Thursday, March 25, 2010

More Details on AutoCAD 2011

We're continuing our day here at Autodesk. I'm now in a breakout room with several dozen bloggers and Autodesk personel, going into more detail on the features in AutoCAD 2011.

It's now much easier to modify objects in AutoCAD with a simple right-click. For example, when you select a polyline, new grips appear on the vertices and polyline segments. You can then hover over a grip and move a vertex, add a vertex, or delete a vertex. You can also convert straight-line polyline segments into curved segments, or curved segments into straight-line segments.

Several tools that were available in subscription packs for AutoCAD 2010 are now part of the core functionality of AutoCAD 2011. For example, you can select an object and then right-click and choose to select similar objects, or create a simialr object.

There is also a new set of tools to hide or isolate objects separate from layer control. You can select objects and then isolate those objects by hiding everything that was not selected or hide the selected objects, leaving unselected objects visible. You can do this repeatedly until just the desired objects remain visible. A new button on the Status bar indicated when objects have been hidden/isolated. You can then easily restore object visibility when you're done working. By default, object visibility does not persist between drawing sessions, but there is a new system variable that enables you to retain the visibility between drawing sessions.

AutoCAD also now supports transparency on both an object and layer basis. You can also include transparency as part of a hatch object. The one thing to watch out for is transparency when plotting. If you want to plot with transparency, you must turn on a specific setting within the Plot dialog. This causes the resulting plot to be rasterized. This setting is off by default because it adds time to the plotting process. But as pointed out during our session, rasterization can cause problems when creating a DWF file. DWF files are typically vector files. If you bring a DWF file into an AutoCAD drawing as an underlay, you can snap to geometry in the DWF file. But if you rasterize when creating a DWF file, you won't be able to snap to geometry in the resulting DWF file.

It's worth noting that the hatch, polyline, and transparency features are all now available in AutoCAD LT. In addition, AutoCAD LT now has gradient fills, just like AutoCAD.

One other new function that I really like are inferred constraints. In AutoCAD 2010, you had to create all constraints manually, although you could use the AutoConstrain tool to apply a bunch of constraints in one step. But now, in AutoCAD 2011, there's a button on the Status bar that turns on Inferred Constraints. When inferred constraints are enabled, appropriate geometric constraints are created automatically as you work. So if you were to draw a rectangle, for example, parallel constraints would automatically be applied to opposite sides and a perpendicular constraint to one corner, so that the rectangle would remain a rectangle when grip editing (rather than just a closed polyline).

I'll continue to report on today's events. Over the next few days, I'll start posting short videos illustrating many of these features. You will certainly find similar videos posted by others, including Heidi Hewett (on her AutoCAD Insider blog).

New Features in AutoCAD 2011

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.

AutoCAD Turns 25

I'm in San Francisco at Autodesk today for the launch of AutoCAD 2011. This is the 25th release of AutoCAD. There will be a live webcast starting shortly at I'll be in the audience at that webcast along with a number of other bloggers, authors, and analysts. I'll also be blogging throughout the day. So please stay tuned.

In the pre-briefing this morning, the main points raised were:

  • 76,000 man hours spent on Q/A of the new release
  • 6,000 total code reviews of new release
  • 2,000 commands tested
  • 4,600 Beta customers involved in AutoCAD 2011
  • 1.4M lines of old code were removed
Autodesk will also announce Alias Sketch for AutoCAD, which will also be launched today as a plug-in. The program adds sketch rendering capability right inside AutoCAD. A single inte4grated environment enables you to combine 2D paint with AutoCAD geometry with a 3D model as an underlay.

I'll provide more details as the day developes.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The CAD Brothers

I just spent a very enjoyable week in Texas, speaking at AUGI CAD Camp events in Austin on Tuesday and Dallas on Thursday. I also dropped in on the Dallas AutoCAD User Group meeting on Wednesday night.

Since we figured we'd need a rental car while in Austin (the event hotel was quite a ways from the airport), we decided to drive from Austin to Dallas on Wednesday. When we arrived at Austin airport on Monday, Budget didn't have any full-size cars available, so after some debate, they upgraded us to a premium vehicle, which turned out to be a fully-loaded Lincoln Town Car.

Well, put a bunch of CAD geeks in a big piece of Detroit iron for a 4-hour drive across Texas and strange things are bound to happen. The AUGI national speaker team is no longer four individuals. We are now "The CAD Brothers" and we're on a mission from AUGI.
Here we are on our arrival in Dallas. From left-to-right: Bill Fane, me, Rick Ellis, and Robert Green.