Autodesk AutoCAD 2008 (Cadalyst Labs Review)

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So if I understand this correctly, a customer who still prefers to stay off subscription would be better off if he did not upgrade for 3 years as opposed to every year. Interestingly, the losses will decrease as the customer delays upgrading. So as I see it, this new policy will have one of two effects on Autodesk customers who are currently not on subscription.

It will either make them opt for subscription or it will make them delay upgrading their software. Autodesk hopes it will be the former. Because if it the latter then Autodesk may find itself in far more trouble that what it already is. I say this because it will not see any sign of money from non-subscription customers for the next three years. For their sake, I hope the people at Autodesk who have formulated this new policy know what they are doing.

Here is why. Basically, most customers who are not on subscription are quite content with the version of AutoCAD that they already have. If they wanted the new features that get added to AutoCAD every year, they would be on subscription already. The current upgrade pricing policy ensures that.

The manual was a detailed command reference, but it didn't contain any tutorials. Night-school classes and third-party documentation weren't available. In fact, that's why Cadalyst was started, and one of my earliest "Learning Curve" columns in January covered drawing scales.

There was no paper space and, hence, no layouts in the early releases. Users finally figured out that we should draw full size and then scale the annotation and dimension sizes to suit the plot scale.

Multiscale detail views could be a real nightmare; heaven help anyone who tried to change the plot scale later. Autodesk AutoCAD In theory, the current associative transspatial dimensions should take care of this adjustment, and for the most part they do.

AutoCAD users draw in model space and then dimension and annotate in paper-space layouts. Even so, the debate rages as to where to place dimensions and annotations.

AutoCAD fixes all these problems with its new automatically scaled annotations. Figure 1 shows two red rectangles, which are two layout viewports. They show the same object at two different scales. As one would expect, the dimension text height and arrowhead sizes are the same and the dimensions show the same value. They have automatically scaled themselves to match each viewport scale.

Figure 1. AutoCAD annotations can resize automatically to suit the drawing scale. You may think I'm cheating a bit here because the dimension and the word are in different locations in each viewport.

Not so. They were created once in model space then two annotative scales were applied to each of them. Each scale setting can have a different associated position as well. Point It out to Me. A quick count of the new features suggests that approximately one-quarter of the new or improved capabilities in AutoCAD relate to annotation.

Leaders alone have enough new features to be worthy of additional comment. For starters, users can decide to create leaders by selecting the start first, the end first or the annotation first see figure 2. A single leader can have multiple leader arrows that lead to a single notation. Leader notation isn't limited to Mtext; instead it can use a block definition. This notation makes it possible to create symbolic leaders.

A group of leaders can be edited quickly so that all their annotations align to a single horizontal or vertical line, and several block-defined leader annotations can be collected into a single leader. Figure 2. AutoCAD adds new leader functionality. You Break Me Up. It isn't considered good drafting practice to have anything cross a dimension line, and similarly designers should avoid crossing extension lines.

Unfortunately, these conditions can't always be met in a crowded drawing, so the new Dimbreak command allows users to break out a section of the line being crossed figure 3. The beauty of this command is that the break specification can be automatic. The break will default to an order of precedence so that it will break extension lines before dimension lines. Figure 3. The Dimbreak command will create associative breaks in dimension and extension lines.

As a bonus, the breaks are associative. If you move a crossing object, the break moves to follow. If you move the object to a position where it no longer crosses, the break heals itself. However, the break will reappear if you move the crossing object back into an overlapping condition. A new inspection dimension allows users to include an annotation in a dimension that indicates the inspection rate as a percentage of total parts produced.

By an amazing coincidence, Inventor also has added this same functionality. If you need to list tabular data in an AutoCAD drawing, you'll love the new tables functionality. In previous releases you could create only a static, unpopulated table into which you entered data.

Tables created this way can be static, or they can be set up as an external reference so that they update if the spreadsheet changes.

Even better is the fact that they can be set up to work both ways, so that changes made within the AutoCAD table reflect back to the spreadsheet. Layer upon Layer. In particular, I mean the layer manipulation tools.

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