AutoCAD 2012 is Here!

March Madness, hints of spring in the air, more daylight, baseball season around the corner, and the release of the latest and greatest version of AutoCAD.  How can you not love this time of year?

So what new tools and tidbits does this version offer?  I wouldn’t say there is any one mind-blowing revolutionary new feature in there, but typically, it’s the little things that float my boat, and there’s a lot of nice little enhancements.  Auto-Command Complete is one of those.  Ever forget a command or have a hard time finding it on the Ribbon?  Just start typing what it starts with and a list of commands appear and filters down as you type more letters.   As someone who uses the command line to execute 90% of my commands, this is going to save some serious finger strain.  Just in case you do not like how AutoCAD is trying to read your mind, you can turn if off or adjust the settings using the AUTOCOMPLETE command.  Can you guess how I found that command existed though…?The new Content Explorer is like the Design Center on steroids.  See our detailed post on it here.  As with the Design Center, you can pull in content such as blocks, layers, linetypes, etc. from other drawings.  However, it goes several steps beyond that, with the ability to configure network locations containing content, find things on Autodesk Seek (the online warehouse for symbols), and to search these locations.  Whereas with the Design Center, you were always browsing for to the file you need, Content Explorer lets you bookmark and organize the places you typically need to go to, as well as to search for what you are looking for.  Not only that, it’s indexed and searches very quickly.

The new Array functionality is pretty awesome, and might be on the verge of the mind-blowing.  I must admit, I currently under-utilize the array command because it can often take longer to determine the settings as I tweak my design.  With the interactive functionality of the new dynamic, associative arrays, that’s no longer the case.  You see your array on the screen as you create it and change settings like the number of rows or spacing.  Once the array is created, making edits is easy with all the settings for spacing, number of rows and columns, etc. available in the contextual Ribbon tab.  It even has an array option that works much like an integrated Divide or Measure command.  If you’re using AutoCAD for 3D Modeling, it can array in the Z axis too.  All these new array features make it pretty easy to build a case against a fuddy-duddy like me that originally wanted to stick to the Copy command.Improved grip functionality is one of those little things that has made my life easier in recent releases, and that is certainly the case with 2012.  All sorts of new options are now available when you roll over a grip, depending upon the object type.  Rather than just stretching a line or arc, we now have the ability to lengthen the object or change the radius on an arc.  Dimension grips can be used to flip arrows, adjust text position, continue a dimension, etc.  Just in case you do not like this functionality, it can be disabled with the GRIPMULTIFUNCTIONAL variable.Autodesk Exchange provides a new interface for online resources, help files, and videos, while AutoCAD WS makes sharing drawings online much easier.  The ability to import/export from IGES, CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER, and Solidworks opens the doors for working with drawings generated from other CAD platforms.  This is great for all the users that did not want to invest in Mechanical Desktop but occasionally receive files from shops involved in the manufacturing minded applications.  AutoCAD now comes with Inventor Fusion.  The list goes on and on, and we’ll cover more of these in future posts.

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