While Inventor or Revit does not currently have a native Macintosh version, you can still install Revit and Inventor on a Mac in virtualized environments including Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion. We also support these products via Boot Camp, part of Mac OS X that lets you install and run Windows (and Windows-based applications) on a Mac.
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Revit is the exception here. Our engineers have windows workstations, but the Engineers have MacBooks that run everything native, except for Revit which could always run virtually in parallels desktop. For architects, a computer is not a Revit machine but a toolbox that contains Revit as a tool. So no, serious architects don't need windows. Parallels Desktop and then start Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Revit Architecture, Autodesk Revit MEP, Autodesk Revit Structure, or Autodesk Revit LT in a window. Use Full Screen mode to maximize the Windows application screen area. Use Coherence mode to integrate Windows applications fully in the Mac OS. Revit is BIM software widely used by architects, engineers, and contractors to create a unified model that all disciplines and trades can use to complete their work. Autodesk Revit was created to support BIM and not to replace BIM. Revit hosts the information that forms the model from which drawings and documents are derived.
This article is prefaced with a proviso that it is directed at the parent company of Autodesk, and not at the Revit team within Autodesk. Over the years, the Revit product managers and development team have continued their hard work - trying to deliver software improvements to their customers with an apparently decreasing budget. We know that must be a big challenge within a company that appears to be largely driven by marketing management and share-holder returns.
Letter to Autodesk
A group of influential UK/international architects recently sent an 'Open Letter to Autodesk' about the increasing cost of ownership and operation of Autodesk's Revit software and fundamentally its lack of development. This has prompted me to go public with a similar letter that was put together in 2014 by a significant group of Australian / New Zealand architects. This was submitted to Autodesk Asia Pacific 6 years ago (but not as an open letter) - it talked about similar issues of increasing software subscription costs and diminishing improvements to the core Revit software. Autodesk never responded to the letter in any formal way. We know that it was widely circulated at high levels within Autodesk: when subsequently questioned about it, all Autodesk employees responded with 'Oh, that letter!' or words to that effect.
In Autodesk's recent response to the public letter, they claim: 'Engaging, listening to and addressing the concerns of our customers is a top priority for Autodesk, . . .'
That was not our experience - no letter, no email, no phone call. Nothing!
We did see a some changes at Autodesk (a few good, but mostly not good):
Bad Changes since 2014
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- Subscription costs (renamed as Maintenance) started rising sharply - after several years of a slow but predictable rise. Suddenly it became 5%, then 10% then 20% increases per annum.
- Commencement of a process to force customers from an annual maintenance fee to a subscription model, whether they liked it or not. This has become more heavy handed each year, with a likely knockout blow next year.
- Complicated and awkward licensing models became even more so - with annual name and format changes. More superfluous additional software was bundled in (with more cost) even for those wanting to use just Revit/Autocad.
- Now it appears that the universally popular 'floating license' system will soon be dispensed with by Autodesk. This is likely to cause immense pain to customers, with massive increases in license management workloads (and probably costs).
- Value for money kept going down year after year. The annual enhancement list for core Revit & Revit architectural features kept reducing - through no fault of the Revit Product Managers, as they were doing their best juggling with reduced budgets.
Good Changes since 2014
The Revit Product Managers certainly tried to improve relationships with customers (within budgetary constraints imposed on them):
- The public 'Roadmap' for Revit development has been a very welcome feature - demonstrating transparency. It allows users to have some idea of what may be coming in future software versions. Revit Roadmap 2020.
- The Revit Ideas Wishlist is a great idea, even if a little flawed. There have been many other enhancement request wishlists around but this one is owned by the Revit team and they really do analyse and respond to it (incurring a lot of extra work for themselves in the process, which we appreciate) - some of the most popular requests do actually make it through to development. Revit Ideas Wishlist.
- A few international 'Inside the Factory' events have occurred but Shanghai is still cost prohibitive for Australian/New Zealand users to attend.
- Revit Product Managers have consistently attended international Revit/BIM conferences - allowing better engagement with users around the world.
It will be interesting to see how Autodesk actually substantiate their claim: 'Engaging, listening to and addressing the concerns of our customers is a top priority for Autodesk, . . .'
To see the new letter (July 2020) refer to the Open Letter to Autodesk - follow the email link at the end of the letter if you would like to add your company name to the list of signatories.
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The original ANZ 2014 letter is now published openly below:
Letter to Autodesk from Australia/New Zealand architectural firms. 5 June 2014
Attention: Sales Director, Autodesk Asia Pacific
BDS Value for Money
As architectural users of Autodesk Revit for a number of years, we feel that the value for the money that we have been spending on the software subscriptions has been diminishing steadily, most noticeably in the last 2 or 3 years. We also feel that the annual enhancements to the software are not being sufficiently driven by existing user requirements – it appears that marketing driven changes are much more dominant. Although we understand that Autodesk have good reasons for pursuing new market AEC segments (such as building contractors), this should be done in addition to, not at the expense of further development to the Revit Architecture tool that we are paying an annual fee for upgrades to.
Below is a summary of our concerns, followed by some suggestions as to how Autodesk could begin to address these issues.
1. Building Design Suite Upgrade
In 2012/3 Autodesk forced us into upgrading our Revit Architecture Suite licenses to Building Design Suite (BDS). Although this did not have an upfront cost, there has been a dramatic increase of about 30% in annual subscription costs for most architectural firms.
2. Value for money of subscriptioncosts
Over the last five or so years each release of Revit has given us less and less value (fewer useful features, less well executed), even if subscription costs had not gone up. International price differences are extremely unfavourable to Australians (about 20% higher).
- Upgrade process.
- Each year we go through immense pain in the Autodesk software (RAC/BDS) upgrade process. On top of a complex process, it seems that there are many additional obstacles put in our way that could be relatively easily removed. The annual change in file format and lack of backward compatibility of Revit versions prove to be an immense challenge to our requirements for collaborating with a varied group of consultants on different projects.
4. Licensing issues
The complexity and rules for licensing individual Autodesk software versions within the suites make life very difficult for our IT support teams and information managers.
Refer to a detailed list of these issues later in this document for explanations.
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Roadmap for Revit future development – Aus/NZ User Proposal
1. Give value for subscription money to existing users
2. Introduce consistency into UI and functionality
3. Remove the many internal software limitations on Revit usage
4. Converge the 2 (or 3) Revit environments - traditional/Conceptual massing (Dynamo)
5. Complete the various new features that were started but then stalled: eg. Stairs
6. Address the major problem areas – Railings & Site Tools
7. Ease the pain of upgrades
8. Remove licensing restrictions.
9. Enable end users to generate additional revenue stream from Revit models.
How to achieve this:
1. Value for money:
· Maintain a fair balance between features for new markets and existing user base.
· Maintain a fair balance between enhancements for each discipline (last few years have seen architects pay most subscription but garner fewest enhancements).
· New features aimed at new markets not to be funded from subscription income.
· Remove the price differential between Australia and USA – we should only be charged additional costs to cover exchange rates.
· Panel of expert users to be more involved in decisions on annual upgrades.
· Allow us to “lock” models/families when we distribute models. Then we could actively pursue additional revenue streams such as FM (currently we give away IP when we do this).
2 & 3. Consistency & Limitations:
· Consistency upgrades every other year, as described below.
· Panel of users to be more involved:
o international “gunslinger events”;
o Video conferences in Autodesk offices between key users and PMs/developers.
o More Autodesk involvement at international user events: eg PMs & developers to attend more conferences and organise formalised interaction sessions outside the USA.
4, 5 & 6. Converge & Completion:
· Stick to a roadmap that follows up on previous issues (instead of “just good enough” approach)
· Do notlet marketing drive the budget for enhancement decisions
7. Annual upgrades to alternate between:
· Major features (file format change); new features; + small fixes that need format changes
· Consistency upgrades (no file format change); fix/remove as many UI inconsistencies and limitations as possible
8. Remove licensing restrictions:
· Allow license file to support more than 4 versions – preferably unlimited previous versions.
· Allow a user to open multiple versions of each software concurrently but only use one BDS license from the pool (eg. Revit 2015, plus Autocad 2011, plus 3DS Max 2014 = 1 license use, instead of 3).
Specific Issues in Detail
1. Building Design Suite Upgrade
In 2012/3 Autodesk forced us into upgrading our Revit Architecture Suite licenses to Building Design Suite (BDS). Although this did not have an upfront cost, there has been a dramatic increase in annual subscription costs for most architectural firms.
· The Building Design Suite has been of no material benefit to us over the previous suite. We continue to use Revit and Autocad plus a small number of 3D Max and Navisworks licenses only. The rest of BDS is largely unused and unwanted.
· The versions of some software included in BDS Premium are “hobbled” so that we cannot use them for desired purposes: Recap and Navisworks Simulate.
o We would need to upgrade further to BDS Ultimate to get the full versions of Navisworks (to do clash detection for example);
o The version of Recap in BDS does not allow completion of tasks that it is meant for. To use Recap for its logical end purpose, we need to use cloud credits, which is an additional cost to us.
· The huge increase in subscription cost of BDS over RA suite is not only unwelcome but damaging to our finances and budget, particularly as it came with almost no advance warning.
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· The huge increase in software size is frustrating (increased download/distribution times)
2. Value for money of subscriptioncosts
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· Over the last few years each release of Revit has given us a little less value for money (fewer useful features, less well executed)
· Many of the recent major new features in Revit have been clearly aimed at new markets that are not a core part of architects business – “Parts” and “Assemblies” for example are of minor use to architects.
· The recent release of Revit 2015 has proved to be dramatically less value for money than usual. Listed below are some comments:
o There is no “Big ticket” item this year (eg. Like Stairs in v2013). That would have been ok if there were lots of small improvements instead (but it has only a few), and no file format change
o The one annual “Shiny new feature” – Sketchy Lines, has been put in to compete directly with Sketchup. It is not particularly well implemented; and past experience tells us that it is unlikely to be revisited for improvements next year.
o There is nothing specifically for architects, unless you count the previous item.
o There are a number of small “productivity” improvements (12) - some very welcome, some of no use, and some could be useful if they are completed properly (often not the case in this version, which makes them more trouble than they are worth).
· The purchase costs of BDS in Australia are about 20% higher than the USA (taking into account exchange rates). There can be no possible justification for this as all support is done online and upgrades are delivered by download.
3. Upgrade process.
Each year we go through immense pain in the Revit / Building Design Suite upgrade process. It would be wonderful if Autodesk could help make it less painful for us – it should be relatively easy to achieve the licensing part of it:
· Non-backward compatibility of Revit versions – this causes no end of problems, particularly when working with consultants on Revit projects where we must all be on the same version; we work with a number of different consultants on different projects, each of which might be on a different Revit version. As a result we need to maintain several active version of Revit at any one time.
· The size and complexity of the Building Design Suite install files means that it is not a simple matter if we just wanted to upgrade Autocad or Revit individually.
· Upgrading software is not a simple matter:
o All customization needs to be ported to the new version
o API addins need to be upgraded too; if they are third party, we have to wait for them to be available.
o Component libraries need to be upgraded
o In Revit, each file needs to be individually upgraded (not reversible). If we have multiple linked files per project, this can be very time-consuming – particularly if the links need to be repathed (Many people use a convention of including the version number in file names because there is no other way to identify it)
· The Autodesk License server forces us to upgrade both Revit and Autodesk at the same time (otherwise our users might end up taking two licenses from the pool if they have both applications open at the same time). This is NOT a desirable situation because we do not need or want to upgrade Autocad every time we upgrade Revit.
· The limited range of versions covered by the license file is restrictive, although it has recently been increased to 4 consecutive years (which helps). We have live projects on Revit 2011, 12 and 2013 – that means we could not upgrade to v2015 until the v2011 project is archived/upgraded.
4. Licensing issues
· The two licensing items listed above cause us lots of headaches – we cannot understand why Autodesk make this so complicated. Autodesk needs to give us a license server that allows each user to open different versions of each application but only use one license. It currently uses 1 license per application if they are different versions – so, if a user opened Revit 2013, Autocad 2011, 3D Max 2012 at the same time that would take 3 licenses from the pool.
12 Australian & NZ large Architectural practices and Developers (plus several others offering support but not prepared to sign for fear of compromising their relationships with Autodesk).