Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

It’s an interesting thing that happens when you hold up a mirror for some people. Some see the things they expect, the things they know, and are content to move along. Some see things they’ve kept from themselves and smash the mirror into a thousand pieces. It’s easier to deal with seven years of bad luck than admit the picture isn’t pretty.

Last week, I made some comments in the Autodesk discussion groups that apparently ruffled some feathers. While I’ve always been an advocate for great resellers, I’ve also been a harsh critic of the system that allows some to survive while providing little to the end users that pay them. This is nothing new for me, a brief search in the Autodesk system shows posts from over six years ago where I advocate for users to find a reseller that fills their needs. I absolutely believe the right partnerships are crucial to any engineering firm’s success, and I believe there are a large number of outstanding resellers that deliver on the promise. Those channel partners are members of the larger community by their very nature. I respect their work, and enjoy collaborating with them when I get the opportunity.

Some are now using my criticism of the underbelly of the channel as an excuse to paint EE as a poison partner to the Civil 3D community, and this cannot be tolerated. We consider the engineers and designers our peers, and have always served to help them get more out of the software. We are a partner with Autodesk and have strived to help both the product development team and the reseller channel deliver the absolute best software and user experience possible. Before any vague accusations are made about our role as partner or as end-user advocate, let’s look at what EE has done as part of the community and part of the channel:

  • Led the way in offering free training to our unemployed peers, expanding the user base and preparing engineers and designers to market themselves as ready-to-go Civil 3D users. Our only partner in this effort? Wiley Publishing, who is offering book discounts.
  • Partnered with Autodesk to create both the AOTC materials for end users and the C3D 2010 Tech Camp materials for the channel, sharing our hard earned expertise with as many folks as possible.
  • Created and maintained the industry leading civil3d.com blog. A free resource for users and resellers, we’ve never charged, nor stopped posting when the “cool” of blog marketing wore off. A million hits later, we believe in the power of knowledge.
  • Created and wrote the Mastering and Introducing Civil 3D texts from Wiley publishing. We make less from each book than my double-latte costs, but we have created this series so that end-users (and even some of Autodesk’s own support staff,) have another top notch resource for Civil 3D information.
  • Taught at AU for years upon years. Anyone who’s taught at AU will certainly tell you that the stipend doesn’t cover the cost, but our entire team has been part of the AU experience as long as Civil 3D has.
  • Prepared and broadcast free weekly EECasts for the user community. We’ve never limited them to just our customers, taking the approach that more information is better for the community.
  • Spent thousands of hours in the Autodesk and other discussion groups, helping users and sharing our knowledge of the software. And yes, upon rare occasion ranted about the status quo.
  • Developed and worked with Autodesk to fill in the gaps in the Civil 3D package, then offered them AT reasonable rates to the end users.
  • Contributed articles to magazines like SitePrep where we advocate for the adoption and integration of new technology as we move into the virtual design and construction world.

So, if you want to judge EE based on my one post buried in an ongoing discussion thread, that’s unfortunate. But to be fair, I would also ask you to evaluate your partners by what they offer beyond the license of Civil 3D. We’re here to serve the engineers and designers that use C3D because we love what we do. Some days its harder than others, but what I see in the reflection of EE is something I’m proud of.

James Wedding, P.E.
VP, Director of Technical Services


  1. Chris Cook says:

    Well said James.
    Avatech has been nothing but a “middle man” for a license.

  2. Jon Rizzo says:


    There are good resellers and bad resellers. Good resellers have a competent technical staff, and can help you out of a jam. There are many resellers in this category. Then, there are resellers who sell software and staff the phones with someone whose only skill is to search an online database for an answer to your question and submit the issue to Autodesk if the database search comes up empty. There are many resellers in this category, too. Does this sound like your reseller? Is it wrong to expect more?

  3. Not to mention created the coolest IE toolbar ever. Google and Yahoo, eat your heart out.

  4. Steve Boon says:


    As someone who has been taking advantage of your knowledge and insight since 2005 I can attest to the fact that you have always contributed more to the Civil3D Community than you could possibly have taken away. This site is the first resource that I recommend to new users within our company, and my copy of Mastering travels with me when I go to teach users in other branch offices.

    Any user with a modicum of sense has to realize that part of the reseller’s job is to market yourselves to the Civil3D Community, using blogs, speaking to user groups, presenting at AU, etc.. The issue is always one of balance – how much of your time/effort can I get for free (or as cheaply as possible), and how much can you afford to give away. Unfortunately some people on both sides of the equation have trouble maintaining that balance, especially in the current economic times. We see users who choose to not renew their subscriptions which means that they turn to the Discussion Groups for support, and we have Resellers and AE’s who can’t afford to market themselves except through the same path.

    All I can suggest at this point is that we all need to show respect for each other, and recognize that the cream will rise to the top over time. Users who aren’t getting good service from their reseller will eventually start looking for better. A company like EE, with a reputation that backs up it’s advertising will likely survive the short term, and will be well placed for the recovery to come.

    And yes – I HAVE noticed that ALL of the Civil3D Reseller/Support community has steadily increased their marketing efforts over the years while the levels of free support have decreased.

    PS: When I logged into Civil3d.com I was originally looking for one of your old blog postings and discovered that the current incarnation of the site only has archives back to February 2006. I went searching for more and found this site – http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://civil3d.com/ – deja vu!

  5. Kevin Currey says:

    I haven’t spent much time in the discussion groups lately, so this is the first I’ve heard of this. I want to say publicly though how much I appreciate James and his team. His contributions to the discussion group were invaluable to me when I started using Civil 3D. At that time, both subscription support and reseller support were next to useless. So you could say that he has been providing superior support since day one, even though he wasn’t getting paid for it then. Thank you James for all the help you’ve given me and the community.