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Big news in DIY publishing today: Our old pals at Instructables have been acquired by Autodesk, Inc., makers of leading 3D design software packages AutoCAD, Maya, and 3ds Max, as well as the new freely-distributed SketchUp-killer 123D CAD. From the Autodesk press release:

Autodesk believes that the acquisition will assist makers of all types by linking Instructables’ vibrant online community to Autodesk software tools and services, such as SketchBook, 123D and Homestyler that allow anyone to explore design ideas and bring them to life.

From the Instructables blog:

Autodesk is a great cultural fit for Instructables. They make tools for creative people: they’re the world leader in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software. Even if you don’t recognize the name Autodesk, their software has powered the movies you watch, and designed the cars you drive and the buildings you work in.

Instructables has set up a feedback page where users can post their reactions and ideas about how Autodesk’s resources should be used to improve their site.

Congratulations, folks, from all of us here at MAKE!

Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TYJUFVXRH2DWLTHSLBO2ENEEHQ Gregg

    Fine!
    Perhaps this will curtail those idiotic nag screens regarding how they display information.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TYJUFVXRH2DWLTHSLBO2ENEEHQ Gregg

    Fine!
    Perhaps this will curtail those idiotic nag screens regarding how they display information.

  • Ryan Turner

    Feels really weird.  I never liked instructables because of its awful interface and insistence that you log in.  I personally hope it dies.

    I don’t really see how autodesk will benefit from this acquisition.  Clearly their goal is increased market share due to hobbiest awareness of their products but I can’t see that actually happening.

    Their best bet would be some kind of integration between instructables and autodesk products but I’m not sure if the community would actually use that kind of feature.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=48009799 Shelby Harris

      There are people like myself that are big into Autodesk programs and Instructables…no point in being so negative.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=48009799 Shelby Harris

    Rad! Two of my favorite things coming together! I can’t wait to see what they do. :]

  • Anonymous

    I’m curious to see where Instructables goes after this. They’ve almost completely lost my interest in the last couple of years due to various changes and declining content quality. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but there’s still room to hit rock bottom.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Oscar-Goldman/100000984926305 Oscar Goldman

      Not to mention Autodesk’s abusive, customer-harassing policies.  Autodesk insists that you don’t own the software that you buy from them, so they retain the “right” to rip you off in perpetuity.  How?  Let’s say you buy an Autodesk product and decide later that you don’t need it; and let’s say you never even opened it.

      So you put it up for sale on eBay to recoup some money.  Autodesk’s lawyers will then threaten eBay, and spineless eBay will immediately cave and pull your auction.

      Don’t do business with a company that steals from you and seeks to deny your rights.  A company’s “policies” do not equate to LAW, which sadly many people don’t realize and thus they abet companies like Autodesk in harming customers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Oscar-Goldman/100000984926305 Oscar Goldman

      Not to mention Autodesk’s abusive, customer-harassing policies.  Autodesk insists that you don’t own the software that you buy from them, so they retain the “right” to rip you off in perpetuity.  How?  Let’s say you buy an Autodesk product and decide later that you don’t need it; and let’s say you never even opened it.

      So you put it up for sale on eBay to recoup some money.  Autodesk’s lawyers will then threaten eBay, and spineless eBay will immediately cave and pull your auction.

      Don’t do business with a company that steals from you and seeks to deny your rights.  A company’s “policies” do not equate to LAW, which sadly many people don’t realize and thus they abet companies like Autodesk in harming customers.

      • http://www.DavidCDean.com David C Dean

        Yeah I don’t like Autodesk… but it’d be nice if they could throw some of that huge bankroll at improving instructables a bit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612196627 Lynne Whitehorn

    I hope the folks at Instructables are happy.  I don’t see how this improves matters, since almost everything Autodesk makes is really expensive, even by modern software standards.  Let’s hope they don’t bring that along to the purchase.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HL7RMENHJ3O5MUQA2MLLPXSYVI B Arnold

    Man, what’s it coming to? Last time I checked, you only needed a Pro membership to view all steps on one page. Now you have to buy the company?

    Maybe Autodesk just wanted to see bigger pictures. Or, maybe Autodesk signed up for a free trial, forgot to cancel and Instructables went ahead and billed them, for everything.

    • http://www.DavidCDean.com David C Dean

      I just about spit coffee out my nose.

      I really hope they manage to clean that site up and make it more usable.  It’s been a painful mess to use for a long time, but it’s still that go-to site.  It’d be nice to see it get better.

  • http://twitter.com/worldgnat Peter Davoust

    I wonder if they’re going to try to extend Instructables into a corporately owned take on Thingiverse.

  • http://twitter.com/worldgnat Peter Davoust

    I wonder if they’re going to try to extend Instructables into a corporately owned take on Thingiverse.

  • http://www.deadlywind.com/ Paintball Barrel

    sounds like a good ol boy kinda deal ;) i mean how is this a good purchase?

  • http://www.deadlywind.com/ Paintball Barrel

    is a price mentioned anywhere? did they pay more than $37.50?

  • Anonymous

    i’d like to challenge some commenters here who don’t like the current site but don’t say more than that… say specifically what you’d like to see improved, give specific examples of other sites that do a feature / user interaction better. the instructables team is listening and they likely have more resources now.

    i’m going to outline what i’d like to see change soon in an article, but it would be great to get some specifics.

    • http://profiles.google.com/ironleg Ronnie Hinton

      I meant for this to just be a short list of the site’s problems, but it wound up getting big, hope it helps Autodesk and Instructables make the site better.

      Instructables started with a great intention: make a platform online where it’s easy to lay out directions on how to do anything step by step. Allow users to include photos, notes, and instructions, and allow people to comment on these articles. For it’s first year or two it did this and did it well enough that a community that went from cooks and knitters to welders and chemists jumped in and made hundreds of articles. Since then the nuts and bolts of the site haven’t changed terribly much, but it’s overall feel has changed considerably. Here are the problems I currently have with Instructables.com as a user and contributer:

      *The login nagging – I’ve been an instructables user for years, have contributed articles, and have even had one of my projects published in one of their books, but every time I go to their site I have to log in as if I’ve never been there before with no auto-login or even saved username. That they hamstring their content until you do log in just makes using their site that much more tedious and sludgy feeling. I don’t mind having to log in, but every other site I frequent that requires it also remembers my login. Requiring me to login to get basic functionality out of the site, then forgetting I’ve ever been there when I close my browser makes me less likely to visit instructables because of the hassle of using the site.

      *How they monetize and the potential spoiling of the community – While it’s true that any site has to pay for it’s bandwidth and staff, there was something in how Instructables went about it that rubbed me (and it seems others) the wrong way. Their site is filled with content made by it’s users on how to make and do things. Ideally these instructions will be well documented, accurate, and creative. Unfortunately when instructables has an air about it of trying to make money hand over fist with product placements ‘disguised’ as contests, by trying to herd you into paying for an account, or trying to tease you into creating content the owners will be making money on with said contests. When instructables felt like a place to upload how to do and make things for the benefit of anyone who wanted to know it I had a drive to contribute. Anymore it feels like their accountants have taken  over and I feel like anything I’d contribute is half-hidden to non-login users and log-in or not people will be bugged to “go gold” before being allowed the privilege of seeing the content Instructables didn’t pay to have created for them.

      *Lack of organization and poor search – This is probably the biggest technical issue I have with their site. When there were just a couple hundred articles, it wasn’t too hard to find what you wanted once it dropped off the main page. Any more though unless you remember the user who made it or the exact title you might as well send up smoke signals to try and find something that you looked at a while back and didn’t bookmark. There’s no real organization for finding specific things and the result is that instructables feels to me like a big mass of articles hidden in a maze, a front page that shows off whatever the staff feels like featuring, and no practical way to find something specific most of the time. Their search being junk results as often as not doesn’t help.

      *Content quality and copycats – This has to do with the last point I think. For many kinds of thing to make, like say potato guns, there might be *dozens* of instructables with huge overlaps in information or a virtual copy another ‘ible with different wording or photos. Some of these will be well documented, photographed, and give good details on how the project could be applied to other things or modified to be made with different materals and methods. Others barely have a couple bad cell phone photos and youtube quality comments on how they were made. There’s no distinction in the site’s search for this. I don’t think the solution is to get rid of the copycats or poorly made instructables, but not having them show up in the first results on an unrelated search or before better content would be nice.

      I feel that these things have slowly driven Instructbles.com to become more stale and less deep in it’s content over the last couple years, and I also feel that if these issues were seriously addressed that the site could see a strong revival in new content and user contribution.

      -Ronnie

    • http://profiles.google.com/ironleg Ronnie Hinton

      I meant for this to just be a short list of the site’s problems, but it wound up getting big, hope it helps Autodesk and Instructables make the site better.

      Instructables started with a great intention: make a platform online where it’s easy to lay out directions on how to do anything step by step. Allow users to include photos, notes, and instructions, and allow people to comment on these articles. For it’s first year or two it did this and did it well enough that a community that went from cooks and knitters to welders and chemists jumped in and made hundreds of articles. Since then the nuts and bolts of the site haven’t changed terribly much, but it’s overall feel has changed considerably. Here are the problems I currently have with Instructables.com as a user and contributer:

      *The login nagging – I’ve been an instructables user for years, have contributed articles, and have even had one of my projects published in one of their books, but every time I go to their site I have to log in as if I’ve never been there before with no auto-login or even saved username. That they hamstring their content until you do log in just makes using their site that much more tedious and sludgy feeling. I don’t mind having to log in, but every other site I frequent that requires it also remembers my login. Requiring me to login to get basic functionality out of the site, then forgetting I’ve ever been there when I close my browser makes me less likely to visit instructables because of the hassle of using the site.

      *How they monetize and the potential spoiling of the community – While it’s true that any site has to pay for it’s bandwidth and staff, there was something in how Instructables went about it that rubbed me (and it seems others) the wrong way. Their site is filled with content made by it’s users on how to make and do things. Ideally these instructions will be well documented, accurate, and creative. Unfortunately when instructables has an air about it of trying to make money hand over fist with product placements ‘disguised’ as contests, by trying to herd you into paying for an account, or trying to tease you into creating content the owners will be making money on with said contests. When instructables felt like a place to upload how to do and make things for the benefit of anyone who wanted to know it I had a drive to contribute. Anymore it feels like their accountants have taken  over and I feel like anything I’d contribute is half-hidden to non-login users and log-in or not people will be bugged to “go gold” before being allowed the privilege of seeing the content Instructables didn’t pay to have created for them.

      *Lack of organization and poor search – This is probably the biggest technical issue I have with their site. When there were just a couple hundred articles, it wasn’t too hard to find what you wanted once it dropped off the main page. Any more though unless you remember the user who made it or the exact title you might as well send up smoke signals to try and find something that you looked at a while back and didn’t bookmark. There’s no real organization for finding specific things and the result is that instructables feels to me like a big mass of articles hidden in a maze, a front page that shows off whatever the staff feels like featuring, and no practical way to find something specific most of the time. Their search being junk results as often as not doesn’t help.

      *Content quality and copycats – This has to do with the last point I think. For many kinds of thing to make, like say potato guns, there might be *dozens* of instructables with huge overlaps in information or a virtual copy another ‘ible with different wording or photos. Some of these will be well documented, photographed, and give good details on how the project could be applied to other things or modified to be made with different materals and methods. Others barely have a couple bad cell phone photos and youtube quality comments on how they were made. There’s no distinction in the site’s search for this. I don’t think the solution is to get rid of the copycats or poorly made instructables, but not having them show up in the first results on an unrelated search or before better content would be nice.

      I feel that these things have slowly driven Instructbles.com to become more stale and less deep in it’s content over the last couple years, and I also feel that if these issues were seriously addressed that the site could see a strong revival in new content and user contribution.

      -Ronnie

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3MWBKXQNGDRUXVA6ZO7D6JBMPM Engineer Zero

    I realize this is a little off topic, but I’d be interested to know if anyone has any comments on 123D, especially versus Sketchup.  

  • http://twitter.com/haydnj Haydn Jones

    Autodesk offer high end software at high end prices, the ebay policy is not unique to them, and they do (did?) offer free feature limited software, so i dont think that they are some evil company, and if you dont like them there are some fantastic open source/freeware alternatives anyway. My only gripe with instructables apart from shoddy google search, is not being able to see most of the pictures properly without having a pro account. I have missed out because of it. these are the changes i want, decent indexing and ability to view content.

  • http://twitter.com/haydnj Haydn Jones

    Autodesk offer high end software at high end prices, the ebay policy is not unique to them, and they do (did?) offer free feature limited software, so i dont think that they are some evil company, and if you dont like them there are some fantastic open source/freeware alternatives anyway. My only gripe with instructables apart from shoddy google search, is not being able to see most of the pictures properly without having a pro account. I have missed out because of it. these are the changes i want, decent indexing and ability to view content.

  • Rodney Abke

    Nothing good can come of this.

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