The impact of yearly CAD file upgrades on Architectural Design practice
With many larger projects lasting several or more years in the design process, and an equal number on site, CAD packages may well go through several yearly updates either to fix bugs, or add improvements. This practice of forcing practices to update their entire drawing file structure to the new version to allow the new program to work, is disruptive, and may have unknown consequences, on the information stored in the many files.
By not allowing backward compatibility, and insisting on older files being updated before being available to the teams, so often forces practices to freeze the CAD version for the duration of a project.
The implementation of BIM and the move to 3D drafting and its constant improvement, is going to offer major obstacles in this philosophy of program freeze.
This paper examines how the almost constant yearly upgradings of CAD technologies and programs are affecting Architectural Technologist’s production of information, from initial Architects concept design, through working drawing creation, and detailing. Its sharing amongst the design team, and beyond to the contractor and finally the impact of archived drawings not being readable with current software as older versions become unsupported.
Stephen J Scaysbrook is Visiting Professor of Architectural Technology at Birmingham City University. He is particularly interested in the uses of CAD technologies,together with the improvement and use of BIM on the building fabric.