What is the next "Must-Know" Technology or Software?


From what I have been reading/hearing, t seems like a 5 years ago, knowing Revit really gave you a leg up in the job-hunt.  About 2-3 years ago, apparently being one of the few people who was competent in Grasshopper was a huge boost.  I've heard some people mention Ecotect as well.

So basically, what I am asking is what software/skill should I master that will make employers go, "Wow, he knows that.?  We gotta hire this guy!"

Jul 14, 12 2:18 pm

waterproofing and detailing

Jul 14, 12 2:28 pm

What can I do to learn these things?  I guess detailing is just a general thing that takes practice, but are there any good resources for waterproofing?

Jul 14, 12 2:54 pm

Vasari is getting more noise

Jul 14, 12 3:52 pm

It really though depends on what trends arise that are also cost effective. 

Jul 14, 12 3:53 pm

Vasari seems like its just software for parametrics.  Is it mainly for creating building massing?  Like is their any advantage besides it being more environmentally focused and integrated with other Autodesk products?

Jul 14, 12 4:50 pm

Vasari is mainly for massing as it relates to environmental responsiveness, but its features that integrate with Ecotect and its solar analysis, as of right now, is much more user friendly if you already know Revit/3dsmax. Ecotect, by itself is horrible in terms of being user friendly and a lot of it is just common sense results that are rather abstractly represented (Vasari is too of course, except for some of the 3d windrose data). So those are really just complimentary software that I don't see being widely required among firms. (its kind of sad, because people were able to design environmentally friendly buildings a century or two ago without software, just common sense, hell ask most new graduates to design a wood frame house and see how many have wood touching the ground directly).

I haven't heard much buzz of anything too new. And Catia/Digital Project has a long way to go for its pricing. Rhino has a plethora of new plugins besides Grasshopper that are becoming relevant, but the cost to build the designs you actually need that software for leads me to believe it still won't become a mandatory software skill.

I really just hope that the next big demand from people is honestly design talent and an honesty in design("I'm LEED accredited because I care about the environment" ​no, you're LEED accredited because you care about marketing). *end rant*

Jul 14, 12 5:58 pm

Thoughtfulness is probably the best skill that'll get you hired.  Knowing the latest and greatest software means nothing if you can't design for shit.. You might get hired, but are likely to be booted out quick xD

I guess Revit/Rhino/Grasshopper can go a long way if you know how to use it for your benefit.  Catia/Digital Project might be nice but its out of league for most of us.  I mean, most students can't even find an educational copy of it, manuals etc to learn that software which apparently has a high learning curve.

Jul 14, 12 8:21 pm

The interface is really industrial designer/engineering friendly relative to us, the closest thing i compare to its UI is Solidworks or maybe Revits' family UI. And you're right, when I was first learning some Digital Project the online resources were minimal. If you aren't learning it in school with visits from workshops like from CASE then it's near impossible for a basic architect to pick up.

Jul 15, 12 1:56 am

Not speaking from experience, just conjecture but... Instead of  focusing on mastering one program, you might consider becoming proficient in several different programs.  If you can show projects in your portfolio that use a broad range of softwares, it might demonstrate that you are good at learning new programs.  So when the next big program comes out, you can help your firm stay ahead of the competition.

Jul 15, 12 2:28 am

Jack of all trades, master or none

Jul 15, 12 2:39 am
w. architect

It is too bad that the art of pencil drafting has died.

Jul 15, 12 3:41 pm

accesskb could have said it better...learn to design

Jul 15, 12 6:35 pm

long before I became a BIM wit, I could and still can do pretty good manual drafting, perspectives and sketching. I still hand sketch on trace to show my co-workers what I intend and what I figured out. It's the most expedient way to communicate in the office - I draw something, my PA draws over it and I draw over that to indicate that I "got it" then Revitalize it. Nothing better than col-erase and trace.

Jul 15, 12 6:43 pm

@w. architect

There are students with these skills. Ching still teaches at U. Wash I believe. I know at Auburn it is mandatory that we learn hand drafting and that each and every student (at least when I went through) was taught by a second generation Frank Lloyd Wright student, his age is getting up there now but he was an invaluable resource. I still use my parallel bar and draft when able, just not for final production.

There are a couple firms in Alabama that hand draft all their CD's and such, but they're only involved in residential work.

Jul 15, 12 6:45 pm

Ching definitely - that's what they taught at the schools I went to - after a while it just becomes second nature - My best tool anyways

Jul 15, 12 6:50 pm

Tell someone to draft an ellipse without a french curve and watch their head explode....

Jul 15, 12 7:29 pm
i r giv up

hand-drafting is a great skill to have... for presentation drawings.


learn to program though. any programming language, be it python to interface with maya/rhino, c# to put into grasshopper modules, or even vb to manipulate com objects and interface with catia/digital project.

Jul 15, 12 8:04 pm

I learned Mel for Maya, C# and VB to program Revit API - I think programming skills are going to be increasingly more important for architects as it is in the video game industry where the 3D artists must are expected to know Python, Mel + C# - 

Jul 15, 12 8:19 pm
i r giv up

C# is such a huge asset...

as per previously stated, when you know enough code, you wake up every morning knowing that you do architecture out of love, not because you're out of options. and that makes the field so much more rewarding.

Jul 15, 12 8:59 pm

For everyone cleverly saying "learn to design," I totally agree, but I feel like a hundred or so other candidates for any given position are going to know how to design as well.  I'm interested in how to set myself apart from that group.

I come from a programming background, so I already know VB and C#.  So pretty much the consensus is Vasari, Rhino plugins, and mastering hand-drawing?  Great, thanks for the help everyone!

Jul 16, 12 5:16 am

I think Xenakis is right. Programming skills are getting more and more popular and help a lot in some activities.

Jul 16, 12 7:29 am

Didn't Microsoft kill VB?  Newer AutoCAD doesn't support it like they used to, but I don't know about other software.  I think Microsoft wants people, and Autodesk, to switch to .net.  I think javascript is a good place to start if someone wants to learn scripting.  I think it has a better future than VB and easier to pick up than C#.  Doesn't Autodesk's other software use lisp?

Jul 16, 12 8:02 am

Isn't VB used in other software and plugins like Grasshopper though

Jul 16, 12 9:33 am
i r giv up

javascript? seriously? just don't. that stuff is pretty much useless outside of a web environment.

if you're concerned about ease of learning: python. and you can start plugging it into rhino the moment you start learning.

Jul 16, 12 9:53 am

I don't know about C# but I've had many nervous breakdowns over Javascript. Tread with caution.

Jul 16, 12 11:16 am

It's my understanding that sometime in the future Windows8 is going to have some reliance on JavaScript and HTML5.  I would think it likely that Autodesk will follow Microsoft because it's my experience they tend to like doing that.  I haven't tired Win8 so as far as I'm concerned the future is just speculation.

Let's move this conversation somewhere more practical.  What are you actually developing in these languages?  For example, I've used VBA to develop a macro that puts a door in a wall in AutoCAD.  Other stuff was mostly just copying old softimage stuff and making transitions from one version of Acad to the next easier for the people I work with.  I've never scripted anything in 3DMax because I've never thought of anything that would be worth the trouble.  My experience with JavaScript is for a website.  I may not use any of the other software relevant to this discussion. 

What have you guys who have strong opinions personally developed in Python, C, VB, maybe Lisp, etc.?  If aphorismal or other people are honestly interested in learning some of this, maybe it would help them to understand the practical applications.  If you feel it's necessary to learn C++ so you can feel good about yourself and better than others, maybe that's not a priority for them.  If Python scripts are for generating Spirograph shapes, then that could be an important priority and maybe learning VBA would not be adequate. 

Jul 16, 12 12:00 pm

If you can't draw well with a pen/pencil, you won't be able to draw well with a computer either. I've seen that proven again and again. The thought process is the same, but the tools get exponentially more complex as they shift into software mediation.

If you really want to master the most important software, start with your brain. Unfortunately, there's no user manual.

Jul 16, 12 5:22 pm

knowing how to present your ideas is pretty valuable. Architects are notorious for over-presenting and not being able to articulate their ideas very well in a way that clients/ laypeople can understand.. being able to create clear and concise diagrams will go a very long way in your portfolio/interviews... and also in your professional career

Jul 16, 12 6:12 pm

I do sequences of 3D diagrams to arrive at design solutions - 3D analytic sketches basically - I hand sketch first, then Revitize it, using options to articulate each sequence of the process - 

Jul 16, 12 7:20 pm
i r giv up

i use mel and python to go through the conceptual sketching phase. i often times have ideas about formal processes that would otherwise require hours of drawing/modeling, but which are intensely formulaic. basically, i code in the early phases to clear my head, to save time when it comes to complex ideas and to explore solutions that i otherwise would have not thought of.


there's more to it. a lot more. but that's the gist of it.

Jul 16, 12 8:46 pm

microsoft excel.  really.

Jul 19, 12 10:05 am

Good old tissue and axons to communicate in the office. Modeling and rendering are to wow the client. Most of our time will be spend either shuffling paper or drawing details. Waterproofing.... for such an abundant compound, it's funny how troublesome it can be. If you bust out a pen and sketch paper and get the person that is interviewing you to have a conversation on paper by drawing ideas, you are soooo hired.

Jul 19, 12 12:12 pm

Software is irrelevant.  You want to stand out?  Learn detailing (props to mdler).  Construction knowledge is where you can stand out.  Also, props to jeffry_136 for the Excel mention.  Excel ninjas are awesome.

Jul 19, 12 1:13 pm

for interesting architecture and scripting: MAYA, Rhino, Grasshopper, 

for typical architecture: Revit, ArchiCAD, AutoCAD, 3dMax, SketchUp, SolidWorks, Bentley and Microstation

for opensource and other sweet rendering and animation: Blender, Zbrush, Houdini, Cinema4d, Vray Render, Maxwell

In question for future: Gehry Technologies, Tablet Apps such as Autodesk 123D

Jul 19, 12 6:08 pm

How do you learn detailing really? Go through a pile of construction manuals?

Jul 20, 12 10:00 am

I second the above comment.  I feel like detailing is something you learn on the job.  A familiar catch-22: to get a job you need detailing experience, but you get detailing experience on the job.

Jul 20, 12 5:57 pm


You should be careful how you group the word "interesting" with various programs, remember programs are tools, you are the designer, you shouldn't be subservient to their capabilities. And 3dsMax should be with the previous group for what you're referring to.

Jul 20, 12 6:33 pm

computers are cognitive devices, be careful with calling software - "just tools"

Jul 20, 12 11:14 pm

don't take everything so literal Señor Rand a designer you use software to create new and innovative "interesting" possibilities...As an Architect you make those a reality. Software and computers allow the invention of NEW Architecture and useful Architecture as well...If you never experiment with such "tools" as the designer and invent the "interesting" solutions then how does Architecture or design move forward....Plus I know I am the designer and nobody said anything about a subservient attitude with those software programs...If you master those programs then you know how to use them to make those possibilities come to fruition and offer a new learning template (bad or good) for architects of the future...and I think 3dsMax is a bit behind still...Technology is the important subject here...the way you use it is the future.... "interesting" or not.............

Jul 21, 12 10:21 pm

Why can't you learn detailing in school and software on the job? Feels more logical considering what architects are supposed to be doing.

Jul 22, 12 5:53 am


because you must know the software it in depth to even be considered - there is no longer OJT anymore, not in this economy, not when  when you have 200-300 candidates per opening you better believe that 1% not only know the software in depth but are power users as well. I was hired for my Revit knowledge  and learned detailing on the job.

Jul 22, 12 4:46 pm

Paolo Soleri was able to do it without software. I find it strange that there is such a strong mentality that you need certain software to achieve a design as opposed to simplify the production of. 

Jul 22, 12 4:57 pm

it takes a LOT longer without it.

Jul 22, 12 5:31 pm

Okay, think there is a bit of a misunderstanding here.  I am not asking, as many of you have assumed, "what software should I know to become a better designer?"  I am asking, "what software should I know to get a job?"  I understand that the first question is probably more relevant to my long term future in architecture, and answers like "detailing," "hand-drawing," "toothpick modeling," and "telepathic communication" are all very relevant in that regard.  But everyone puts those things on their resume, and says they can do them during the interview, so they won't get me hired.

I understand that software is only a tool, that is only as good as its user, that it can't replace true talent, so on and so forth.  What I, and I assume many others, would like to know is what software knowledge can improve my job prospects.

Jul 22, 12 8:24 pm


Jul 22, 12 9:12 pm


Jul 22, 12 9:13 pm
i r giv up

to get a job? yeah, revit.

to do some amazing early stage conceptual work, i'm partial to rhino at the moment. but that could change...

Jul 22, 12 9:39 pm

yup, Revit & Rhino for the win.

Jul 22, 12 10:29 pm

Okay, that's reassuring.  Supposing I know Rhino, Revit, Ecotect, and Grasshopper, is there anything else I should be learning?

Jul 22, 12 11:18 pm
Noah Walker

Quickbooks, not kidding.

Jul 22, 12 11:47 pm

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