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Why isn't formz more popular?

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Hugo,

I am open to such a conversation.  However, I need to learn what the new API is capable of, and will probably approach the low hanging fruit first so that I can get used to things and build/rebuild my skills. It isn’t going to be a linear transfer fro FSL to Python.  Though the python coddling does look easier as a whole.

there is a webinar today at 1:00 ADS local time that I am going to join to see what the API is capable of.  I suggest any one join even if you are just curios.  
People are kind of like water, we like the path of least resistance,   However, sometimes in order to get what we want we have to avoid that urge.  Python lowers that bar.

I am going to speculate that the API is a 80/20 or 90/10  where not everything is implemented, but the most commonly needed stuff is.  As I suspect your wants won’t be a matter of a simple script, but a suit of them, we may run into some missing functionality.  Truth be told however, both that conversation  and getting neck deep into the API will be required to know the truth of this.
 

I think we have the ability to message directly  on the forum.  Never tried it.

 

€£

 

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Even though this is an older post I’d like to share a few thoughts from the perspective of a SketchUp user.

First off, it may be helpful to frame the original question in the positive:  “What are the reasons formZ should be more popular?”  On January 26 ZTEK said, “I would like to say that working on my designs in formZ is still the best experience by far, like fresh air, and I love it!”  I’ve contacted support via email several times and they have been very helpful.  I have found their quick start tutorials very helpful.  There are many long-time formZ users on this forum that I’m sure can add very specific reasons they have stayed with formZ for so long.  I guess I think of the positives as things to attract new users which is better than trying to convince someone to switch to formZ, if that makes sense.  When they are attracted to something they want to do it and that mindset makes the entire process better.

I wonder if something preventing formZ from being more popular is the perceived/imagined difficulty in learning the application.  My experience so far in that formZ free is no more difficult than SketchUp for basic modeling.  But I think a lot of SketchUp users have been convinced that SketchUp is the only solution because they believe/assume that everything else is hard compared to SketchUp because they’ve heard over and over that SketchUp is so easy - kind of a form of marketing brainwashing!

I would not be surprised if SketchUp’s popularity begins to decline for two reasons.  First, due to their switch to a subscription pricing model last fall - some people (myself included) don’t like that.  Secondly, I saw a video by Chipp Walters giving the reasons he thinks someone might want to switch from Blender to SketchUp, his Number 1 reason includes his belief that SketchUp wants their flagship product to be cloud-based:  https://youtu.be/8MZkjXanO14?t=702. He goes so far as to say, “SketchUp’s resources have only focused on creating cloud-based software and the product and the company is falling farther and farther behind.”  Very interesting!  But back to the original question…

The models and renderings on the formZ site speak for themselves, there is no question the application is highly capable.  One thing that draws a lot of people to SketchUp is the rendering style with the hand-drawn appearance, if formZ could develop a strong hand-drawn effect that could be something that would catch the attention of some users.  This hand-drawn effect has to be more than just squiggly lines.  Long before SketchUp came along people were doing perspectives by hand with techniques such as extended lines and bearing down at the end of the line to make that darker - these would be qualities to incorporate in a future version of the “Doodle” rendering style.  But the effect definitely needs a new name, no architect has ever done a “presentation doodle”!  :-)

Some people (myself included) may be a little nervous when they read about bugs on the forum - emphasis has to be made on how well support is resolving those.  Whatever AutoDesSys offers must be rock solid, it would be better to pause developing new features to refine existing features, get rid of the bugs.  Of course I know no software is perfect, but to at least resolve known issues before starting anything new.

Maybe to summarize I’d say this:  formZ stands its ground against the competition, people who might truly benefit by switching to formZ just need to take a little time and check it out - how to get them to do that I do not know.

As a final comment, the original post was made in January of last year - in the last year what progress has been made in improving formZ’s popularity?  I then ask myself what could be done in the next 12 months, similar to CJTFORM-Z’s March 4, 2020 AD comment, “How to make formZ more popular.”  My suggestion (as trivial as it may seem) is to refine the Gallery so there’s a section where there are albums organized by topic (such as “architecture,” “character animation,” “product design,” or whatever) - no one wants to click through the alphabetical list of users, and the keyword search is buried too deep in the search field.  While focusing my attention on the Gallery, what about some kind of featured artist?  I found some very cool images from Jones, Partners:  Architecture (https://forums.formz.com/gallery/album/103-jones-partners-architecture/), I just emailed them to ask if they have any more cool images they can share on the forum, it’s been six years since they’ve posted anything.  If you haven’t had your daily dose of eye candy you need to check out their site (jonespartners.com), they’ve got some great stuff and the presentation drawings are amazing.  As it turns out the founding principal, Wes Jones, is something of an important architectural figure:  “Jones is a leading architectural voice of his generation” per the Wes Jones Wikipedia article.  I need to get out more, this is the first I’ve ever heard of him.

Hmm, when I started writing this I thought it would be a short post!  :-)

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As an update on my email to Jones, Partners:  Architecture, Steve, the contact on their formZ gallery page, responded to my email today.  He did not specifically respond to my asking if they might consider posting new content to the gallery, he noted they are working on publishing a new monograph so I assume that’s the priority.  I asked him about the highly detailed elevations on their site which include nice shading, I suggested that they were projections from a modeling application.  He said they are actually 2D drawings done with PowerCADD then noted that it is helpful to have the detailed formZ models as a guide.

So, assuming that all the perspectives on the Jones, Partners:  Architecture site were done with formZ, perhaps it would be helpful to help promote formZ by posting a list of firms that use the software, I know at one time Ilexsoft did that for HighDesign.  This could be tied in to my suggestion for a featured artist section on the gallery.

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I started using FZ in the late 80's/early 90''s while in school and was a daily contributor to this forum for 10-15 years. Back then at any point in time, you could post a question and receive replies within minutes from any number of frequent users OR the form Z support techs who monitored the forum. I then mostly left the platform when Revit came on the scene and it became clear that the industry was moving towards BIM. The critical factor that has elevated Autodesk into the dominate position is that they have developed tools for all the disciplines involved in the building industry. Granted, their pace of development and diversity of tools/capabilities borders on criminally negligent/deficient, but they sold the concept early and over many, many years have started to deliver on the benefits of a connected set of tools that unite project teams. "Sold the concept".... its all about marketing.

Nowadays, when i have a task that i know Revit is COMPLETELY unable to complete, I crack open FormZ to refamiliarize myself with the old workhorse. Unfortunately, as many others mentioned, the interface change has been a killer for me, and is constantly in the way of getting things done. Multiple monitor setups, floating palettes popping open and getting in the way, workspace management, etc. all frustrate me. Then, when I need help, it takes FOREVER to get a response on the forum. In this age of Zoom/screen sharing correspondence, FormZ could differentiate itself by offering an environment for more immediate "live" assistance, whether this be by its own tech support or other users online at the time. Imagine a support "lobby" where any user can provide live assistance to others utilizing screen-sharing... Pie in the sky, I know.  

IMHO FormZ should never attempt to offer "BIM" functionality because they will never succeed considering all the other players in the game.

FormZ needs to play on its strengths and try to regain market share from Rhino and Sketchup. Its a modeler, and a damn good one.

Maybe take a page from Epic Games and offer the software for a fixed period of time for free for all users. 

Consider integration options with Epic for TM and UE, or Unity. 

Crazy thought here... partner with Autodesk to become Revit's built in modeling engine. Formit is weird, which is why it hasn't reached broad adoption... but their marketing group is selling the concept and buying them time to get it working.

My two cents.

 

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Hi Mattedmonds & all,

I guess I'm a FORM-Z lurka, interested in the product, but never quite got around to making that purchase. Even as far back as bonZai3d, but went the SketchUP route instead. I was on the verge for sure of purchasing at one point, but when Matthew Holewinski left, it seemed FZ-HQ enthusiasm declined as well in my opinion. I lost confidence in their business model.....if one existed. Architecturally speaking, FZ has good parametric construction tools, doors, windows stairs & roofs etc, so this alone should've had more architectural users over from the SU camp. So what went wrong ? well, my case in point, it was product confidence, no real marketing & new release versions taking forever doesn't help.

Looking back at MH's videos is shear joy, but I'm now on a different path as not going down the SU subscription direction, strange how things have turned out. 

I'd also like to note, I've never been brain washed into purchasing AutoDesk products, so overpiced for what they offer. I've used DataCAD & SketchUP for years now & currently learning ArchLine-XP, a BIM capable product with an enthusiastic company one can talk to with lots of YOUTUBE video tutorials.

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As I mentioned, Autodesk is an extremely frustrating developer to work with. There have been VERY simple feature requests that have stuck around for 10 years without resolution. There has been ZERO development in their site tools for 10+ years.... all because they see other programs in their suite as better suited (Infraworks and Civil 3D). But to get the best out of all these programs requires yet another cloud subscription that costs $1000 PER USER/PER YEAR. For large companies like mine, its easier to absorb software costs, for small shops, not so easy.
At this point, it is what it is. For medium to large AEC firms, Autodesk owns the market in most big cities in the US, while all others are scrapping for a percentage. ArchiCAD has disappeared almost entirely in many cities because they refused to offer cross-grade pricing discounts to lure Autodesk owners over to their platform. Bentley is in similar shape but survived thanks to their Army Core of Engineers foothold. Vectorworks appeals to the small-firm sector and will likely survive. Sketchup is a toy software people make work on small projects. You can fight it or you can re-think your position in the market. 

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I am another 25+ year user. Had Chris Yessios as a Professor in school (way before from.z), and started on the first Windows version in 94 (?). Yes, there are things that could be done to improve this program, but the first thing you need to do is let people know you are NOT DEAD! Last time you came to the AIA convention (2015 maybe?) I talked to several folks who were surprised you were still around. But you stopped coming. Get out there. Post articles and case studies on your web site and link it to Facebook and linkedin. Get your users to send you cool images and post them several times a week on Instagram. I know money must be tight, but you are going to have to spend some money on marketing staff to get you out there. Don't die a slow death, take a risk, get out there while you still can.

I am getting close to retiring, you've got to get some new folks in here!

rickdm

 

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  Over the years I have made many comments about where I think Form.z should focus their attention.  The one thing I never mentioned was social media  marketing since that is beyond my level of expertise (which shows in my shrinking client list).  All I hear lately is how social media is the only thing people use to discover new products. I am not sure if that applies to technical software but it certainly wouldn't hurt to try.  How to create "buzz" about your product in the media world seems to be done by specialists now.  While I am not one, I would be more than happy to get paid to be a social media  influencer or a Youtube star. That kind of shallow meaningless existence is something I just haven't tried yet.   On the other hand, I still believe that having a stellar reputation for support and  rock solid software are indispensable to old timers like me.  Those are the areas that I feel have been the most challenging over the last decade.  However, every once and a while, they introduce something that I think will really help expand their base.  The two that come to mind immediately are V-ray and TwinMotion/ Unreal.  I just hope that they can  aggressively promote these new features to people outside this forum.  Furthermore, adding more direct integration with other third party software will be the key to survival for any 3d software. Unfortunately, that is probably  going to be expensive.

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Form Z pro is brilliant for woodworkers. It covers a very wide spectrum, so there are some special tools we appreciate and others we never use. Marketing to specific audiences, pointing out features of specific advantage is key. A few years ago there was a big push for V-Ray, yet not everyone needs that, I don't need realism, just a good impression is enough. The features I as a woodworker really appreciate are the extremely fast basic modelling with good viewing controls, excellent object and group management, information management, renamer extension, and I just feel very at home and productive with it. Form Z is still very relevant today and probably always will be, it just lacks the marketing to do it justice. I can't speak for V9 but as far as V8.6 is concerned, it is a reliable essential tool for me, (you get to know what might cause a crash or hang, and it is much improved as far as that is concerned.) I see no good reason to look elsewhere and would never go back to Sketchup. I expect that part of the reason why there is so little activity on the forum is that many users just get on with their working routine, most problems have already been covered and rectified. Lack of activity doesn't attract new users though, better marketing and especially You Tube, as well as social media is essential to getting that valuable stream of new users. I doubt it has to be any more expensive than employing someone who can both use the program and do social media. I expect that investment would pay dividends. I hope so because I would love to see FormZ to take a higher profile and become useful to more users. Definately underrated.

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Well, they do have a FACEBOOK PAGE, last posted in Sept.2020 & July I think before then. March 2020 should've been their fanfare as appertaining to FZ-ver-9.0 link to YOUTUBE video. However, that I see only had FB 24 likes & 2 comments & 1 share, so, very low indeed.

The YOUTUBE 'whats-new-video' for FZ-ver-9.0 had 5.80K views, whereas the YOUTUBE 'whats-new-video' for FZ-ver-8.0 had 48.00K views. This clearly shows a dramatic down turn of people viewing FZ media, 6 years between formal upgrades doesn't help either, but I also note this video was poor quality with some sound issues. 

Why a remake hasn't been posted by now with the promised FZ-LAYOUT is truley a mistery to me & a negative in product confidence.

FZ-HQ need to embrace these FREE media outlets more so to ensure their future.

It should be: "why-is-FORM-Z-so popular............🙄

 

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CJTFORM-Z said "Why a remake hasn't been posted by now with the promised FZ-LAYOUT is truley a mistery to me & a negative in product confidence."

But I know that the support at FormZ is still very responsive when I need to contact them. They have assured me that they are working hard to make improvements. I expect they have learned from past experiences in years gone by and are refining the comparitively new version 9 and when they feel confident that it is free from any teething problems as there are inevitably with new versions, that will be the time to start promoting. Promoting too early would lead to negative feedback, just like there was some when 9.0 was released a bit too early. Sure it is a pity it is taking so long to refine, but when 9.1 comes (soon as I understand), that seems the wiser time to make a big push with the marketing.

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It's nearly March 2021 & nearly a year down the line since version 9.00 release, h'mmmm.....big push in FZ-HQ marketing ? Now that I'd like to see....🤔 

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Do you think they’ll release a 9.1 beta first or just release it as a maintenance upgrade?  Beta testing would not only be helpful to improve the quality of the final release but it would also be the first step of marketing a 9.1 release.  Perhaps they could get their “What’s new in 9.1” YouTube video together during beta testing, that could be linked to the Facebook page when they announce the release.  Maybe some images on Instagram showing what amazing things 9.1 can do.  But don’t listen to me for suggestions on using social media for anything, that’s definitely not my thing, I don’t have any social media accounts.

If they do a YouTube video my only suggestion would be to keep it short, 10:00 minutes at the longest - the “What’s New In form•Z v9” is a whopping 28:33 minutes long - that’s like 23:33 minutes too long for me!  :-)  Or if they absolutely must do a long video I’d suggest including chapter markers on the playback timeline so people can skip to what interests them.

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