33 years of AutoCAD upgrades rated – part 5 – summary

In this final post of the series, I’ll examine the patterns that have emerged from the upgrade history I rated in parts 1 to 4. Bear in mind I’m only assessing the DOS (up to R13) and Windows (from R12 on) versions of the full version of AutoCAD. Of course, this only represents my opinion of those releases and is bound to be biased by the uses I and my users have for the software. Your experiences and opinions will almost certainly vary.

What can I say? My assessment is based on a third of a century of experience, and I’ve tried to be as objective as I can. I’m not unique in perceiving the decline of the AutoCAD upgrade; you’ll see the same said by long-standing customers and experienced independents all over the place. Ralph Grabowski, for example:

The new feature list for AutoCAD’s annual “big-R” release … Full post

33 years of AutoCAD upgrades rated – part 4

In this series of posts, I am looking back on all the AutoCAD upgrades I’ve experienced over the years and rate each of them out of 10. See post 1 for information about what the ratings mean.

In part 4, I rate AutoCAD 2011 to AutoCAD 2017.

  • AutoCAD 2011 (March 2010): 5 – Object transparency was a very important enhancement for some. The X-Ray and other visual styles made 3D editing more efficient. Object visibility (independent of layers) was handy but has confused some DWG recipients ever since. Selection Cycling, Add selected and Select Similar (which had been in AutoCAD-based verticals for a while) were true productivity enhancers. Geometric constraints were improved but still confined to 2D, as they are to this day. Finally, Autodesk’s first of several failed attempts at an online Help system meant this wasn’t such a good release as it could have been.
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BricsCAD’s LISP kicks sand in the face of AutoCAD’s

If you’re a power user or CAD Manager transitioning from AutoCAD to BricsCAD, one of the things you’ll like is that almost all of your LISP routines will just work. That’s not an statement that can be made about various Autodesk products that bear the AutoCAD name, such as AutoCAD 360, AutoCAD LT and AutoCAD for Mac.

It’s not just simple old AutoLISP code that runs in BricsCAD, but complex dialog routines that use DCL, and Visual LISP stuff that uses ActiveX. Yes, even on the Mac and Linux platforms. Some DOSLib functions are built in and the rest can be loaded, as with AutoCAD. Even OpenDCL is supported. It’s a quite astonishingly high level of compatibility.

But it’s not 100%. There are minor incompatibilities, system variable and command-line differences that cause problems in a handful of cases. It’s often possible to work around these and still retain … Full post

33 years of AutoCAD upgrades rated – part 3

In this series of posts, I am looking back on all the AutoCAD upgrades I’ve experienced over the years and rate each of them out of 10. See post 1 for information about what the ratings mean.

In part 3, I rate AutoCAD 2004 to AutoCAD 2010.

  • AutoCAD 2004 (March 2003): 5 -The return of Express tools was a good start. Better still, Autodesk’s abortive attempt to sell Express Tools as an extra meant some effort had been put into improving them and they were much bigger and better in 2004 than they were in 2000. The death of the annoying UI stuff didn’t come a moment too soon. This upgrade had a few other useful additions and the new DWG format was more efficient, but overall nothing to get too excited about.
  • AutoCAD 2005 (March 2004): 4 – Autodesk introduced the Sheet Set Manager with this … Full post

33 years of AutoCAD upgrades rated – part 2

In this series of posts, I am looking back on all the AutoCAD upgrades I’ve experienced over the years and rate each of them out of 10. See post 1 for information about what the ratings mean.

In part 2, I rate AutoCAD Release 12 to AutoCAD 2002.

  • AutoCAD Release 12 (June 1992): 9 – Big, big changes. A mass of UI and other improvements. Lots of new dialog boxes. The first release that retained its predecessor’s DWG format, which was very handy. DCL gave LISP and C programmers the ability to create dialog box commands. The first usable Windows version (the R11 extension version was a shocker). Came with a Bonus CD full of extra stuff; a big deal in those days of limited connectivity. Autodesk’s upgrade amnesty (upgrade from any earlier release for $500 in the USA) made this extremely strong value for money, too.
    Full post
  • 33 years of AutoCAD upgrades rated – part 1

    In this series of posts I will look back on all the AutoCAD upgrades I’ve experienced over the years and rate each of them out of 10.

    This is not a rating of the software in absolute terms, it’s a relative rating of the upgrade. That is, the improvement the software made on its predecessor. AutoCAD 2000i is a much better piece of software than AutoCAD Release 2.5, and given the choice I would rather use the former, no contest. But as an upgrade, 2000i sucked and 2.5 rocked. The biggest improving upgrade is the benchmark and gets 10; the others are rated in comparison. If a release is worse overall than its predecessor, it goes into minus territory.

    In part 1, I rate AutoCAD Version 1.4 to Release 11. This is not quite a full assessment of all AutoCAD upgrades because my AutoCAD experience started with AutoCAD Version 1.4 … Full post

    Script for creating AutoCAD Classic workspace

    Edwin Prakaso at the excellent CAD Notes blog has done something that, in hindsight, is blindingly obvious but nevertheless very useful to a multitude of people. He’s written a simple script file that sets up the Classic workspace (or something close to it). It works in any recent AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT. Here’s the blog post:

    AutoCAD Script to Create Classic Workspace Automatically

    Edwin uses Microsoft OneDrive to store the script file, so if your workplace restricts access to Cloud storage you might need to download it at home.

    I’ve added a reference to this script to my post AutoCAD 2017 – Putting things back to “normal”.

    Undo, U, Redo, Erase, Oops differences explained

    It’s been a while since I posted any beginners’ tips, so here goes.

    There are several commands in AutoCAD to do with reversing things you’ve done. They are in some cases subtly different and this can confuse newcomers. Here’s what they do:

    • U – reverses the last command you used.
    • Redo – reverses the last U or Undo operation you performed, if that’s the last thing you did.
    • Undo – displays a set of command options that allow greater control over undoing things. (This is rarely used directly by a user, and is more of a programmer’s tool, so I won’t be going into any detail).
    • Erase – removes from the drawing an object or set of objects as selected by the user.
    • Oops – reverses the last Erase command, even if you have done other things in the meantime. (It also reverses erasures performed by the Wblock command, … Full post

    Autodesk’s big Cloud failure

    Back in 2011, Autodesk, some other vendors and many industry pundits were utterly convinced of the inevitable and near-imminent victory of Cloud-based CAD over standalone software. I wasn’t. I wanted to get a feel for how isolated my viewpoint was, so I started a poll and let it run for a while. Here’s how that turned out:
     

    As you can see, this blog’s readers were less than convinced about the inevitability of that Cloudy future. Not so Carl Bass, who had this to say in an April 2012 TechCrunch interview:

    I’d say two to three years from now, every one of our products will be used online. The only way to use … Full post

    AutoCAD 2017 for Mac released, still half-baked

    AutoCAD 2017 for Mac and AutoCAD LT 2017 for Mac have been released. Here’s a video highlighting exciting and innovative new features such as drawing and layout tabs. Despite such stellar advances, it’s safe to say that AutoCAD for Mac remains half-baked, even after all these years. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    According to Autodesk, these are the features missing from AutoCAD 2017 for Mac:

    LAYDEL, LAYMRG, LAYWALK and LAYVPI
    Tool palettes
    New layer notification
    Navigation bar
    ShowMotion
    Ribbon*
    DesignCenter**
    Sheet Set Manager***
    Steering wheel
    Feature finder for help
    Model documentation tools
    Dynamic block lookup parameter creation/editing
    Table style editing
    Multiline style creation
    Digitizer integration
    Geographic location
    Simplified, powerful rendering
    Material creation, editing, and mapping
    Advanced rendering settings
    Camera creation
    Point cloud
    Full post

    BricsCAD V17 – the best AutoCAD upgrade in years?

    I’ve been evaluating BricsCAD for a few years now, and have been looking at it pretty seriously as a DWG-based LISP-compatible AutoCAD alternative for a year or so. A couple of weeks ago, I flew to Munich for the Bricsys International Conference (at Bricsys’ expense – see the Legal page for disclosure) where I learned quite a few things I had failed to notice during my own evaluation of V17. As you may have noticed, I can be pretty hard-bitten and cynical about what CAD companies have to say about their products, but I came back impressed.

    The conference and the product itself are not free of flaws, but I have to say the progress Bricsys has shown in developing the BricsCAD product is really quite astonishing. The rate at which serious, worthwhile-to-customers improvements have been made to BricsCAD over the last few releases is huge. Some of … Full post

    Selfie contest – we have a winner!

    Congratulations to Ed Martin, who won the selfie contest with this entry:

    1. This is Don Strimbu – a tricky angle on the picture, but his smile gives it away
    2. He’s famous for the drawing of a nozzle – a fire hose nozzle to be precise – that he drew in 1984
    3. Don used block scaling to simulate a 3D effect on the text, knurling, and fins
    4. Autodesk used the drawing in its promotional material starting with an ad in the September 1984 issue of Scientific American
    5. Don is now promoting products from Bricsys, notably their BricsCAD product
    6. Wow, I really don’t know how long it took him, and it would be cheating to ask him … so I’ll guess. 18 hours?

    Some clarifications:

    1. Indeed it is Don. It was a privilege to meet him at the recent Bricsys International Conference in Munich, among other notables.

    2. Correct, NOZZLE.DWG (we were all upper case 8.3 filenames at the time) which is quite possibly the most famous AutoCAD drawing of all time. It was the first complicated drawing ever done with AutoCAD, and was done in 1983 (not 1984), according to John Walker. See The Autodesk File for more information.

    nozzle

    3. Yes, it was block scaling. In addition to the 3D effect, the thing Don came up with that amazed John Walker was using negative scale factors to achieve the equivalent of the MIRROR command. That command didn’t exist at the time, along with object snap and a bunch of other things it would be difficult to imagine life without these days.

    4. Yes, it was also on Autodesk’s Task Force Tips’ letterhead for a while…

    5. Yes, Don and former Autodesk Senior Vice President Dr. Malcolm Davies (also at Munich) are important figures at Techevate, enthusiastic promoters of BricsCAD in the USA.

    6. 18 hours is a bit off. How about 400 40?

    I remember using NOZZLE.DWG as a benchmark for comparing AutoCAD hardware back in the 80s. Open the drawing, enter REGEN and see how long it takes to get a command prompt back again. As every single zoom or pan required a regeneration back then, regen time was very important. I remember an HP Vectra taking 17 seconds and an NEC APC III taking 19. An IBM PC without math co-processor took much longer; 2 minutes 39 rings a bell, but I’m not certain. These days, it’s so fast it’s hardly measurable.

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing what Ed has to say in this blog’s first ever guest posting. Could be anything!

    When is a subscription-only update not a subscription-only update?

    Before I get started, I want to clarify the meaning of the word ‘subscription’. For about 15 years, the word Subscription (note the initial capital) meant something specific for Autodesk customers. It meant you had bought a perpetual license and instead of paying for periodical updates, you paid for a year’s Subscription in advance. In allowed access to any new release that appeared during that year plus various other benefits.

    That thing that was once called ‘Subscription’ has now been renamed ‘maintenance’ (no initial capital) in Autodeskspeak. So what does ‘subscription’ (no initial capital) mean? Rental. You pay in advance for use of the product for a period and when you stop paying, you stop using the product. This is now the only way to obtain Autodesk software you don’t already own. In addition to access to any new release that appears during the subscription period, it provides other benefits … Full post

    Any BricsCAD users out there? v.2016

    Back in 2010 I asked the question Any BricsCAD users out there? and there were a few of you who had tried to replace AutoCAD with BricsCAD. Most who responded had made the change successfully, others not so much.

    Six years on, the situation is different. The fact that you can’t buy a permanent AutoCAD license any more has prompted some Autodesk customers to look more seriously at alternative vendors who do provide that option. Bricsys is one of those vendors, and their DWG-based AutoCAD alternative BricsCAD has improved way more rapidly than AutoCAD over the same time period. No, that isn’t a guess, I’ve been keeping an active eye on things. BricsCAD today is by no means perfect, but it’s impressive in many ways. LISP compatibility and performance are excellent, for example. BricsCAD v16 superior to the also imperfect AutoCAD 2017 in several … Full post

    Autodesk’s mixed rental and perpetual license offer

    If you’re on Autodesk’s mailing list you have no doubt been receiving increasingly desperate offers aimed at tempting you into renting your software. None of those have really been worth a mention, but the latest Autodesk FY17 Q3 Global Field Promotion for Asia Pacific contains something noteworthy. It acknowledges the value of perpetual licenses and allows you to retain yours. Don’t get too excited though, it does not apply in other regions and only allows you to retain your old  license. Anything new is still rental-only.

    Here’s how the offer works. Let’s say you have an old copy of AutoCAD lying around. This acts as a magic token allowing you access to cheaper rental. Autodesk halves the cost of a 3-year subscription (rental) of pretty much anything (doesn’t have to be AutoCAD, it could be something much bigger) and your old AutoCAD perpetual license remains unaffected. You can … Full post

    Restoring the Classic workspace in AutoCAD 2015, 2016 and 2017, etc.

    One of the more common queries on my putting things back to “normal” posts is how to restore the AutoCAD Classic workspace in those releases where it is absent. Since Autodesk removed that workspace it has been too involved a process to fully describe how to do it in the context of my post. In the 2017 version of that post I’ve added a useful link, but as that’s a massive post and the link is buried near the end of it, this may have escaped your attention.

    Here’s the link to Brazilian AutoCAD expert Luciana Klein’s step-by-step guide. It’s for AutoCAD 2016, but the principles apply to other releases and variants. Thanks to Luciana for going to the effort of putting this together.

    AutoCAD 2017 Service Pack 1 is out but you probably don’t want to install it

    As reported by Jimmy Bergmark, AutoCAD 2017 SP1 will break add-ins that use Autodesk’s built-in autoloader mechanism. It looks like it’s a problem caused by third party applications, but it’s not. It’s entirely Autodesk’s fault. The only fix at this stage is to uninstall SP1.

    It’s astonishing that Autodesk would release a service pack like this, introducing a nasty bug that will break customers’ existing functionality. This reminds me of the comedy of errors that was AutoCAD Release 13 with its multitude of updates, many of which introduced new bugs as well as fixing others. AutoCAD 2017c4a, anyone?

    If you needed any more evidence that automated continuous updates from Autodesk are A Bad Idea, here it is. What a crock.

    AutoCAD 2017 – Putting things back to “normal”

    The most frequently accessed posts on this blog are the AutoCAD 201x – Putting things back to “normal” series. They also attract a lot of comments:

    Most Commented Posts

  • AutoCAD 2013 – An Autodesk Help writer responds – 164 comments
  • AutoCAD 2012 – Putting things back to “normal” – 158 comments
  • AutoCAD 2011 – Putting things back to “normal” – 135 comments
  • AutoCAD 2009 – Putting things back to “normal” – 121 comments
  • AutoCAD 2010 – Putting things back to “normal” – 106 comments
  • The … Full post

    Last chance to buy Autodesk software – should you take it?

    If, like me, you’ve been receiving increasingly eager Autodesk emails urging you to action, you’ll already be aware that Autodesk will end the sale of its last remaining perpetual license software lines on 31 July 2016. The End Time has already arrived for AutoCAD, so the only way you can now buy any form of AutoCAD perpetual license is as part of a Suite, and you must also commit to a maintenance plan. Of course, any Suite is substantially more expensive than AutoCAD, both in terms of initial cost and ongoing maintenance fees. However, if you only buy software and aren’t interested in renting it, this is your last chance to do so. (Or is it? There’s always the possibility that Autodesk will abandon its all-rental strategy in order to stave off its losses, in which case all bets are off).

    In sales, this is known as the … Full post

    AutoCAD 2017 Feature – Share Design View

    An interesting new feature of AutoCAD 2017 is Share Design View, which is invoked using the leftmost button on the A360 Ribbon tab or the ONLINEDESIGNSHARE command. The idea behind this command is to create a web-published snapshot of your drawing that can be accessed by anyone with a browser (they’ll need a fairly recent one).

    This command works as advertised and provides another option to allow limited access to your design information without providing access to your DWG files. It creates a web page containing a view of your drawing and lets you have the URL (link) so you can access it. You can then share this URL with anyone you want to share the design with. They just follow the URL and can view the design using the Autodesk A360 Viewer (no download required).

    Heidi Hewett wrote a fuller description of how it works on the … Full post