Important News For Carlson Users

Today, I received an email from Carlson Software.   If you are a current Carlson customer or are considering Carlson, this may be of interest to you.   The email is copied and pasted in it’s entirety, and offered without comment.

Follow the link to read:

January 29, 2008

To: Carlson Software Customers and Dealers:

Carlson Software® has built products that work on top of AutoCAD® and AutoCAD Map® from Autodesk Inc. for 20 years, since 1987. This software includes Carlson Survey®, Carlson Civil®, Carlson Hydrology® and Carlson Mining®. For the last 14 years of this 20-year period, Carlson Software was able to provide our customers and dealers the convenience of making a single purchase by bundling our software together with AutoCAD and Map. Autodesk has terminated this bundling option as of February 20, 2008. Thus, Carlson Software returns to its original status of writing add-on software and not selling the Autodesk products directly.

Although we are among the largest of the Independent Software Vendors for Autodesk, we “have been determined not to meet the current Autodesk partnering needs.” We regret this decision by Autodesk, and will do all we can to direct you to other AutoCAD and Map resellers that can provide the platform software and the CAD support.

We will, of course, continue to develop these same products on AutoCAD and Map indefinitely going forward. Our next releases, for Carlson 2009, will include major enhancements as well as support for AutoCAD and AutoCAD Map 2009.

Also effective February, 20, 2008, Autodesk has renewed our OEM engine agreement, but at significantly higher prices, for products such as Carlson Survey Standalone® and Carlson Takeoff®. However, Autodesk will no longer provide the engine for Carlson Roads, which will be discontinued on the AutoCAD engine platform. To continue to provide the highest quality software solutions at appropriate market prices, Carlson Software will be porting these products to other engines and will announce their availability in the near future.

Customers and Dealers are reminded that they can continue to buy bundled copies of AutoCAD and Map with Carlson Software products and copies of all of our OEM engine products at the current pricing until February 20, 2008.

As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we appreciate your business and the relationships we’ve established over the years with so many of you in the industry. Carlson Software is fully committed to serving the land market—survey, civil engineering, construction, mining—and is more motivated than ever to provide independent, high-quality product choices.

Carlson Software Inc.

1983-2008: 25 Years Providing Quality Software

Solutions for Land Development Professionals


  1. Like many, for a long time I felt this was inevitable (easy for me to say now, huh?) when Carlson marketing started going after C3D.
    It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, especially if there is a significant increase in the cost of Carlson products. The email mentions the increase in costs of Takeoff and Survey Stand alone, but not Civil.
    Exciting times we live in…

  2. Teodor Pop says:

    Could this mean that Civil 3D 2009 will offer some extensive improvements regarding the surveying functionalities?

  3. In 2005, our company completed a review of the engineering and surveying solutions that were available (and viable) for a company wide migration. This review included products like Carlson, Bentley, Autodesk, Trimble, Eagle Point, Sitecomp and TraversePC. Some of these fell out due to their limited engineering functionality, limited technical support, a lack of file compatibility with the general engineering market, or for limitations on collaboration with other professional services providers (architectural, structural, etc).

    In the end, Autodesk, Carlson and Bentley represent the lion’s share of the market and required a full commitment to one direction or the other. Since Carlson rode on top of the Autodesk engine, we chose to go with Autodesk since we expected to eventually have to pay the piper on the yearly fee to Autodesk one way or the other. We also internally expected Autodesk to close the door on their competition for the civil market by yanking the rug out from under them (pulling access to the engine or pricing them out of the market).

    Based on those assumptions and the fact that we presumed that eventually Autodesk would move all of the functionality from Land Desktop into Civil 3D, we took the C3D plunge in 2005. Without Carlson, I personally think that Civil 3D would still be the correct solution for Land Development and transportation projects, BUT, I also think that based on the significant strides that Carlson has made (read as software that works for surveyors and engineers the way surveyors and engineers think, not like software engineers think), Civil 3D would be well behind where it is today.

    I would have wished for a better solution, that Autodesk would have just assimilated the Carlson products (and development staff) rather than created another turf war. None of us will win in the scenario since we’ll all just have to add to our tool set and batch of data conversion routines.

    I got enough excitement in my day without this kind of noise…


  4. Jason Hickey says:

    Teodor – What Carlson does and what Autodesk does really aren’t related in that sense. Just because Carlson has made this announcement does not mean Autodesk has to do anything.

    If you want to see what is available for the 2009 release, become a beta tester. You can sign up at

  5. Brent McAnney says:

    “If you want to see what is available for the 2009 release, become a beta tester. You can sign up at”

    Unfortunately, I signed up at myfeedback a couple of months ago and have yet to hear anything, so maybe it’s just too late for this year’s release. Next year, perhaps.

  6. James Maeding says:

    That part about “porting to another engine” should scare the pants off AutoDesk. Many companies do need all the fancy lisp and customization AutoCad offers, but they need the design software bad.
    You give someone the choice of BricsCad with Carlson for 1/2 the price of C3D and none of the object version headaches, and Autodesk has a problem. All because they cut off economic access to the Acad engine. Porting’s not easy though…

  7. Jason Hickey says:

    Scare the pants off of Autodesk? Really? I mean, they’re hurting the Civil3D market so badly now that this will likely cause Autodesk serious financial ruin.

    Seriously, James – this affects Autodesk financially about as much as the price of goat lingerie in Yugoslavia. Who’s going to go to another platform just because Carlson is cheaper? Frankly, I don’t see price affecting purchase decisions as much as market share does. And by the way, have you priced Carlson lately? The standalone programs (those that use the OEM engine) are already 1/4 the price (actually, less…) than the price of one seat of Civil 3D, and I don’t really see that affecting Civil 3D sales.

    I’m not starting a war here – I was going to leave comments alone, but that one was just a little too out there to ignore.

  8. James Maeding says:

    I agree, not scared yet, but should they get a solution going on a clone, Adesk will lose sales on both C3D and Acad.
    The closest situation was Eaglepoint on BricsCad. One of our offices looked real hard at using that for the survey crews, about 20 seats.
    The market has not yet been forced to recon with Civil 3D. We can sit on LDT for a while still. The timing is about right though, we will be forced to choose C3D or another route in about 2 years, right when Carlson would be ready to go.
    So my opinion is its a crack in the Dam. Time will tell if it grows.
    Obviously Adesk is trying to thwart it some.

  9. This shouldn’t affect Carlson Connect, right? That’s all I am concerned about. I know they create that each year out of the goodness of their hearts, I just hope this decision by Autodesk hasn’t affect the “goodness” of Carlson’s hearts!

  10. Dustin Kerr says:

    As a former Carlson Software employee, I know intimately what they are, or at least were, trying to do when I worked there. In order to make a correct judgment on what is going on between Carlson and Autodesk, we can look at the economics. By Autodesk’s actions, Carlson’s sales will probably be cut about 20-30% directly. That does not include the supply demand effect by increasing the cost of the Autodesk engine. The sale of Autocad only, was a significant potion of their sales. To determine if Autodesk will be intimidated by Carlson going to other engines, I assure you they most likely are not. The sales of Autodesk in Q3 were 538 million. Extrapolated anuually that would be about 2 billion. Autodesk’s sales for Q3 are a full order order of magnitude greater than Carlson’s total annual sales.

  11. Neil Wilson says:

    So we can’t get ACAD with Carlson products. We can still run it on top of ACAD if we want to use their stuff. If they have good software they will generate sales. I all comes down to how well Autodesk enhances Civil 3D in the areas where Carlson excels.

  12. R.K. McSwain says:

    I think we’ll just have to wait and see.

    If this announcement is all there is to it, then it doesn’t amount to much. It wasn’t like all SurvCADD users bought their ACAD from Carlson anyway, not to mention there isn’t that much profit in the ACAD portion of the sale anyway.

    The increase in the OEM price is understandable. The Carlson standalone products have been underpriced for years…

    Now if Autodesk comes along sometime in 2008 and pulls Carlson’s ADN membership and pulls the OEM’s altogether – that will be a big story…