Welcome to another installment in “Inside Bricsys“. This time, we’ll chat with Jan Jolly, Manager for BricsCAD Shape Development.
Hi Jan! What are your responsibilities on the BricsCAD Shape development team?
Before I worked on Shape, I was part of the BricsCAD team, working on the OS X and Linux team. When I was asked to manage Shape development, my work changed considerably. It’s definitely more of a coordinating, communication and analyzing role.
My main task was identifying the critical areas to bring the product to market quickly. Once we had a plan, I shifted my focus to creating, prioritizing and assigning tasks to the right people to make it happen. Having confidence in the team’s ability was the easiest part!
One of the key tasks was keeping a close eye on the product’s identity. We had to focus on our goals for Shape and let these things drive our design decisions. So, my main job on the Shape development team? To manage communications and keep us focused on what we designed Shape to be.
What does your day look like?
It’s hard to describe a typical day. We work in phases. Initially there was a lot of analysis work, and task creation. Once the team started development, I shifted to gathering needed info and providing feedback. The team did a great job converting the design proposals to actual working UI elements that matched the original design specs.
Now the product has been released, we’ve added support request analysis to our daily workflow. We’re concentrating on getting the OS X and Linux releases ready, too. But our key job each day is doing bug fixes and designing the next set of Shape features.
Can you tell us a bit more about the overall Shape development process?
Sure. You could say there were two big parts to the project, since Shape comes from the BricsCAD code stream. The first part was determining the overall feature set – what to keep in, and what to exclude. In the beginning of the project there was a lot of emphasis on this, but this phase is more or less complete.
The second part was creating Shape’s UI from the design proposals. We focused on making decisions that would let new users feel at home with the product as fast as possible. This is something we’ll continue to concentrate on as the product matures.
We built a prototype every couple of weeks, so all the parties involved could test drive the product. Short feedback cycles were crucial to enable continuous course adjustments, to get to what Shape is today. Sometimes we adjusted the design based on feedback from the developer’s needs, Other times, when trying something out we discovered it didn’t work as we had anticipated.
In the end, the implementation required some fine tuning but end to end, it was very much a team effort. I’m confident that I can speak for the entire team when I say that we all really enjoyed working on the Shape development project. Everyone had a chance to get creative with this product.
How does Shape’s basis in BricsCAD influence the product and its user interface? Did you have to overcome any big obstacles?
We hit a couple of problems over the duration of the project, but all in all the development went pretty smoothly. All of the thanks need to go to the gifted people working here at Bricsys. Being able to start Shape development with a code stream as solid as BricsCAD’s gives you a lot of possibilities. But removing functionality is always risky business of course, so we remain vigilant in order to keep the product technically sane.
One main goal of Shape was to demonstrate the power of direct modeling to new users of 3D modelling. The second, of course, is to speed the conceptual design phase of our building information modeling (BIM) workflow. Because of this, we had some design constraints, but it’s all good. Being able to experiment with new UI components is a liberating experience. Shape development is a great playground to try out new stuff.
In the end, the goal is to let these improvements flow back into BricsCAD. We’re committed to .dwg, and the power of solid modeling. I’m really humbled to have had this opportunity. I hope that all of you reading this will try BricsCAD Shape, and that you’ll let us know how we can make it better in the future.
Stop sketching. Start shaping.
Download BricsCAD Shape today! It’s totally free. If you love it, tell your peers to download it, too. We’re pretty proud of the clean and simple learning materials for the product – check out “30 minutes to Shape”.