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valthewu

Why form•z is not popular any more:

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This is a short story:

As an architect, I have tried to use every modeling software there is, from really old stuff like Moray (1991), 3D Studio, Ray Dream designer onwards, via 3ds max, cinema, blender, rhino, sketchup,  etc., also all kinds of caad software. I even keep a sheep shaver emulation with Mac OS 8 and once in a while I go back this timemachine. It starts form•z 2.5 for example.

I tried to be friends with form•z since university, from 2000 on. It always seemed capable and even promising back then, but ended up being frustrating and tiresome.

Now I tested form•z again, this time in version 9 (in the free version) 

I know, it is a small company, but some aspects have not been addressed for ages:

 

My main concern lies in the dated and non consistent interface design

- bad menu typograpy (touches edges, not aligned, not consistent) (see blender or archicad)

- bad icon design (unlike c4d for example)

- bad translations (unlike c4d)

- bad quality check of functions and tools (unlike rhino)

- non consistent tool options (unlike c4d)

- interface not customizable enough, even in the pro version (unlike c4d, even rhino!)

- very slow development (unlike blender)

- slow response to whishes from users (like many other companies, but most of them have a solid plug in/addon source)

- Some modern aspects of designing 3d like parametric, history- or node-based design (and a proper integrated renderer), which other software solutions have long used, are not covered here anyway!

- It is also not enough to offer state of the art technology (like sub-D), the tools have to evolve!

 

to sum up: form•z  is now a non appalling software in 2021 and this results in a small community and low interest from outside.

 

I am serious: I could spend a day at AutoDeSys and bring that software into the 20th century. At least and at last.

If the plan would be to keep this software's profile low and still make money from it: just go on.

 

Attached are some random aspects of the interface, all small but in sum it is severely irritating that this should be non-beta 1.0 software, but instead celebrates 30th birthday 2021.

Bildschirmfoto 2021-02-19 um 11.26.38.png

Bildschirmfoto 2021-02-19 um 11.25.47.png

Bildschirmfoto 2021-02-19 um 11.27.12.png

Bildschirmfoto 2021-02-19 um 11.27.55.png

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6 hours ago, valthewu said:

I am serious: I could spend a day at AutoDeSys and bring that software into the 20th century. At least and at last.

Oh, that would be really great. I would encourage you to go over there and offer your assistance. If I wasn't at home in Europe, I might even do that...

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3 minutes ago, AHDD Designer said:

Oh, that would be really great. I would encourage you to go over there and offer your assistance. If I wasn't at home in Europe, I might even do that...

Well, I am based just next to you: Greetings from Vienna!

And I am serious. In fact, they could hire just about anyone.

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Thank you for taking the time to post, however we can only wonder what you motivations are. We can find no communication with our sales or support teams from you so you have no basis for your comment that we are not responsive. Obviously you do not like some aesthetics of the software and you are entitled to your opinion. You are also basing your comments on form•Z free which only has a small percentage of the features found in form•Z pro. Many professionals use form•Z daily for productive modeling so it is clearly not "appalling software" to them. You do point out a few minor aesthetic issues that we are already working on (along with support for dark mode), but frankly we find delivering new technologies like the recent TwinMotion/Unreal interface much more interesting and important to our users.

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Hi Tech!

Thank you for replying!

Let me answer:

I did not intend to claim that support would be slow or unresponsive, I would not suppose that (and also I did not ask any question or need support, so I can not say).

Of course I did try the full version: as trial in version 9, and in ca. 2010-12 in an another office and 10 years before that at university (where to my knowledge it is not used anymore). Each time I admired the precision that can be achieved and the many tools offered (in comparison with other software at that time for that price). 

Also, I have no doubt that there are devoted followers of form•z, and I can totally understand them!

But, and that is a big but, I do not feel that the software does evolve fast enough. And that many design errors, negligences and nuisances should have been eliminated 5, 10 or 20 years ago. If you think twinmotion and unreal connection are important: fine, but this market is cramped!

It could be faster than sketchup, more precise than cinema, easier than blender and at least as capable as rhino. But it is neither.

Nevertheless, I'll still be watching and I'll definitely try Version 10 again.

To make a final point: things like that in the attached picture not only hurt my eyes: I can't work with such an attitude. 

I'd forget about any new feature but instead do a complete redesign of the interface!

Bildschirmfoto 2021-02-19 um 23.58.32.png

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On 2/20/2021 at 6:14 AM, AsOne said:

How about instead of one day you take a week and deliver us a perfect 3D software...I'll be waiting...

Sure, being sarcastic helps a lot! I did not claim so.

My feeling is that development is slow, no ui goal can be seen.

 

blenderUI-2_2x.jpg.341b45f50127de7fdd8b2f3ece1b1c8c.jpg 2041320698_Formz4.0.jpg.740b7f424a1587670a116db471d46641.jpg

 

blenderUI-2_92.jpeg.236b98eddcf169a1a8f32ae7eeaf34cf.jpeg 1957293361_Formz9.0.png.69948ca37e12d4f997b1205c2d7f2626.png

blender is far from being the industry standard in ui design, but for me it just seems that form•z keeps only keeps rearranging the chairs on the deck.

 

 

 

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On 2/19/2021 at 7:07 PM, Tech said:

Thank you for taking the time to post, however we can only wonder what you motivations are. We can find no communication with our sales or support teams from you so you have no basis for your comment that we are not responsive. Obviously you do not like some aesthetics of the software and you are entitled to your opinion. You are also basing your comments on form•Z free which only has a small percentage of the features found in form•Z pro. Many professionals use form•Z daily for productive modeling so it is clearly not "appalling software" to them. You do point out a few minor aesthetic issues that we are already working on (along with support for dark mode), but frankly we find delivering new technologies like the recent TwinMotion/Unreal interface much more interesting and important to our users.

Hi Tech
So you are saying: «We can find no communication with our sales or support teams from you so you have no basis for your comment that we are not responsive.»
I have been using FormZ since 1995 . Since version 7, the user interface and its stability has been a tragedy.
For years I have tried to draw your attention to this with constructive contributions by E-Mail or here in the Form.
Here are a few examples:
 

 

 

 

 

Edited by AHDD Designer
Insert links

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This is an evergreen and interesting topic, if you do a search on the Forum for i.e. "future", interface", "GUI" etc. you will find lots of interesting discussions over the years, ranging from "oh no, this is not as it was in V2.9 anymore" to " we need a complete redesign, it has to be like xyz but better"..., plus lots of actually proactive proposals by users to contribute to those points. 

 

side note: "Der Ton macht die Musik"

Edited by R2D2
Double post with AHDDs

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21 minutes ago, AHDD Designer said:

You do point out a few minor aesthetic issues that we are already working on (along with support for dark mode), but frankly we find delivering new technologies like the recent TwinMotion/Unreal interface much more interesting and important to our users.

I have tried the export to TwinMotion/Unreal and actually find this option very interesting.
But for me, the development of this plugin is first and foremost a sign of life from Form.Z - for that I am very grateful.

But... and if you would please also pay attention to my contribution just above:
I am a creator, a designer - and I work on average 8 hours a day at the computer and with your software.
When I create something beautiful and functional, I also want my tools to be beautiful and functional, or to reflect these attributes.
That is the alpha and omega of why design exists.

Edited by AHDD Designer

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3 hours ago, AHDD Designer said:

Hi Tech
So you are saying: «We can find no communication with our sales or support teams from you so you have no basis for your comment that we are not responsive.»
 

AHDD Designer this was a specific response to valthewu. Thank you for your previous feedback. We are aware of these issues and they are on our radar. We are in the process of a number of UI improvements including support for dark mode. Thank you all for letting us know that these are important to you.

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Speaking of UI Improvements, formZ really needs to work at 1920x1080 on Windows.  Currently some of the menus are too large to display without scrolling which is annoying at this resolution at 100% scaling.

 

 

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On 2/22/2021 at 5:00 PM, Tech said:

AHDD Designer this was a specific response to valthewu. Thank you for your previous feedback. We are aware of these issues and they are on our radar. We are in the process of a number of UI improvements including support for dark mode. Thank you all for letting us know that these are important to you.

So I just proved my point: 

 

On 2/19/2021 at 7:07 PM, Tech said:

You do point out a few minor aesthetic issues that we are already working on (along with support for dark mode),

I did not point out "a few minor aesthetic issues", I basically said that UI design has BASIC NON UNDERSTANDABLE ERRORS and VERY LITTLE IMPROVEMENT in years. I would not call for support or ask for a refund, I said "I tried to be friends" with your software multiple times, but failed. That was my motivation, and that is in fact the motivation for EVERY NEW CUSTOMER, just in case you did not know. In reading your answers again, I think they sound a bit you were personally offended, for which I am sorry, but also a bit arrogant, which might be the reason in the first place I thought my initial comment was necessary.

It is not enough to have a devoted user base, it is even more important to reach out for new customers, who like your software from the first time on they use it. If they can be convinced easily, existing users will most probably benefit as well!

You can not deny your market share is shrinking, or can you? The difference between form•z and autoCAD is that the latter is an industry standard, so their need for active development can reach zero for quite a long time. And when they need to catch up, they acquire a competitor. This, of course, can not be a possible roadmap for AutoDesSys!

So, Tech, although support might be great, response to specific issues might be prompt, none of that was the issue here! But your answers solidified my assumptions: continued slow evolution and no aim for a greater plan! Dark mode will not save the future of form•z at all. Nor will "a number of UI improvements" do!

My verdict now: form•z has stuck, but not yet realized so.

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I never understood the point of product bashing. It seems you like blender better, if so then why spend money on FormZ? Go back to blender and stick with it.

Personally I have no problems with FormZ here. I did take the time and read through the manual on the tools. Reading is a powerful function many don't bother and would rather flame a product than learn how to use it as it was intended. I have been doing 3d modeling since the early 90's, been on beta teams for major brands.

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3 hours ago, kac said:

I never understood the point of product bashing. It seems you like blender better, if so then why spend money on FormZ? Go back to blender and stick with it.

Personally I have no problems with FormZ here. I did take the time and read through the manual on the tools. Reading is a powerful function many don't bother and would rather flame a product than learn how to use it as it was intended. I have been doing 3d modeling since the early 90's, been on beta teams for major brands.

This is not product bashing, this is criticism.

I do like parts of blender, but blender is not a 3d cad design software as form•z is.

I also like reading, even manuals and I have no problems whatsoever with form•z's help.

My problem is that I do think that the "intention" of how to use the software is dated, ineffective and has not evolved.

Sure, you might think otherwise, but at least you can not deny the many inaccuracies in the UI, many errors in the translations (at least in German) and the slow development at a whole. 

As I tested the software along with writing here, my opinion did not change, it will also not change after reading the complete manual.

The rtfm days are over, dear beta team tester for major brands.

As I wrote in the op, I also do 3d modelling since about 1994, exactly that made me write that thread, and made others (AHDD Designer) do the same earlier.

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On 2/22/2021 at 7:05 AM, AHDD Designer said:

But... and if you would please also pay attention to my contribution just above:
I am a creator, a designer - and I work on average 8 hours a day at the computer and with your software.
When I create something beautiful and functional, I also want my tools to be beautiful and functional, or to reflect these attributes.
That is the alpha and omega of why design exists.

I share this sentiment.  I use Cinema 4D and formZ equally in my day-to-day workflow and I find myself trying to learn how to model more effectively in Cinema simply because the UI is that much better.

6 hours ago, valthewu said:

This is not product bashing, this is criticism.

 

Criticism is fine, but constructive criticism is better.  I agree with your original post that the icon design is in need of a facelift.  I'd love to see a streamlined look among the icons and I allude to how C4D uses color schemes to identify toolsets.  Purple for modifiers, blue for primitives, and green for... mograph?  I'm not sure what to call this toolset.  The basic functions are all orange (select, move, rotate, point/line/poly).  In formZ, the generate toolset is pretty solid, and I would argue that the subdivision edit tools are pretty effective only using one extra color for the icons.  If I were to change these, I would dial back on the "shine" of the icon objects.  they can still be 3D, but the whole gradient from white to dark blue is unnecessary and makes small icons look too busy.  When you get into other toolsets (modify, measure, modify NURBS) there's a lot of other colors going on and it loses a sense of uniformity among the interface.  It would be cool to see all "generate" "shapes" "primitives" so have one color scheme, modifiers to have another, and then all the editing tools just use the two color scheme like subD edit.

I would also like to see formZ ditch the "depressed icon" look that you see in the tool dock and the tool options.  it's a pretty antiquated appearance and wastes precious pixels that could be used for larger, clearer icons.  I think Cinema also nails this by just highlighting the active tool/functions in blue.  it's super clean and easy to spot.  Same with the red outline in the tool dock.  Other programs probably use this approach as well, but I don't have them at my disposal to show as an example.

I know that these are simply cosmetic issues and 100% do NOT effect the functions of the program, which is why I don't spend much time posting about it.  HOWEVER, I have tried other 3D software and I'm immediately repulsed by the cluttered UI (lookin' at you 3DS Max) which makes me never want to open that program again.  I would suspect that formZ might have the same issue for new users who are borderline OCD designers that put a LOT of stock in aesthetic such as myself, but I could be wrong.  SO.... is it imperative that formZ updates the interface to keep users?  I don't think so.  Would an interface overhaul help gather new users?  I don't know the answer, but it's definitely worth a shot.

After all "good designers copy, great designers steal" ;)

c4d.jpg

fz.jpg

Edited by snow

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Thank you, snow!

Trying to be constructive, I might add:

Not only do the icons of c4d follow a strict and easily understandable colour scheme, but the toolbars are extensively customizable, groupable,  organizable. New tools can be highlighted by the developers, macros can have individual icons if needed. All Windows can be rearranged, changed in their appearance, filled with different tools etc. etc. The program colours can be adjusted to personal taste. And all these setups can even be shared (to a certain degree).

I would not argue that all this is essential, but you put it right:

47 minutes ago, snow said:

HOWEVER, I have tried other 3D software and I'm immediately repulsed by the cluttered UI (lookin' at you 3DS Max) which makes me never want to open that program again.

That should not be the case with form•z, but in my opinion, it sadly is.

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On 2/22/2021 at 12:47 PM, R2D2 said:

side note: "Der Ton macht die Musik"

Natürlich, R2D2, aber ich glaube, AutoDesSys hatte schon genügend zeit, Weichen zu stellen. Oder zumindest alles auf Hochglanz zu bringen.

 

translated:

above is a proverb: "It's not what you say, but how you say it."

Sure, R2D2, but I think, AutoDesSys has had enough time to set a new course. Or at least do a fresh polish.

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2 hours ago, valthewu said:

Not only do the icons of c4d follow a strict and easily understandable colour scheme, but the toolbars are extensively customizable, groupable,  organizable.

yes, absolutely!  I know formZ version 9 changed the home interface from ALL floating palettes to snapping palettes, but from what I've read on the forum (I'm still using 8.6) it's quite cumbersome, to say the least.  I realize C4D/Nemetschek is an absolute powerhouse in the industry (and therefore have teams of developers and an extensive QA stage) and ADS is a considerably smaller operation, but sometimes it seems like the formZ dev team is completely unaware of other 3D programs and have a difficult time looking beyond their own creation.  Alas, that's where the community can come together like this and say "here is something a program X does better than formZ, would it be possible to try to emulate that?"

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Once setup my v9 UI is working well on Mac.  I think it is a step in the right direction over v7 and v8.  There are things to improve upon (I have posted about them and contacted support), but for me it works well once set up and I'm working very fast in v9 now.  I really love the look and feel of the UI in general.  

I have not used or seen other software, including many mentioned in this and other threads that make me think AutoDessys should be focused on a total UI rebuild.  Much more important things to do IMHO.  Plus from watching these and other similar threads in the forum there is no broad consensus on a UI look or features.  For example I see nothing in the Blender look that appeals to me over FormZ.  3DSMax has done quite well given it's apparent repulsive UI.   Cinema 4D looks well organized, but doesn't blow me away over FormZ.  

If anything UI stability is the most pressing concern shared by everyone.  I will take that over tweaking of fonts and icons. 

In general I wish updates were more frequent, even if more incremental.  However to say there has been very little improvement is incorrect.  

What is the point of coming into the forum to simply trash a program you apparently don't even use, besides trolling.  Just use something else that works for you.  

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It has been hard for me not to comment here so let me try to be constructive.  I will stay away from technical suggestions. 

Everyone has something that they feel needs immediate attention and everyone has their opinion.  These opinions are obviously based on how one uses the program.  My priorities are certainly not those of others here, nor should they be.  So how do we  form some sort of consensus on what needs to be addressed first and then get that to ADS in a constructive manner?   It could even be something that the users vote on individually every quarter.   Just random posts griping about one thing or another seems very inefficient and I can tell that it grates the dev team the wrong way.  We do need them on our side.  

I have used almost every other program out there since I started CAD work in 1985 at Cal Poly.  Back in those days you had to type in coordinates in order to build a simple line.  It also took a main frame at UCLA to calculate it (MegaCad).  Fast forward to today and I can still see remnants of some of the old programs lingering around decades after they should have been abandoned.  Max is a perfect example of a program that seems like a collection of plug-ins, scripts and add ons tacked onto a  shell that has rarely changed.  Given the work it takes to completely rethink the interface of an entire program it is obvious that it would take a lot of time and money.  Otherwise others with deeper pockets would have tackled it years ago.  Form.z has evolved several times over the last 30 years.  Not all of us were happy with the changes but we learned to adapt (slowly sometimes).  My main concern with how this is evolving is that with each additional change to the main program certain other parts  and tools get corrupted.  It then takes a lot of time to chase each issue and resolve them.  By the time we get something really stable it seems like it's time to shake it all up again with a new release.  As others have said it feels like we are on a constant Beta release.  This is why I why, at the time, I refused to give up on 6.7 which was a fast production powerhouse for my office.    Now, for the record I have tried many other programs thinking that maybe I might migrate over.  I have not.  Each has its own issues and quirks and I have crashed every one of them.  It is just the nature of the beast that we will always be chasing the elusive "perfect program", whatever that may mean to you.  

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Its also a Win vs. OS X appearance issue imo. Icon size, double checkboxes, space, frames...

When I open Fz on Win I get to better understand some of the GUI criticism here - which do not apply 1:1 on OS X, where it seems to work a lot better.

Yes I`d like some interface improvements and fresh icons (preferably an option again to swap for more "classic" simplified icon design, as we used to have, standard one column on the left), but for OS X  I think it works quite well and above all its stable.

 win.jpg

osx.png

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On 2/24/2021 at 4:24 AM, kac said:

I never understood the point of product bashing.

My contributions on the subject of UI have nothing at all to do with «product bashing».
On the contrary: I have a deep commitment to Form.Z – and a deep concern.

Have a look: I got to know this software in 1995 during my industrial design studies.
I have been using it since then and it helps me earn my daily bread at my workplace.

I am dependent on this software.
That worries me a lot because I always fear that one day it will no longer exist.

It is even more likely that I won't be able to buy a new iMac because it will only run the latest software versions
And v9 is simply not yet suitable for daily work from my point of view.

For example: As a long-time user, it is simply problematic for me if I don't trust myself to place palettes differently
Because I never know whether they can still be found later.

Can you imagine what that's like for someone who is evaluating the product?
And then paired with a look that gives the feeling of having installed an old version...

Besides, it is not only the question of the «aesthetic design» of the UI that makes a well-maintained software today.
Take a look at how others do it:
There you can see perspectives as movies with the upcoming implementations.
There are regular tutorials on YouTube and in their own forums.
There is a download section that explains exactly which build is up to date and which issues have been fixed and which are still in the pipeline.

Personally, I am sad that «my» programme, in particular, cannot offer me a home, subjectively speaking.

Edited by AHDD Designer

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