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 What’s the Word on AutoCAD?
Isaac Harper
Isaac Harper
AEC Industry Expert at CADsoft Consulting

Autodesk Desktop App… New in 2017

May 3rd, 2016 by Isaac Harper

One of the first changes you may notice when installing AutoCAD 2017 is the new Autodesk desktop app, which is automatically displayed after the install is complete. This new app is replacing the Autodesk Application Manager that delivers security patches and updates for all 2015, 2016, and 2017 versions of Microsoft® Windows®-based Autodesk® products.

The Autodesk desktop app is also far easier to use and allows you to see just the updates available for specific products like AutoCAD or Revit if you desire. Which makes keeping the ones you use on a regular basis, a lot easier to maintain and get alerts on software updates without disrupting your workflow. It also lets you know when new versions of the software are available for download and allows you to install from the new Autodesk desktop app. It is also subscription-aware, and delivers subscription-only updates and learning content for products under subscription.

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You are about to enter… Another Dimension!

March 17th, 2016 by Isaac Harper

Dimensioning has been drastically over-hauled in AutoCAD 2016! Starting with a new layer control, you can preset what layer you want dimensions to be located on regardless of the current layer. With the new DIMLAYER system variable you can also create a new layer to be used.


Next item drastically increases productivity in dimensioning inside AutoCAD 2016 is its built-in intelligent feature that automatically creates the appropriate dimension with a preview based on the object you are hovering over during the creation process. For example, if you start the DIM command and hover your cursor over a linear object (e.g. Line…) A preview of a horizontal, vertical or aligned dimension will display. If the display looks correct, just pick the object (e.g. line) and them pick the dimension line location. The extension lines will automatically snap to the endpoints of the object you are dimensioning. Or… after picking the first line you can then hover the cursor over another non-parallel linear object and it will automatically switch to an angular dimension, you can then pick that object then place the angular dimension.  You can also force the type of dimension through the command line or the right+click shortcut menu during the process.
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AutoCAD 2016 System Variable Monitor… So you don’t have to!

January 29th, 2016 by Isaac Harper

Have you ever had someone else use your computer, or accidentally click on something that changed the way your AutoCAD operates or behaves? Or you just simply ran a Lisp routine and some of your settings were changed and not set back by the routine? If you have, you know how pain staking and time consuming it is searching around trying to get everything set correct again.

Well the good news is that AutoCAD 2016 now has System Variable Monitor that will not only alert you when a system variable(s) that you have specified changes, but you can reset them all back to your desired settings in a click of a button!

The new SYSVARMONITOR command enables you to identify system variables that don’t conform to your standards. The “System Variable Monitor” dialog box is preset with the most common inadvertently modified variables.


But it allows you to add or remove variables you want to monitor by clicking the Edit List… button.

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Find your Center… your “Geometric Center” that is… with AutoCAD 2016’s Newest Osnap!

November 16th, 2015 by Isaac Harper

AutoCAD 2016 now offers a Geometric Center object snap. This was the #2 item on the AUGI wishlist.

When using the Geometric Center osnap you can snap to the geometric center of Closed Polylines, including Polygons and Rectangles. The Geometric center osnap appearance on screen is similar to an 8 pointed asterisk.

You can access it through the command line by typing GCE and works similar to all of the other AutoCAD object snaps. It can be set running (or ran as an override) using the same traditional AutoCAD osnap access and setting methods; including the Drafting Setting dialog box, the Status bar, and the Right+Click contextual menus, (including the Shift+Right+Click menu).

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Revision Clouds! The other Clouds… that you can actually see.

October 20th, 2015 by Isaac Harper

I can’t believe it’s another rainy day here in Arizona; It’s a rare thing for the southwest desert.

So, I couldn’t think of a more fitting AutoCAD 2016 topic than to tell you about than the enhanced cloud features… Revision Clouds that is!

AutoCAD revision clouds have always been a neat little tool that everyone uses, BUT… have always been a pain to edit them after they were created… WHY YOU ASK? (Like we all didn’t know).

Just in case didn’t… The reason was once the revision cloud was created in the prior versions the end result looked like a zillion little arcs all touching endpoint to endpoint…because that’s what it was!


2This made it virtually impossible to try to even attempt any type of editing for the most part,

not only that…  your CLOUD made you feel a lot like Schleprock! (Some of you know who that is.)

And that alone, made “ERASE” the most popular command to edit a Revision Cloud!

(Then you start over and make a new one.)

Now for the Silver Lining…

In AutoCAD 2016 Revision Clouds have much for flexibility and the number of grips has been reduced based on the type of Revision Cloud you create! Revision Clouds are accessible from the Annotate Ribbon tab on the Markup panel or in the Home Tab in the Draw panel dropdown (Or REVCLOUD for you type’ers out there). During creation it offers 3 different methods: Rectangular, Polygonal and Freehand. Just like most AutoCAD options, the last one used will the default for the next time you run the command. You can also set your own default selection using the REVCLOUDCREATEMODE system variable. Also, during the creation method you can choose the following options to get the desired creation and appearance you desire.


After that when you need to edit one of them, by simply using the grips you can now adjust the boundary shape of your Revision Cloud similar to editing a Polyline, (or Object) with its grips, the same way you would normally edit the object in AutoCAD, in example a circle has a center grip and 4 quadrants allowing you to edit the Revision Cloud just like you would a circle. In addition the hover grids also add more flexibility, like adding or removing vertices.


You can control the display of the grips back to the legacy display by turning off the REVCLOUDGRIPS.

Arc Length and Style still control the appearance of the Revision Cloud, in adjusting the bumpyness along with the Normal or Calligraphy style. But the newest option enhancement is the Modify option.

Here is how it works…

If you have an existing Revision Cloud created in AutoCAD 2016 and you want to change the boundary without having to edit using the grips you can use the new Modify option to draw new revision cloud segments off the existing one, and then then remove the segment between them.


This feature was #4 on the AUGI wishlist!  It’s nice to see a rainbow after the storm!

Until next time keep your feet on the ground and your head in the REVClouds!

AutoCAD 2016 Help is on the way!

June 27th, 2015 by Isaac Harper

In AutoCAD 2016 they have extended the Help file to make it even easier to access help to related content and tools.
As before you can access the Help file from the traditional ways, typing a question mark on the command line, or the F1 function key, by using the Help button on the info center, and my favorite; hovering your cursor or a tool in the Ribbon and pressing the F1 function key to take you straight to the topic.


In AutoCAD 2016 you are automatically signed into the Help documentation when you log into you A360 account and vice-versa. Once you are in the help file you can LIKE certain topics for ease of access later. The content filter allows you to search through the User, Developer and Administrator guides to better assist you in a more content related search.

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Getting Started with the New Start Tab in AutoCAD 2016

May 6th, 2015 by Isaac Harper

Well AutoCAD 2016 is out and loaded with a bunch of new features, and once again I will be covering a lot of them in my up-coming blogs and community sites. Although, this is a great way for or clients to be aware of what is out there, it still makes me wonder how many people really take advantage of these new tools or really learn how to use them properly to make their jobs easier? This reminds me of a conversation I had with an artist that made Hand Crafted Furniture. He took pride in making each piece with “no modern electric tools”. His pieces had a few flaws, which he explained is what made them “unique” and of course everything was overpriced, because they took so long to make, which also made them very difficult to sale. He did some neat stuff, so I asked him if he had a shop. His answer was “Are you kidding me, I am a starving artist, I’m just hoping to sell one of these to pay for my gas to get home.”  This got me thinking… Being an Educator and Consultant of AutoCAD software for a long time now… “What would happen to the CAD industry if everyone took the same approach?” Answer is simple; we would all become “Starving Artists”. (I am not saying there is anything wrong with that. But I can bet the starving part is NOT by choice.)  So from a business standpoint, I am sure we can all agree taking advantage of newer technology; will not only make your life easier, but in most cases make them more profitable.

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Design Feed …It’s not just for fancy chickens anymore!

December 12th, 2014 by Isaac Harper

If you are like most people, the first time you opened your AutoCAD 2015 the first thing you probably did is start closing all of the palettes that popped up on your screen, (like everyone did with AutoCAD 2014 and so on) to get it back to the way old way you are used too. That’s typical human behavior. So I figure it is my job to explain what that palette you closed does. From there you can make the decision whether you think that this is something you feel could be useful in your normal everyday workflow to help communication with your Coworkers, Clients, Consultants or Contractors.

So to start, what is AutoCAD Design Feed? The Design Feed palette provides a way of adding and sharing messages and/or images to your AutoCAD drawings online through Autodesk 360. The posted content is available to in the drawing to review, respond or resolve whether you access them from your desktop, over the web, or on a mobile device.

With that said, most people shied away from this feature because they did not want to store their drawings on the Autodesk 360 cloud. Completely understandable. However, now in AutoCAD 2015 they have offered an alternative and allow you to store your AutoCAD drawing locally on your computer. Please note you will still need your Autodesk 360 account for sharing the Design Feed Posts linked to the drawing, but only the Design Feed Data is stored in your Autodesk 360 and is maintained by a unique Design Feed ID that is linked to your local drawing. You can also store your Drawings on a server and have the Design Feed access the ID from the server location, rather than having to manage files over multiple computer locations and user access is still manage by the permissions set by the server.


You can open the Design Feed Palette from the Share and Collaborate panel on the Autodesk 360 Ribbon tab.


Bubbles are displayed on the drawing if you post a comment using an area or a point and can zoom the drawing to that location when selected on the palette or select the bubble and it will highlight the associated comment on the pallet.


You can control the display of the bubbles in the settings.


You can Tag anyone to notify them by email for changes, comments or questions associated with the drawing and noted in the Design Feed palette.


After posting a comment or image to Design Feed the data is saved to Autodesk 360 and anyone that has access to the file are able to view them. If you no longer need a comment, or the associated replies, you can resolve it to hide it in the palette.


When you save the file under a new name you have the choice to save the Design Feed comments as well, and a new ID will be created for the new file independently of the original.


You can also choose to remove Design Feed data if the file is eTransmited, Archived, or DWG Convert.


Overall, I found that this feature is useful in some cases. When testing, it was neat to have a live interaction with comments and images that get attached to areas or points in my AutoCAD drawing and have that shared interaction with other people even when I had the drawing open in read-only mode. We did have some trouble with reading some emails when sending an invite Autodesk saying they were not valid emails, (even though they were) but that only controls the invites, if they have another email I would try that one, so remember it does not have to be the email associated with you Autodesk 360 login, (That is just for the Design Feed Data ID updates.)

I have listed some links to some very useful videos (by Heidi H. at Autodesk as well as some as the images in this blog) that I think you will enjoy, one for the introduction in AutoCAD 2014 and the added new features in AutoCAD 2015 below.

AutoCAD 2014: Design Feed

What’s New in AutoCAD 2015: Design Feed

And as an additional useful tip; if you notice that the Design Feed palette does not update immediately after you save a drawing in Autodesk 360, then you can force it to update with a right-click on the Autodesk 360 icon, located on the Windows taskbar, and then select Sync Now.


That’s all for this year! I hope you were able to benefit from some of my blogs this year and I look forward to next year with more AutoCAD tips! Have a Happy Holiday Season and New Year!

Where the Wild Things Are… Using Wildcards in the FIND and Replace in AutoCAD

November 14th, 2014 by Isaac Harper

Since my last Blog was about Text features in AutoCAD, I recently got a support request from one of our clients that made us have to stop and scratch our heads for a minute on the capabilities of using the Find/Replace command with wildcards in AutoCAD. It seemed that in some cases the text would not me found and in others we would lose valuable information. So, after several trial and errors we finally were able to get the command to accomplish what the client needed (and after losing a few hair follicles along the way too!). So I thought this was a perfect time to add to last month’s Blog; so I wanted to share my findings with you…

First let me set the stage of what the customer wanted to do.

They had an AutoCAD Structural drawing with Mtext calling out the member sizes and some of them with the quantities if there were multiple beams, obviously to avoid unnecessary duplication and better drawing clarity. The naming convention was standard (i.e. W12X18 [24]) which denotes a Wide-flange beam 12” by 18” and a total count of 24 beams and so on.

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Mtext… Now w/ more variety (& fewer calories).

October 14th, 2014 by Isaac Harper

Mtext-0 AutoCAD 2015 has enhanced its Mext capabilities in this release. Here are some of the latest features.

The first thing that you will notice is that the back of the text box is transparent (when you have hardware acceleration ON) making it easier to see the available area on your AutoCAD drawing area to avoid excessive corrections afterwards. They have also made the text box resizable by width and height by passing the cursor over the edges and using the sizing arrows. Using the corner sizing arrows will allow you to be able to have more control over adjusting the sizes of columns.


Paragraph tabs

You can now use the Paragraph tabs by picking inside the ruler and access the paragraph settings by right-clicking on the ruler or using the original diagonal arrow in the corner of the Paragraph panel in the Text Editor tab.


Auto Bullets and Numbering

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