Autodesk announces AutoCAD 2005

16 Feb, 2004

(2/17/2004) Autodesk today announced details of AutoCAD 2005, which is scheduled to ship in March. The company previewed the new version, code-named Neo, at Autodesk University. Watch for a full review of the shipping version in an upcoming issue of Cadalyst.

Sheet Set Manager
The highlight of the new version is a set of tools for creating, organizing, and publishing entire drawing sets. The new Sheet Set Manager (figure 1) presents a Windows Explorer-style tree view of all drawings in a drawing set. Each sheet is a reference to a layout in a DWG file. A sheet set can reference any number of layouts from any number of drawings.

Sheet Set Manager

Figure 1. AutoCAD 2005’s Sheet Set Manager.

You can see who’s working on a drawing and archive the set at project milestones. The Sheet Set wizard gets you started with options to use an existing sheet set as an example or to import layouts from an existing drawing. You can also set your own custom properties (figure 2).

The Sheet Set Manager automates sheeting numbering and title block insertion. You can coordinate title block information, sheet numbering, sheet names, and detail labels across drawing sheets and automatically update them. You can also place a plot stamp anywhere on a sheet and have it automatically update for every plot. A sheet index features hyperlinks to facilitate navigating through the sheet set. If you publish a drawing sheet set to DWF format, hyperlinks let you navigate through the drawing sheets within the DWF file and from callouts to a detail sheet.

Sheet set custom properties

Figure 2. Sheet Set Properties dialog box.

Any number of folder locations can serve as sources for information in your sheet set. Details can be associated with the callouts that identify their location. When it’s time to plot, you select the sheets you want, the desired sequence, and your plot settings. AutoCAD 2005 plots in the background. Multiple users can access the same sheet set at the same time.

Tool palette tuneup
Tool palettes, introduced in AutoCAD 2004, can now be grouped together.You can add content tools such as hatches, blocks, external references, images, and gradients by dragging and dropping them onto a tool palette. Anything else that’s dragged onto a tool palette becomes a command tool by example (figure 3). That means AutoCAD applies the properties of the existing object when you use the command tool to access an AutoCAD command.

As an example, Autodesk says you can create a command tool using an mtext object located on the Notes layer that uses the Notes text style. Whenever you use this tool, AutoCAD draws the text on the Notes layer using the Notes style. You can customize command tools with scripts, ARX commands, and AutoLISP expressions. Drag and drop commands from the Customize dialog box to keep the default settings.

command tools

Figure 3. Drag and drop toolbar items onto a tool palette to create command tools.

Other new features include a Table command for formatting schedules, parts list revision history, and other data. You can set table styles to conform to your standards (figure 4). The arrow and Tab keys move you from cell to cell. In addition to text, you can insert blocks, hyperlinks, and fields.

Modify Table Styles

Figure 4. The new Modify Table Style dialog box.

OLE enhancements
You can import and export data from Excel as either OLE (object linking and embedding) objects or AutoCAD Table objects. The appearance of objects cut and pasted from other Windows applications is improved. You now specify an insertion point for such objects, and they are automatically drawn on the current UCS (user coordinate system). If the OLE object contains text, AutoCAD automatically adjusts the point size to an equivalent size in AutoCAD units. OLE objects act like regular AutoCAD objects—you can use grips to adjust them and add and remove them from selection sets.

Text treats
The multiline text editor now supports indents and tabs. You can also insert engineering symbols and apply a background fill to your mtext to improve readability. Symbols now available in various fonts include a centerline, ohm, flow line, boundary line, monument line, electrical phase, and not equal to.

Text adjusts over hatches

Figure 5. Multiline text before and after applying the background property.

And more
AutoCAD 2005 is DWG-compatible with AutoCAD 2004 and can be installed side-by-side with that version. An interactive New Features Workshop introduces AutoCAD 2005 new features.

Watch Cadalyst for a more in-depth review of the new features in AutoCAD 2005. CAD Manager columnist Robert Green will also cover many of the new license management features found therein. We'll also have more details on changes to the Autodesk subscription program to report on next week.

Once AutoCAD 2005 launches, can the many Desktops be far behind? Autodesk didn’t go into much detail on what to expect in the rest of the 2005 lineup (below). We do know that AutoCAD LT 2005 will not include the Sheet Set Manager.

· AutoCAD LT 2005
· Architectural Desktop 2005
· Building Systems 2005
· AutoCAD Mechanical 2005
· AutoCAD Electrical 2005
· Land Desktop 5
· Map 7
· Civil Series 4
· Mechanical Desktop 2005