My Position on "Revit vs. ADT"
If you know me personally, you know that I pretty much say what I feel and think and if you read between the lines, you're not getting it, because there ISN'T ANYTHING BETWEEN THE LINES! Get it?
Good. So.. with that in mind...
I was one of the first beta testers of ADT and I've seen it evolve from an idea to maturity over the last eight years or so (has it been that long?). Sometime in 1999 or 2000 (ADT R2 timeframe), I remember sitting down at my computer one night after a couple of glasses of wine and composing an email to some of my aquaintances on the ADT development team, mainly to just put in words some thoughts that had been running through my head. The gist of it was that first, the upcoming ADT 3.0 needed to really add some major functionality to the product and second, that long term, Autodesk needed to consider getting away from the AutoCAD interface and DWG file format, ala Inventor.
ADT 3.0 accomplished the first thing. That's the release that introduced us to curtainwalls, door/window assemblies, slabs, the Display Manager, and a whole host of new features and capabilities. The interface was revamped in 2004, which was another leap forward.
But it was still based on AutoCAD and the DWG format.
I remember when I heard about the Revit aquisition, sort of like I remember where I was when JFK was shot. (No, seriously...). I had just wrapped up a 3 day ADT class in our Dallas office and was checking emails before packing up and heading for the airport. A friend of mine contacted me via instant messenger and posted the link to the Autodesk Press Release announcing the aquisition.
"Shock" does not do justice to what I felt at the time. I had been following Revit as a competitive product for a couple of years and had played around with some trial versions that I was able to sneak away from their booths at trade shows (is that industrial espionage? I dunno... but I digress...). While the idea was exactly what I had been espousing in my earlier email to Autodesk, the execution seemed lacking to me - file size at the time was an issue. Workgroups were an issue. Stability was an issue. And most importantly, there was no API (Application Programming Interface in the product, by design. The feeling apparently at Revit was that architects aren't programmers and don't WANT an API. That was and still is, in my opinion, flawed thinking. The API isn't for the end user. It's for the third party developers who provide the potential for a rich suite of complimentary products that further flesh-out the whole BIM concept.
So, that was then, and this is now. What's changed? Both ADT and Revit Building have continued to be developed. ADT did not get phased out, nor did Revit get buried, even though there was rampant speculation that one or the other would happen. Neither did the two products merge into one. I doubt that would ever happen, although you can see some synergy between the two platforms, with each one borrowing ideas from the other. Case in point: the drawing coordination features introduced in ADT 2005 and the enhanced library of detail families found in Revit Building 9 that are modelled after the ADT detail component library.
Autodesk's messaging on the two products has finally solidified a bit. ADT is being positioned as a "Better AutoCAD for Architects" while Revit is being hailed as Autodesk's BIM solution (although my own personal opinion is that ADT is just as much a BIM solution as Revit - it just gets you there a different way).
As an application engineer and a consultant, it's my job to be familiar with both, so I've been working with both since the aquisition. When I'm helping an architectural firm decide which solution is best for them, I try to keep their interests in mind and not any loyalty to any specific product, or my own personal friendships with many of the ADT development staff.
So where do I see each product fitting in to the whole BIM evolution? It's really not that complicated. ADT is truly more of an evolutionary product. You can pick and choose the features that you want to use and grow into it. If you are coming from a predominantly 2D background or culture and don't feel ready to jump feet first (or head first) into the world of model-based design, you can use those features of ADT that get you immediate 2D productivity, perhaps growing into the 3D capabilities at some point in the future. On the other hand, if you're ready to fully embrace 3D model-based design and want a more revolutionary change, then Revit may be more appropriate. Certainly with Revit Building 9 and earlier releases since the aquisition, many of the issues that may have been barriers in the past have been addressed. Worksets are not problematic the way they were before and should not be an issue at all in a teamwork environment. The myth that you can't do CD's in Revit Building is just that - a myth. You can generate full-blown 2D details, as well as hybrid model-and 2D-based details just as easily in Revit Building now as you can in ADT or AutoCAD. Additionally, Autodesk has been able to somehow shoehorn a basic API into a product that was never intended to have one. How far they will be able to take this is still to be seen, but they've already done more than I thought they could.
In short, my position on Revit vs. ADT is no longer "ADT vs. Revit" (see I switched 'em again). It's a matter of Revit AND ADT - based on who you are and where you are on the BIM evolution, either one could be appropriate for you. Because of that, expect to see more information on both products on this blog, since it benefits us all to see the whole picture, not just one part of it.