Competition poll now open

In a shock move, Autodesk’s general design product for this year was named AutoCAD 2011. I thought AutoCAD Banana or Generic CADD 7 stood a chance, but it was not to be. Maybe next year? Over on the right is a poll to allow you to choose who of the 14 entrants wins the prize in the pin the name on the product competition to come up with an alternative name. I’ll leave the poll open for about a week. Entrants can vote for themselves, but only once. Please vote for the entry you like the best!

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AutoCAD 2011’s new Help system – what do you think?

With all this talk of clouds in the air, it is interesting to note that Autodesk has moved AutoCAD’s Help system to a browser-based format, with online access as the default. So, how has Autodesk done with this first dipping of its toes into the cloudy waters with its primary mainstream product? I’ve already had a couple of unsolicited comments on the subject, and I’d like to hear from you. How do you rate the following, compared with previous releases? Performance (online) Performance (offline) Search results Content completeness and accuracy Ease of manual browsing Efficiency of user interface Concept of online Help Anything else you want to mention Please comment to express your views and use the poll on the right to provide an overall rating of the new system.

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Some meaningless AutoCAD 2011 numbers

According to David Cohn, at yesterday’s blogger event in San Fransisco prior to the 2011 launch, Autodesk provided the following figures: 76,000 man hours spent on Q/A of the new release 6,000 total code reviews of new release 2,000 commands tested 4,600 Beta customers involved in AutoCAD 2011 1.4M lines of old code were removed Well, that’s all very nice, but those numbers are completely meaningless without context. Autodesk may as well have just published the equivalent numbers for Release 13; I’m sure they would have looked impressive in isolation. Did anybody in the blogger audience ask the obvious question? How do these numbers compare with previous releases? If so, I’d be interested to see the answer. If not, why not? I’d like to think that I would have asked such a question rather than sitting there unquestionably accepting whatever was being presented. I’d like to think that, but I can’t. I’m in no position to throw stones. I had a similar opportunity at the equivalent event last year and failed to take advantage of it. I was operating at a very sub-optimal level for a variety of reasons (some of which were entirely of my own making, so no excuses there). It was a small, fairly informal event at which Autodesk actively and repeatedly encouraged two-way communication. But sitting there absorbing what I was told was pretty much all I did. I even caught myself on video doing this (i.e. very little), so I have absolutely no right to expect anything better from anyone else this year. Still, it would have been nice to have had that question asked. It would be even nicer to have it answered. Otherwise, the numbers will remain meaningless.

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Summary of AutoCAD 2011 features

No, I haven’t written a post containing a summary of AutoCAD 2011 features. I won’t be doing so, either. Instead, I’ll just point you at R.K. McSwain’s excellent AutoCAD 2011 in 3 minutes post on his CAD Panacea blog. I won’t be ignoring the new release; I will be covering selected AutoCAD 2011 features in more detail in future posts. I just don’t see much point in doing a “me too” post when somebody else has already done such a fine job of it.

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Downloading AutoCAD 2011

Apparently, AutoCAD 2011 has been available for download for the best part of a day. Here’s my experience so far. As a Subscription customer, I can see a bright new Get Your Upgrade button, and if I click on that I get an AutoCAD 2011 English link to click on. So far so good. If I click on that link, I get only this: Error Message You are currently not authorized to download from this Account. I have contacted my reseller to try to work out what is going on. In the meantime, I’d be interested to know if any of you are having the same problem. What has your download experience been like? Did it work? If so, how long did it take? Any issues with Autodesk download manager or your own? Did you do a Subscription download or the trial version? Did you choose to receive a DVD? Are you located outside North America? Any feedback is welcome.

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AutoCAD 2011 – Putting things back to “normal”

Easily the most popular post on this blog, in terms of both hits and comments, is AutoCAD 2009 – Putting things back to “normal”. Not too far behind it is AutoCAD 2010 – Putting things back to “normal”. Apparently, lots of people find these posts useful, so here’s an updated version for the latest release. Some of this post is based on the originals, but there are significant additions and differences in this year’s Luddite post. Note: there is an updated version of this post for AutoCAD 2012. One thing that’s regularly asked whenever a new AutoCAD release hits the streets is how to make it work like earlier releases. As I stated in my original post, I think you should give any new features a fighting chance before turning them off or ignoring them. But it’s entirely your choice. We should be grateful that in AutoCAD 2011 at least (unlike some Autodesk products), you do still have that choice. Let’s assume you’ve made the decision to put your environment back to AutoCAD 2008 or earlier; how do you do it? Workspace. In vanilla AutoCAD, you can restore much of the user interface by just switching workspaces. The main Workspace control is now located near the top right corner. If you have turned this off (right-click, Remove from Quick Access Toolbar) or if you just prefer working with interface elements in the same place year by year, there is another Workspace control in the bottom right corner. This is a little button that looks like a gearwheel. Every odd-numbered release seems to have the current workspace name missing from this button, so this year we miss out. If you want the name, this year you need to look in the QAT. In either case, click on the Workspace control and pick the…

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Interesting times

The past few days haven’t been so great for me. Here’s what has happened lately: A family member had an expensive musical instrument case burned when it was placed too close to a stage light. As I was driving home on Monday to escape a major oncoming storm, my car was hit out of the blue by a single golf-ball size hailstone. This caused damage on a styling crease, which will be difficult to repair. As a single dent, it’s probably not worth getting fixed, and will therefore remain to irritate me every time I see it, until the car is sold. Our lovely big Protea tree was blown over and uprooted, and the top half of our lovely flame tree was sheared off and dumped some distance away. The trees took our overhead power cable with them as they died, leaving a live cable end on the wet ground. This was isolated but not fixed the next day, just before parents started dropping off their kids in our street (we live near a primary school). We were left without power for most of two days, during which we had no idea when the power would be restored, and which made meal planning a little tricky. This outage resulted in the spoilage of a fridge-freezer full of food, and left me unable to work from home or prepare some planned future blog posts. My wife bashed her nose and eye this morning when a heavy washing machine lid fell on it. In addition to her own pain and suffering, this will probably come up in a lovely bruise and leave people wondering if I’m a spouse abuser, a form of life for which I have nothing but contempt. All in all, not the best time of it. But I’m OK.…

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Polls, especially CIP and Ribbon settings

I encourage all my readers to participate in the variety of polls I have made available, over towards the right of this site. In particular, if you’re a user of base AutoCAD 2010, please have a go at the AutoCAD 2010 users, what are your Ribbon and CIP settings? poll. The results so far are very interesting, but the numbers are currently too small to be significant. My two longest-running polls are now approaching a thousand votes each, and it would be great to see several hundred responses to the Ribbon/CIP poll. While I’m on the subject of polls, I’ll repeat some comments I made a while ago. Back then, I noticed that more than one person had been voting multiple times. While this is technically possible for people who have access to the Internet via multiple IP addresses, it’s obviously not desirable. The idea is that you have one vote each. While you might be able to work around that restriction to give yourself a little extra influence on the result, doing so is less than honest. I accept that people who have access via home and work might accidentally vote twice on occasions, but if I perceive a continued pattern of deliberate abuse I will remove the offenders’ access rights to this site. As I respect everybody’s privacy I will not reveal any identities, drop any hints or make any announcements about this, I will just do it. Just to make the privacy issue completely clear, I will not, under any circumstances in public or private, reveal who has voted for what. To anybody. Similarly, I will not reveal to any party any identifying information behind any of the users of this site, with the exception of spammers. Fortunately, the influence of dodgy votes on poll results has…

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Pin the name on the product and win a prize!

This post is announcing a real competition with a real prize (well, nearly real). The prize will be the album uniVers by my favourite Australian band, Voyager. This will be provided to the winner in the form of a virtual download card which will be emailed to the winner, providing legal access to 320 kbps mp3 files of all the album tracks. In my previous post, I stated that Autodesk’s 25 March product launch is for AutoCAD 2011 (and other products that I’m not that interested in). I just want to make it clear that that’s a guess and not based on inside information. It’s actually speculation on two levels; first, that the “general design” mentioned in the link means AutoCAD, and second, that the next AutoCAD is going to be called AutoCAD 2011. OK, maybe that looks like a pretty safe bet. After all, the last few Autodesk general design flagship products have been called AutoCAD 2004, AutoCAD 2005, AutoCAD 2006, AutoCAD 2007 (anybody notice a pattern yet?), AutoCAD 2008, AutoCAD 2009 and AutoCAD 2010. But maybe not! Maybe Autodesk is going to surprise everybody and call the next general design product something else altogether? I was certainly surprised when Version 2.6 was replaced by Release 9, and when Release 14 was replaced by AutoCAD 2000, so history has proven that the unpredictable can definitely happen as far as Autodesk general design product names go. That’s the basis for this competition. I want you to come up with a name for the next Autodesk general design product. I will determine the winner by choosing the name I like best. If I can’t decide, I will run a poll. Points will be added for being amusing and deducted for accuracy, so entering “AutoCAD 2011” is unlikely to be a winning…

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AutoCAD 2011 launch on 25 March

Just announced by Shaan Hurley via Twitter and Facebook: Busy on the final details for a special Autodesk event next week in San Francisco with some bloggers. http://www.autodesk.com/webcast Follow the link and you will find this: Autodesk Webcast Date: 3/25/10 Start Time: 9:00 SF/12:00 New York/16:00 UK/17:00 CET Register today to join Autodesk CEO Carl Bass and Senior Vice President Amar Hanspal for an exclusive live webcast to learn about updates to Autodesk’s portfolio of design software for the AEC, manufacturing and general design industries. In Autodeskspeak, “general design” means AutoCAD (AEC = Revit, manufacturing = Inventor), so you can expect this to be the same kind of thing as the AutoCAD 2010 launch I attended last year. (Note: ‘launch’ does not mean ‘release’). At this event, selected bloggers will probably get to see the big production effort that goes into the launch webcast (no, it’s not done on Shaan’s laptop webcam). They can expect to be transported, housed, fed and watered by Autodesk, which I trust we’ll see disclosed by everybody this year. More importantly, they will most likely be given access to various significant Autodesk people, such as my video interview on the Autodesk Listening theme. These events are both worthwhile and great fun, and my best wishes go out to those bloggers who will be attending this time round. For the previous three years, you will have seen bloggers reporting on the contents of the new release in early February, but this has not happened not this time. Why is the information being held back so long this time, with the launch 48 days later this year than last? I genuinely have absolutely no idea. Feel free to speculate.

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AutoCAD tip – which drawings use an xref?

Here’s a tip I just rediscovered while cleaning out my old emails. It applies to all recent AutoCAD releases. Let’s say you have a drawing that you think has been used as an xref by at least one other drawing, and maybe more. How can you find out which drawings use it as an xref? First, turn on DesignCenter. You can do this with Tools > Palettes > DesignCenter, the ADCENTER command, or Ctrl+2. Pick on the Search button at the top (the magnifying glass thingy). In the Search dialogue box, change the “Look for” item to Xrefs (but have a look at what else you can search for, you may find that useful too). You can pick Browse to tell it where to look, and you can make it look down into all the subfolders if you like. Type the xref name into the “Search for the name” field and pick Search Now. DesignCenter has lots of handy features, such as the ability to drag a block from one drawing to your current drawing without opening the drawing containing the block. Some of the features are hard to find (like the xref search above), but they are very useful once you know about them. Another handy tool for obtaining all sorts of information about xrefs is the Reference Manager, which was introduced in AutoCAD 2004. This is a standalone program, for which you can find a shortcut in the same Start > Programs > Autodesk > AutoCAD 200x menu as AutoCAD itself. There’s too much good stuff in there to cover in a post like this, but many people are unaware that it exists and I just want to raise awareness. For details, please check out the Help from within Reference Manager itself. Note I sent most of the…

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Repost – how to get your picture next to your comment

This is a revisit of a post I made about a year ago. You may have noticed that some people’s comments have an avatar picture next to them (no, not the film with the Roger Dean visuals), while others have a randomly assigned pattern. On this blog, the avatar picture is a gravatar (globally recognised avatar), and you can have one too. Once you set it up, you will find that it works in all sorts of places, not just this blog. Some other blogs may use other avatar standards, though. Here’s how to do it: Visit gravatar.com and pick a sign up link. Provide a valid email address; the same one you provide when adding comments to blogs. I have not received any spam as a result of doing this, which is no surprise because Gravatar is owned by Automattic, Inc., the highly reputable WordPress people. You’ll be sent a confirmation email; click on the link in that and follow the prompts to set your password and so on. Choose your gravatar image from your hard drive, the internet, a webcam or a previously uploaded image. You can point to any size photo and will be prompted to select a cropped square area to display. That’s it, although you can manage your account to provide multiple email addresses and images if you wish. Wait 5 or 10 minutes, then check out this or other blogs and web locations where you have made comments in the past. Those blogs with layouts that support gravatars should now display the picture that you associated with the email address you supplied when you made your comment. If the image doesn’t show up, do a reload/refresh and/or clear your browser’s cache and try again.

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Full RSS feeds restored

Apologies to those of you who have stated that you prefer truncated feeds, but I have now restored full RSS feeds. I will attempt to deal with the issue of blog scraping in ways that do not have an impact on blog nauseam readers. Thanks to all of you who provided feedback about this change, both in comments and by email. Negative feedback is very often the most useful kind, and this is no exception.

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Quick and dirty clicks and drags in AutoCAD

I’m sure most of you draw your objects with great precision. But sometimes even the most precise among us may want to make a quick and dirty move or copy of some drawing objects and are not too bothered about the exact place they end up. Text, for example. As always in AutoCAD, there are many ways of doing this. Long-termers like me may automatically gravitate towards the short-form commands for Move and Copy, but there are various alternatives. In this post I’m going to cover the click-and-drag method. This isn’t grip editing; although you will see grips appear when you select the objects, you’re not going to use them. To move an object this way requires just two clicks and no commands. Admittedly, one of the clicks is a long one and you also need to move the mouse and then release one of the clicks, but it’s still pretty efficient. Move 1. Left-click the objects to preselect them. 2. Long left-click on one of the selected objects (not on a grip) to initiate the drag process. 3. Move the cursor to the desired location and release the left button to drop the objects there. Copy 1. Left-click the objects to preselect them. 2. Long left-click on one of the selected objects (not on a grip) to initiate the drag process. 3. Once you have the little rectangle glyph on the cursor, hold down Ctrl to change the mode from move to copy. A little [+] symbol will be added to the cursor. 4. Move the cursor to the desired location and release the left button to drop the objects there. Release the Ctrl key. Alternative method 1. Left-click the objects to preselect them. 2. Long right-click on one of the selected objects (not on a grip) to initiate…

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AutoCAD 2009 & 2010 users – out of memory errors?

Some of the users I support have repeated out-of-memory errors while editing fairly simple drawings. I have some 2010 users who suffer from this problem while others using the same drawings on the same hardware get by without ever seeing it. When swapping users to differerent PCs, the problem seems to follow the user. Despite various experiments, I have no idea what is going on here. Is this happening to you or anybody you work with? Have you managed to work out if there is something that triggers it? Is there a user interface setting or method of drawing that you suspect of being the culprit?

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Carl Bass on TV

Autodesk big cheese Carl Bass gets a friendly interview on NBC’s Press:Here (amusing name, “press colon here”). It’s kind of funny seeing CAD described by non-CAD people (the presenters, not Carl). Among other things, he discusses being fired by Carol Bartz, Autodesk’s role in Avatar, the benefits of piracy, iPhones, 3D printing, open source and Autodesk being green. I’ve embedded the two Bassy bits here for convenience; these embeds will display ads that are not under my control. Edit: I’ve removed the embedded clips as they were slowing down this whole site for some users and even disabling some features. If you want to view the interview, please go to Press:Here and look at Episode 46 Autodesk Part 1 and Episode 46 Autodesk Part 2.

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Why don’t you use the current release?

While a lot of you are running one of Autodesk’s current-model products, there will be a very large portion of you that are using something older. This post is addressed to the latter group. Even if you’re on Subscription and have the current release available, but have chosen to keep running an older release, this question is still addressed to you. In fact, even if you’re now using the current release but have avoided installing some releases in the past, so at some stage you didn’t use the current release, I’d still be interested to hear your answer to this question. Here’s the question: Why?

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Send your screen to Autodesk

No, I don’t mean Autodesk is now so impoverished that it is running short of monitors for its staff, I mean send a capture of your screen to Autodesk. Guillermo Melantoni, one of AutoCAD’s Product Managers, would like to see how you arrange your user interface for production use. As I’ve mentioned before, Guillermo is a very smart guy who is responsible for recent 3D enhancements to AutoCAD. He is open to listening to customers and trying to accommodate their needs. Here’s what he has to say: I would like to ask all of you to send me screen capture of your AutoCAD in production. I’d like to understand how you organize the diverse components, how you use the Ribbon and/or the toolbars, if you display the command line or not, if you use tool palettes. I’m very happy Guillermo is seeking to gain a fuller understanding of the diverse ways in which we use AutoCAD, and I encourage you to send him a screen capture of your working environment. If you have several workspaces, send him several screen captures explaining what each capture is showing and how often it is used. If you are a CAD manager or other person with access to several users who set up their interfaces differently, then please send in examples from those other users too. There are many ways of creating screen captures, but the good old Print Scrn button should do the job fine here, capturing both screens if you use a dual-monitor setup. You can then fire up any graphics app such as Paint (e.g. in XP, Start > Run > mspaint [Enter]) and paste in your capture. Please don’t save it as a BMP file even if that’s the default, as that’s extremely space-inefficient. The PNG format works well for…

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