An Introduction to AutoCAD 2015
It seems that recently Autodesk have changed how they develop AutoCAD, 2015 gives us a new emphasis on usability, productivity and speed.
However you feel about Autodesk’s maintenance subscription strategy, it is finally opening up some changes in Autodesk’s ‘Ux’ (User Experience) development process.
Freed from having to have ‘Big Ticket’ developments in each new release to try and attract customers, Autodesk are looking back over their body of work to optimise AutoCAD’s performance and make it as user friendly as possible.
As a CAD manager, I have to asses each new release of AutoCAD and weigh up the new features against the cost of implementation (Down time, training, bugs). Want to know what I think of AutoCAD 2015? Read on ’till the end ;)
Lasso selection: Lasso around objects like a window selection, or use the fence option to select every object you pass through.
Ribbon Galleries: Save time and clicks by visually accessing drawing content directly from the ribbon.
Command Preview: Evaluate potential changes before committing. Preview outcomes of frequently-used commands such as offset, fillet and trim. Use the cursor ‘badges’ as a visual que to the command you are in.
Tool finder: Use the ‘find’ command in the Help to see an animated arrow pointing directly to the location of the tool you are looking for.
Mtext: Background is no fully transparent. Mtext works closer to a word processor, with auto bullets & numbering, and super/subscript finally sorted out. aUTOcad aUTOMATICALLY SWITCHES TO lowercase WHEN YOU FORGET TO TURN CAPSLOCK OFF! (NO MORE SHOUTING EMAILS!).
Natural number sorting: In Layers list and other places that use Layers e.g. QSELECT.
Modelspace viewports: finally got an upgrade, making it super slick to add, remove or adjust viewports (I may even start using these again!).
3D Orbit: New option to orbit around your current selection.
New Tab page: Quickly open new and existing drawings and sheet sets from an ’empty’ tab.
Add new Layout: Add a new layout using the ‘+’ button. If you have too many layouts to see across the screen, they are rolled up at the end. This should save time scrolling back and forth to find the layout tab you want.
Geographic Location: Incorporate Bing maps into your designs. Capture a map as a static image and freeze its location in your design.
Recap point cloud engine: Supports geographic location and new colour and lighting tools. Enables denser point cloud display. UCS can be aligned to ‘average’ point cloud planes.
Autodesk Application Manager: Informs of product updates and extensions, seamlessly downloads and installs updates, can be centrally managed.
I’m most impressed with the work that Autodesk have done to speed AutoCAD 2015 up. There is nothing worse than the disruption caused by AutoCAD ‘freezing’ right in the middle of your workflow. In the 2015 release Autodesk have worked hard to utilize your GPU as well as CPU to make AutoCAD generally quicker.
Design feed: Design feed is now saved in the drawing (Instead of on the Autodesk 360 server). This allows you to have a running commentary within your DWG file of who has done what and when. Be careful when Archiving or eTransmitting to consider the new ‘Delete design feed’ option.
Properties Pallete and the status bar: have a smaller form factor, less scrolling up and down to get the option you need.
Dark Side UI: That right folks – the most talked about change yet! The AutoCAD 2015 User Interface is black. The official word from Autodesk is that it ‘reduces eye strain’, but I think that the AutoCAD for PC development team where just jealous of the cool dudes working on AutoCAD for Mac!
You can switch from the Dark UI to the 2014 Light UI, but you can no longer switch back the the ‘Classic’ interface. There doesn’t appear to be any reason why you can’t migrate your old user interface to the new version via the CUI editor if you are that way inclined.
The option to create an .EXE file from and Archive or eTransmit set is gone – probably a good thing.
This was most eloquently put by Todd Shackelford of The Lazy Drafter Blog:
AutoCAD 2015 is one of those releases that you probably won’t even notice is helping you to be more productive. And then, one day, you will have to do some work on 2014… and the differences will become clear!
So what do I think? I’m pleased that Autodesk are working hard to clean up AutoCAD, fix all the old problems and finish off all those features that look cool but just missed the mark. Maybe there isn’t one stunning feature that you can point your finger at and say ‘that alone is worth the money’, but do you know what? I’m OK with that.
As a Drafter who still uses AutoCAD for 20+ hours a week, I’m looking forward to taking that sucka for a spin.
As a CAD manager, I will definitely look forward to helping my team work faster and more intuitively by installing AutoCAD 2015.
(But not until after the first service pack) ;)