If it’s spring – then it must be time for another release of AutoCAD! Officially referred to as AutoCAD 2019 (with a tagline of “One AutoCAD”), this release is not just an upgrade of new features – it also includes most of the AutoCAD verticals (specialized toolsets) and Raster Design (as long as you are a subscriber). And if that wasn’t enough (oh yes – there is more!), subscribers also have full access to AutoCAD web and mobile. As you can see, Autodesk is doing its best to make sure you subscribers are getting your money’s worth.
Once independently sold, you’ll now find that AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCAD MEP and AutoCAD Plant 3D are included with AutoCAD 2019. Thankfully they are all an independent install from the Autodesk desktop app – since I doubt you’d want all these programs cluttering up your hard drive. Also note that AutoCAD Civil 3D has been renamed Autodesk Civil 3D and has been left out of the mix here (it still needs to be purchased separately).
Just to be clear, if you want to use both vanilla AutoCAD and AutoCAD Architecture then you’ll need to install them both – and they both launch separately as well. I mention this because Autodesk is referring to them as toolsets, which implies you can easily access any/all of them from within your standard AutoCAD environment, which is not the case.
The bonus product here (and one that has received little press) is the fabulous Raster Design. This product allows you to take raster files, such as scanned drawings, and convert them to AutoCAD objects. While AutoCAD 2017 added the ability to convert PDF files to AutoCAD objects, those PDF files had to be exported from AutoCAD to begin with. We often get PDFs that have been dumbed down – raster files with no vector information stored within. AutoCAD is unable to convert those files back to objects.
Raster Design to the rescue! This Autodesk product (which has been around for many years) has some great cleanup and editing tools that will help you convert your raster images into DWG objects. There is even a “despeckle” command to remove the excess dots that tend to appear from scanned images. Raster Design will do its best to recognize text and you will even find a rubber sheet command. Fair warning – coffee stains tend to look like circles to Raster Design!
Each of the specialized toolsets is tailored for the application. For example, AutoCAD Architecture contains over 8,000 intelligent blocks and styles focused with the architect in mind. You’ll also find that AutoCAD Architecture wants to help you build a 3D model of your building, with much of the process automated (unlike standard AutoCAD). You aren’t working with lines, arcs and circles – you’re working with walls, doors and windows. AutoCAD Mechanical has automated tasks for generating machine components and creating bills of materials. Each of the various toolsets has it’s own set of automated tasks related to the industry.
These toolsets are also a solid stepping stone to BIM or Digital Prototyping (depending on your industry). Maybe you’re not quite ready to let go of your AutoCAD and make the move to full blown Autodesk Revit. You’ll find these toolsets are a healthy step forward to making the move to more advanced products such as Autodesk inventor or Autodesk Revit.
And, of course, Autodesk added some new features to the base product which all can enjoy, even those not on subscription. Users have been asking for a means to compare drawings for years – and will be thrilled with the new easy-to-use DWGCOMPARE command (I’ll go in to more detail in another article at another time).
The Share Views capability is great when you want to share your drawings with others, but don’t want to grant access to the actual DWG. With the recent ability to bring PDF files in as AutoCAD objects, Share Views is a full-proof means of allowing people to view your drawing files (along with some very basic editing, querying and markup) without giving up your valued DWG data. It’s also a great means of sharing your drawing files with others who don’t have AutoCAD, or the technically challenged (also a future article!)
You’ll find some nice improvements to Named Views in AutoCAD 2019, including the ability to easily drop a named view in as a viewport in paper space. And for those of you who are confronted with XREF overrides, you’ll find it easier to identify layers with overrides. One of my favorite new features is a simple one: the new XREFLAYER command that allows you to assign a default layer for your attached XREFs to land on.
As you can see – there is much to work with in AutoCAD 2019, it’s not just another minor release. So download AutoCAD 2019 and the specialized toolset that correlates to your industry and start getting your job done faster today!