A few weeks ago, I presented and demo’ed the new AutoCAD for Mac 2012 at the Portland Pioneer Square Apple Store. It was a good presentation and it’s exciting to see more and more Mac users interested in Autodesk products like AutoCAD and AutoCAD WS. One question that inevitably always comes up during these events is, “When’s Revit coming to the Mac?” The quick answer – I don’t know. The more in depth answer – does it even matter?
Look at where application software is headed. No longer running an app on a single OS on a single device is cutting it in the workplace these days. And because of this there’s a shift towards on demand software or software as a service, SaaS, application software delivered as its needed.
As an interim solution 3rd party software developers such as VMware, Citrix, and Parallels have become very popular. Each of these remove the requirements needed to run programs with specific requirements such as hardware and operating system, and allow the applications themselves to be run on virtually any type of device.
For a true software as a service application take a look at Google Docs. Google Docs is a Microsoft Office-esque suite of apps for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. Never mind the fact that it’s free. Instead look at how it’s delivered – over the internet. A word processing document created on Google Docs is accessible anywhere with the common denominator being an internet browser; running on a PC, Mac, or a home grown machine you built yourself; using Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. Delivering applications like this instead of installing them on individual computers tackles the major hurdles traditional application software developers are facing today.
- Mobility – I’m not just talking about smartphones and tablets, but also simple tasks like users using more than one machine. I use my PC at work, come home and hop on my Macbook Pro. Users expect to work within a seamless application environment and do not want to be bothered with compatibility issues.
- Collaboration – Instead of an application being built to include a collaboration segment; SaaS apps are built on a collaborative foundation. They’re meant to be accessed simultaneously from multiple users working together in real time from anywhere on any device.
- Hardware Resources – Even fairly basic programs, I’ll use Microsoft Office Suite again as an example, have significant hardware requirements. SaaS apps are naturally light as they’re dependent on the bandwidth required to deliver them.
The software as a service idea comes back to that buzz word everyone’s recently been talking about, the “cloud.” But it’s not the entire cloud, it’s merely a piece, but an integral piece nonetheless.
So if I were Autodesk, which I’m clearly not, I don’t think I would use valuable time and money to develop an application that would be dedicated to a single platform. Instead I would be focusing on developing Revit to run on any device that I open it from; no matter the operating system, web browser, or hardware specifications. It would be a light and nimble app where collaborating with others in geographic locations is quick, easy, and seamless.
We’ll see what happens. Who knows, Revit for the Mac could be right around the corner. But keep in mind we are in a time where the way in which we work is changing dramatically. Just as we have changed our tools must also adapt.
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Ideate Technical Support Manager/Application Specialist
Derek holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Roger Williams University, Rhode Island. He is experienced working within the AEC industry from concept design through construction administration for both small and large scale projects. As Ideate’s Support Manager he ensures a timely and quality response to support requests and questions.