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

AutoCAD 2018.0.1 mystery deepens with silent withdrawal

As I mentioned earlier, the release of AutoCAD 2018 was followed almost instantaneously by the first update, 2018.0.1. At the time of writing, there was no official information about this update. Some information was later made available, but questions remained.

Now the update has been silently withdrawn. Go to Autodesk Account > Management > AutoCAD > Downloads > Updates & Add-ons and you will no longer see this:

The infamous Autodesk desktop app also shows no sign of this update. So why has it been withdrawn? Autodesk isn’t saying, but thanks to Jimmy Bergmark, we know that installing the 2018.0.1 update re-introduces a bug from AutoCAD 2016 (pre SP1) where … 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

AutoCAD 2018.0.1 mystery partially resolved but questions remain

As I mentioned earlier, the release of AutoCAD 2018 was followed almost instantaneously by the first update, 2018.0.1. At the time of writing, there was no official information about this update. Some information is now available, but more questions have arisen.

If, like me, you don’t/won’t/can’t have Autodesk desktop app running on your systems, the only current official way to get at the download is using Autodesk Account (but read the whole of this post before you go there). That’s also how you get at information about the update. Go to Management > AutoCAD > Downloads > Updates & Add-ons. From there, it’s not obvious how to get the information, but it’s under More options.

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AutoCAD 2018 – why did the DWG format change?

In my review of AutoCAD 2018, I had this to say about AutoCAD 2018’s changed DWG format:

Why does AutoCAD 2018 need a new DWG format? It probably doesn’t. The 2013 DWG format is capable of holding pretty much anything you want… Although Autodesk cites performance reasons with certain drawings, I strongly suspect the new DWG format was introduced purely to make life difficult for competitors, and to encourage wavering customers to stay with Autodesk for fear of losing compatibility. In other words, it seems likely this is an anti-competitive change rather than a technical one.

In a recent blog post, highly respected Swiss-based Autodesk development and research person Kean Walmsley had this to say on that subject:

The main reason for the break in compatibility is some longer-term work that’s going on inside the AutoCAD codebase. For now this is really only surfacing … Full post

AutoCAD 2018 – disable InfoCenter

Here’s another AutoCAD 2018 download, just in case you haven’t had enough.

If you want to disable AutoCAD’s InfoCenter (and you should, unless have a specific reason for keeping it – here’s why), go get the updated download from uber-expert Owen Wengerd’s ManuSoft Freebies page. It works for AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT.

AutoCAD 2018 – there’s already an update

If you downloaded and installed AutoCAD 2018 yesterday and don’t/won’t/can’t have Autodesk desktop app running on your systems, you may already have another download to do, because AutoCAD 2018.0.1 is out.

At the time of writing there is no sign of this update on Autodesk’s main site, but you can get at it using Autodesk Account. Go to Management > AutoCAD > Downloads > Updates & Add-ons.

All that’s downloaded is an executable. No readme, nothing. There is currently no official information about the reasons behind this update, what it includes, what it might affect, how to include it in a deployment, etc. You’ll need to make up your own mind whether to install this update now or wait for information about it. I suggest the latter.

Of course, if you’re using desktop app and allowing automatic updates, you don’t need to worry about … Full post

AutoCAD 2018 – bear this in mind

Given the dearth of new functionality in AutoCAD in recent years, it’s understandable that Autodesk has taken to claiming credit for the same thing twice. The same features have been touted once for the 2017.1 mid-term update and again as 2018 new features. Even I fell for it, listing linetype gap selection as a 2018 feature in my original review.

For the purposes of reviewing the earlier AutoCAD releases and AutoCAD 2018 as upgrades, I have included the 2017.1 features in 2018, not 2017. Some of those features are praiseworthy, and there have been some minor improvements to some of the 2017.1 features in 2018, but let’s count them just once, please.

Blogs and sites that just regurgitate Autodesk’s take on what’s new in AutoCAD 2018 might inadvertently repeat the double-dipping. Bear that in mind when … Full post

AutoCAD 2018 – 2/10, would not rent

It must be March, because another AutoCAD has just been launched. Despite this one being codenamed Omega, I’ve been assured it’s not the final AutoCAD release. The good news is that AutoCAD 2018 is twice the upgrade that 2017 was. But hold your excitement, because the bad news is that 2017 was only a 1/10 upgrade.

Autodesk has continued the well-established tradition of acting like a low-quality sausage machine, reliably popping out consistently unexciting products at regular intervals.

Here’s what’s in this year’s underwhelming sausage:

  • Xrefs now default to relative path attachment and there are a few associated tweaks including find/replace path
  • You can select objects off-screen (handier than it sounds)
  • File dialogs remember settings
  • A couple more dialogs can be resized
  • There are a couple more tiny user interface tweaks
  • The stuff from 2017.1 is included, of course, some seeing minor improvements since then
  • iDrop … Full post

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.
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  • 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