Tag Archives: new

One AutoCAD Gets “One” Vision [Part 6]

March 27th was the big day. Another new version of AutoCAD with AutoCAD 2020 and, in my humble opinion, some superb 20/20 vision from Autodesk (see what I did there?). This includes the AutoCAD in your One AutoCAD subscription as well as standalone, SLM and NLM licenses. I gave it the weekend to check out the new stuff so that I could give you a thorough breakdown.

So, you’ll remember my first One AutoCAD blog? Where “there can be only one…” and the Queen theme from the movie Highlander? Here’s another nuance to Queen with their great track “One Vision”, the opening track from the A Kind of Magic album. The album was the soundtrack to the famous movie Highlander, and it was on TV last night, to my amusement.

So, what is new in the dark, sleek AutoCAD 2020?

Read on.

PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENTS

One of the things I always look for in a new version of AutoCAD is better performance. If you are going to upgrade to a new version, it needs to be quicker, not slower, right? This leads me on to the first enhancement in AutoCAD 2020, because we all hate waiting for downloads and watching the install bar percentage, don’t we?

Upon downloading, I noticed a substantial decrease in download time using the Install Now option in the management portal, plus a big decrease in install time too. Now, I have just gone wild and purchased another MacBook Pro 15 (2018) laptop, with the new chipset AND a rapid SSD drive, and the install time was remarkably fast, so faster speeds were to be expected.

However, Autodesk have worked hard to bring down install times, and you will find that with an SSD drive the install time is now about half the time you were used to. Now whilst this is beneficial if you have the latest and greatest drives (SSD, for example), I have not installed it on a regular HDD drive, so I have nothing to compare it to. However, SSD drives do make a great difference on both install and access times.

Autodesk have also worked on network access times in AutoCAD 2020, especially in the areas of XREFs and blocks. Plus, you will find that hatches, tool palettes, fonts, linetypes, template files, standards files and so on, are all quicker, depending on file size and complexity. This is something I always notice in AutoCAD nowadays, especially since I started on AutoCAD back in the MS-DOS days. You youngsters don’t know you’re born, what with Windows and all! Try using a puck and a monochrome CRT monitor!

GRAPHICS CONFIGURATION

Staying with improvements in AutoCAD 2020 on a system level, Autodesk have (again) worked on the graphics quality in AutoCAD 2020. AutoCAD 2019 was improved for 4K and hi-res monitors, and it has been improved upon even more, so that it launches correctly with Direct X drivers; DirectX 9, DirectX11 or no drivers, and with the usual 4K support. Dual monitor setups are also supported.

Upon launching the GRAPHICSCONFIG command, you will see that AutoCAD has three different modes; Basic, Intermediate and Advanced, with Intermediate Mode optimizing your AutoCAD graphics display.


NEW DARK THEME

AutoCAD 2019 had an icon interface change. The ribbon icons were cleaner and more functional.

AutoCAD 2020’s dark theme takes that further by providing a dark, blue/black background where the new icon interface ‘pings’ rather nicely. Not only does this give a dark, sleek look to AutoCAD 2020 but it reduces eye strain too. We all spend too much time in front of our screens (come on, admit it, we do) and this new dark theme takes the edge off. Not only that, but with the new theme, your contextual ribbon tabs highlight nicely with a blue against the dark theme too, making it easier to spot which ribbon tab you are using.

The new dark theme color controls can be found in the AutoCAD Options dialog box.

(GEEK SIDE NOTE: Look at Darth Vader’s costume in Star Wars then look at the AutoCAD dark theme. “Chosen dark side, hasn’t one?” as Yoda would say).

NEW BLOCKS PALETTE

Having been a CAD manager and having worked in Facilities Management (FM) for several years, I have developed a love/hate relationship with AutoCAD blocks. Until now. The usual methods to insert a block in to a drawing is to use the INSERT command, DesignCenter or Tool Palettes. These different options normally give you enough scope to work with, but not anymore. Suddenly, inserting blocks has become SO much easier!

You still have the usual blocks flyout on the Insert command on the ribbon but click on Recent Blocks… or Blocks from Other Drawings… and you will see the new Blocks palette. This (for me) is exactly what the CAD doctor ordered! (You can also just type INSERT to bring up the new Blocks palette too).

Not only does this new palette give great previews of the blocks in the drawing (Current Drawing tab) but you can check out blocks that have been used recently (Recent tab). And even better, you can use the Other Drawing tab to find blocks in other drawings and locations.

You have the regular Insertion Options such as Insertion Point, Rotate, Scale and Explode but you now have a new option called Repeat Placement. This works in the same way as the Copy command, allowing you to insert multiple instances of the same block reference, but it is built in to the Insert command now, thus enhancing your productivity when using blocks.

There are numerous new and revised commands for blocks too. Here’s the list: –

BLOCKSPALETTE – This will open the new Blocks palette.

BLOCKSPALETTECLOSE – This closes the Blocks palette (ya think?) 😊

CLASSICINSERT – Opens the classic Insert dialog box, that we all know and love.

INSERT – This command will now start the BLOCKSPALETTE command except in customised scripts that open the legacy INSERT command for compatibility.

-INSERT – As usual, this will start the command line version of the classic INSERT command.

There are also a few new system variables too. Here’s the list: –

BLOCKMRULIST – This one controls the number of blocks displayed in the Recent tab of the new Blocks palette. Very useful if you need to see more or less blocks.

BLOCKNAVIGATE – This one is VERY useful. It controls the file and blocks that are displayed in the Other Drawing tab of the Blocks palette. It’s great if you are using a central drawing that contains all the blocks you need. Please note though, it takes effect the next time you start AutoCAD 2020.

BLOCKREDEFINEMODE – This variable decides whether that lovely little dialog box pops up asking you if you want to redefine a block after inserting a block from the Blocks palette with the same name as a block inside your drawing.

BLOCKSTATE (Read only) – Whilst only a Read Only variable, this one tells you if the Blocks palette is open or closed. Always useful, because you can lose a palette occasionally on the screen, and this will tell you if the palette is open or not, and if you need to look for it!

PURGE COMMAND REDESIGN

PURGE is an extremely useful command but needed to be used with care because (sometimes) you could find the right information about what needed to be purged from your drawing. The redesign of the PURGE dialog box gives you MUCH more information about what you are purging from the drawing.

Here’s the new PURGE stuff: –

  • The new dialog box gives you LOADS of information about objects that CANNOT be purged, including a count of the number of those objects and their influence on how big your file is, which is great for rationalizing objects that bloat out your DWG files. You can also use the Select Objects button to find and zoom in on those objects too.
  • The Find Non-Purgeable Items button allows you to find information about those items and why they cannot be purged, which seriously helps compared to the older PURGE dialog box.
  • You can now purge out zero-length geometry without losing empty text objects.
  • There are now check boxes in the Named Items Not Used panel. This now allows for categorizing purgeable items, rather than having to purge each individual item.

The new PURGE command is now also available on the ribbon in the new Cleanup panel in the Manage tab.

DWG COMPARE IMPROVEMENTS

DWG Compare is a superb command already and in AutoCAD 2020, Autodesk have integrated it deeper in to the product, giving a much cleaner experience, in my humble opinion. When you activate the command, it now has an in-app toolbar which allows you to maintain concentration on the drawings in hand, and the comparisons now show ‘in’ the drawings with an option to create a separate comparison DWG file.

Current (first) drawing to be compared against
Second drawing to be comapared against first drawing

As usual, there are several new commands for the new DWG Compare too. Here they are: –

COMPARECLOSE – As it says on the tin, this command closes down the DWG Compare toolbar and closes down any comparison you might have in place at the time of closing.

COMPAREEXPORT – This command takes your comparison in to a new DWG file and displays it in the file tabs. It is known as a snapshot drawing and it can be saved out as a new DWG, for use as a project tool to demonstrate differences in drawings, for example.

COMPAREIMPORT – This one (for me) is extremely useful. The command imports objects from the compared file into your current drawing, against which you are making the comparison. What’s great about it, is that ONLY the selected objects that are in the COMPARED file, and NOT in the current file are imported, thus allowing easy selection and sorting.

If you are using some of the One AutoCAD toolsets (Electrical and Mechanical), there are some limitations. Shaan Hurley’s blog on his Between The Lines page mentions these here, just scroll down a bit. Thanks, Shaan!

SAVE TO WEB & MOBILE ENHANCEMENTS

For those of you who attended Autodesk University 2018 (AU 2018) last November, you may have attended my class where I went through how to take AutoCAD mobile. If you didn’t here it is: https://bit.ly/2HOOAO6

I am also teaching this class at AU London 2019 in June, so maybe I’ll see you there!

The link to the AU London 2019 website is here: https://bit.ly/2Vr2qJf

I love that you can now save to the AutoCAD web and mobile apps for easy movement of your designs on to your phone, tablet or browser. In my years in Facilities Management (FM), these tools would have been extremely useful!

So, what is new in Save To Web & Mobile?

When saving out to Web & Mobile, you can now include external reference files (XREFs), if they are attached to your host drawing. In the case below, there aren’t any, but I hope you get the idea!

If the CAD Manager Control Utility is enabled in your AutoCAD installation, you can disable Web & Mobile, to make sure files stay within the organization network and filing structure. This is great for file safety and security.

Save to Web & Mobile is accessible from the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).

CLOUD SERVICES SUPPORT

Following on from Save to Web & Mobile enhancements, you will be very pleased to know that AutoCAD 2020 now supports several cloud-based services for the Save, Save As and Open commands. These are your USUAL save and open commands and are NOT related to the Web & Mobile options. This is your regular Save, Save As and Open commands.

What this means is that you can now save directly to Microsoft OneDrive, Box, Dropbox and Google Drive which, again, allows you to be much more mobile with your AutoCAD designs by utilizing the cloud directly.

You can also add these cloud-based repositories to your Places list in AutoCAD too! You will see the link to my Microsoft OneDrive account in the graphic below.

MEASURE GEOMETRY: QUICK MEASURE

I am LOVING this new command. Measuring in AutoCAD is easy, but now it is even easier and quicker. The Quick Measure option in the MEASUREGEOM command is an absolute pleasure to use.

Quick Measure gives you an on-screen readout of dimensions, distances and angles in your 2D drawings, simply as you move over objects in the drawing. When Quick Measure is switched on it displays this information dynamically as you hover over an object, presenting you with a visual of dimensions, distances and angles, and even displays 90-degree angles as squares so that you know the geometry is exactly ‘square’.

Quick Measure displaying dimensions and the right angled corners of a rectangle
Quick Measure displayed the radius of a circle

SECURITY ENHANCEMENTS

Now, I wasn’t aware of these until I read Shaan Hurley’s Between The Lines blog. With every AutoCAD release, I read Shaan’s blog first (sorry, AutoCAD team!) because he has been around AutoCAD as long as I have (even longer, in fact!) and he always provides an insightful look in to the new version. Cheers, Shaan!

So, according to Shaan, there are numerous security improvements in AutoCAD 2020, and they cannot be talked about directly for reasons of security: –

  • A cyber security in AutoCAD 2020 has been addressed.
  • Four potential exploits in AutoCAD data files have been addressed.
  • AutoCAD dependencies on DLLs have been upgraded or removed.
  • A future vulnerability in a component is being addressed.
  • A potential server vulnerability has been closed with an upgrade.

Now, yes, these all seem very vague, right? Well, let’s face it, in today’s technology world, the last thing Autodesk want to do is announce EXACTLY where these security enhancements are so as to avoid any threats to the enhancements provided. It all makes sense to keep them as vague as possible. Nowadays, cyber criminals and criminal organizations are often looking for ways to hack and steal designs and your intellectual property. This is EXACTLY why it is so important to maintain the latest AutoCAD products and updates. It’s not just about the new features and commands, the back end of AutoCAD is just as important, if not, more important for this reason. As Shaan states in his blog, “Autodesk continues to monitor cyber threats and strives to deliver products that conform to current and anticipated security requirements.” Think about that for a moment, and then think about what YOU would do if your designs were to be hacked or stolen in anyway because you hadn’t put appropriate measures in place, including keeping AutoCAD up to date.

CONCLUSION

So, that’s AutoCAD 2020 covered, and I hope that you have gained the knowledge you need to see how AutoCAD 2020 has evolved with the ‘one vision’ that Autodesk have for the AutoCAD product and its associated cloud and mobile functionality. I would like to thank Shaan Hurley for his annual AutoCAD wisdom, and the Autodesk team, for giving me the all the information I need to keep abreast of all things AutoCAD. Cheers, all!

You can find Shaan Hurley’s AutoCAD 2020 blog here.

And the official AutoCAD blog about AutoCAD 2020 is here.

On a slight self-promotional note (hey, I have to try, right?), you can find my new AutoCAD 2020 courses over on LinkedIn Learning at the links below. Just click on each title to find them.

Learning AutoCAD 2020

AutoCAD 2020: Essential Training

AutoCAD 2020: Interface

AutoCAD 2020: Spaces and Workspaces

AutoCAD 2020: Output

Happy AutoCAD’ing!

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Guitars and new tech…fascinating stuff!

Guitars are a passion of mine. For those of you who don’t know, I am not only an AutoCAD user, guru, instructor etc, but I am also a published singer/songwriter, endorsed by Hofner Guitars in Germany (note you may need to click on the little Union Jack – top right – to translate the page). Hofner manufacture the distinctive violin bass guitar used by Sir Paul McCartney, who was one of the famous four (The Beatles) back in the 1960’s. I use a Hofner Grand Auditorium acoustic which you will often see in my intro slide in my Autodesk University presentations, and it is my ‘go to’ guitar for all of my songwriting.

The amazing craftspeople that make guitars are known as luthiers, and their artistry and attention to detail is second to none. Quite often you will find that a musician/artist will find a particular luthier they prefer and stick with them throughout their career. In my case, I love what Hofner do for me. If you look towards other more well-known artists such as Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits fame), he often uses guitars made by luthier John Monteleone in Long Island. In fact, Knopfler’s first guitar was a Hofner, if you read this article in GuitarWorld:

https://www.guitarworld.com/gear/mark-knopfler-six-guitars-defined-my-career

As an Autodesk user, I subscribe to the Autodesk blog, Redshift, and I am also an occasional author for them. A recent Redshift article I read fascinated me. Not just for the techie content, but for where tech is taking an artistic slant and being used by reputable luthiers such as Rachel Rosencrantz. Her reputation as a respected luthier is known worldwide and she is now using Autodesk technology to 3D model and 3D print guitar parts as part of her design workflow. Watch the Redshift video to learn more about Rachel and what she does as a luthier. It’s an amazing crossover of a handcrafted artform in to 3D modelling and 3D printing.

Link: https://www.autodesk.com/redshift/rachel-rosenkrantz

Luthier Rachel Rosenkrantz Embraces New Tech to Innovate a Centuries-Old Craft

As Rachel demonstrates in the video, a lot of love, care and attention is put in to the manufacture of any guitar she creates, and the best bit is the hug she receives at the end of the process when the new owner collects their new guitar, as shown in the video.

I found the whole process fascinating, not just because it involves guitars but the article demonstrates how craftsmanship that started centuries ago is now being taken in to a new age with Autodesk technology.

Guitars and new tech…..fascinating stuff, huh?

(PS – you will find my singer/songwriter persona at www.shauncbryant.com)

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One AutoCAD Goes To Vegas [Part 4]

Getting back from AU to an unpacked house and IKEA furniture to assemble is NOT fun. Necessary after a house move the week before I travelled to LinkedIn Learning for a week, followed by the insanity of AU, but most definitely NOT fun.

So, here I am, a month after AU, in the carnage of a semi-unpacked office (and house), writing my usual annual (and VERY late) AU blog. They say that an untidy office is the sign of an intelligent mind. I disagree. It is simply driving me nuts, but I digress.

I can safely say that my twelfth AU (2018) was my best AU so far. For the first time at AU, I felt fully accepted. I’m not sure why, but I did. Previous AU’s for me have always been met with a little trepidation. Will things go well in my classes? Will I have a laptop fry-up like Matt Murphy, or will all be OK? Well, I DID have issues at a technical level, but I overcame them. So, I have now had my AU baptism of fire and I made it through. Thanks to a great tech team at AU who got me through it, and the legendary ladies in the Speaker Ready Room (especially Patricia, who knows exactly why).

(Note to all, classroom internet is always useful for an AutoCAD web app class, but we sorted it and the class was delivered, so thanks to those great AU tech guys. You rock).

Autodesk University (AU) 2018 was my busiest AU ever. I had four classes to prepare for and teach. You just know it’s a bit crazy when you spend the Sunday before AU in your room in the Palazzo, creating FOUR PowerPoint presentations for your classes, right? They were done and submitted on time, I hasten to add!

001 AU class ready to go

As an AU Speaker Mentor, I had two mentees under me as their mentor in the AU Speaker Mentor program. The mentor program is now mandatory for first-time AU speakers and it is organised brilliantly by Matt Murphy, Janice Miller-Kellerman and Adam Sopko. I am honoured to have been part of it for the last two AU’s and it is worth every second of my time that I give to my mentees. They both did well, and I sincerely hope to see them at AU next year too (nice work, Jisell and Will)!

On top of the above AU duties, I had to give an AU Explainer interview, an Expert Elite interview, plus a last-minute AU Speaker interview. Plus, I had organised an industry meetup on behalf of LinkedIn Learning. This was on top of the usual meeting, greeting, networking and running miles (not kidding) to get to meetings, keynotes and classes I wanted to attend! Trust me, my step counter on my Apple watch thought it had been stolen, bearing in mind that my usual working day does involve only one flight of stairs at home.

Let’s start at the beginning though. Every year, I make a two-week pilgrimage to the US of A. You may ask me why two weeks? Well, my first week is normally spent in the delightfully sleepy town of Carpinteria, just south of Santa Barbara in the lovely state of California. Trust me, being British, just being in the Cali climate is a blessing, even in November. My first week of the trip is spent on the LinkedIn Learning campus there, recording AutoCAD online videos for all of you to watch and learn from. This I did (for the AutoCAD mobile app), but there was also some more fun to be had. I had my first real live action to record, along with course intros on a green screen with a teleprompter (Ron Burgundy, eat your heart out). I even had hair and make up along with my own green room!

One of the delightful benefits of this first week in Carpinteria, is that I have Sunday to myself before I start work at the LinkedIn campus on the Monday morning. I get to relax from the long flight and spend a bit of time on Carpinteria State Beach in the tsunami zone. I tend to stick in the earbuds and walk the length of the beach first thing Sunday morning, followed by a bit of time sitting at one of the picnic benches in the glorious Sunday sunshine, enjoying a bit of morning meditation and watching the world go by. This was followed by my usual order of a Hammerhead coffee (large) and a Moon Bowl to go from Lucky Llama. A Moon Bowl is an amazing fruit smoothie topped by granola, agave syrup and sliced strawberry and banana. Brunch in a bowl!

My week at LinkedIn rocked. The staff there are just so nice. Lots of meetings, recording and networking ensued, plus it was great to meet my old and new remote producers; Abby Bok and Nicole Mangona. I also want to thank the amazing live action team (Pamela, Tito and the guys – thank you!) and especially Susan Varnum, my onsite producer for the week!

The week, however, became dark when news of the California fires became apparent. Carpinteria was a victim of the Thomas fire the year before (left hand pic below), but this time the fires hit further south with a vengeance, along the Pacific Coast Highway towards Malibu (right hand pic below). The fires were devastating, and the town Paradise was burnt to the ground, along with many other homes, establishments and property. Lives were lost and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. I love this part of the world and to see so much damage and devastation was heart breaking. The hotels, even in Carpinteria, began to fill up Thursday and Friday and I changed my Saturday morning flight to Vegas from Burbank, instead of LAX, just to be safe. The Amtrak journey to Burbank was surreal. The sky to the horizon early Saturday morning was coloured like a Mad Max film set and you could see the smoke settling everywhere. Luckily, my journey was incident-free and my flight to Vegas unaffected, but my heart went out to those affected by the fires, and the smoke, which got all the way down to San Francisco and the surrounding area.

Arriving in Vegas to the usual slots at the airport on Saturday afternoon before AU gave me some downtime with Sunday being the BIG PowerPoint day! And all PowerPoints were completed on time so that I could meet with some good colleagues and fellow Expert Elite alumni before an early night, the night before the insanity that is AU began.

I had already registered on Sunday, and here’s the BIGGEST bit of Autodesk kudos I must give. Upon entering full registration at The Hub (you know, where you get your AU bag etc), I got my Autodesk Expert Elite ‘goodie’ bag. There were some lovely bits of swag in there, including a delightful blue Expert Elite jacket, but here’s the bit I loved, that made me feel accepted, that made me feel that all the years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears were worthwhile. In the bag was a handwritten ‘thank you’ note from Katinka Sante of Autodesk, who manages the Expert Elite program. That handwritten note and the thought and sentiment behind it made EVERYTHING feel worthwhile. Thank you, Katinka.

015 AU2018 - EE Thank You Katinka

This AU was my busiest yet and the main thrust of my classes was the AutoCAD web app and the AutoCAD mobile app, plus explaining how to utilize the One AutoCAD offering. I even had a class on learning techniques, which I have wanted to present at AU for many years (thanks for that one, AU committee!). So, this year, One AutoCAD and its offerings came to Vegas with me!

My classes were as follows: –

AS196709 – AutoCAD Web: There Can Be Only One

AS196992 – How Do YOU Learn?

AS221084 – AutoCAD: Take Your AutoCAD on the Road with You and Go Mobile

BLD224255 – One AutoCAD: There Can Be Only ONE

All the above classes can be found on the newly revamped AU website at http://au.autodesk.com. Just click on the links and it will go to each class page.

One AutoCAD was a new subscription release in March 2018, when AutoCAD 2019 was released. It opened a whole new ‘toolbox’ of AutoCAD flavours, known as ‘toolsets’. These included applications such as AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Electrical and AutoCAD Mechanical and many more. What One AutoCAD also gave you was a Premium subscription to the AutoCAD mobile app, allowing for editing, not just reviewing drawings, and full access to the AutoCAD web app as well.

What I wanted to do with my classes was promote mobility with AutoCAD. I mentioned the week before AU, I recorded the AutoCAD mobile app course for LinkedIn Learning. I did this with a rather lovely 12.7-inch Apple iPad Pro with Apple pencil which, in turn, already speaks volumes. The fact that you can take an iPad on the go with you and work on your designs gives you an incredible amount of AutoCAD mobility that you never used to have. And now that your designs can be saved to the Web & Mobile folders in the AutoCAD desktop app, you can take your DWG files with you, wherever you go, even in offline line mode, if there’s no internet signal. This is the big benefit with One AutoCAD. You do only need the ONE subscription. You get all your required desktop toolsets; vanilla AutoCAD, Architecture, Electrical, Mechanical and so on, but you also get the ability your take your designs with you too, via the AutoCAD web and mobile apps.

Being an instructor for LinkedIn Learning, I also love to promote how to learn, and I was very pleased that my How Do YOU Learn? class was accepted at AU. Learning is very individual nowadays with online learning based specifically around your own needs and requirements, and with many apps out there that allow you to store that learning for later reference use. This class takes you through some of the methodologies and interfaces you can use and asks you, “How do YOU learn?”.

AU is a crazy week, with loads of social and networking events too. The pace doesn’t stop in Vegas, I can tell you! I was invited to an amazing Autodesk event by the AutoCAD team which was held at the Paris casino on the Las Vegas strip to celebrate the Eiffel Tower in Paris getting a BIM makeover for the 2024 Olympics. This was visually incredible, and you were invited to wear a VR headset and see the model for real, with location choices and time lapse imaging to see it at any time of day. It was way cool to select the time button, press it down to watch the time-lapse and then see the whole VR environment re-render! I was also able to get some great shots of the Bellagio fountains. You know the ones if you have seen any of the Oceans Eleven movies, from the Frank Sinatra version upwards. Thanks SO much to Alyson and Stacy from the AutoCAD team for the invite. It was a GREAT event! You can read more about the project here in Engineering.com.

I was also able to attend a superb Blogger social this year, thanks to the legend that is Shaan Hurley from Autodesk, with pizza and beverages provided by LinkedIn Learning! It was a great evening, with some VR tech for entertainment and just great company. It was held in a superb suite over at the Mirage casino complex, which had a real eighties vibe, like you would expect a Motley Crue rock video to have been filmed in there. (Welcome to Vegas!) Many thanks to Shaan (and also Linda Sellheim and the LinkedIn Learning team) for organising it all!

Another great thing that AU offered this year was Industry Meetups. I was able to organise one on behalf of LinkedIn Learning which gave us our own meeting room with refreshments (and doughnuts!!!). Attendance was way more than subscribed, which was wonderful, and we met some really great AU attendees and were able to talk some of them through the LinkedIn Learning interface and show them exactly how easy it is to learn!

022 AU2018 - LiL Industry Meetup

All in all, I had an incredibly busy two weeks. It was exhausting and I was drained upon my return, especially with a new house to unpack and that lovely IKEA furniture to assemble, but it was worth EVERY second of the planes, trains and automobiles to get to and from where I needed to be, and I can safely say that I had my best week at LinkedIn and my best AU so far!

Thanks to everyone concerned, especially the AU team (speakers and mentors), the AutoCAD team, the Expert Elite team, my LinkedIn Learning colleagues and the AU tech guys. You all rock.

Here’s to next year!

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AutoCAD 2019 – There can be only ONE….

For those of you old enough to remember the movie Highlander, when the Quickening starts there can be only one. Apart from the stunning Queen soundtrack, it was a great movie, and Connor MacLeod (actor Christopher Lambert) of the clan MacLeod was THE one, combined with incredible support from famous co-star Sean Connery as Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez, who (unfortunately) does lose his head.

As they say in the movie (and the Queen song), it’s a kind of magic……

(For those of you that like a bit of Freddie and the band Queen, here’s the link to the album, A Kind Of Magic – CLICK HERE).

So, here we go, why ONE AutoCAD?

ONE AutoCAD

In the world of the new version of AutoCAD, AutoCAD 2019, we have only ONE too. When you subscribe to AutoCAD 2019, you get ONE subscription, but the many faces of AutoCAD; Architecture, Electrical, Mechanical, MEP, and various other flavors. This not only gives you a specialized AutoCAD by allowing you to work in various disciplines and verticals, but also gives you various workflow improvements too. However, Civil 3D has been omitted from the ONE AutoCAD intentionally, and I am sure Autodesk have their reasons for that.

Design Toolsets

When you log in to your account portal, you will see that it has changed and the view of your subscribed AutoCAD you get now is one (pardon the pun) of many, listing all the products under your main AutoCAD subscription. You will also find that the view of AutoCAD in your Autodesk Desktop App has changed as well.

What’s nice here is that you can select all the AutoCADs to be trialed or you can select individual flavors of AutoCAD to be trialed. This is especially advantageous if you are already a vanilla AutoCAD user and want to test a specific flavor of AutoCAD to see if it fulfills your needs and requirements. For those of you that just want all the flavors, but for one price, it is a great move by Autodesk also.

On your desktop, each flavour of AutoCAD will still have its own individual icon (just to clutter your desktop, I guess…an untidy desktop is a sign of a great mind, right?), plus, there will be no change to the DWG Launcher. You know, that little gizmo in Windows that allows you to open all DWG files using AutoCAD as the preferred application to do so.

Web and Mobile

There have been some great improvements in AutoCAD 2019. One of these is the ability to save your desktop AutoCAD designs directly to AutoCAD Web and AutoCAD Mobile. If you go to the Quick Access Toolbar (top left of the desktop AutoCAD application window), you will see the new icons there that not only provide you with the facility to save to web and mobile but also go directly to those saved cloud-based designs and open them directly in the AutoCAD desktop again as well. This is also available in the AutoCAD application menu. These cloud-based files go to A360 Drive in the usual way.

Save to Web and Mobile

So, what’s new with AutoCAD Web and Mobile then? Well, AutoCAD Web is much enhanced to give a highly sophisticated browser-based AutoCAD interface, that is quicker and faster. I won’t bore you with the techie stuff, but suffice to say, you will be using the equivalent AutoCAD executable (EXE) in your browser, the same as you would be on your desktop. This makes for a much-needed boost to what was (sometimes) quite a jerky, laggy web-based application in the past.

You will find AutoCAD Web at web.autocad.com and if you are using the subscription version (it comes with full AutoCAD), you get a great new command panel incorporating some of the more familiar AutoCAD drafting icons, that even have a preview, just like desktop AutoCAD.

AutoCAD Web

What’s also new is the referencing capability of AutoCAD Web. You can add reference drawings (XREFs) at your leisure, and if they are saved in the cloud in the same location as the host drawing, using the save to web and mobile options in your desktop AutoCAD, they will operate in the same way as relative XREFs that you might use locally.

Something I love (yes, love, not just like) is that you now have the native AutoCAD window and crossing selection tools in AutoCAD Web. They work in the same way as your desktop AutoCAD and provide a rounder user experience. We have grown used to these methods of selection, and it is great to see Autodesk taking the desktop user experience tools in to the web-based version. It is by no way perfect yet, but I can see AutoCAD Web getting to a point where your AutoCAD desktop will become fully mobile. The hardware is there now; such as the Apple iPad Pro and the Microsoft Surface Pro, that have the grunt under the hood to run AutoCAD Web and AutoCAD Mobile well.

What makes AutoCAD Web even more like desktop AutoCAD is that there are even some keyboard shortcuts included as well. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a keyboard shortcut or two? Trust me, as a seasoned AutoCAD user (thirty years this year), I am a big fan of keyboard shortcuts!

Overall, though, I have to say that I am mightily impressed with the new AutoCAD Web. It has been well thought out and gives you a great browser-based AutoCAD experience that relates back to your desktop AutoCAD this time. And with regular updates promised by Autodesk, I can see AutoCAD Web developing at a quick pace to bring you a much slicker experience with AutoCAD Web on the web. Did I say ‘web’ enough there for you?

New Features and Enhancements

Back to the desktop AutoCAD now. Autodesk have added a couple of new features to AutoCAD 2019.

On the new Collaborate tab in the AutoCAD ribbon, you will find the DWG Compare command. This new feature is, quite simply, excellent. I wish I’d had it years ago. You can now compare two separate DWG files and AutoCAD creates a new comparison DWG file, highlighting any differences between the two compared drawings, using colors and revision clouds, providing tools to iterate between each difference and zoom in to each difference automatically.

DWG Compare

Another great new feature on the Collaborate tab is Shared Views. You can upload your designs directly to the web in to the Autodesk Viewer, a cloud-based viewer. You can invite other collaborators to view your design by way of a private URL that can be emailed to the respective team members. Also, in the Autodesk Viewer, there is a Comment feed that allows all invited users to comment on the shared design and link their comments to the design as well.

Shared Views

You may also notice that there are enhanced icons in AutoCAD 2019 that look different too. To bring AutoCAD 2019 in line with the 4K monitors out there, over 5000 icons have been revamped and redesigned in the ribbon, status bar and application menu. They provide a slick, professional look to AutoCAD that looks modern and clean. The cartoony icons now have a tidier, minimalist look that I have to say I prefer.

Enhanced Icons

Conclusions

Autodesk are taking AutoCAD to a new level with this release. Not only are you getting numerous flavors of AutoCAD as one subscription package, but you’re also getting a great web-based offering too, along with some cool new features and enhancements in the desktop application, with cool command icons. And don’t forget, you STILL get seamless DWG compatibility with AutoCAD for Mac too.

Overall, a nice AutoCAD offering from Autodesk, and I love the new AutoCAD Web, but I would still like to see more new features and enhancements in the desktop AutoCAD, especially on the new Collaborate tab. Collaboration is becoming more and more prevalent in this age of email, webmail and the cloud, and I hope to see Autodesk take advantage of that movement to make AutoCAD even more mobile in the future.

Happy AutoCAD’ing!

SCB.

PS – As some of you may know, I provide online AutoCAD learning content over at LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com. You’ll find all the new AutoCAD 2019 Essential Training material below: –

LinkedIn Learning – CLICK HERE 

Lynda.com – CLICK HERE

 

AutoCAD 2015 – A Move to the Dark Side?

I love getting my Star Wars quotes in to my articles and blogs, so when I saw the new AutoCAD 2015 interface, I just had to smile. The Dark Side, right? OK, so, you might be thinking Darth and his cosy little relationship with the Emperor, and those aren’t the droids you’re looking for. However, the new DARKER AutoCAD 2015 interface is, as John Evans (a fellow blogger), put it….sexy! And I have to admit I agree with him.

AutoCAD 2015-Darker Interface

Fig.1 – AutoCAD 2015’s darker (sexier?) interface.

Now, while my beloved AutoCAD Blogger friends were being wined and dined by Autodesk in the lovely San Francisco (missed you guys!), I was teaching an AutoCAD Electrical 2014 course in the wilds of Yorkshire in the UK. Having just got home, and opened up AutoCAD 2015 at 11pm on a Thursday night, the darker interface (John Evans, take note) is STILL sexy!
I thought I had better get a blog in quickly as the 2015 blogs are coming think and fast and I see this AutoCAD Blogger gig as a team effort. We get the story out there for Autodesk as they work very hard to make the product better for us.

So WHAT exactly is new?

Fig.1 – AutoCAD 2015 Splash Screen

After tinkering with AutoCAD 2015 and reading my esteemed AutoCAD Blogger Council colleague’s blogs, I will try to give you an overall heads-up and my apologies for any similarities to any other AutoCAD 2015 blogs out there. Just wish I had been there to get the editorial first hand!

1. DOCUMENTING DESIGNS

After many faithful years of service, the AutoCAD MTEXT Editor has finally had a facelift. When using hardware acceleration, you now get complete transparency of the text editing window and some MS Word-like enhancements such as displaying a bullet and numbering menu next to your MTEXT as soon as you add a bullet or start a numbered list. Other MTEXT enhancements include better Caps Lock handling and column improvements. Also like MS Word, you can now Match Properties within MTEXT and the new TEXTALIGN allows for text alignment of both single-line and multi-line text to other text objects and user-defined points.

Fig.2 – AutoCAD 2015 has an enhanced MTEXT Editor.

The Geographic Location tools in AutoCAD 2015 are much slicker, being wizard-driven and are much improved from AutoCAD 2014. Map data can be captured and plotted, with a map area being embedded in to the drawing with no requirement for internet access. You can also dynamically increase map resolution.

2. CONNECTIVITY

For those of you who attended my Autodesk 360/AutoCAD 360 class at Autodesk University 2013 last December, you will already know how much I LOVE the Design Feed available in both Autodesk 360 and AutoCAD 360. It is now available in AutoCAD 2015 and acts as a messaging gateway to Autodesk 360, allowing you to post messages and images to your team via Autodesk 360. Associating your Design Feed message with an area on a drawing will display a small bubble which when clicked on, will take you to the relevant Design Feed message. Design Feed takes on a display similar to the old MSN Messenger. Internet messaging (IM) with a CAD twist!

Model data is imported using the new Autodesk Translation Framework (ATF), supporting meshes and curves, as well as colours and layers.

3. USER INTERFACE (UI)

The new darker interface with more refined icons (reminiscent of AutoCAD for Mac with the Retina display) makes AutoCAD look current. Plus, being somewhat myopic with my Jasper Conran specs, it reduces eye strain. Much nicer and more comfortable to look at and makes AutoCAD look cool (not that it wasn’t cool anyway, right?).

Other UI enhancements include: –

  • New Create Page for the creation of new drawings and to open existing AutoCAD DWG’s.
  • New ribbon galleries provide preview content from within the ribbon. So if you have inserted a block using Insert Block, you now get a preview of the blocks already inserted via a pop-out preview pane on the ribbon.
  • Enhanced visual feedback when using commands such as TRIM, EXTEND, and MATCH PROPERTIES allowing for previews of the changes to be made, giving the user an opportunity to preview any changes before committing to the drafting changes.
  • AutoCAD Help now provides an animated arrow tool in the UI, displaying the EXACT location of the tool looked up in the Help screen.
  • LINESMOOTHING (a new AutoCAD variable) turns on anti-aliasing of 2D drawings (wireframe) to make 2D objects look smoother. A nice touch, again making the UI look current and cleaner.
  • A new “lasso” selection tool that TOTALLY threw me when trying to perform a regular selection window! It allows you to drag a freehand selection boundary around any shape in a drawing. Neat.
  • Cursor display badges showing the state of the current AutoCAD operation. So, when performing a ROTATE, a rotation badge is displayed in the direction of the rotation. This is set in the Drawing Units.
  • FINALLY! Layers are sorted in their natural order, allowing layers numbered 1 to 11 to be displayed in that order, instead of the 1, 11, 2, 3 order……

4. DESIGN & POINT CLOUDS

You may have noticed a silent install of Autodesk ReCap with AutoCAD 2014. In AutoCAD 2015, ReCap has taken over the point cloud role with much needed performance enhancements, along with point size and density controls all in the one slider, thus making the insertion of point clouds much, much easier. New object snap options and colorization tools make the manipulation and visualisation of the point cloud much easier too.

Fig.3 – The NEW Autodesk ReCap installs with the AutoCAD 2015 install.

Enhanced colour and lighting control are provided, along with improved cropping tools for the point cloud. There is also a Point Cloud Manager (similar to the XREF Manager) that makes for much easier point cloud management.

5. CHOICES, CHOICES…..

So now you can rent or pay-as-you-go with AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT, as well as make an outright purchase. This is great and gives small and medium enterprise businesses the ability to manage their finances more effectively. They can now use a number of AutoCAD licences for the duration of a project and class it as an operating expense against the project, instead of making a large capital expenditure. This also works well with tax concerns as well. A very shrewd move by Autodesk, and a good one, in my opinion.

6. CAD MANAGEMENT & INSTALLATION

We now have a new Application Manager. Now a standalone application, it allows you to decide when to update your AutoCAD, which in turn downloads and installs the updates seamlessly. It also provides a full update and information service, allowing for easy management of service packs and hot fixes.

Fig.4 – The NEW Autodesk Application Manager

7. RELEASE?

So when do we get our hands on the official release of AutoCAD 2015 and other associated 2015 products? March 28th is the official release so only a day to go!

I think Autodesk have done a great job with AutoCAD 2015. There are some great user enhancements in there and a shift towards usability rather than pushing the cloud. They have listened to the user base and brought in some great new features and commands. Nice work, Autodesk.

Also, a big thanks to Shaan Hurley (Between The Lines) for posting our AutoCAD 2015 blog links!

So, enjoy your AutoCAD 2015 releases and happy CADD’ing!

SB