Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Subassembly Composer - What Does it All Mean?

Information about the Subassembly Composer (SAC) that will become available to subscription customers this week is already flowing.  So rather than talk about the details of this tool, I thought I would talk more about how I see it playing out within the firms that use Civil 3D.

First of all, I think that the release of this tool is HUGE.  It opens up an infinite number of doors to the types of designs to which corridors can be applied.  In fact, within the short hour that it took for Autodesk to provide a sneak preview of the tool, I saw an I-beam, a breakwater, a retaining wall, and of course a few roads (although highly specialized roads).  As for the tool itself, I have to say "Nice job, Autodesk".  It is robust and as user-friendly as such a tool could be.  It is an example of why to be on subscription.

However, composing subassemblies (heck, even spelling subassemblies) is not for the casual Civil 3D user.  Think of composing music.  Anyone can listen to music (using assemblies), a lot of people can play music (build assemblies), but only a handful have an understanding of music that enables them to compose music (make subassemblies).  In a typical company, I think that a small percentage of the users will have the mettle or the desire to build subassemblies.   Many will be curious, some will tinker, but only a few will actually build production subassemblies.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I think that's the way it will be.  In fact, having a small number of people creating custom subassemblies and controlling their consumption might be a good idea to avoid reinventing the wheel.

That said, the fact that only a few will use it does not make it any less useful or important.  Why?  Because even though creating custom subassembiles is a bit tough, it is now much more accessible.  It is something that anyone can at least try, even if they have no programming experience.  And the ability for each firm or organization to be able to create its own custom subassemblies has the potential to remove nearly any limitation currently presented by the use of stock subassemblies.

So why am I telling you all this?  To help you set expectations and not waste time on what you think this tool might be.  It's not a magic wand that you can wave that will create a subassembly at the push of a button. Building subbasemblies, even with a tool as slick as this is going to take work.  My advice:  If you need custom subassemblies and you're a casual user, forward your info on SAC to your office Civil 3D guru and take him or her out to lunch.  If you're a Civil 3D guru, install it (when it becomes available) and give it a try.  If you feel overwhelmed, look to someone you who is even more of a guru than you.  Or, be patient...I'm sure there will be training content available soon.  Oh, and the Autodesk WikiHelp content for this tool is already well-populated.


Happy composing!

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