For the past few days, I've been in a mental cave, teaching myself how to use some new software. Current architectural software is a lot better than the old drafting programs. Before, you were essentially mimicking the process of hand drawing--lines on a screen. The meaning the lines carried was only in the eye of the beholder. Now, with Building Information Modeling (BIM--read about it on Wikipedia), the computer knows what things are. This is pretty great. Because the computer knows what you're drawing (modelling, actually), it can help you keep track of things and keep the project up to date. For example, if you wanted to know how many of a particular light fixture are in the building, the computer can tell you that instantly. If you change the name of something in one place, the program updates that name everywhere.
I went through all this once before. Three years ago, I began learning REVIT, one of the top BIM programs. It was tough to learn, but worth it. Now, I'm learning another one, ArchiCAD. And even though the basic idea is the same, and the intended output is the same, the approaches are very different. It's a reminder that, given the same design problem, two different designers will often come up with two very different solutions.