AutoCAD Architecture 2012 - First Impressions

Overview ---- Body ---- Conclusion

The New Release

In the illustration to the right I show what AutoCAD Architecture 2012 looks like upon startup.

In the discussion below I will review some of the few improvements that came with this release; most are AutoCAD based.

The "Exchange Window", activated by a new icon in the upper right corner that looks an awful lot like the "X" used to Close the Application, provides access to Help, New Features, Updates and some marketing information.  It appears to consolidate the Subscription and Communication Center drop-downs.  I don't really see the "Exchange" aspect here but it sounds good.

The Viewport Controls (AutoCAD 2012)

Borrowed from Max, comes the in-canvas Viewport Controls illustrated to the right.  In model space and within active viewports, you will now find a line of text in the upper left corner that provides quick access to Viewports, View Directions and Visual Styles.  This seems logical and easy to navigate through to me so I like this "improvement".

If you don't like this new feature, you can type "VpControl" and set it to "Off".  There does not appear to be a checkbox for this feature in the Options dialog box.


The AutoComplete List (AutoCAD 2012)

As I recall, this feature came from the Autodesk Labs but I didn't bother downloading and playing with it since I like to believe I know enough commands to fill my head.  After letting it run for just a short while, I realized that it's actually really useful in much the same way a spell checker can autocorrect as you type.  The other thing it offers is access to commands or variables that you may not know about.  For example, I was wondering how to turn this thing off and when I typed "Aut" it showed me "AUTOCOMPLETE", "AUTOCOMPLETEDELAY" and "AUTOCOMPLETEMODE". 

Type "AutoComplete" to access a long list of options including "Off" if you don't like this feature.  Right-click in the command line area to invoke the context menu illustrated right with AutoComplete options.

The New Array Command (AutoCAD 2012)

AutoCAD's Array command has been a thorn since the DOS days.  For some reason this command has never really been perfected so it gets an update every now and again.  With AutoCAD and AutoCAD Architecture 2012 the programmers went back to a command line only interface; which boggles the mind and will probably change in a future release.  The old dialog box has been vaporized (no ClassicArray option) but that's because the preview is live now.  The primary change, in order to offer greater editing powers, is that the work of arraying now produces an Array Object. If you don't immediately find this a massive improvement, then you are just an old timer (like me) unwilling to change.

In the illustration to the right I show what the Ribbon looks like after selecting an Array.

This new Array Object is really more of a Dynamic Block as you will notice when you attempt to Modify it; it's a Block full of anonymous block names.  You can Explode it to release all of the arrayed objects.  You can also nest Arrays.

The things I don't like about this change, so far, is how the command line interface works with no option to back up if you make a mistake.  I also found it weird that I couldn't set a default spacing distance.  If I want to array lines, for example, they appear to space about 5 units apart while big circles appear to space relative to their diameter. 

A bug, perhaps: I noticed that when I "Deleted" an Array and then used"Oops" to get it back, it came back as an anonymous Block.

Grip Hover Menus (AutoCAD 2012)

Another subtle improvement is the addition of pop-up menus when you hover over a Grip as illustrated to the right.  Notice that with a Linear Dimension, you can now access the "Continue Dimension" with ease.

Groups (AutoCAD 2012)

AutoCAD 2012 comes with some Group enhancements that I have been waiting for for about a decade.  AutoCAD Lt has had a better Group feature for years and I just couldn't believe that it wasn't added to core AutoCAD earlier.  I don't think I need to elaborate on the functionality offered on the Group Panel, illustrated to the right, but the thing that really blows me away is that it isn't available in AutoCAD Architecture 2012 (WTF).

See this article for how to add this Panel to ACA 2012.


The Corner Window (AutoCAD Architecture 2012)

This upgrade to the Window Object took me by surprise but is the type of improvement I would love to see across the board.  Though it uses the same Window Style Properties dialog as regular Window Styles, the command to use it is different; it's "WindowCornerAdd".  Corner Windows also offer a right and a left width setting on the Properties Palette.



Edit Enhanced Grid Objects (AutoCAD Architecture 2012)

Column Grids have improved dramatically over the last few releases.  For this release you can now use the "Edit Grid" Context menu option to return to the Column Grid dialog originally used to create the Grid in the first place.

I just have to ask why isn't this thing a Style Based Object.

You may want to read David Koch's article on the improvements made to this object ->

Inventor Fusion 2012

AutoCAD Architecture 2012 users may have received Inventor Fusion with their purchase but not the true functionality exhibited in AutoCAD 2012.  What I mean by this is that AutoCAD 2012 comes with a feature that allows for direct integration between Fusion and AutoCAD (EditInFusion) and ACA does not.  You can still use Inventor Fusion to create Solid Models, Save them in .dwg format, and then bring them into ACA.

In the illustration to the right I show my first what's-you-may-call-it in Inventor Fusion 2012.  All I have to say right now about this product is that it definitely worth playing with to get a sense of how easy solid modeling can be; a history tree is an amazing thing.

The End

This release of AuotCAD Architecture is definitely pretty thin in improvements but that's been the case with the last several releases.  If you are an avid ACA user you already know that this product is destined for some form of retirement.  AutoCAD Architecture is missing the Group Panel and has no "EditInFusion" command (the Plug-in Tab is available under the AutoCAD Profile but is devoid of Panels).

This release of AutoCAD appears pretty thin in improvements as well but there are several and they are very subtle; like grip and context menus.  The Array Object is the big improvement and if you have been a heavy user of Divide and Measure in order to manage repetitive objects along straight or curved paths, this feature may alone justify the upgrade cost.

The installation process has been improved and if your are an IT or CAD manager wanting assistance with deployments, you will likely be pleased with any improvements that make your life easier. 


See this article as originally intended.

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