Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's New in AutoCAD 2011-Part 1

The new start up screen in AutoCAD 2011. Make sure to go through the New features Workshop to see what's new.

AutoCAD 2011, the 25th release of Autodesk’s world famous design program AutoCAD, has been released. It has many updates, new features, and new tools added to it. Some of the more flashy additions are the new surface modeling tools as well as the new point cloud abilities. But perhaps the greatest additions are the new design tools that are intended to help your design process and workflow.

This is the first in a six part series. To see the other posts, follow the following links:
Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Part Five Part Six

Changes to the Interface
Don’t be afraid, AutoCAD doesn’t have a new interface again, only a few tweaks. Rest assured that the default background color has changed again. It is now a dark gray. If you want to change it, open the OPTIONS window, go to the Display tab, and click on the Colors button. Pick the option, and then pick the color you want it to be. Since AutoCAD is often used for design drafting purposes, Autodesk decided to change the visual display of the grid to an actual grid instead of the series of dots we have all known and loved for so many years. I have to say that I “never” use the grid; but, now that it looks like graph paper, I will give it a try. Drawing on graphing paper has always been fun, maybe this new feature will make drawing in AutoCAD even more fun than it ever was before!

The grid feature in AutoCAD is now displayed as lines in a graph instead of a series of dots.

The Quick Access Toolbar has had a face lift. It now displays the name of the current workspace. The workspace selection field has been move from the status bar and placed in the QAT. Click the selection arrow to change your workspace. Out of the box, the QAT now contains the Save As tool.

Navigation has a new tool. Yes another! This new tool is called the Navigation Bar. It replaces the navigation tools that were previously on the Status Bar. It can be moved around to either the left or right side of the screen, or to either the top or bottom of your screen. You can even turn it off you want to. The Navigation Bar has the Steering Wheel on it, the View Cube, Show Motion, Pan, Zoom and Orbit. If you are using a 3D Connexion Device (a 3D Mouse) then the Navigation Bar has integrated support for it, when AutoCAD sees the appropriate hardware driver. On top of that, the View Cube can now be used with the 2D Wireframe visual style. If you like the View Cube in 3D, try it out in 2D.

The UCS Icon was changed to show a different color for each axis. Red is for the X axis. Green is for the Y axis. Blue is for the Z axis. The cones at the end of each axis line have been removed.

The Ribbon
The Ribbon has had some minor tweaks and twists added to it; nothing major, just some cosmetic surgery so to say. A new pull down menu option has been added to the Minimize Ribbon arrow button. Before 2011, when you clicked the Ribbon Minimize Arrow, the Ribbon would cycle through all of the possible minimize options one at a time. Now you can set that as the default setting, or you can tell which one of the options (minimize to Tabs, Panel titles, Panel Buttons, or all) you want the Ribbon to Minimize too. This is handy because you can toggle through the full Ribbon, to just the titles, or whichever setting you prefer. If you minimize the Ribbon to Panel Buttons, large icons are shown for each panel. You can expand them by hovering over them, just like when the Ribbon is minimized to Panel titles.

The View Tab of the Ribbon has a new Windows Panel. It is similar to the Windows Pull Down Menu form the Menubar of old. This panel has options to choose between open files, tiling of open files, toolbar display options and user interface options. The toolbar display options works just like right clicking on an open toolbar. It lists the available toolbars in your workspace. Here you can toggle specific toolbars on or off.
A new Fold Panels feature has been added to the Ribbon. When you change the size of the AutoCAD window, add or remove Ribbon Panels, the Fold Panels feature comes into play. Fold Panels resize themselves horizontally to fill the available space. When you make a panel a Fold Panel, you can define default, minimum and maximum button sizes.

Visual Styles
AutoCAD has had five visual styles available for us to use: 2D Wireframe, 3D Wireframe, 3D Hidden, Conceptual, and Realistic. AutoCAD 2011 has added five more visual styles. They are: Shaded, Shaded with Edges, Shades of Gray, Sketchy, and X-ray.

AutoCAD 2011 has added five new Visual Styles, each one having a different look

Visually Isolating Objects
AutoCAD 2011 has given us new visual display control tools. These new tools allow us to control the visibility of objects outside of the layer controls. We can now isolate objects based on selection and not just on layer values. These new tools are accessed through the right-click menu. When you use the Isolate Objects tool, only the selected objects will be seen. All other objects are hidden. Right click again to make everything visible again. The second visibility tool is the Hide Objects tool. This tool hides the selected objects, keeping everything else visible. This is useful when you need to work in a busy area of your model. You can use both visual tools at the same time, meaning that you can hide certain objects first, then isolate a few of the remaining objects. Once you have finished working, right-click and pick the End Object isolation tool. Isolated or hidden objects will remain in that state if you end your drawing session. The status bar has an icon that looks like a light bulb. If it is yellow, no objects are isolated or hidden. If it is red, then objects are either isolated, hidden, or both. You can also click the light bulb to start either tool.

AutoCAD 2011 has added many new and useful tools. We have only begun going through them. There are even more 2D tools that we haven’t touched yet and there are tremendously powerful new 3D modeling tools now available to us in AutoCAD. Stay tuned.

(Reprinted with permission from Autodesk User Group International - AUGI)

AutoCAD WS Plug-in for AutoCAD

The October 2010 AUGI Hotnews is out.  Check out my Tipniques article on the AutoCAD WS Plug-in for AutoCAD.

Monday, October 18, 2010

What's Missing from AutoCAD MAC?

Autodesk has released a native version of AutoCAD for MAC OS.  This release costs about the same as AutoCAD for PC.  Both versions can open the same files and do basically the same things, but AutoCAD for MAC is the first version, so it is missing a few things.  I have mixed emotions about AutoCAD MAC, but that's ok.  I'll be the first to admit that I am not a MAC fan.  Every time I think about getting a MAC and actually price them out I can't bring myself to getting one.  You have to pay more for less hardware.  In fact, it's Intell hardware now so it isn't even a different option.  So why pay more for less?  I don't know, maybe some day.

When I first discovered that Autodesk was working on AutoCAD for MAC I was a bit disappointed.  I didn't want Autodesk to be distracted from their work on AutoCAD.  I'm not sure that's a valid argument considering how many products Autodesk currently produces and maintains.  What's one more right?

I completely understand why Autodesk chose to start this new product.  Their clients that use Apple computers want it.  Once that user base is large enough to support their own product why not?  Autodesk already has several products that can be used on a MAC.  That also means that Autodesk has the experience needed to get into a new market.

So, I have to admit that I have changed my mind about AutoCAD on MAC.  I'm ok with it now.  I'm not going to run out and get a MAC or AutoCAD for MAC just because it's there.  Nope, not me.  There are a few reasons for this.  As I stated earlier, MACs cost too much for too little hardware that I can get in a PC for less cost.  Also, AutoCAD for MAC cost about the same as AutoCAD for PC, but there is less there.

Autodesk recently released a list of features that re in AutoCAD for PC that are not in AutoCAD for MAC.
This is a great thing for Autodesk to do.  I really appreciate it.  How many companies release a brand new product and list its shortcomings?  Not many.  Doing this could keep some users form purchasing their new product.  However, I feel that those that were considering buying AutoCAD for MAC are still going to purchase it, regardless of this list.

Many of the times on the "what's missing" list are not that big of a deal, but, for me, there are enough key features missing that I would not purchase it, even if I already had a MAC.  In all fairness, if I had a MAC I might buy it even with these features missing.  I don't know.

Here is my "short list" of key features that I would miss in production:

  • CAD Manager Tools
  • Custom dictionaries
  • Data Extraction Wizard (this is one of my favorite commands. i would really miss it)
  • DesignCenter
  • DWF support (this is a huge feature that is missing)
  • Dynamic block authoring (I can't believe this is missing)
  • Editable drawing properties [DWGPROPS]
  • eTransmit and Archive
  • Express Tools
  • Filter and Quick Select (I use Quick Select every day)
  • In-place editing of blocks or xrefs [REFEDIT]
  • Layer filters
  • Layer notification
  • Layer State Manager
  • Markup Set Manage (Really? How do you mark up drawings?)
  • OLE objects (I constantly link Spread Sheets to my CAD Files)
  • PDF underlay
  • Sheet Set Manager(Oh My! Lacking this feature alone might be a deal breaker for me)
  • Tool palettes
  • There is only one workspace
  • Rendering options are limited
  • CUI editor may include commands that are not actually available
WOW!!  That's just the short list.  I know, it's a rather long short list.  Keep in mind that this version of AutoCAD for MAC is version 1.  I'll bet that many of these missing features will be added in release 2.  For now, this list would keep me from switching to MAC and AutoCAD for MAC.  But, if I already had a MAC, loved it, and needed a license of AutoCAD, I would consider it, especially if I already used MAC based software.

How about you?  Knowing what was missing from AutoCAD for MAC would you get it?  Why or why not?  Have I totally missed the mark on this?  

        Sunday, October 17, 2010

        Robert Green's CAD Manager's Survey 2010 is ready

        How much money do CAD managers make? Do they work part-time or full-time? These questions and more are answered by Robert Green, CAD Manager Extraordinaire, in his annual CAD Manager Survey.

        Robert takes a look at the average CAD Manager salary, education, age, and even more. If you want to see the questions he asked in the survey follow this link. Survey Questions.

        Robert conducts this survey every year and the results are interesting to look at, especially in these past tough economic times. You can see the economic tool taken on CAD Managers over the past few years through his survey results.

        Take a look at it and draw your own conclusions. Is your pay close to the average? How secure is your position? Looking to become a CAD Manager then take a moment to look at this survey, and those past, to get an idea of what might be expected of you.

        Friday, October 15, 2010

        AutoCAD for MAC now available!

        It’s finally here.  AutoCAD for MAC is now available for download.  Go to http://www.autodesk.com/autocadformac

        Autodesk is expecting a high demand for this download so if you have issues just wait a try later on.  The Student community should also be available.

        Well, fanboys (and fangals) you got your wish.  Download the trial and see if it was worth Autodesk’s resources.  Remember, AutoCAD MAC doesn’t have every function that “regular” AutoCAD has, but most of what you need is there.  What do you think of it?

        Tuesday, October 5, 2010

        Meet the AutoCAD WS Team in San Francisco

        If you have downloaded or logged on and used AutoCAD WS and have formed an opinion about it, Autodesk is interested in your thoughts.  If you will be in San Francisco, California, USA on October the Seventh, then here is your chance to meet with the AutoCAD WS Team to share your thoughts.  Go to the AutoCAD WS blog and fill out their survey.

        Have you used AutoCAD WS?  What are your thoughts?  How will you use it?  What did they do right?  What did they do wrong?  Why?  I can't wait to hear your ideas.


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