Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Instant DWF in AutoCAD 2008

As Beth Powell and Robin Capper blog today, there is a useful new feature in AutoCAD 2008 - "Automatic DWF Publish". When you switch in on, AutoCAD creates an automatic DWF-version copy of any DWG drawing you save. You can enable this option in Options > Plot and Publish.

I use an add-on utility with similar functionality - AutoDWF (free from CAD Studio). AutoDWF also allows to upload the resulting DWF file to a FTP server.
I agree with Robin that such function is very useful but it may be a bit intrusive as it delays save operations - AutoCAD is busy publishing the DWF file. But it is a great way to publish the current version of your designs transparently.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


AutoCAD 2008 compatibility

How compatible is AutoCAD 2008 with the older versions?

OK, the DWG files are compatible - that's important. AutoCAD 2008 still uses the DWG2007 format. It looks like the DWG file format is upgraded every 3rd AutoCAD release so we are safe for one more AutoCAD release (AutoCAD 2009 ?).

As for add-on applications it is more complicated. Generally, AutoCAD 2008 should run the 2007-versions of add-on applications. The 32-bit version of AutoCAD 2008 is binary compatible with AutoCAD 2007. VisualLISP, VBA, ActiveX and most ARX add-ons will probably run unmodified, there may be some problems with their installers.
With the 64-bit version of AutoCAD 2008, it is a different story. The LISP applications should still run fine. For VBA add-ons there is some workaround developed by Autodesk. ActiveX and ObjectARX applications need to be upgraded to work with AutoCAD 2008 64-bit.

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Monday, February 19, 2007


Police your layers in AutoCAD 2008

AutoCAD 2008 (and all other AutoCAD-based applications) can watch your layers and notify you on any unwanted layer additions.
Often you drag in unwanted layers when inserting foreign blocks or attaching xrefs to your main drawing. AutoCAD 2008 can watch such pulled in layers and notify you automatically. AutoCAD creates a list of reconciled layers and if new layers are added without your knowledge, bubble notification let you know about these unreconciled layers. AutoCAD creates a layer filter so you can reconcile the layers or delete them easily in a single step.

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Do we need a new computer for AutoCAD 2008?

No and yes - it depends.

Autodesk recommends 2.2 GHz Pentium 4 or Athlon CPU, 512MB RAM, 750MB disk space, 1024 x 768 graphics (OpenGL/DirectX) on Windows Vista, Windows XP sp2 or Windows 2000 sp4. This is not much more than the requirements for AutoCAD 2007. So if you are running AutoCAD 2007 you will probably run AutoCAD 2008 with the same speed on the same PC.

What is new is the 64-bit version of AutoCAD 2008. It can handle much larger data sets but it of course needs a stronger hardware. The increased requirements for AutoCAD 2008 64-bit climb to AMD Athlon, Opteron or Pentium 4 or Xeon with EM64T, 1GB RAM, 750MB disk space, 1024 x 768 graphics (OpenGL/DirectX) on Windows Vista 64-bit or Windows XP x64. Those planning to use the 64-bit AutoCAD will probably have to upgrade their old ACAD workstation.

Update: as Shaan Hurley just added - for conceptual design (3D) you will need: 3 GHz CPU, 2GB RAM (or more), 2GB free disk space (+installation), 1280 x 1024 x 32b workstation class graphics gard with 128MB RAM and OpenGL or Direct3D support (Direct3D only for Vista)

64-bit CADs will not be any faster, they will just have access to more memory allowing to process larger files.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


AutoCAD 2008 speaks Microstationish

DGN-to-DWG and DWG-to-DGN converters were always popular CAD utilities, especially in countries where Microstation was widely used. Exchanging data was always painful process as both applications has used different file formats - DGN (Microstation) and DWG (AutoCAD).

Then Microstation learned AutoCADdish and allowed to read/write DWG files - well writing DWGs was always less than perfect but anyway. At least you could send your DWG files to your Microstation partner and he was able to use it. In Autodesk world, this capability was limited to AutoCAD Map only.

A couple of months ago, Autodesk came with the DGN Translator "technology preview" on (for AutoCAD 2007). And now, reading/writing DGN files is supported directly in the AutoCAD core - and so in all AutoCAD-based applications (also in LT2008). You can import and export DGN files, or even attach them (like xref) with DGNATTACH and clip them with DGNCLIP. Don't forget that only DGN V8 (and XM) format files are supported (unlike in Map) - and there are still lots of older (V7) DGN files circulating around.

So here it is - AutoCAD 2008 - your new DGN/DWG convertor...

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Monday, February 12, 2007


AutoCAD 2008 and more AutoCADs announced

Autodesk today announces new version of AutoCAD - AutoCAD 2008. While the new features of ACAD2008 list will come later, there is not only the new AutoCAD - more AutoCADs are announced at the same time.
Some existing Autodesk applications get new names so we have more AutoCAD flavours in the 2008 product line:

And of course we have still AutoCAD LT 2008, AutoCAD Mechanical 2008, AutoCAD Electrical 2008, AutoCAD P&ID - that is 11 different AutoCADs in total!

So now all AutoCAD-based applications carry the "AutoCAD" brand name and thus are distinguished from the specific programs like Inventor or Revit.

All 2008-applications (EN versions) should be released in the March-April timeframe.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007


Keep my objects enabled

Object enablers are one of the most baffling AutoCAD concepts for users. And Autodesk doesn't make it any easier to find and download the right enabler for a given mix of version+objects. The outdated page doesn't list any of the applications of the 2007-family (and the 2008-family is almost coming). With more and more AutoCAD versions circulating and more and more users working with the object-oriented 3D AutoCAD flavours it is more important to always find the right enabler if you need to open the object-enriched DWG file in plain AutoCAD or in another AutoCAD flavour.
The Live Enabler function in AutoCAD can lead you through the process of finding and installing the right add-on enabler. But if you need to pre-install a specific object enabler, there should be an easier way to identify and install it.

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Friday, February 02, 2007


Talking AutoCAD

A nice tool for AutoCAD is described in the CAD Forum tip Talking AutoCAD - you can make AutoCAD talk to you with just 3 lines of LISP code.
The warnings spoken by the sample utility can be a bit obtrusive but fortunately you can silence them with the QUIET command.
I can imagine broad usage of such warnings spoken loudly to my operators - like "don't draw on layer 0", "use osnaps", "save regularly"...

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Thursday, February 01, 2007


Design Review is now free

The DWF Viewer seems to be replaced by a more capable free tool now - Autodesk Design Review 2007. Design Review can not only view DWF files (2D and 3D) but it can also markup and measure CAD data.

The free Design Review version from (24MB) is too small to contain the DWG Viewer which was in the original commercial version but you can download the DWG Viewer (also for free) from

Making Design Review free is a generous move but it will definitely broaden the use of DWF for markup and review cycles.

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