What’s New in AutoCAD 2017

The new AutoCAD is here! the new AutoCAD is here! It’s that time of year again, the new round of Autodesk releases. No longer the sole flagship product, AutoCAD 2017 is not full of a huge number of updates. However, it’s quality over quantity as there are some significant updates. For years so called experts were proclaiming the death of AutoCAD, it had nowhere to go, nothing more to offer, yet here we are with another release. This reminds me of a few insightful lines from a song:

Let loose from the noose
That’s kept me hanging about
I keep looking at the sky cause it’s gettin’ me high
Forget the hearse cause I’ll never die
I got nine lives cat’s eyes
Using every one of them and runnin’ wild
Cause I’m back

Autodesk summarizes the new features in AutoCAD 2017 into three categories: Simplified, Connected, and Innovative. I categorize them into Installation & Management and Getting Things Done.

Installation & Management

Upon first launch of AutoCAD 2017, you will be presented with the improved Migrate Custom Settings tool. It is definitely more modern looking and much easier to understand. If you are unfamiliar with this tool, it is intended to take your custom settings and application configurations and transfer them to the new version. For me, I’m only concerned with the Tool Palettes and Templates as I don’t customize any of the other options. So within this dialog, I select Clear All and just select the options I desire.

AutoCAD 2017 Migrate Custom Settings

Another change upon launch of AutoCAD 2017 is the updated License Manager. No longer is the serial number and license type entered / set during installation but now is set during the start of AutoCAD. It is also much easier to change between license types (via the About box). And another bonus is you get the chance to save your work when your computer loses connection to the License Manager server (if on a networked license)

AutoCAD 2017 1st Start

After beta and trials in a few countries, the new Autodesk Home is now available to everyone… and not only for AutoCAD. Consider this “companion” your one-stop-shop for everything related to the Autodesk software installed on your system. This includes updates, relevant learning content, and links to support and other resources. It is Subscription “aware” meaning it only provides content related to the products you have under subscription.

Autodesk Home replaces the Autodesk Application Manager (AMM) that was available with the 2015 & 2016 versions. Like with the AMM, when a new update is available a notification appears in the system tray. When Autodesk Home is launched an update “Card” is shown displaying information about the update. [Note: I’m still not sure of the available options for managing Home within a network environment, something that I will need to research.]

Autodesk Home

2D graphics performance is improved within AutoCAD 2017 by relying on the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) more heavily. With this, line types are now generated by the GPU as opposed to the CPU and the graphics are cached (retained) within the GPU memory. Add these together and things like pan and zoom are significantly faster. [Important…. if you do not have at least 128 MB of GPU memory none of the graphic improvements will be in effect]

The other graphic improvements include better line smoothing during in command previews, such as moving and rotating objects, so the previewed object more closely resembles what they will look like when the operation is complete. Also, dots now appear as dots, not short lines

3D graphics performance is improved as the existing “subsystem” was replaced. This means improved stability and much faster performance with large 3D models… especially when working with the Shaded and Realistic visual styles. This is great news, as even though I no longer do a large amount of 3D modeling within AutoCAD, I ran into a few situations recently with 3D scanned models where I was definitely wishing for a bit more power.

Anyone else find ToolTips annoying? They seemed to always pop up when you didn’t need them, creating noise and distraction. AutoCAD 2017 provides a new control to set the number of seconds to delay the display of rollover tooltips. This means they should only appear when you actually want them and have paused to get more information… brilliant.

AutoCAD 2017 tool tip delay

Getting Things Done

There’s nothing dramatically new with the user interface this year, which will please a few of the die-hards AutoCAD users. I am a fan of the darker UI’s, such as AutoCAD and Adobe Photoshop, so I’m quite happy that they’ve left a good thing alone.

AutoCAD 2017 Layout

Autodesk crossed off #3 on the AUGI wishlist by increasing the default size of a few dialogs, allowing for resizing, AND remembering the size that you’ve increased them to after. Take for example any of the select file dialogs, like New, Open, Save, and Save As, which now remain the size you’ve resized them to.

Gallery view is a newer feature that has driven me nuts since they’ve introduced the functionality. Why was it so difficult to access the Insert dialog? I didn’t want to turn off Gallery view as I liked using it, I just wanted an easier way to start the Insert dialog. Autodesk has addressed this with AutoCAD 2017 by sticking an option button at the bottom to launch a More Options dialog… yah!

AutoCAD 2017 Galleryview Insert

AutoCAD 2017 now includes associative Center lines and Center Marks. This means the added center objects remain related to the objects, even as you make changes to the geometry. You set the desired layer and the center objects are automatically placed on this layer, regardless of the active layer.

The appearance of the center objects are managed with the use of system variables [which I don’t agree with… shouldn’t this be delivered via a dialog setting?]. For example, CENTEREXE controls the length of the overshoots and CENTERMARKEXE manages the creation of extension lines.

AutoCAD 2017 now supports importing PDF files. Meaning in addition to attaching the PDFs as referenced underlays (like raster images), you now can import the geometry contained within the PDF as lines, arcs, circles, and other objects. It does a very good job of importing “clean” geometry, including building polylines. However, it is important to note that it does not import text nor recognize hatch patterns (other than solid fills)

Not really a specific AutoCAD feature, but AutoCAD 2017 includes options to publish views to A360 as Shared Design Views. This allows anyone you share the link with to collaborate on your view without the need for an A360 account nor any Autodesk software installed.

AutoCAD 2017 Share Design View

Other Updates

  • US Survey Feet is now included and is listed in Insertion Units
  • The TEXTEDIT command includes a new Mode option (TEXTEDITMODE) to enable editing multiple text objects without having to restart the command
  • The A360 Design Feed no longer displays by default and is removed from the ribbon. Use DESIGNFEEDOPEN to launch this panel
  • Two methods for sending 3D models to a 3D printer are available. Publish > Send to a 3D Print Service and Plot > 3D Print
  • New Coordination Model Object Snap, meaning you can use the endpoint and center object snaps to snap to precise locations on the attached coordination model.
  • Enable LTGAPSELECTION to allow object snaps to snap to the objects with dashed / dot linetypes, even if you are selecting within a blank space

Feature image nautilus by Marc Cornelis