AutoCAD 2015 Designed to Fine-Tune Workflows8 Apr, 2014 By: Robert Green
Updates to AutoCAD 2015 are geared toward optimization — helping you do your job, not trying to change how you work.
New User Favorites
AutoCAD 2015's new functions aren't readily apparent via the user Interface; there are some that you could miss entirely if you don't know how to find them. Here are a few that I predict will enjoy wide user acceptance:
Lasso Selection. When selecting an object, you may now window around rectangular zones by clicking the mouse button and releasing before picking the second zone point, like normal. But, if you keep the mouse button clicked down, you can now draw irregular boundaries around objects using a "lasso," much like drawing a polyline.
Natural Sort. Layer lists, style lists, etc., are now manipulated in natural sort order, so you'll see text lists such as 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11 instead of 1,10,11,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9.
Text Enhancements. Paragraph-style text (mtext) feels more like Microsoft Word in terms of supporting bulleting and number lists. It also includes autosensing of capitals, easier sub- and superscript font handling, improved fraction stacking, and user-definable tabs. All in all, you can work with text without as much cussing as in prior releases.
TextAlign. This new command lets you align text entities by selecting an existing text or reference line.
As I work with these commands, I keep thinking, "Shouldn't it have always been this way?" and, "I've done a lot of AutoLISP work over the years to emulate these functions!"
Among the new offerings, there are no superfluous commands that do nothing — what I call gingerbread commands. (I don't know how well that term translates to other languages, but it seems to resonate with most CAD managers I've talked to.) It is my pleasure to report that AutoCAD 2015 does what it does well, without a bunch of gingerbread.
Maps and Clouds
Two groups of functions that have crept into recent releases of AutoCAD have to do with using map/Earth data (such as MapQuest data) and point clouds. Both areas are more optimized in AutoCAD 2015, so if you use these features be sure to explore the 2015 updates.
Mapping. Maps now place and update more quickly, thanks to the use of Microsoft Bing online map data that you can zoom in on to achieve higher resolutions with less regen time than in past releases. A licensing agreement with Bing allows the perpetual use of map geometry, so the picture you save is the picture you'll continue to have over the life of the drawing it is stored in (unless you intentionally update it).
Point clouds. You can now clip, view, and render point clouds in a much more intuitive manner. The new Point Cloud Manager also makes it a lot easier to move between multiple point clouds in the same drawing session.
Clipping and rendering of multiple point clouds creates much more intuitive reality capture processes.
At first glance you may look at AutoCAD 2015 and say, "It looks like 2014, but darker." A deeper dive into the program, however, reveals an optimized piece of software that is geared toward user comfort and efficiency. I find the release to be refreshing because it's designed to decrease eye fatigue, it presents better-looking graphics, and it adds functions that solve known user problems. Overall, it's clear that user input helped shape this release. I've often taken software companies to task for not listening to users and instead pushing out meaningless new features, so I must give Autodesk credit for its efforts on AutoCAD 2015.
While it may seem at first that not much has changed, it has, so take the time to explore the new features. And isn't that what a well-designed software update should do — provide improved capabilities while retaining its familiar feel?
Like all AutoCAD releases before it, AutoCAD 2015 may or may not be your cup of tea — you'll want to evaluate it for yourself, of course — but it is a substantial enough optimization that I would recommend you at least test it out for yourself and run it past your users.
I'll be interested to hear your comments as you have a chance to look at the new AutoCAD. I await your feedback at rgreen@CAD-Manager.com. Until next time.