My neighbor is building an addition to his house. Lots of details. Lots of draft work. His contractor and architect use the time-honored methods. It looks painful. But it doesn't have to be.

Michael Singer, Contributor

March 25, 2008

2 Min Read

My neighbor is building an addition to his house. Lots of details. Lots of draft work. His contractor and architect use the time-honored methods. It looks painful. But it doesn't have to be.There are certain verticals that have had a hard time adapting to the digital era: legal, medical, and governmental. The latest offering from Autodesk may help speed up that last one, at least at the local planning department.

Autodesk's 2009 suite includes updates to its AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT products, as well as the discipline-specific applications AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Mechanical, and AutoCAD MEP software applications. Pricing ranges from $1,295 for the LT software all the way up to $5,295 for the Electrical version, which streamlines design of controls systems.

Autodesk had some major obstacles in the last few years: a reluctance by companies to upgrade to new versions and relearn new functions; confusion over file incompatibilities; and a lack of enthusiasm by the AutoCAD community to switch from 2-D to 3-D interfaces.

The AutoCAD 2009 portfolio seems to have overcome many of those obstacles, starting with the ease of use. The company said it has revised its UI with the new AutoCAD 2009 to offer a common toolset for operations such as file open and close, rotate, pan, and zoom, into the next several releases of Autodesk products. There is a "classic workspace" interface for those who are more comfortable with the previous versions.

The goal is to streamline the transition between products and make it easier to pick up. Perhaps I can convince my neighbor's architect to give AutoCAD a whirl with the test.

For example, with Faster Drafting, the action recorder provides a simple-to-use macro recorder, and the interactive layer manager instantly makes changes appear in the drawing. Subscription customers also will receive Autodesk Impression illustration software for the creation of presentation-ready graphics with a hand-drawn look.

The challenge for Autodesk now is to educate public planning offices and small design firms to get them to give up the popular 2006 and 2007 versions.

If I can convince my neighbor, that may speed up his construction. I only hope now to get my neighbor to keep his dog off my lawn.

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