Book Review: AutoCAD 2007 Bible

5 Oct, 2006 By: Sara Ferris

Comprehensive tome is a good resource for users getting familiar with AutoCAD or some of its new features

Author: Ellen Finkelstein
Publisher: Wiley (2006)
Pages: 1,252
Cost: $49.99

The AutoCAD 2007 and AutoCAD LT 2007 Bible by Ellen Finkelstein measures up to its name in volume, running 1,252 pages. To save you the trouble of lugging the book around, a nonprintable PDF version (almost 16MB) is included on the accompanying CD-ROM. An added bonus of the PDF version is that you can use Adobe Reader to search for and highlight specific words and phrases -- much easier than clicking back and forth from index to text.

The book is organized into eight sections, which are basically unchanged from the 2006 version of the book. (Read that review here). Those new to AutoCAD can march through from beginning to end to gain a good, general foundation for using the software. The book would also make a handy desk reference for those who are inexperienced in certain areas or upgrading from older versions. What it doesn't offer is advice for experienced AutoCAD users seeking power-user tips or discipline-specific approaches.

Part I of the book, "Basics," covers how to create, open and set up drawings, as well as how to use AutoCAD commands. A quick-start section at the beginning walks new users through drawing a simple window to familiarize them with the software.

Part II of the book, "Drawing in Two Dimensions," covers creating, viewing, plotting and editing in 2D. Separate chapters treat text, dimensions and layers. Part III, "Working with Data," discusses blocks, xrefs (external references) and linking to external databases.

Part IV jumps to "Drawing in Three Dimensions" and provides a good introduction to expanded 3D capabilities in AutoCAD 2007. Chapters explain how to create solids and surfaces and use the new rendering functions. If you're new to 3D and want to explore the 2007 tools, this section may well be worth the cost of admission.

Part V, "Organizing and Managing Drawings," devotes many pages to the use of sheet sets as well as other tools such as DesignCenter and tool palettes. There's also a chapter devoted to importing and exporting file formats created in other applications.

Finally, Part VI addresses "Customizing AutoCAD," explaining how to tweak toolbars, tool palettes and commands. And Part VII, "Programming AutoCAD," introduces AutoLISP, VisualLISP and VBA. The AutoLISP coverage extends to global and local variables, debugging and use of ActiveX. "Appendixes" discusses program installation and other AutoCAD resources.

The book is generous with screen shots and illustrations. Tables list all the options for various commands, which makes it easy to find what you need. To make sure you don't miss critical information, icons in the margin indicate Tips, Notes and Cautions. An AutoCAD-only icon flags material that covers features not available in AutoCAD LT.

The accompanying CD-ROM contains 143 files, mostly DWGs, used in the practice exercises for each chapter. There's also a Results section that shows the proper outcome for each exercise, so you can check your work. Most exercises use their own unique drawing, rather than build on what was done in previous lessons. That makes it easy to skip around in the book, if you desire. A Cross-Reference icon helps with this approach by directing you to other relevant topics within the book.

One nice feature for those just learning AutoCAD is the 30-day demo version of AutoCAD that's included on the CD-ROM. (It also provides a link to a similar demo version of AutoCAD LT 2007.) You'll have to work fast, though, to get through all the lessons in the book before the trial version expires.

The CD-ROM also provides a sampling of add-on routines. It's mostly freeware that you can use indefinitely, but there are also trial versions of products such as AccuRender. The add-ons are organized according to chapter. Most are mentioned in the text, but not in any great detail, so be sure to read the instructions, when available. Most novice readers would be wise to wait until they get through the "Customization" chapters before attempting to use the provided routines.

The AutoCAD 2007 and AutoCAD LT 2007 Bible is available for purchase online from Wiley, its publisher, and from several national booksellers.

About the Author: Sara Ferris

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