Autodesk released AutodCAD 2016 to the public yesterday, along with related programs AutoCAD LT 2016, AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD MEP, AutoCAD Electrical, and AutoCAD Mechanical. The latest version of the world’s most widely used CAD application has many new tools and improvements in the user experience, rendering engine, dimensioning capabilities, PDF exporting, and coordination with reality computing and BIM programs.
Users now have settings for smooth-line display and high-quality geometry so that circles and arcs no longer look like polygons in model space. Instead, they’ll look like the vector graphics that they are, reducing pre-plotting panic. A more robust graphics engine also means that users can move and copy large selection sets in the 2D wireframe mode without the software appearing to stutter. The program's ribbon menus, file tabs, and layout tabs are more functional, versatile, and customizable; they look sleeker, too.
AutoCAD 2016 is powered by a new rendering engine and has a new rendering interface. Default presets allow users to specify how detailed and how large they want their rendering, or how much time the program should spend generating it. The program also offers preset image-based lighting environments to add a realistic effect to renderings, with options to adjust white balance and image exposure. While the rendering engine is churning, users have access to a status window that can zoom in and out on the image, take snapshots, or print.
Less to Undo
Autodesk has also expanded the program’s command preview tool to work with more commands—including erase, stretch, rotate, and scale—allowing users to test their actions before committing to them.
Similarly, AutoCAD's dimensioning tool has been made more
intelligent. It now gives users the ability to preview whether the measured values are the appropriate dimension notes to include; it also suggests relevant
measurements based on the object type. For example, users hovering over a
circle will be shown diameters, radii, and angular dimensions. If dimensions
overlap with similar dimensions, the command knows to either break up, insert, or stagger dimension notes. The DIM command also places dimensions automatically to a user-specified layer.
According to the AutoCAD 2016 Preview Guide, the second most-requested item on the Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) wish list has also been granted with this release: an automatic object snap for the geometric center of a polygon or closed polyline. No more integration or weighted-average calculations needed—well, fewer at least.
Revision clouds have become easier (and more fun!) to create
and edit. Users can transform, add to, or delete revision clouds, in addition
to creating them from nearly any object, such as drawings notes. This control was the fourth most-requested item on the AUGI wish list.
Expanded File Compatibility
In AutoCAD 2016, users can now export drawings as PDFs for the Web, emailing, and printing with searchable text. PDFs exported from AutoCAD drawings also maintain hyperlink functionality to other drawing pages, sheet sets, views, and external links.
With reality computing becoming more finessed, the program allows designers to use point clouds, which can be generated from laser scans, photogrammetry, and other sensing devices, as the building model. AutoCAD 2016 expands on its predecessor’s point-cloud editing tools with the ability to create and manipulate section planes from point clouds, adjust transparency levels to see geometry beyond, and access object snaps specific to point clouds. It also lets users create as-built drawings from data sets by extracting floor plans from a cross section of the point cloud.
AutoCAD 2016 is available in the U.S. through several purchasing options. Windows and Mac users can buy a perpetual license for $4,195, not including the optional maintenance subscription, or a desktop subscription with various pay-as-you-go plans starting at $140 per month (based on an annual subscription). Note to users who like to own a copy of their software: AutoCAD 2016 is the last version for which Autodesk will offer a perpetual license. Like Adobe, Autodesk is switching to a subscription-based model for its software products after Jan. 31, 2016.