There has been much discussion about the new Autodesk Revit 2010 UI. Some people like it, others hate it. It's a bit like marmite (vegemite to those outside the UK). However, the reality is that the UI in 2010 is changing and it will have an impact on our use of Revit from now and into the future. UI design is not easy, not that I have any particular experience myself, but my brother is a programmer and we have discussed this subject on a number of occasions. Therefore, I want to present the facts, the for's and against and then gauge your opinion. To some extent the UI has to change to make Revit look like the modern application it should be and the old UI from graphical appeal was looking dated. I know the background behind the change and a common look and feel across all the Autodesk applications was one of the primary goals. But the old UI did work and it worked very, very well. Having trained numerous architects in Revit over the last 6 years users always commented that they felt that the user interface had been built and designed by somebody who understood the architectural business. It was clean and easy to understand and everything was immediately accessible, unlike AutoCAD which could have multiple configurations. You only need to look at Sketchup to understand what I'm getting at, easy accessible icons that allow you to build great models, not that I am comparing Revit to Sketchup.
First take a look at this youTube video posted by Phil Read (yes, the Phil Read, ex Autodesk consulting and Revit guru). You should also read his post which supports this video. It is extremely funny but it does have a serious side and Phil puts this across very eloquently.
Now read this post on the Autodesk site and view the supporting video which explains the methodology behind the UI. It explains a little bit of the decisions making process and how the new UI works.
Ok, so there you have it, two different viewpoints. I have an in the "middle" stance on this. I actually want to like the new UI, it makes Revit look better and if it looks better then the assumption is that it works better. Probably the wrong way to look it, but it's like driving a new car, if it looks cool, you feel cool. Although this is not always the case, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Design and detailing buildings is not a straight forward process, but it follows a certain number of rules and workflow can be divided into a specific set of task, looking at the new UI I don't think it always follows these rules particularly well. It seems to jump all over the place and can confuse the user. Certain elements are not consistent and this is annoying. In this current world economic slowdown, firms are looking at the bottom line, they can't afford to be unproductive. Previous releases of Revit allowed users to continue to work with the Revit that they know and loved, yet get to grips with the new tools when they have time, therefore no lose in productivity. This release will immediately affect firms if they deploy it, because the user experience is unfamiliar. As users get to grips, I guess this will improve, but there is no good explaining this to your CEO as he sees productivity dropping away. The world has changed, firms are watching productivity carefully, so impacts on workflow will not be popular at all. Saying that, this is not a good enough reason not to deploy the product. Take time to evaluate it, plan carefully, even consider running internal seminars to sow the seed of this release. You may actually find that your users are less worried about the UI than you may think. This certainly seems to be the case for the office I am working in.
It would good to get a readers viewpoint. Use the voting poll at the top of this page to let me know what you think. I will then publish the results in a future post.