Sunday, April 16, 2017

Opinion: Problems with the Autodesk App Store

Here on Revit Add-ons, we publish weekly roundups listing the new and updated Revit add-ins on the Autodesk App Store. We've been doing this for years and have discovered two significant issues with the way the App Store processes add-in submissions. Along with the problems each may cause, these are:
  1. The version number may be the same as the previous iteration
    1. Authors may neglect to provide accurate version numbers
    2. Authors may bump their add-ins to the top of the 'Newest' list simply by republishing their add-ins when there are no actual updates (and there are some serial offenders who do this as a matter of course)
  2. The release date is the date the add-in was submitted to the App Store and not necessarily the date it's published on the site
    1. Add-ins may not be published for weeks after submission, by which time they appear well down the 'Newest' list.

These idiosyncrasies have been an irritant to us ever since the App Store added version information to the site, but it came to a head this week with the release of Revit 2018 and its correspondingly compatible add-ins.

We try to weed out false updates for our readers. We do this by comparing the version number for each add-in indicated on the App Store with the last one we published on Revit Add-ons. If the version number is unchanged, we don't include the add-in in our roundup. This week though, we noticed that some add-ins that were clearly updated because they now feature Revit 2018 compatibility did not receive new version numbers. We don't know the intent of the authors, so, in our latest roundup, we included the text (sic), the acronym for 'spelling is correct', after version numbers that probably should have been changed.

Last year, we were surprised that add-ins for Revit 2017 were added to the App Store before the actual release of Revit 2017. Add-in developers can gain access to beta and release candidates of Autodesk products and update their add-ins ahead of time. That isn't news to us, but it was curious that the App Store published add-ins ahead of the foundation software release, and we remarked on that at the time.

This year, Autodesk held the early submissions back until the release of Revit 2018 on April 13, 2017. This made good sense to us, except that some add-ins were backdated as far back as March 23, their presumed respective dates of submission. That's almost three weeks prior, resulting in add-in updates debuting as low as 65th in the 'Newest' list! This necessitated a number of updates to our roundups for April 3-9, March 27 - April 2, and March 20-26, as annotated in the respective posts.

To us at least, it is clear that:
  1. Add-in updates on the App Store should require unique version numbers for publication
  2. The 'release date' should be the date add-ins are published to the App Store

Now that we have some very clear examples, we're going to contact the folks behind the App Store and request that they make these requested changes. We encourage readers and, especially, add-in authors who publish to the App Store to do the same, and please feel free to link back to this article in your communications.

Until these issues are, hopefully, resolved, add-in authors may always contact us to let us know about any errors on our part and we'll be happy to correct the information on our site.

Thank you.

Tim Grimm
Seattle, WA, USA
Not bad for a reformed Bentley guy

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