Each new release of AutoCAD is jammed with what are supposed to be bug fixes and new features. Some years we get more of one than the other. Some years everything seems to go wrong, and other years it goes just about right. As time moves on this year I'm certain we'll find things that still don't work or haven't been fixed as well as features we love. As long as the balance isn't lopsided in the negative we should be okay. As for myself I've been testing fairly heavily the last few days and haven't hit anything major yet.
So here are a few of the things you can look forward to in the new release:
Command Line Improvements:
Since AutoCAD 2012 one of my favorite features in AutoCAD has been the command line AutoComplete. In 2014 command line features are enhanced even further.
AutoCorrect helps if you mistype a command. Instead of responding with, “Unknown command”, AutoCAD now has the ability to autocorrect to the most relevant and valid AutoCAD command.
AutoComplete command entry will now support mid-string searches, so that if you type SETTING on the command line, the suggestion list will display commands that contain the word SETTING anywhere within it, not just at the beginning.
Adaptive suggestions are a form of artificial intelligence in that your usage will allow AutoCAD to adapt to your habits over time and make command suggestions accordingly.
Synonym suggestions take advantage of a built-in synonym list. If you enter a word at the command line AutoCAD will return a command if a match is found in the synonym list. You can add your own words to the AutoCorrect and Synonym lists using the Edit Aliases tool from the Manage ribbon tab.
Content improvements allow you to use the command line directly to access layers, blocks, hatch patterns/gradients, text, dimension, and visual styles. This one may be my favorite. For example, if you enter Narrow at the command line and the current drawing has a block definition with the name Narrow, you can quickly insert it directly from the suggestion list.
Categories make the suggestion list easier to navigate. System variables and other content are all organized into expandable categories that you can expand to see results or Tab to cycle.
Input Settings allow you to customize the behavior of the command line. Simply right click on the command line to open the settings dialog. Everything mentioned above is turned on by default.
Another right click option allows you to control Input Search Options. I noticed on my default installation that the AutoComplete Enable AutoComplete box was not checked. If things don’t work the way you’d expect this is a place to look first.
All of these improvements further make a case for why the command line is often the most efficient way to work in AutoCAD. Ribbons and toolbars are nice, but our fingers are still often faster.
AutoCAD 2014 now includes drawing tabs at the top of the Model view window as a fast and visual way to switch between open drawings or create new ones. If you were like me and added a Windows Switching icon on your Quick Access Toolbar, you can reclaim that space now. The Tabs feature makes it easier. And not only can you switch between drawings, if you hover the cursor over a tab you will see previews of the pages be able to select either model view in the new drawing or any of the layouts it contains. You can plot or publish directly from the tabs, and a right-click menu enables you to create, open, save, and close files. You can also copy the full file path to the clipboard or open the file location in Windows Internet Explorer.
AutoCAD 2014 now includes by default and installation of Autodesk ReCap. This is a separate application that enables you to create a point cloud project file (RCP) that references multiple indexed scan files (RCS). ReCap is used to convert scan file data to a point cloud format that can be used and enabled in other products.
Many users have missed Autodesk’s support for Google Earth geographic data over the last couple of years. Now geographic locations have been enhanced to include the same Coordinate System Library as Autodesk AutoCAD Map 3D software and the Live Map Data tool.
You can now set a geographic location in a drawing using the Set Location tool on the Insert ribbon tab. It’s fairly simple to insert a Google Earth map in a drawing, but how it aligns with your geo-referenced work will entirely depend on the accuracy of the GE image. In my experience Google Earth images can be very close to a local coordinate datum, or significantly off. It all seems to depend on how close the area is to nearby reference stations. I’m still going to play with this new feature more to see if there is a way to “tweak” the image to a known datum.
But at least now we have something, which is more than we’ve had since Autodesk pulled the support we had before courtesy of the Autodesk Lab. I’ll probably write more about this in the future as I make discoveries.
A variety of drawing enhancements are in AutoCAD 2014 to help create drawings more efficiently.
Arcs – Arcs can now be drawn in either direction by holding the Ctrl key to switch directions during drawing.
Polylines – Polylines can now be filleted to themselves, creating a closed polyline. This was an AUGI wishlist request.
Sheet Sets – When creating a new sheet in a sheet set, the CreateDate field stored in the .dwt template displays the date of the new sheet rather than the creation date of the template file.
Plot Styles – In AutoCAD 2014 the CONVERTPSTYLES command is enhanced to support style names with spaces.
Attributes – The default behavior for inserting blocks with attributes now will display the dialog box. ATTDIA = 1.
Text – Single line text will now maintain the last justification setting until it’s changed.
The Online ribbon tab of 2013 has been renamed Autodesk 360, and includes a new Manage Documents tool for easy access to the Autodesk 360 folder on the local machine. The new Design Feed feature allows you to attach text messages and images to be shared online. It’s worth exploring these options and setting up an Autodesk 360 account if you regularly have to collaborate with others. Autodesk 360 cloud services may often be much more efficient than emailing documents back and forth.
AutoCAD 2014 supports Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows XP. Windows 8 touchpad users can benefit from smoother pan and zoom performance by checking the Touch Experience box in the Options > System section.
This is a small sampling of some of the changes made in the newest version of AutoCAD. The full list of changes can be found in the Heidi Hewitt’s excellent AutoCAD 2014 PreviewGuide.
And it that still isn’t enough, be sure to check out The Hitchhiker’s Guide to AutoCAD Basics. It’s now part of the Help file system.
Good Stuff! Have fun!