With AutoCAD 2009 shipping in a half-year, it's time to begin ranting on how the top-seller needs to be improved. Not how it could be improved, but needs to be.
#1 on the list of emails I get is frustration with linetypes, a technology essentially unchanged in nearly 25 years. It's disappointing that Autodesk didn't fix linetypes with AutoCAD 2008, which it had touted as the "annotation" release. Linetypes not a form of annotation? Tear up my engineering degree!
Blog reader shachar_k asks avery sensible question:
I have trouble to create a linetype with a attributed blocks. I want that when I make a line [it] will ask me the question of the attribute. I hope that will be possible to do this.
No, it's not.
I follow Mr Shachar's thinking: it would be much more efficient to have one linetype that can be used for many different situations simply by responding with a different attribute value. One linetype to rule them all, whether each line needs different numbering (Line 1, Line 2, Line 3, etc) or lettering (Line GAS, Line A, Line HW, etc).
But, as is often the case in AutoCAD, there is a possible workaround. I haven't tried this, but this might be possible:
1. Draw the line or spline or whatever.
2. Use the Measure or Divide commands to place the block along the line.
3. Respond to attribute prompt.
Any why doesn't AutoCAD pre-load all linetypes with its template drawings? Inventor does.
#2 that needs to be fixed in the 15-year-old multiline. Mlines need to be more than just "lines" -- if Generic CADD was able to do multiline splines, and if Autodesk bought the code, then what's the excuse?
That intersection cleanup is not automatic is an even bigger scandal. The MlEdit command is as relevant today as AutoCAD's original numbered menu ("Enter 1 to start a NEW drawing" => click icon in dialog box to select pair of intersecting mlines to cleanup; reopen dialog box; click another icon for another type of cleanup; ugh!) It's just not 1982 anymore. Even AutoCAD LT has auto cleanup of its dumbed-down version, DLine (draws double lines).
[end of rant]
Gosh - what still needs fixing in AutoCAD? Hmm... let me think.
Do you have a couple of hours? This could take a while. Starting with the easy ones...
Yes, Linetypes are horribly broken in their implementation, which hasn't changed since Day 1. Awful, simply awful. Every time I create or edit one I think of...
Hatch patterns, which are just as brain dead and sadistic in design. Both need an integrated editor (like the way cool Block Editor) which will allow you to define styles and patterns easily. Scrap ACAD.LIN and ACAD.PAT; relegate them to the dust heap of bad software design where they've belonged since 1995.
The lowly Polyline still doesn't have any decent editing tools. Egads, PEDIT has always been a cruel, cruel joke. Adding a vertex is hard enough, but deleting one is AFAIK impossible without some advanced programming. Changing a straight segment to a curved one is beyond weird.
Speaking of beyond weird, the SPLINE command is just that. Spines STILL don't have Bezier handles with tangential grips, which would enable curvatures on par with every other illustration/CAD/3D package in existence since, say, 1987.
We should be able to combine closed Pline shapes using Boolean operations like we can with Regions. This would work wonders for improving Hatching operations.
Why can't we window-select Grips? Duh.
Why can't we grip-edit Regions? Double-Duh.
Why can't XCLIP perform a multiple-clip on a block or Xref?
MEASURE and DIVIDE, in this day and age, still require you to TYPE a block name when you want to use the option, instead of picking from a dialog select box? Come on.
On this subject, MEASURE/DIVIDE should allow you to select two points in space and insert POINTS or BLOCKS between them, instead of requiring a line.
There is still no "break linework at all intersecting points" functionality. It's a pretty basic editing tool that is sorely needed.
There is still no "replace selected block references with a different block" command. This could easily be done in the Properties palette; just turn the Block Name field into a drop down box and select a different block name.
BTW, the Express Tools' "BlockReplace" tool (Which replaces all of one block with another, not very useful) doesn't work on Dynamic Blocks.
Text leaders have always been awful; while they've perhaps gotten better in 2008, they still are pretty primitive and easily broken. Geeze, just create a cohesive LEADER object which includes the text and actually smartly behaves based on a set of rules (like dimensions do), and be done with it.
Dimensions should be allowed to "break" underlying geometry for display, and leaders should break when crossing dimension lines, as you would do when drafting by hand. A simple "DIMWIPEOUTGAP" variable would wipe out anything underneath. This is essential for quality drafting and would possibly - finally - get the old timers who remember how drawings are really supposed to look off our backs.
Speaking of Wipeouts: has ANYONE, EVER gotten these to work worth a darn? For Pete's sake - it's the Kevin Federline of AutoCAD commands.
Why are Layers relegated to being "properties" of objects instead of being actual containers of objects? That's the main stumbling block I see to allowing things like sublayers, groupings, exporting/importing layer contents from one file to another, and selective opening/xref query of drawings by layers, as you can in other high-end CAD systems. That has always seemed pretty dopey to me, as it opens up huge possibilities for drawing control and management.
Speaking of Xrefs: Why are we still referencing WHOLE FILES? Why can't we select which parts of a file to reference, either geometrically or by layers or other advanced query?
What's the deal with DWL files? Why do we need them? Isn't Windows' file locking mechanisms enough without creating yet more file I/O in our projects?
Why can't we embed images, fonts, CTB/STB files, and other external data into DWG files, negating the need for tracking these things when sending files to others?
I won't even mention tables, which so far to me are just so awkward and busted as to be not worth mentioning. Let's just regard them as a "do over" at this point and leave it at that.
Why doesn't FROM provide a rubber band from the initial selected point as an indicator if you aren't using Polar Tracking and active OSNAPs? Why doesn't it honor ORTHO?
Why don't we have even rudimentary anchoring, constraints, or parametric systems? I should be able to anchor X number of blocks to any curve, give it some simple rules to play by (Distance between blocks = 48", let the ends be equal), and allow me to control the layout by stretching the curve points, inserting/deleting blocks as necessary. Try this: draw two circles some distance apart, then draw the two tangent lines between them. Then change the radius of one circle. Next step: Redraw. Ridiculous! Why can't the drawing adjust to the system as defined by the user? Between the core technologies present in ADT/ACA, MDT and LDT/C3D, surely we can add some of this basic functionality in the core product.
I know paperspace and layouts are regarded as a horrible thing by some, and handed down by the Gods to others, so I won't complain too much about them.
For the most part Autodesk fixed the major problems in 2008. Only 10 releases after they were introduced, of course, but who's counting?
But: At this stage of the game, why do we even need to use PaperSpace/layouts at all in Sheet Set Manager (or Project Navigator for us ACA/ADT archie types). Everything you can do in SSM/PN can be done in Model Space, and a dang sight more efficiently. Just scale the Xrefs down when inserting Views (it's a sheet after all, so the golden rule about things always being full size doesn't come into play). Add per-Xref control over layers, and you're done. No more performance penalties, dopey "viewports" or PSLTSCALE problems, which everyone still screws up anyway.
Attributes are still busted, because they are drawn after the block is inserted. They act like they are part of the block but not really, and are not subject to changes to the Attribute Definition in the block definition. BATTMAN, while excellent, is just a band-aid over a poor implementation.
CUI files, Tool Palettes and other newfangled XML-based files are just way too complex and inappropriate technology for the task at hand. XML was a solution Autodesk applied to a problem that did not exist. Being text-based, they are extraordinarily slow to respond in the UI, and can easily be "zeroed out" when a simple I/O hiccup occurs. If you look at the ATC files for tool palettes, notice that every one of these files is modified when you open the program (whether you altered the palette or not). Compile them to machine code and let the computer work smarter instead of having to parse these huge files line by line. Maybe then people will finally have a CUI editor that is worth using.
Why do the XREF/IMAGE commands bring up the new EXTERNALREFERENCES palette when SDI=0 but reverts back to the old-skool Xref/Image command dialog box when SDI=1? Bug? Feature?
Stop with the whole "Trusted DWG" nonsense. No one cares. It doesn't matter if I get a DWG file from a consultant that wasn't produced by AutoCAD, I still have to use it. And stop populating my workspace status bar with a hundred silly little "Trusted DWG" icons when SDI=1.
Allow people to make complex custom macros without the dopey limitations imposed by ACAD.PGP (another brain dead feature on par with ACAD.LIN/PAT) and without having to learn VLISP or figure out the Byzantine CUI menu syntax.
Bring back the middle mouse button for customization. Yeah yeah yeah, middle-button pan is neat. Whatever. But it's all or nothing with MOUSEBUTONPAN=1. At least let us decide how to use it, giving us back the use of CTRL/SHIFT/CTRL+SHIFT in the CUI editor to add functionality to the mouse without sacrificing real-time pan. That's 3 more commands I could put at my fingertips.
And speaking of mouse button customization, what do you guys have against using the ALT key? What's up with that?!?
Finally, why does Autodesk insist that all user-centric files be stored deep inside our Windows user profile's %APPDATA% folder? With no recourse (except via a clever Registry hack) to repoint them someplace more effective, such as a network server? This would easily be implemented via a simple entry in the Options>Files dialog box, and would make all users truly roamable between workstations without the overhead of Windows Roaming Profiles.
And that's just the few I can think of off the top of my head. Once I fire up AutoCAD at work tomorrow I'll probably think of a few hundred more.
Posted by: matt stachoni | Sep 03, 2007 at 10:43 PM
I would more than welcome a "we fixed all the broken and never finished stuff" release for R2010 (it's too late for R2009...) -- instead of adding more "stuff we will never get right or finish" release....
Posted by: R.K. McSwain | Sep 04, 2007 at 07:24 PM
Autodesk is always listening and trying to improve. Some things irk us as well. It is important to mention some things just appear different or clear and easy from the outside looking in but that may not always be the case as I have seen both sides as I have been a customer and AutoCAD Team member.
I am shocked that Matt and Ralph could only come up with these lists as there are so many things that could be changed and implemented better or different for a 25 year young product that is used in so many ways. Some items can also take time as well in addition to planning and customer feedback loops to make sure that we are on track and what they asked for.
In my opinion it is all about trying to accommodate everyone and but realizing it is difficult to hit the bulls eye 100% of the time or satisfy everyone all of the time, but you must keep trying.
So you realize we have many more years of product improvement. We constantly crawl the blogs, forums, emails, surveys, user events, etc and other customer feedback locations to stumble upon feedback but please make sure to get your feedback to Autodesk so we don't miss it. So be sure to get involved in the process and not just yell from the sidewalk while the parade passes.
AUGI membership is free and made up of fellow product users and allows and encourages you to nominate your own pet peeves and vote on changes to AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor.
OK now go nominate some items as well as get involved in actively shaping the futrure of Autodesk products! :-)
http://www.augi.com & http://myfeedback.autodesk.com
Posted by: Shaan | Sep 04, 2007 at 07:37 PM
Excellent Matt. I'll second that.
This long running functionality desperately need an overhaul tho',
Matt said;"Why don't we have even rudimentary anchoring, constraints, or parametric systems? ......Between the core technologies present in ADT/ACA, MDT and LDT/C3D, surely we can add some of this basic functionality in the core product."
Can do Matt, change MDT's name to AutoCAD and let everybody have the lot. Those that want AutoCAD are right to go, those that want Mechanical are 'happy little pigs' and those that always only wanted MDT have got their 3D and 2D in the single package as requested.
Autodesk's profitability and productivity improves with the reduction in development and marketing costs. AutoCAD customers get lots of new stuff, like the parametric Matt alludes to, and all this could come for the same price of the existing AutoCAD as the development is already done, dusted and ready to go!
Ralph said,"Part of Autodesk's dilemma, of course, is that they don't want you buying AutoCAD. "3D only," is their plea."
The new 'all inclusive' AutoCAD solves Autodesk's dilemma Ralph. AutoCAD being now a true 3D parametric modeller and as such becomes a productive alternative for those Inventor users who need to be able to do more than they can with Inventor.
Maaybeeee Autodesk could bundle Inventor and the NEW PARAMETRIC 3D AutoCAD (with well developed bonus 2D tools) into one package as an introductory offer for just an extra $1000.00 or so dollars.
Is Autodesk listening Shaan? ;-)
Posted by: R.Paul Waddington. | Sep 05, 2007 at 03:55 AM
Yes, we are listening. I cannot monitor all comments around these Internets, but I try. ;-)
As far as making MDT the AutoCAD, I think the Architects might be a little upset with the mechanical focus were we to do that but we do have options and areas to improve. I hope to give some non-committal presentations complete with legal disclaimers on AutoCAD Futures this fall like I have in the past and discuss the possibilities and what we are hearing and thinking.
Some things take time and I cannot say what we have in the works for sure but those signed up for AutoCAD projects on http://myfeedback.autodesk.com will get the first look in return for their active feedback.
Posted by: Shaan Hurley | Sep 05, 2007 at 08:20 AM
Shaan said, “I think the Architects might be a little upset with the mechanical focus” Why?
My original comments were ‘tongue in cheek’ but your comment does highlight another of Autodesk’s dilemmas, one it created for itself. Verticalization the ultimate demonstration in ‘how to loooose the plot’; fine for some a costly disaster for many others.
You see many of us simply want universal 2D and 3D design and draughting tools with which we can design and draft ANYTHING. Have you ever noticed compass, set squares, rules, pen and pencils have in the main been known by what they are; not an Architectural Compass or a Mechanical Compass.
Equally an artist will call a cylinder a sculpture, and Architect will call a cylinder a column and a Mechanical Engineer/drafty will call a cylinder a cylinder or a bearing or maybe a shaft. So do I really need 3D Studio if I am going to make a cylinder for display in an art gallery, ADT/Revit if I want to hold my roof up and Inventor if I need to design a shaft; the answer is NO I can use AutoCAD. Specialization tools should have always remained the add-ons used for streamlining good basic design and draughting tools not necessarily the main product.
That way those that want to pay extra, for the add-on, to work ‘better’ in a specific discipline could do so and for those that need to do the same or similar and varied tasks on infrequent occasions and for less expense can achieve all but the same results ‘manually’ so to speak. Functionality we ‘jobbers’ use ALL can use but what a specialist might use is probably no good, not productive enough or to expensive for intermittent use for our ‘one off jobs’.
This is where Autodesk’s management and software designers have simply ‘lost the plot’, you have ignored the reality of what your software is supposed to be; you believe you know what I want to design and how ‘I’ want to design something and you are simply wrong!
From another perspective; take the word Mechanical out of the name MDT and what have you got Desktop, a 3D Parametric design and draughting package. How hard to understand is that? If an Architect does not want to use steel shapes, bolts and bearings ‘he don’t load the libraries’, how hard is that? The same would apply for any other discipline. But why should not ALL these designers and drafties have access to ALL those same basic 2D and 3D tools and let us choose how and which ones in what combination we use, after all we are the designers not you.
Autodesk’s management and software design teams need to re-think. It is my experience that they listen only to those that think as they do and this shows in the products. If only Autodesk would look at what those of us, who work across disciplines, do you would soon realize what we already know, that we can use a compass, or AutoCAD, to draw a circle and that circle can and does represent many things; so AutoCAD remains a tool of choice because it does not limit OUR ability to design what WE want the way WE want. It’s a hard pill to swallow but sooner or latter you are going to need to do so!
Now you probably have a better feel as to why I like MDT so much, I can and do work simultaneously in several disciplines, in true 2D, in only 3D and in a mixture of both 2D and 3D and all these drawings may be open and active at any given time using the same interface and Ctrl/tab to flip between them. Not by choice do I run Revit, Inventor and AutoCAD simultaneously and why would I want to when MDT (the new AutoCAD) does it all for me?
I could expand this epistle to include the value of being able to teach trainees, for different disciplines, in the use of common tools and in a common interface but that may be harder to understand, so enough.
Want to know more just ask Shaan be happy to expand.
Posted by: R.Paul Waddington. | Sep 06, 2007 at 03:26 AM
Just one of many....
I don´t know who exactly to blame (adesk or microsoft), but, since acad 2002, i believe; most user settings became user centric, meaning that plot styles, support files,etc. moved into documents and settings, instead of living inside program files/autocad****. But, today, running autocad 2006, i find at
least three different folders, with autodesk stuff littering them. There´s the old, but not forgotten program files/autocad, where plotters, plot styles, templates, etc, and a separate support folder live; also there is the same stuff inside "documents and settings/user/local settings/autodesk"; and finally there is "documents and settings/user/local settings".
Even if acad is a really big blue whale, all this mess, makes it really hard to manage. This kind of "philosophy", happens elsewhere in acad. User variables can also be modified via user preferences, pline and 3d pline, text and mtext, i could go on forever. Why does the simple act of drafting require all these superfluous and complex commands? Why do new featutures don´t replace old ones.
Posted by: santiago m | Sep 11, 2007 at 11:06 AM
something That was way handy back in The model-space-only days was To insert or xref in 4 dwgs into a plotting file at (* 0.5 1/LTScale) size, Then PLOT for coordinating purposes. This allows multiple complementary sheets To be plotted Together on just ONE PAGE.
assuming 36x24 Plot size, Then: insert/xref dwg #1 at 0,0. insert/xref dwg #2 at 18,0. etc insert/xref dwg #3 at 0,12. dwg #4 at 18,12.
is There any way To do This with The current PaperSpace setup? maybe something like a 'collapse' or 'collapsible PLOT' utility.
i use This for coordinating work: saves Paper and makes Life a bit more breathable.
(save a Tree, kill a computer) jest joking
blast from The Past: how many Options were There back in The good old DOS Days on The Main Autocad Menu? b4 windows
Posted by: randy sanders | Sep 11, 2007 at 09:03 PM
bring back The ACCELERATOR keys. viva release 13! i use a mouse Left-handed and Then use The numeric keypad To enter numeric command aliases, This is SO FAST.
add The ACCELERATOR keys back (The way it used To be) and productivity returns (for This old dos-based numeric keypad entry keyboard kowboy = moi)
(defun c:00 () (command ".save" ""))
(defun c:21 () (command ".line" ""))
(defun c:30 () (command ".copy" ))
i got 200 hundred of These memorized by now.
Posted by: randy sanders | Sep 11, 2007 at 09:11 PM
Text is distorted in the conversion from Microstation to Autocad. What can I do? Is there any font in autocad that is consistant with microstation font 48 for roadway design? Please help!
Posted by: Teressa | Dec 11, 2007 at 01:31 PM
I using AutoCAD Civil 3D Land Desktop Companion 2008 and the problem i'm having is that everytime i start it I must set the SDI to 1, because after closing CAD it resets it to 0. Another thing is under "Option" I've checked the box "Retain Changes to Xref Layers" and after closing CAD it resets it as well.
Posted by: Duke Nukem | Jun 23, 2010 at 09:05 AM