This week, Autodesk kicked off its 2022 product launch with the release of AutoCAD 2022. As with all new releases, packed inside is a collection of new features that will impact the way you work. While every new release affects the way we work, the critical question is whether it does so in a positive light?
For me, comparing AutoCAD 2022 to the way I work, I feel this year’s release adds several meaningful improvements to the software. In my short time with the release, my first impression is that many of these features will positively impact the way I work.
So what are the improvements we find packed inside AutoCAD 2022?
Installation Experience Improvements
As the CAD Manager for Timmons Group, a roughly 700-person civil engineering and survey firm, I’ve amassed more than one Autodesk software installation battle story. For that reason, I was initially optimistic that Autodesk would ever make meaningful progress with its overall installation experience. After many years of talking about possible installation improvements, we get to see much of that in AutoCAD 2022.
Overall, I find AutoCAD 2022 to be significantly easier to install. That experience not only applies to one-off installations but also the deployment creation process itself. There’s a lot to unpack here, and if you’re a technology manager, just the installation improvements could be reason enough to consider AutoCAD 2022 in your company.
Start Tab Improvements
At this point, the Start Tab is nothing new in AutoCAD, but the 2022 release does refine its overall implementation. The updated design focuses on four themes: resuming work, beginning new work, learning new things, and engaging with the product team and community.
For me, I find this to be a relatively minor change. Put another way, while the improvements are nice, they’re not so jarring that you’ll feel lost immediately after opening the software.
Floating Drawing Tabs
One feature you might overlook is the new Floating Drawing Tabs. This feature adds a floating behavior to the Drawing Tabs you’re probably already familiar with inside AutoCAD. With it, you can drag any drawing into its own window.
Like many, I use multiple monitors at my desk. With the new Floating Drawing Tab feature, I can now run a single AutoCAD session and place two (or more) drawings on separate screens. Functionally, this is similar to running multiple AutoCAD sessions, one for each monitor. With Floating Drawing Tabs, you can reduce that overhead, running a single AutoCAD session, thus leaving more system resources for your drawing files.
Block Count Palette
A key takeaway from hosting my AutoCAD Tips, Tricks, and Dazzling Drafting Techniques class at Autodesk University is that quantity takeoff tips are consistently among the most popular AutoCAD tips and tricks. As we think about quantity takeoff tasks, Blocks are a ubiquitous part of that conversation.
Over the years, many have turned to the BCOUNT command or something like Data Extraction Tables. Each method has its advantage, but none have built-in quality control measures. People (accidentally) insert multiple instances of a block atop each other or even explode blocks. Without a way to account for these common mistakes, it’s hard to know how accurate your block counts are.
ON the surface, the new Count Palette seems like little more than a modernized BCOUNT command. However, digging deeper, you’ll find the interface not only counts blocks but also performs some AI-based QC of your drawing. When counting the blocks in your drawing, it will also look for things like exploded and duplicate blocks and call your attention to them.
Share Current Drawing
Especially as remote working has forced the world to become even more digitized, digital collaboration is more critical than ever before. From Shared Views to the recently introduced Publish to Autodesk Docs functionality, digital collaboration is an area Autodesk has made significant investments in recent years. That trend continues in AutoCAD 2022 with the introduction of its new Share Drawing functionality.
The new Share Drawing functionality works like a ETRANSMIT command built for sharing. With just a couple of clicks, you can upload your drawing, including its image and drawing references to AutoCAD for Web, and get a link you can share with anyone. When creating the link, you can choose whether the recipient has view-only permissions or can save a copy. No matter which option you select, links expire after seven days.
As we increasingly rely upon tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams for workplace collaboration and communication, I appreciate how Autodesk simplifies the task of sharing a drawing to a few clicks and a URL you can paste wherever you need.
Multi-Core Performance Improvements
Finally, in addition to the new functionality mentioned above, we also find several under-the-hood improvements inside AutoCAD 2022.
As Autodesk continues its multi-year project of modernizing the AutoCAD codebase, we similarly continue seeing small but impactful improvements to everyday tools in the software. Because of this modernization project, we’ve seen things like the ability to snap to the gap of dashed lines added to the software in recent years. That trend continues in AutoCAD 2022.
You might know, AutoCAD is mostly a single-core application. AutoCAD 2022 changes that for two common bottlenecks; background plotting and hatching. Although the core functionality remains unchanged, AutoCAD 2022 takes advantage of multiple processor cores for both background plotting and hatch boundary detection.
What do you think?
Taking things for a test drive, I think the new Count Palette and Floating Drawing Tabs will define AutoCAD 2022 as a meaningful release for many users. As I transition between releases in my daily workflows, I know that I instantly miss two features when working in earlier releases.
But what are your thoughts? Let me know your favorite AutoCAD 2022 feature in the comments below.