit be too advanced for non civil / non architectural guys to start with ?

  • Hard to make generalizations about the difficulty to learn. Some of that depends on the person’s knowledge of building systems and documentation.

    Perhaps the question to ask is: what is the building owner wanting to achieve? If design and documentation is not the goal, and instead focusing on pro-forma generation, or facilities management, there are BIM tools specifically aimed at those workflows and are outside the current scope of Revit.

  • Sean presented a very correct diagnosis of the current situation with Revit (lack of development, customer support, a lot of serious problems known for years, but still unsolved etc.), but I cannot understand where his optimism for the future of Revit comes from. My answer would be – YES, Revit is (will be) dead if Autodesk keeps its current sales, pricing and customer support policies. All those three areas are now being managed in horribly incompetent way, as if the company purposefully aimed for a spectacular failure and begged the market and users to stop using its products.

    There has been initiatives among the community of BIM and Revit users trying to send a message to Autodesk. A letter from Australia & New Zealand users was sent in 2014 was initiated by Tim Waldock of the RevitCAT blog. In Hong Kong 15 largest architectural companies signed an official letter to Autodesk in 2016 (supported by the Hong Kong Institute of Architects) describing our concerns and proposing improvements in the software and various policies. Autodesk however does not seem to care (on a global scale). The reaction of their Hong Kong office was employing a “consultant” and organizing some “workshops”, as if we were to be taught how to use BIM, while the problems are within the software itself. Although the local Autodesk representatives in HK are responsive and try to help, they cannot do much, because the reasons of the situation are beyond their reach and point to fundamental, systematic mistakes with Autodesk strategy of developing and supporting their products.

  • I’m at my 3rd year at Uni and I do strong believe Revit is the future for architecture as a drawing tool due to the fact that Virtual Reality will be part of Revit ; but what upset most is the licences cost I do think it is extremely expensive, I do feel that right now Autodesk is more concern about making money rather to make the software a bit more easy and flexible, but because of “Autocad market” seems to me that will exploit from both sides

  • I just googled ‘Vectorworks is useless’ and found this page 🙂 i need something to take my mind off yet another Crash. It really is the biggest pile of parrot droppings i’ve ever used. Absolute trash of a programme. I’ve used AutoCAD and Revit (not as good at revit as auto cad mind you) and even ‘Vellum’ if anyone remembers that.

    Anyone who says it’s ‘user-friendly’ or ‘intuitive’ clearly hasn’t used or doesn’t know how to use the other programmes. If they did they’d realise was a piece of crap it is and takes a million ‘clicks’ and keyboard contortions to do any type of command – and don’t get me started on ‘groups’ and if you need to trim a line that’s inside a group inside another group inside a third group. Christ almighty.

    Ok, i think i’m ready to open it up again and re-do the half hours work i’ve lost!

  • All software has flaws. They are complex and written by a bunch of humans and each one has their own way of doing things. Good luck.

  • Sean, “all software has flaws” is a cliche. Really. And it does not explain at all why Autodesk is seen by many architects (including myself) as a “user hostile” company. Off course all software has some flaws, but what really matters is the number of those flaws (hundreds in Revit) and the way they are handled by the software maker (most of them are not addressed by Autodesk for years in any way). So suggesting that Revit is as bad as any other software is simply incorrect – it is worse. Comparing to, say, Rhino, Sketchup, etc. And I obviously do not mean functionality as those applications are for different purposes, but issues common for them – stability, ergonomy, general friendliness of use, bug rectification, responsiveness to users’ requests, customer service, etc., etc.

  • It’s not a debate worth having. I’ve invested ten years of my career in the Revit world. I’ve seen applications come and go and this tool is both mature, stable and by far the best tool for the job in a large architectural practice. You miss the fact that my article was in jest, and in fact sees Revit as part of a larger growing ecosystem. Enjoy what you do. Don’t bash others, just because you have had bad experiences.

  • Sean, I have invested about the same time in Revit as you. I wrote tutorials, created very extensive standards, taught it at the university, trained people in companies, etc, etc. And I do not consider this time wasted, even if I have to acknowledge the truth about Autodesk and Revit. Moreover, only this extensive experience allows me to say what I say. I am not sure what part of what you wrote above was a “jest” and if it was, how it should influence my opinions.
    It is true that Revit may is the best solution in many cases (this is why we use it), but it does not mean at all that it is good and that Autodesk does its job right – those are simply unrelated matters. I use Revit every day for pretty complex projects and it is the most unstable software I have ever seen. It crashes several times a week and very often produces corrupted files and families. It is a bit of shame that you do not refer at all to any of the specific issues I mentioned, but for some unknown reason say that I “bashed you”. Why? Where? Also your statement that this is “not a debate worth having” is disappointing. Debates are always worth having, especially when the participants have different opinions.

  • Marcin, if Revit is crashing on you several times a week, that is a cause of concern. It’s not my experience – even working on large teams modeling multi-million SF hospitals. So, despite the similarity in the number of years we’ve put into using this tool, (I worked for Autodesk and likely taught as many or more people to use the tool), after seven years working for the same firm and seeing people and technology come and go, Revit is a mature and robust platform and every release is more rock solid than the last.

  • All negative comments are utterly valid. revit is one of the worst counter intuitive tedious counterproductive tools for architects ive ver seen . Practices quote clients two options Standard documentation standard fees or 25% more for Revit.
    Clearly ‘Sean’ whoever he is works for Autodesk.

  • Actually, no. I work for the architecture firm NBBJ and have used Revit for 12 years. We work on very large projects and only deliver in Revit and have been very successful doing so. We certainly don’t charge higher fees and as a matter of fact have completed entire hospital projects with half the staff as it used to take. I see your experience was negative, however it’s just a tool. No tool is perfect and this one is well suited for its purposes.

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