The Autodesk webcast started off this morning by lifting the curtain on the newest release of AutoCAD. AutoCAD 2011 extends on the 3D capabilities added in previous versions with the addition of associative surfaces.
Associative 3D surfaces can be based on 2D curves that remain associated with the surfaces. When you modify the curves, the surfaces on which they were based are updated automatically. In addition, the 2D parametrics introduced in AutoCAD 2010 can now be extended to 3D thanks to these associative curves. If the curves were defined using geometric and dimensional constraints, you can use those constraints to drive the curves, which in turn drives the 3D model.
Another big improvement is direct manipulation of objects. For example, you no longer need to go into a Hatch dialog to create or edit a hatch patter. The Hatch dialog has been replaced by a Hatch contextual ribbon. As you make changes to the hatch settings, you immediately see the resulting hatch pattern in the drawing, making it much easier to get the desired results. If you do need to edit a hatch object, when you select the hatch, the Hatch Edit contextual ribbon is immediately activated, and again, you can immediately see the effect of each change within the drawing. You can also right-click on the hatch object and adjust many aspects of the hatch, such as hatch angle or scale, instantly using a shortcut menu.
I'm sure that we'll see more details of AutoCAD 2011 later today. But right now, the presentation is moving on to Inventor 2011.