In this post I continue the interview with CAD guy Martin Harrer and IT guy Germar Tischler from Austrian fire alarm, security and communications systems company Schrack Seconet. In this part I ask about LISP, maintenance and support.
Third Party Tools
Do you use any third-party or add-on tools not written by yourself?
Martin: No, just OpenDCL for programming.
Martin: No. DOSLib is great, but I don’t need it because lots of functions are now covered by the LISP engine, or easy to cover. I love OpenDCL. I need it to add to the interface, but it’s very nice to build and maintain it.
Well, I’ll see Owen [Wengerd – custodian of OpenDCL] in London…
Martin: Give him a kiss!
No, I’m not kissing Owen Wengerd!
Martin: Well, a big thank you.
A hug, maybe. I’ll give him a hug.
Martin: And Torsten [Moses] too. It makes the work so much easier. I thought about using .NET for the user interface. But it’s easier in OpenDCL. Lots of stuff is easier to make in LISP, faster. I’m not very experienced in .NET programming, in C#; I think it’s a nice language but some things in LISP can be done in two or three lines. And I have a very good library of LISP I’ve written over ten years.
What about maintenance of LISP? Do you find you can do nothing, just leave it alone and it works from BricsCAD release to release?
Martin: Yes. I maintain it, but that’s more fixing bugs that I made! But also taking advantage of new features. That’s why we are updating things every day.
So your suite of internal software, you’re maintaining that daily?
Germar: At night we sync it into the branch offices. Then in the morning when they start BricsCAD, if anything has changed it will get updated from the server.
Martin: I set up the updates to happen with every BricsCAD start, but if you have a slow internet connection you can switch it to update on first start in the morning and that’s enough. Unless there’s some very urgent fixes.
I did that one time because I stopped one thing working! I stopped a branch office because I had a bug.
Yes, that’s embarrassing!
Martin: They were grateful, they paid me compliments the next day. With the setup we have, it’s easy to fix.
That’s something I miss in Revit®. From my point of view, it’s very hard to implement custom software in Revit® compared with BricsCAD or AutoCAD®. The command line… we’re used to it! It’s like someone cut off my hands when I work with Revit®.
What’s Bricsys support like? If you put in a support ticket, how long does it take before you get to talk to somebody who understands the problem?
Germar: No time at all, really. Normally you get an answer really, really fast. The only problem we had, and this is our mistake really… We lease our computers and swap them for new ones every three or four years. We would wipe the hard drive and forget to deactivate BricsCAD first. So we used up more licenses than we had and the drives were securely wiped clean with no way of getting the data back.
So that was the first couple of times I needed BricsCAD support. I’d go, “This is the computer, this is the license”, I’d send it to them and I swear it was sorted out within a maximum of a couple of hours.
You can deactivate them manually yourself over the website but we did entire branch offices overnight and then the next day it’s “Ah, oopsie!” but that was our mistake and they helped us out immediately.
All my support experiences have been very good.
In the next part I ask about LISP, maintenance and support.
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