Saturday, February 7, 2009

AutoCAD 2010 Revealed

I went to the Autodesk office in San Francisco on February 5th to take part in an even that revolved around the live web cast of Autodesk’s announcement of the release of the latest version of AutoCAD, AutoCAD 2010. Ten bloggers that were involved in beta testing AutoCAD 2010 were present. You may know some of them. If not, you should really put their RSS feeds in your reader. The bloggers were: Robin Capper, RK McSwain, Todd Shackelford, David Cohn, Donnie Gladfelter, Melanie Perry, Ellen Finkelstein, Mark Douglas, and Steve Johnson. All of these bloggers have been using AutoCAD and other Autodesk products for a very long time and are well versed in its use. We had a great time getting know each other face to face instead of through a message board. Many of us have met before at Autodesk University, while others (like myself) had never met anyone live in person. Let me tell you, no one looks like their avatars!! But some of us do have pictures of ourselves on our blogs, so I was able to recognize several of my fellow bloggers.

Most of us arrived the day before and gathered together at a local watering hole. We introduced ourselves to each other and several Autodesk employees that were also there. I was able to speak with Eric Stover, the guy in charge of AutoCAD, and several other managers, directors and programmers.

The next day was the event. We started off with an introduction and discussion of many of the new features and enhancements within AutoCAD 2010. They were very eager to hear what they got right. But they were equally, if not more, eager to hear what still needed work. I came from this event feeling that Autodesk really does care what its users want and need. They final made it so we could reference PDF’s as an underlay within AutoCAD. And, you can snap to it too!

Later on we had the opportunity to sit with certain people from Autodesk and interview them. These interviews will be posted on Autodesk’s website. I will provide a link when they are available. I was able to speak with two members of the product engineering team in AutoCAD, Abhijit Oak and Ravi K. They were involved in laying down the main structure for the basis of many of the new features.

AutoCAD 2010 has freeform modeling in it. It can use meshes, solids and surfaces. The modeling in AutoCAD 2010 is now organic! These two gentlemen told me that they used Maya to help lay down the code for AutoCAD. Users of Maya will find that the mesh work and gizmos in AutoCAD 2010 are similar in nature. They also helped to lay the foundation of the new Parametric and Geometric Constraints that are in AutoCAD 2010. They again went to an Autodesk product to develop these new tools; Inventor. Inventor users will find the constraints in AutoCAD very similar. In fact, Lynn Allen, AutoCAD and Inventor Evangelist for Autodesk, said that she even tried to perform an Inventor example of constraints in AutoCAD 2010 and was able to get quite far. AutoCAD constraints aren’t on the same level as Inventor, but they are very close and work in a similar fashion.

These are the main new features in AutoCAD 2010, but there are several others that are far less flashy, but make the user’s experience much more efficient.
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