Friday, June 27, 2008

Why I Am No Longer Breathing Into a Paper Bag

When Civil 3D first came around, you know I was excited about it. I remember sitting at Tech Camp, literally vibrating, and scribbling furiously in my journal. I was so itchy for an opportunity to use the software.

One of my very first implementation clients (back in June 2005) had a project to submit and asked if I'd be willing to come in on a Saturday morning. I happily went over there and worked for a few hours and on the drive home I daydreamed about going back into production and using Civil 3D for design every single day.

So when that client asked me if I'd like to come on board, I really had to think about it. It was a fun office with innovative people who liked to do smart, different design. It was near a Starbucks (!) and had gorgeous hardwood floors, great lighting and that relaxing aromatherapy smell I associate with day spas and over priced knickknack boutiques. It seemed to good to be true.

I do all of my serious thinking with pen in hand, so I wrote out a list of pros and cons for taking a job in design again.

PROS: Using Civil 3D in a design setting every single day, predictable hours, making great land projects, no travel, delicious coffee, relaxing aroma, natural light

CONS: dealing with county agencies, dealing with state agencies, dealing with production deadlines, spending all of my money on delicious coffee, having to put on makeup every single day, never getting to travel, never getting to show other people how Civil 3D can make their projects better....

WAIT. That last one was the kicker. I could influence one set of land development projects done in one office but what about everyone else? Who was going to show them how to use Civil 3D? Maybe... maybe my job wasn't so much to use Civil 3D one project at a time, but to get everyone excited about making better designs. To show the engineers, designers and Landscape Architects of my territory that they were finally free to design again. That they didn't have to be held hostage by annotation changes. They could now iterate, refine, rework and completely redesign their whole project without having to start from nothing with the hammer and chisel.

So I said thanks but no thanks and went on my way as a reseller AE doing the best I could to spread the word and give people the support they needed. I spread the word through my region, but I always wished I could spread the word to the whole country, or maybe the whole world. And that is how Civil 3D Rocks was born, and why I jumped at the chance to work with EE and write for

While I loved my work and I loved my clients, I was always very sad that I couldn't help them more. While I made our sessions as productive as possible, the truth is that any time I was doing training with a group, they weren't actively designing their project. Even when I was embedded during pilot work, if they got a phone call or an emergency came up, they had to miss out on some mentoring and then my time was up and I packed up and left. Unless their office was right down the street, I couldn't just pop over for an hour.

When learning Civil 3D, you need more than that. You need to have more interaction. You need flexibility in getting your training, you might need to see things more than once. You might need to go faster or slower than the instructor or the rest of the class. You need ongoing support from people that are excited to help. You need better tools. You just plain need more than I could ever have given you under the traditional model. Trust me, I put heart, soul and personal sanity on the line trying to give you want you needed and never felt like I was giving enough. I'd look at the reseller prospect list and have to grab Panorama's lunch bag, dump out the contents and breathe in the smell of baloney and cheese.

Until now.

When the guys at EE first told me that we were becoming an ISV and that we would be able to sell software to our clients, I was skeptical. Everyone who buys Civil 3D needs help, and if we sold software, could I help everybody? Could I make everyone successful? Since we can sell to all of North America, how do I get there? How do I interact with them? WHERE IS THAT PAPER BAG AGAIN?

My fears were unfounded, because we came up with a great plan for getting you the training you need. Our subscription clients are enrolled in a program called CivilAccess which provides them with unlimited instructor lead training, 24/7 access to recorded versions of each class, access to a clients-only knowledge base, support, and even more.

The classes are all done over the web, so you don't have to drive anywhere. You can work at your computer, or move a group into the conference room for a shared experience. You can ask us questions, and interact. You can tune in only for the portions you need, or come back again and again. I have taught about 20 days of web classes in the past few months, and I have been very impressed with how well it works, and how everyone involved is more relaxed and focused on LEARNING instead of logistics.

I'll be writing more about CivilAccess over on Just like static drafting made life as an engineer frustrating, wanting to do more for my clients made consulting difficult. Civil 3D changed my mind about design forever. CivilAccess has changed the way I feel about giving clients what they need to be successful.

I hope you will let me help you be successful! Find out more about CivilAccess here, and preview live webtraining through our weekly, free EECasts. Sign up of upcoming EECasts and watch recorded EECasts here.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

EECast Tomorrow: Building Better Terrain Models

Tomorrow, I will be doing an EECast on Building Better Terrain models.

I put this class together a few years ago to help new designers figure out how surfaces work, and I found that the room was often crowded with not only the new staff, but everyone! If you have ever wondered what REALLY happens with triangulation, or what difference do breaklines REALLY make, be sure to tune in. Note that I will be using Civil 3D 2009 to build the models, but the surface building theory will apply no matter what software you use.

Also note that Mark Scacco will be leading off the webcast with some additional news about Land Desktop being discontinued, the new product mix, and how EE can help.

Learn how to sign up and see the agenda after the jump.