He's Dead, Jim

We recently made the call in our Oakland office to officially give up CAD. We should have done it much sooner.

This is the new deal: we don't use CAD as the primary authoring tool for any new projects, period. If we get a project where the architect is doing it in CAD, we pull the backgrounds into Revit, do our work there, and export out to CAD to share with the design team. 

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the things we now don't have to do:

  • We don't have to maintain our CAD detail library.
  • We don't have to maintain our CAD symbol library.
  • We don't have to maintain our CAD linetype library.
  • We don't have to continually ensure that our CAD standards are aligned with our Revit standards.
  • We don't have to train people on CAD.
  • We don't have to waste time asking the question "should we do this project in CAD or in Revit?" The answer is always "Do it in Revit." It is a non-issue.

Here is an exhaustive list of new things we have to do because of this policy that we weren't already doing:


Ninety-five plus percent of all our work is Revit-required, and it has been for a year or two. So this isn't much of a shock to the office - almost nothing perceptibly changed, because almost everything is going to be in Revit anyway and we're all used to that.

That's why we should have done this sooner. We've spent too much of our journey dragging along the corpse of CAD purely out of habit.

The number one root cause of mangled Revit implementations is having the safety release valve of CAD. I see it over and over again. 

"Oh shit, the deadline came up really fast, we have to get this done NOW. Okay, just export the backgrounds and bang it out in CAD real quick."

"This project is small and fast, we don't have time for Revit, we'll just bang it out in CAD."

"Our Revit guy is busy on another project. Just bang it out in CAD."

When you always have an option that will save budget on this one project, you take it, because that's the smart business decision to make for this project. It's a safety release valve.

But you need a certain amount of pressure to learn. You have to be forced to become the hard-bitten Revit crew you need to be. You need to have your back against the wall. 

Bailing out to CAD is the smart business decision for an individual project, but it is disastrous for the organization over the long term. Instituting a simple policy of "No More CAD, no exceptions" takes off the cognitive burden of having to make the call on every single project.

I haven't heard of a single company for whom the switch to Revit was easy or comfortable. Don't think it will be for you - you are not a special snowflake. Grit your teeth and get it done.


What is the right ratio of CAD to Revit-required project load when you should pull the trigger and go full-Revit? I don't know.

We waited until we were cruising at 95+% and that was too late.

Maybe 50%?