BricsCAD documentation – a tale of three systems – part 2

In this pair of posts, I describe the BricsCAD documentation system. Click here for part 1, where I describe the general Help system and the descriptions in the Settings command.

In this part, I discuss developer documentation and draw my conclusions.

Developer Help

If we count the Settings descriptions as a system, there’s a third documentation system for BricsCAD. The Developer Reference isn’t offline and included in an install like the main Help. Instead, it’s online, just like Autodesk’s default. Unlike Autodesk’s system, it works pretty well.

Being online means the performance suffers, of course, but it’s generally not too bad. It appears quicker than Autodesk’s. A link within the main Help system takes you to the Bricsys Developer Reference which is just accessed using your default browser. Of course, that means your mouse buttons work correctly and you have all other the advantages of whatever … Full post

BricsCAD documentation – a tale of three systems – part 1

Because of the great similarity between BricsCAD and AutoCAD in terms of commands, variables and most aspects of usage, you would expect the BricsCAD documentation to be about the same too. But it isn’t. Much of the content covers the same areas and due to BricsCAD’s command-line compatibility, there must be a lot in common. But the Help system is very different from Autodesk’s. How so?

In this pair of posts, I describe the BricsCAD documentation system. I assume you’re familiar with the AutoCAD one. In this first part, I describe the general Help system and the descriptions in the Settings command. In part 2, I will discuss developer documentation and draw my conclusions.

General Help

The general Help system in BricsCAD looks a lot like the excellent CHM-based system that AutoCAD had in 2010 and earlier (thanks, Dieter). BricsCAD’s Help is offline by default, included with the … Full post

Bloatware – a tale of two installations

In a previous post, I showed that AutoCAD is bloatware by comparing the size of its downloads to that of BricsCAD. Obviously, an application that’s ten times the size it should be is going to cost you a lot of unnecessary bandwidth, download time and drive space. But maybe you don’t care about that. What practical difference does it make?

Well, for one thing, the blimping-out of Autodesk’s former flagship product has a big effect on installation time. Vast and ever-increasing amounts of time are wasted by users of Autodesk products, just waiting for the things to finish installing. But isn’t this just the inevitable price to pay for the functionality provided?

No. Again, BricsCAD proves it.

The installation comparison is shown below. These installations were performed on a mid-range Windows 10 i7 PC with 8 GB RAM. The downloaded files were executed from a local hard drive … Full post

Bloatware – a tale of two CAD applications

You may have seen me mention in passing that AutoCAD is bloatware. That’s not just the general grumpy-old-user moan you see from long-term users like me, who can remember when AutoCAD used to fit on one floppy disk.

Yes, programs get bigger over time as new functionality is added and old functionality needs to be retained. Hardware gets bigger, better, faster over time to compensate for that. I get that. Understood.

The AutoCAD bloatware problem is much more than that. AutoCAD is literally ten times the size it needs to be, to provide the functionality it does.

How do I know? BricsCAD proves it. Here’s what I mean.

BricsCAD V17.2 64-bit Windows Download

Downloaded File Size (KB) BricsCAD-V17.2.03-1-en_US(x64).msi 248,812 Total (1 file) 248,812 (100%)

Equivalent AutoCAD 2018 Downloads

Downloaded File Size (KB) AutoCAD_2018_English_Win_64bit_dlm_001_002.sfx.exe 2,065,829 AutoCAD_2018_English_Win_64bit_dlm_002_002.sfx.exe 328,277 AutoCAD_2018.0.1_64bit_r2.exe 120,663 AutoCAD_2018_Product_Help_English_Win_32_64bit_dlm.sfx.exe 180,013 Total (4 files) 2,694,782 (1083%)

Which dog is which? They’re both … Full post

Bricsys shows Autodesk how to do mid-term updates

BricsCAD V17.2 is out. Although there’s nowhere near as much new and useful in this mid-term update as in the full upgrade from V16 to V17, there’s more here than in Autodesk’s last mid-term update, AutoCAD 17.1. There’s even arguably more than in the uninspired AutoCAD 2018 upgrade, including those 17.1 features.

But that’s not the main reason I say Bricsys is schooling Autodesk in how to do mid-term updates. While Autodesk is restricting such updates (including the bug fixes and security updates included in those updates) to subscription and maintenance customers, Bricsys is doing no such thing.

BricsCAD V17 customers who have a perpetual license, even without maintenance (called All-In by Bricsys), will be receiving V17.2 free of charge. Bricsys still considers such users as customers who have paid good money and still need to be looked after, rather than a non-paying irritant, … Full post

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

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

BricsCAD startup LISP bug fixed

In my previous post I have a real problem with BricsCAD, I related my then-latest interaction with the Bricsys support system:

Steve Johnson
05-12-2016 05:30 UTC

I don’t know if this is a BricsCAD problem or a DOSLib one, so I am reporting it to both Bricsys and Dale at McNeel. I’m also not sure if this was happening in earlier versions.

If I load DOSLib during an S::STARTUP call and then use the (dos_msgbox) function later in that call, this fails the first time round because BricsCAD things the function is not defined. Opening a second drawing results in the call working as expected. I’ve chopped down our startup routine so you have an example.

; error : no function definition ; expected FUNCTION at [eval]

Awesome Bricsys Person
05-12-2016 12:32 UTC

Hi Steve,

There was a regression introduced in V17.1.10 that caused … Full post

I have a real problem with BricsCAD

To be precise, I have a real problem with writing  about BricsCAD. I’ve written some pretty complimentary things about BricsCAD lately. In the interests of balance, I’ve been intending to write about some of the issues people can expect to deal with when moving from AutoCAD to BricsCAD. Such issues certainly exist. The problem I have with that is that the issues keep going away!

Here’s how it usually goes. I find a problem in BricsCAD. I submit a support request. Within hours, I get a meaningful response from a person who understands the issue. Within days, I’m informed it’s been fixed internally and the fix will be in the next update. Within a week or two, that update is released. I download and install the updated version. It’s basically a full reinstall, but all settings are seamlessly retained and it’s faster and less painful than an AutoCAD Service Pack … Full post

So what’s actually new in BricsCAD V17?

A big problem I have in communicating the improvements to BricsCAD in V17 is that there are such a huge number of them. This isn’t an AutoCAD 201x-style touch-up masquerading as serious progress, this is a real  upgrade. You know, an AutoCAD V12-style upgrade that veteran AutoCAD users will remember from the good old days before Autodesk got bored and distracted. Dozens upon dozens of new features, improvements to existing features, performance improvements and bug fixes. Lots of stuff that’s genuinely useful.

I could write three posts a week on the changes and not be finished by this time next year. So I’m going to be lazy. I’ll pick out a few features for future posts but for the big picture I’ll point you to the official list. This isn’t a marketing document, it’s a technical list of terse descriptions of changes (to the Windows version only – … 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!

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