Autodesk announced yesterday that they will be closing the AutoCAD Exchange website and migrate its contents to other “popular networks” like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
That’s a shame. When AutoCAD Exchange first launched it had great promise. It was an online community hosted by Autodesk that had a lot of great content. It had Featured Videos, Tips and Tricks, Design Showcase, several resources and my favorite, “Ask the Expert”. I really liked Ask the Expert because they always had great people available to answer your questions. And those questions were archived so you could revisit them or search through them. It has been my experience that if one person has a question about CAD, somebody else does too. Again, it’s a shame it’s closing. However…the information will not be lost forever. It will be “migrated” to other networks.
What went wrong? I don’t know exactly but I think it was Autodesk’s fault for being so “social media” savvy. Autodesk is very active on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. And most of what you would get from AutoCAD Exchange is available on these networks. Users are already on one of these other networks (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) already. I imagine that they have no desire to follow yet another community.
AutoCAD came out with integration built into it to take users to Autodesk’s social media accounts, the main ones anyways so I would venture to guess that this isn’t something that was decided upon in the past few weeks. Instead Autodesk probably knew it was coming. Add to that the fact that they haven’t had a new “Ask The Expert” since December 2011.
But what if you are a user whose employer has blocked access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.? Fortunately for me I’m not blocked from it. If I were I still have my smart phone and my computer at home that I can always access it from. But what if a user needs help? AutoCAD Exchange wasn’t really a place where you went to for help and neither are these Social Media sites. I mean they are, but not from the accounts Autodesk has listed. Those accounts are the main accounts. You can go to them for help but it may take a while and they will probably send you somewhere else. If you need instant AutoCAD (or any other Autodesk product) help Google it. Go to CAD-a-Blog.com and contact me. Go to AUGI.com or Cadalyst.com. If you’re feeling really adventurous go to the Autodesk forums! They are a great place for help. Or if you can go to Twitter or Facebook build up a great network of CAD users and tweet for help. But we are assuming those sites are blocked for you. If you want, talk to your boss. See if they can free up the specific Autodesk pages for those social sites.
Here is the big loss to Autodesk in closing AutoCAD Exchange. They lose control of their information. There are no indications that Twitter or Facebook are closing down, but what if they do? Autodesk will have to find a substitute. To be honest, this being a valid concern to caution against, I don’t think it is a big issue to worry about. Once a new format for information exchange comes to lite Autodesk will naturally move to it because its user base will have already moved there. Autodesk, just like every other company selling something, has developed its Facebook and Twitter presence because that’s where the users are. They are like a pride of lions following the herd of wildebeests. The wildebeests travel slowly along, migrating to where the food (Facebook, Twitter) is followed up by lions, stalking them, hoping for an easy meal. Companies have to go where the eyes are. Either make a place for the wildebeests to graze or go where they are already grazing. In this case it’s easier and cheaper for Autodesk to just go to Facebook.
In my opinion, closing AutoCAD Exchange is of little loss. It was a place that had plenty of potential but never really caught the attention of users. I didn’t even notice that it was closing and I received the email on three different accounts!! I didn’t realize it until I saw posts on other websites about it!
Here are links to Autodesk's Social Media accounts:
AutoCAD on Facebook
AutoCAD on Twitter
AutoCAD on YouTube
And if you want to contact me or CAD-a-Blog here are some links: