Cloud benefits – processing power

A frequently stated advantage of CAD on the Cloud is the access to large amounts of processing power. Instead of relying on your lowly local processor to perform complex tasks, you can instead zap the job up to the Cloud where vast numbers of processors churn away in massively parallel fashion and then zap the results back to you before you’ve even had time to head for the coffee machine.

This is a scenario that applies only for certain types of very complex tasks that are suited to subdividing the calculations among many processors. Autodesk already has a big toe in the … Full post

Studying Autodesk’s productivity study

Heidi Hewett just reported the following on her blog, about a productivity study:

According to a recent independent study, AutoCAD® 2011 can help you work up to 44% faster with the latest productivity enhancements.

I have a couple of problems with that sentence. First, it’s not an independent study. It’s a study conducted by long-time respected CAD figure David Cohn, but it was specified and paid for by Autodesk:

This productivity study was performed at the request of Autodesk Inc., which funded this work.

That’s not exactly independent then, is it? Second, the study does not state … Full post

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 … Full post

Does your AutoCAD get its wrods worng?

A problem I’ve seen affecting keyboard users (particularly fast ones) in recent AutoCADs (since 2006) is that the characters entered into the command line are not always the ones you typed. Or rather, they are the ones you typed, just not in the right order. In particular, I’ve seen the first couple of characters get messed up, so you might get ILNE instead of LINE. In addition to the annoyance factor, this is something of a productivity killer.

Has this happened to you? If so, please comment. Any comment is welcome, but it would be great if you could provide the … Full post

Autodesk answers – 4 of 4

The final question is from metis:

Q: why is program size increasing and performance dramatically decreasing as hardware specs dramatically increase? as features “improve” and are added functionality should not be removed, and code should be streamlined.

seriously aren’t there any real programmers out there anymore? this thing isn’t written in java by a bunch of scriptkiddies (although 2009 sure is skinned like it was).

A: We made a number of performance improvements in AutoCAD 2010 over the previous release, and would appreciate hearing from you if you are encountering significant performance slowdowns with this latest release. If so, please … Full post

AutoCAD performance and productivity

I have closed the performance and productivity polls as described in my posts here and here, and the results can be seen in the Polls Archive. As with most of the other polls I’ve run here, the distribution of votes has not changed greatly after the first few days.

It is clear from the very different voting patterns in the two polls that blog nauseam readers are smart enough understand the difference between the two questions. The performance poll has a very clear skew to the “slower” side. This supports the empirical evidence I’ve seen elsewhere that people perceive AutoCAD as getting … Full post

Is AutoCAD becoming more or less productive?

It seems that most of you are convinced that AutoCAD is getting slower, but I’ll leave the poll going for a while longer. But even if AutoCAD is getting slower, does that mean that it’s actually less productive? Do the new features introduced in recent releases allow you to produce more useful work in a given time, despite making you wait from time to time? I’ve added a new poll to see what you think.

In which direction is AutoCAD’s performance going?

I see quite a few comments in various places that say that AutoCAD’s performance has been getting progressively worse by the year. Is this what most people think, or just the viewpoint of a few complainers? Let’s find out, shall we? I’ve added a poll that asks for your opinions. Feel free to comment, too.

Note that this is a poll about raw performance, not productivity. It’s possible (though difficult) to make a program go slower but still allow you to produce more work in a given time, so I’ll cover the productivity angle in a later poll.

This poll … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – Layer Palette and performance

If you’ve noticed some normal drafting operations are much slower in AutoCAD 2009 than in earlier releases, try turning off the new Layer Palette and see if the problem goes away. For example, editing viewports with the Layer Palette visible can be completely unworkable. Don’t just auto-hide it, close it altogether.

Another problem presented by the Layer Palette is that any layer changes you make are applied as you make them. This sounds great in theory, but if each operation takes a while to perform then that’s much less efficient than the old method where all changes are made at … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 19 – Menu Browser

You have undoubtedly noticed the large red A in the top right corner of the AutoCAD window. Personally, I don’t like the look of it. The concept is rather Fisher-Price and the execution is poor. No competent graphic designer would align the top of the red A exactly with the top of its surrounding button area like this:

The Big Red A

There are so many examples of poor graphic design in AutoCAD 2009 that the overall visual effect is close to that of a rather amateurish shareware product. That’s not what you might expect of … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 17 – Ribbon Performance 2

Testing performance under Vista can be an interesting experience. The trouble is, Vista tries to improve its performance by observing what you do and caching it for later use in case you do it again. This leads to something akin to the observer effect in science, where the very act of observing something has an effect on what it is you are observing.

Every time I test Ribbon tab switching performance in Vista, the results improve. In XP, the worst tab switching time I saw on my Core2 PC was 1.6 seconds for the first … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 16 – Ribbon Performance 1

One of the things I like least about AutoCAD 2009 (at least in Release Candidate form) is that I find it very “sticky”. That is, I find myself having to wait for an instant here, then again there, yet again over there. Most of my testing has been on a middle-aged Pentium 4 (3.0 GHz dual core – not too ancient), and it is particularly noticeable there. On my newer Core2 machine, things are better.

When AutoCAD 2009 starts shipping, I suspect your perception of it will be strongly influenced by your hardware. Top gun users on slow machines are … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 13 – ViewCube

For many 3D users of AutoCAD, the ViewCube is likely to be the most useful new thing in AutoCAD 2009. There are a couple of problems with it, at least in the Release Candidate:

  • It does not work in 2D wireframe mode (which is, paradoxically, where 90% of my 3D work is done). You need to choose another visual style before it will appear.
  • It seems to slow things down quite a lot in complex drawings.
  • That said, if you have more than enough computing power for the drawings you usually deal with, then this is a very, very nice … Full post

    AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 10 – Dude, where’s my Dashboard?

    Dude, Dashboard’s dead. Defunct. Done. AutoCAD 2009 replaced the Dashboard with the Ribbon. If you type in the DASHBOARD or DASHBOARDCLOSE commands, they are just converted to the RIBBON and RIBBONCLOSE commands, which turn the Ribbon on and off.

    If you’re a fan of the Dashboard (and I never was), there is good and bad news. The good news is that you can right-click on various parts of the Ribbon, pick Undock and you get a Dashboard-like floating vertical Ribbon that can be resized and configured very easily in terms of turning panels on and off. You can’t do that … Full post

    AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 8 – Vista Startup Times

    I’ve now tested startup times of various AutoCAD releases under Vista. Here are the results, alongside the XP results for ease of comparison:

    Release First
    Startup
    Subsequent
    Startup
    XP Vista XP Vista 12 8.6 – 8.2 – 13 2.6 1.8 1.3 0.8 14 2.1 – 0.5 – 2002 3.2 2.1 0.6 1.1 2004 – 4.3 – 1.7 2005 – 7.9 – 4.5 2006 14.9 8.7 2.6 4.4 2007 13.8 11.9 3.5 6.6 2008 14.6 10.5 3.6 6.0 2009 28.9 17.3 7.2 13.3

    Same caveats as before, plus the following:

  • Some AutoCAD releases were not installed on … Full post
  • AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 7 – Subsequent Startup Time

    This table shows both the initial and subsequent startup times for various releases. Most of the qualifications and caveats from my AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 6 – Initial Startup Time post still apply here.

    Release First
    Startup
    Subsequent
    Startup
    12 8.6 8.2 13 2.6 1.3 14 2.1 0.5 2002 3.2 0.6 2006 14.9 2.6 2007 13.8 3.5 2008 14.6 3.6 2009 28.9 7.2

    AutoCAD 2009’s subsequent startups are much less slow than its agonising first startup, as to be expected. Windows XP is doing that by caching and reusing recently used parts of … Full post

    AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 6 – First Startup Time

    One thing you’ll notice (and dislike) right away with AutoCAD 2009 is that it takes a lot longer to get started. How much longer? About twice as long as recent releases, or about ten times longer than ancient speed demon Release 13. (I bet a 1994 AutoCAD user transported forward in time would be shocked to hear that description being used). Here’s a video that shows what the first startup looks like in a collection of releases from Release 12 to 2009:

    AutoCAD First Startup Time Comparison

    Now for the qualifications and caveats:

  • Tests performed on … Full post