AutoCAD Gets First Update of the Post-Perpetual Era13 Oct, 2016 By: Cadalyst Staff
Autodesk claims that smaller, more frequent updates to its software will reduce training time and improve the user experience.
As Autodesk has transitioned away from selling perpetual software licenses, it has naturally touted the benefits of its subscription licensing model, including more-frequent updates. In contrast to its traditional schedule of annual updates, Autodesk can now distribute updates at any time.
Some CAD users — and CAD managers — have concerns that an ongoing series of updates throughout the year will mean that they’re constantly having to learn new features, but Marcus O’Brien, senior product line manager for AutoCAD, stated that the learning burden will decrease instead. “Actually, users should be able to spend less time on training and learning new features as new items are introduced periodically throughout the year in easily consumable releases. More frequent releases increases continuity and reduces the need to do large, complex training sessions covering a high volume of content,” he explained.
“The benefits of more frequent releases are twofold,” O’Brien continued. “First, feature enhancements can be delivered more quickly, enabling us to rapidly respond to user feedback; secondly, as stated above, it reduces the learning curve for customers by delivering fewer features more frequently. Our goal is to deliver pain-free updates that continuously improve the product while preserving functional consistency.”
AutoCAD 2017.1: The First of Many
The first subscription-only update for AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT 2017 went live last week, for users on a subscription license or maintenance plan. When an update is released, it appears in the Autodesk Desktop App, where users can accept it — or not. Some may wish to put off an update until a particular project is completed, for example.
“There is no ‘duration setting’ in AutoCAD Desktop App that controls whether users need to accept an update, it’s totally up to them. This gives our customers full control over when they accept an update,” explained O’Brien. “Then customers that do not accept the update, will not have access to the latest features and bug fixes. It’s a choice.” He noted that in a centrally managed IT environment, individual customers do not typically have control over whether they accept or reject updates.
The 2017.1 release includes the following features:
- Highlighted functionality changes. In this and future releases, orange circles will identify new and updated tools in the ribbon tabs and Help menu, until users turn them off.
- PDF Import enhancements, including support for SHX font import with a new SHX text recognition tool. This tool enables users to select imported PDF wireframe geometry representing SHX text and convert it to text objects.
- Text to Mtext enhancements, including the capability to combine multiple text objects into one multi-line text object, to select mtext objects as well as text objects, and to force uniform line spacing or maintain existing line spacing. Character codes translate correctly between text and mtext (instead of the degree symbol translating to %%d, for example).
- Selected objects remain in the selection set even if they are moved off-screen by zooming or panning.
- Linetype gap behavior enhancements, including support for complex and DGN linetypes.
- Correct scaling of user interface (UI) elements such as the Command line, Layer Manager, ViewCube, Pick Box, and Grips on high-resolution monitors, including 4K and higher resolution.
- Improved 3D navigation performance, reducing lag time during zoom, pan, and 3D orbit operations in commonly used visual styles.
A PDF guide to new features in 2017.1 is available from Autodesk.
More to Come
O’Brien declined to specify how frequent updates will be going forward, but an Autodesk blog post referred to 2017.1 as the “AutoCAD 2017 Fall Update,” possibly indicating that the company expects to update on a quarterly basis. “AutoCAD will receive updates as and when they become available,” O’Brien noted. “We generally try to gather new features together [to compose an update].”
There is no set number of features, however, that must be accumulated to merit an update. “Some feature updates will have more than others,” O’Brien said. “Some features require more development and testing than others, etc., so we target overall customer value add over number of features delivered.”
Regarding customer reactions to the new system, O’Brien commented, “Change is always a process. Our customers are very excited about receiving frequent updates that make it easier for them to stay on the cutting edge of design technology. It is essential that these updates are not disruptive to their current workflows and day-to-day business operations. We are working hard to make sure that we deliver a process that is both responsive and non-invasive.”