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

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

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

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

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

    Shout out to Robert McNeel & Associates

    Let’s start the rebirth of this blog on a positive note. I’d like to express my gratitude to Robert McNeel & Associates for what must surely be the most outstanding example of long-term customer service in the CAD industry.

    These days, McNeel is best known for the 3D modelling software Rhino. I have heard good things about this product, but have never used it. However, I am a long-term user of another McNeel product, DOSLib. This is an extensive set of functions that adds greatly to the functionality of AutoLISP. It all works very well and has saved me many hours of work that I would have spent reproducing that functionality. Of course, many LISP programmers could write functions to calculate a cube root, or read a text file, or display a date in whatever format you like, or copy files, or generate a GUID, … Full post

    AutoCAD 2012 Service Pack 1

    The first update for AutoCAD 2012 is now available on the Autodesk site. As usual, read the readme first and exercise the usual paranoia. Make sure you install the right version (32 or 64 bit). The update is also available for AutoCAD LT 2012. There is no news yet on equivalent updates for vertical variants of AutoCAD, so just talk amongst yourselves for a while until Autodesk gets around to it.

    Autodesk has, thankfully, abandoned the confusing nomenclature for its service packs. So this is not 2012 Update 1 with a filename that includes SP1 and which results in the software being considered 2012 Version 2. It is 2012 Service Pack 1 with a filename that includes SP1 and which results in the software being considered 2012 SP1. Why Autodesk thought the former convention made sense is beyond me, but at least … Full post

    AutoCAD 2012 – How’s the Help now?

    You may have noticed that the much-derided AutoCAD 2011 Help has had something of an update for AutoCAD 2012, integrating it with something called Autodesk Exchange. Rather than critique this myself, I’ll hand it over to you.

    What do you think of AutoCAD 2012’s Help? Is it all better now? Is it fast, accurate and easy to use with a useful search facility? Or do you hate it and hope someone at Autodesk is scrambling to create a CHM version of it like last year? Please comment.

    AutoCAD 2012 – Array has good and bad points

    For many users, the most useful new feature in AutoCAD 2012 is going to be the updated Array command. It adds a great deal of very welcome new functionality that will provide a potential productivity boost for 2D and 3D users. But it’s from an Autodesk wedded to its infernal 12-month product cycle, so of course it’s half-baked.

    The Good

    So what’s good about the Array command in AutoCAD 2012?

    • Associativity. By default, arrays are now associative objects. This means that if you want to, say, modify the distance between columns a couple of days after you drew them, you can now do so. If you’re a Ribbon user, it’s easy to change array parameters because when you select an array, you get a Ribbon tab dedicated to just that task. If you’re not, then the Properties palette allows you to do the same thing.
    • Dynamic preview. Once you … Full post

    Dealing with blacked-out leader plots in older AutoCAD

    Any drawing created in AutoCAD 2008 and later which uses Multileaders will present problems to users of AutoCAD 2007 and earlier. The users of the earlier release will find that rather than having leaders to deal with, they have proxy objects. As a result, it is impossible to edit these leaders in any way other than erasing them. Also, depending on the setting of the PROXYSHOW system variable in the earlier release, the objects may not display at all, or could display only as rectangles.

    If the user of 2008 or later used the background mask feature when creating Multileaders, they might appear to be fine on the screen. But when plotting, the text part of each leader will come out as a filled black rectangle. That sort of thing has a long history of happening with wipeouts in some cases, depending on the output device and driver. This problem … Full post

    When is AutoCAD not AutoCAD?

    When is AutoCAD nor AutoCAD? When it’s AutoCAD WS. But it’s not quite that simple.

    I’ve been correcting people for months when they say things like “Project Butterfly is AutoCAD on the Cloud.” No, it’s not. It’s a DWG editor of sorts, but anybody who has used both will know that it’s not AutoCAD or anything like it. Although it’s useful for viewing and markup and is improving all the time, Project Butterfly is still very restricted and is likely to remain so for a long time. You wouldn’t want to spend a significant portion of your day drawing with it.

    OK, so Project Butterfly isn’t AutoCAD. I’m glad we’ve cleared that up. But wait! Now it is AutoCAD! AutoCAD WS, that is. AutoCAD WS is the recently-announced free iPod/iPhone/iPad app to access Project Butterfly. But it’s not really AutoCAD either, despite being named thus. Confused yet?

    AutoCAD is Autodesk’s strongest brand … Full post

    Missing language pack fixes compared

    Having tried out the cleanup fixes from both Autodesk and Owen Wengerd, they both appear to work fine. Here are some points of comparison:

    • Owen’s utility will work with any AutoCAD variant from 2007 on; Autodesk’s fix is currently restricted to Civil 3D 2009, 2010 and 2011. As this problem is definitely not confined to Civil 3D, and may need to be dealt with by non-Civil 3D users, that could be the dealbreaker right there.
    • Owen’s can be installed by anyone by simply copying a file and loading it when needed or in the Startup Suite; Autodesk’s requires admin rights to either run an installer program or manual replacement of a program component, depending on the release.
    • Owen’s loads and runs as the user requires; Autodesk’s runs automatically when opening and saving a drawing.
    • Owen’s provides some information about what is getting cleaned up; Autodesk’s operates in … Full post

    Edwin’s 100 tips, plus my own

    Over at Edwin Prakaso’s CAD Notes site, he has collected 100 AutoCAD tips and published them in a highly useful post. Very nice job, Edo.

    While you blog readers are collecting tips, you might as well have a look at mine, too:

     http://www.blog.cadnauseam.com/tag/tip/ (and page 2)

    I was surprised how many tips I have posted over the couple of years this blog has been running, although not all of them are for AutoCAD. Anyway, I hope you find some of them useful. If you don’t want to wade through all that lot, maybe you can get started on this five and five more tips from the early days of this blog.

    Autodesk’s CIP data – massively biased?

    You may have seen Shaan Hurley and I having a discussion (ahem) over the validity of his statement:

    I really do use the ribbon now with AutoCAD 2010 along with most users as evidenced by the CIP data we receive daily from thousands of AutoCAD users who choose to send the great data.

    So, now you know. Most of you use the Ribbon now,  Shaan said so. Shaan, as he always has done in the past, declined my invitation to back up this assertion with more details. He has vast amounts of data collected from huge numbers of users. How could that possibly be wrong?

    Here’s how. CIP data is biased.

    How can millions of data points be biased? Actually, all samples are biased. Only the degree of bias varies. The polls on this blog are no exception. I do my best to keep the questions and options neutral; … Full post

    AutoCAD 2011 online Help changes – a curate’s egg

    As announced by Shaan Hurley, Autodesk has made some changes to the AutoCAD 2011 online Help system. Please check it out and see what you think. After a short time with it, here are my experiences using IE6 (yes, I know). As this is a dynamic system and dependent on browser characteristics, Internet connectivity and any changes Autodesk may make between me writing this and you reading it, your mileage will vary.

    There are some cosmetic changes,  including a fixup of the Autodesk logo in IE6 that was done a couple of weeks ago. Sadly, my pink Comic Sans logo has not been adopted.  As I can’t do a direct side-by-side comparison with the pre-change setup under identical conditions, I can’t make a definitive statement about performance. I can say that it does appear to have improved somewhat. It now takes about 3.5 seconds from hitting F1 to seeing … Full post

    Restoring Hatch double-click in AutoCAD 2011

    In AutoCAD 2011, the default action when double-clicking on a hatch object is to invoke the Properties palette for that object. In previous releases, it would invoke the Hatch Edit dialog box. In my AutoCAD 2011 – Putting things back to “normal” post, I briefly described how to restore the old double-click action. I have since seen some incorrect advice being given out about how to do this, so this post describes the correct process in full detail.

    What to do

  • Invoke the CUI command.
  • In the top left pane, find the [+] next to Double Click Actions and left-click on it.
    Double Click Actions
  • Scroll down that top left pane a little until you can see Hatch.
    Hatch
  • In the bottom left pane (Command list), click on any command and type H. This should take you down to … Full post
  • Filling the holes in Autodesk’s CHM Help stopgap

    It was good to see Autodesk react to criticism of AutoCAD 2011’s browser-based Help with an acknowledgement of the problems and an attempt to provide a workaround by making a zip file of CHM files available for download. That’s much better than ignoring people’s concerns, denying the validity of those concerns or shooting the messenger, which has been known to happen in the past.

    However, there are some holes in the workaround, only some of which can be filled.

    • Under 64-bit Windows 7, the Search pane is blank, as it is in the CHM Help for earlier releases on that platform. This is stated on the download page. Index works well, but Search doesn’t. As Search is one of the worst aspects of the browser-based Help, this is a rather unfortunate.
    • There is no obvious way of making the CHMs provide contextual help. Don’t bother pointing at acad181.chm … Full post

    Autodesk shows Dassault how to treat customers

    There are areas of Autodesk’s treatment of customers that leaves much to be desired, and I will most likely continue to be critical of that until a) I die; b) Autodesk dies; or c) the bad stuff stops happening. One thing for which Autodesk deserves praise is the distribution of bug fixes to its customers, without imposing the sort of conditions that SolidWorks customers have to put up with.

    • Do Autodesk customers need to be on Subscription to receive bug fixes? No, they do not.
    • Do Autodesk customers need to have purchased the software within the last 90 days to receive bug fixes? No, they do not.
    • Do Autodesk customers need to have reported certain specific bugs to receive bug fixes? No, they do not.
    • Do Autodesk customers even need to be running the current release to receive bug fixes? No, they do not.

    AutoCAD 2010 Update … Full post