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AutoCAD remedies that situation. The Isolate Objects and Lock UI user interface tools can now be added to the Status bar, and if the Status bar becomes too crowded, it automatically wraps onto a second row.
Lock UI is an interesting tool. AutoCAD has always been highly customizable, but that customizability can cause problems.
Users are sometimes confused when they sit down at a shared workstation and discover that their favorite tool palettes or ribbon panels have been rearranged.
When enabled, the Lock UI tool locks the interface, preventing users from moving these elements. So while technically not a new feature, its inclusion on the Status bar may result in more users taking advantage of this capability. What is new, however, is a welcome enhancement to the Layout tabs in the lower-left.
Users can now use drag-and-drop to move or copy layouts to positions that are hidden in the Layout tab overflow menu. There are also new controls in the right-click menu that enable you to dock the layout tabs in line with the Status bar or above it. Intelligent Dimensioning AutoCAD users create millions of drawings to document their designs, so new documentation tools are always a big deal. Users should be thrilled with the improvements to these tools in AutoCAD Rather than having to choose from among nearly a dozen different tools to add linear, radial, angular, baseline or ordinate dimensions, AutoCAD now provides a welcome alternative.
A single new DIM command provides easily accessible options for creating any type of dimension, but users will likely find that there is no need to even specify an option. When you move the cursor over the object you want to dimension, the program automatically recognizes the underlying geometry, predicts the type of dimension you want and displays a preview of the result before you actually create it.
For example, when you move the cursor over a linear object, you see a preview of the appropriate horizontal, vertical or aligned dimension. After selecting the object, you can either place the dimension or hover the cursor over another non-parallel linear object to display and place an angular dimension.
If you hover the cursor over an arc, the program shows a radius dimension. Move it over a circle and you see a diameter dimension. The new DIM command also makes adding baseline, continued and ordinate dimensions nearly effortless. The command remains active after you place a dimension, simplifying the placement of multiple dimensions.
And if you attempt to place a dimension that overlaps with other similar dimensions, a cursor menu offers options to automatically move, break up or replace the existing dimension. The same new DIM command also lets you easily align or adjust the spacing between dimensions, helping you to create good-looking documentation.
Once you place the dimension, you can adjust the size and wrapping of dimension text and also adjust its orientation, all without ever having to restart a command. There is also a new tool on the ribbon to allow you to control the layer on which dimensions are created, much the same as specifying a layer for hatch patterns.
A new geometric center object snap — item number two on the Autodesk User Group International AUGI wishlist — enables you to snap to the geometric center of polygons and closed polylines.
There is also a new isometric grid that automatically aligns with the top, left and right isometric planes when creating isometric drawings. And users can now add a frame around any multiline text — satisfying request number five on the AUGI wishlist.
Other changes in AutoCAD are a bit more subtle. In previous versions, when moving or copying a large number of objects, the program frequently paused to regenerate the onscreen image.
Graphic improvements in AutoCAD eliminate that lag. The same is true when previewing property changes, such as color and linetype. The command preview capabilities, initially added to the trim, extend, lengthen, break and match properties commands in AutoCAD , now extend to the blend, erase, stretch, rotate and scale commands in AutoCAD Those whose graphics hardware supports DirectX 11 may notice that curves appear smooth regardless of the zoom level.
And the days of having to perform a manual regen when zooming or panning are over, since AutoCAD now quickly and automatically performs the regens as needed.
There are also some subtle changes to the Help system. Once you located information in the Help system, you could click to display an animated arrow indicating the position of the command within the ribbon. That capability has now been extended to include the Status bar, and if the tool you are searching for is available in the Status bar but not currently visible, the arrow points to the Status bar Customization tool.
AutoCAD has long had a Revision Cloud command, but it offered few options, and if you needed to revise an existing revision cloud, it was usually easier to just erase the existing cloud and start over. It remembers the last method you used, or you can set your own preferred default. But perhaps most importantly, you can now use grips to modify existing revision clouds or draw new revision cloud segments and erase selected portions of existing revision clouds, satisfying item number four on the AUGI wish list.
For example, section objects created using the Section Plane tool now have added flexibility. The Section Plane tool, available for many years now, creates a section object that acts as a cutting plane through 3D objects, and can be set to represent a simple cutting plane, a bounded object, or a volumetric area.
AutoCAD adds a new Slice type that generates a thin cut through the model that always contains parallel front and back section planes. There are also tools for generating section blocks for solids and for extracting section lines from point clouds.
Point clouds now support section planes and a Section Plane drop-down menu has been added to the Point Cloud contextual ribbon. If you're looking for a drop-in replacement for your existing CAD program that will provide identical functionality and workflow without making any changes to your processes, you're going to be disappointed.
But I would argue that the reason for your disappointment has nothing to do with the licensing of the product—drop-in replacements for complex programs with long-time users who have specific needs and expectations for their software are hard. The trick for deciding whether a replacement piece of software, whether open or closed, is a good choice for you is to tease out exactly what your needs are.
The situation is no different than discovering that the person who insists that they "need" Photoshop is just using it to draw a few geometric shapes and remove red-eye from photos; what they really need is a graphics editing tool that can replace those specific functions.
Whether it has all of the bells and whistles of the original is irrelevant if those features sit paid for but unused. My personal journey through open source CAD programs was no different.
I worked with AutoCAD briefly in grad school, so when I wanted to play with drawing three-dimensional plans for something, it was pretty much all I knew. But that alone didn't make AutoCAD the best choice.
As I've strived to replace more and more software in my life with open source options, Blender turned out to be just as good for my 3D modeling needs, whether I was playing with models created for a 3D printer or looking at landscapes exported from other programs.
And for the relatively simple task of planning out my home landscaping projects, Sweet Home 3D has been an excellent open source alternative. If your needs are a little more specific and you really need a dedicated CAD program, here are great open source choices to consider: In fact, BRL-CAD is so old that it has been credited with being the oldest source code repository of an application currently in active development.
Originally developed by Mike Muuss at the Army Research Laboratory, BRL-CAD is been used for decades by the United States military for modeling weapon systems, but it also has been used for much more everyday design tasks, from academic to industrial design to health applications.
So what does more than 35 years of development bring you? BRL-CAD is made up of more than different constituent tools and applications spread across more than a million lines of source code. FreeCAD FreeCAD is a parametric open source CAD program that was created to be able to design "real-life objects of any size," and although it's clear that many of the showcased examples created by users are smaller objects, there's no specific reason it couldn't be used for architectural applications as well.
FreeCAD can import and export from a variety of common formats for 3D objects, and its modular architecture makes it easy to extend the basic functionality with various plugins.
The program has many built-in interface options, from a sketcher to renderer to even a robot simulation ability.
All text is searchable, and you can attach PDF files to your drawings for better performance. Smart Dimensioning Automatically create appropriate measurements based on your drawing context. Pass the cursor over selected objects to get a preview of the dimension—before you create it. Stunning Visual Experience See the details in your designs more clearly with visual enhancements such as Line Fading. Readability is now enhanced with true curves instead of line segments. Minimize the need to undo an operation by using Command Preview, which lets you see the results of a command before you commit to it. Move and copy large selection sets more easily.