The symbolism of Pixlr
The same week that Bricsys held its press-only Insights conference, Autodesk announced that it was selling off one of its software packages, Pixlr acquired during the Carl Bass era. This otherwise innocuous announcement made a startling admission: "As part of our ongoing business model transition, Autodesk has decided to focus development resources on our core product portfolio." Autodesk is retrenching.
I'll have more about what this means in a future edition of upFront.eZine.
By coincidence in the same week, Bricsys is holding its first-ever conference for members of the CAD press, a two-day event. They are showing off their confidence as a suitor suitable for the affections of disaffected Autodesk customers (and other CAD users, of course). The conference is taking place at the headquarters of Bricsys in Gent, Belgium, housed in the office tower shown in the figure below at the right (image source xavier-donck).
Bricsys designed BricsCAD with the following attributes:
- Only one product, albeit available in three price levels and several add-ons
- File format based on DWG
- Imports and exports files in several MCAD formats (optional extra-cost add-on)
- User interface that looks like AutoCAD, but can be customized
- Command set that is similar to AutoCAD, plus unique commands not found in AutoCAD
- 2D constraints, plus 3D constraints (not in AutoCAD)
- Direct editing and modeling, design intent
- Add-ons for doing BIM or sheet metal design
- Programming interfaces mimic those of AutoCAD to attract third-party developers, and include ARx, LISP, VBA, DCL, Diesel, macros, and more.
- Permanent license, with optional subscription plans
- Priced at 1/4 of AutoCAD.
Bricsys designed themselves to run lean, with just 135 employees, 90% of which are programmers. By contrast, Autodesk has about 9,500. Running lean also means a mammoth CRM [customer relationship management] system that automatically handles many processes, such as assigning downloaded software to the nearest dealer or tracking bug reports submitted by users. Things are handled through the Web, as much as possible.
Bricsys operates on the franchise model, so it owns no dealer network. Nevertheless, it supports hundreds of dealers in nearly 80 countries.