Technology's Changing Landscape

Most of you probably know that last week Apple announced the release of its next generation iPhone, the iPhone 5, and its newest update to its mobile operating system, iOS 6.

Cell phones and tablets and SketchUp, oh my!

Whether you’re an Apple fan or an Android fan, you have to admit that the technology available on our smartphones today is pretty amazing. It seems that my iPhone has more computing power than some of the early computers I used to run AutoCAD.

Back in the mid-1990s, I learned to use AutoCAD when it was in release 13. Looking back, it seems like it was such an archaic software program when I compare it to the latest release we are using today.

I remember when R14 was released, and we were excited because of the addition of paper space. With the release of AutoCAD 2000, the layout tabs once again revolutionized the drafting program as we knew it.

In the late nineties, the owners of the company I worked for wanted to set themselves apart from our competition. One of the ways we strived to do that was by creating photographic renderings of our residential designs.

We used Adobe Photoshop as our editing software, and I spent hundreds of hours taking photos of mature trees and shrubs and cropping them into stand-alone files and cataloging them for future use.

We spent hundreds of dollars every month on 35mm processing fees. We bought the first Kodak digital camera that came out on the market in 1997. At the time, we spent over $600 for a 1.2-megapixel camera.

My, how times have changed!

We figured we would recoup the cost of the camera in six months, and we did it in four.

It wasn’t much longer after that when Windows 98 was released and we were so grateful that many of the bugs in Windows 95 had finally been worked out. Although, a few years later, Windows ME was released, and, once again, we shook our fists in frustration as we struggled with crashing systems.

When Windows XP and the Pentium IV chip were released, our computers ran fast and our CAD programs ran amazingly efficient. Those were great days.

Fast forward a few years, and a program called SketchUp entered the market. It wasn’t long before landscape architects were using it to create virtual models of their landscape designs.

While the first few versions were quite primitive, later versions became quite efficient and user friendly. Today, I use SketchUp in almost every design to quickly build a model and create perspective drawings for client presentations.

As I sit here writing this post, my iPad has been downloading the latest software update, iOS 6. It amazes me that the technology today allows me to have AutoCAD on a tablet device.

There are so many apps and tools that I use on my iPad and iPhone every day that I often wonder how I managed to stay organized before I had them at my disposal.

In terms of technology, what do you use every day that you couldn’t live without? Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great weekend!

Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: