Everyday Improvements in AutoCAD 2012

22 Aug, 2011 By: Lynn Allen

Circles and Lines Tutorial: They might not be showy, but these important features will save you time and reduce tedium.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the Summer 2011 issue of Cadalyst magazine.

AutoCAD 2012 arrived this spring, as did all the hype that goes along with a new release. While others are oohing and aahing over the big, flashy improvements, in this column I’m going to focus on some of the less showy features that will make your life easier day in and day out.

Use Overkill to clean up your drawings and remove duplicate objects.

NCopy and Overkill

NCopy and Overkill, formerly Express Tools, have matured into real AutoCAD commands. This means not only that these tools have been fine-tuned and improved, but also that AutoCAD LT users can now tap into these gems.

You can use the NCopy command to copy objects out of external references, block definitions, and now DGN underlays. Overkill, one of my favorite Express Tools, helps you eliminate duplicate or overlapping objects and extra vertices in polylines. Use it to tidy up your drawings by simply selecting all the objects you need AutoCAD to clean up, and providing some basic cleanup parameters. Using Overkill can dramatically reduce the size of a drawing.

New Array Option

You’ll find a new Array option within the Copy command, making it easy for you to do an off-the-cuff array. Plus you can use the new Nudge feature to move objects over just a smidgen (a technical term). Do this by selecting the objects, then combining the Ctrl key with the arrow keys to move the objects up, down, left, or right a few pixels at a time.

You can also now extend, fillet, and chamfer splines. Hurrah! The new Preview feature in the Fillet and Chamfer commands comes in handy — after all, in previous versions we could preview 3D fillets and chamfers, but not 2D.

Join the Party

The Join command has been remade into a much friendlier animal in AutoCAD 2012. This once extremely fussy command is now much more easygoing. No longer do you have to select a source object. In fact, you just tell AutoCAD to join all the contiguous objects in the drawing, then let Join do its magic! This is another great way to clean up your drawings and remove extra objects.

A new Blend tool makes it easy to blend curves together. Simply select two endpoints and AutoCAD connects them with a smooth or tangent curve. Everyday Improvements in AutoCAD 2012 They might not be showy, but these important features will save you time and reduce tedium.

You can now instruct mleaders to extend all the way to the text, rather than to the invisible bounding box surrounding the text. If you select a dimension with overrides, you’ll find a new Remove Style Overrides option in the right-click menu. This is great if you work with users who get a little override-happy!

Group Hug

If you use groups, you’ll love the new Group panel on the Home tab of the ribbon. If you work in Snap mode, you’ll find that snap only works while in a drawing or editing command — which is when you actually want to use it.

If you use text masking in mtext, I’m sure you’ve noticed that default values have always reverted to a background color of red with a boundary of 1.5. I’m happy to report that this is no longer the case; text masking values now default to the latest settings. Hoorah!

Option Paths

In the Files tab of the Options dialog box, you can now set multiple paths for stb, ctb, pc3, and pmp. Window selection mode is slightly updated as well. You no longer have to decide between pick-and-drag or two picks to create a window; AutoCAD 2012 understands both by default. Of course, this will make you Mac users very happy. You can control this new default under the Selection tab in Options.


You can control window selection in the Options dialog box.

Content Conversion and More

I must admit, I love the new DWGConvert command. It makes it easy to batch-convert drawings from one release of AutoCAD to another. For those who have struggled with AutoCAD not supporting complex linetypes when importing MicroStation files, you’re in for a nice treat as well now that these are fully supported. You’ll also find that AutoCAD 2012 supports quite a few more raster file formats.

AutoCAD 2012 also brings with it a few casualties, namely the BlipMode and DSViewer commands, and the screen menu. May they rest in peace.

These everyday features really help to remove the tedium and speed up the design process in AutoCAD. I’ve already enjoyed taking advantage of these new additions — and I know you will too! Until next time, happy AutoCAD-ing!

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