Alas, my firm has finished our AutoCAD 2008 upgrade. In the timeframe of about a month we upgraded a little more than 250 users in our 7 engineering offices. Some would call the mere thought of upgrading that many users in such a short timeframe crazy, but even still we did it. Thankfully we have two individuals (including myself) dedicated as full-time CAD Managers, and an awesome IT helpdesk and infrastructure staff to back us. Each year as the new release of AutoCAD nears; bloggers and columnists such as me begin building quite a hype for the upcoming release. Oftentimes such articles and such are written using beta releases of the software. To be frankly honest the articles almost always celebrate everything about the software, consequently making users drool for that cool new feature such as Sheet Set Manager, or in 2008 Annotative Scaling.
The superstitious AutoCAD users out there will not upgrade to an odd-numbered release of AutoCAD. That superstition likely stems back to Release 13 which was not an overly celebrated release in industry. To make things interesting Autodesk has changed the way they market their AutoCAD releases. We now refer to things as AutoCAD 200_, not AutoCAD Release _ _. Thus depending on how you count; AutoCAD 2008 could be considered both an even and odd release. The year 2008 is of course even, but its official release is 17.1 which is odd.
As anyone who has used AutoCAD for some time now knows, pre-release demos, and post-release deployments and real-world usage are two totally different things. Those of us in the Civil field know that feeling all too well, as Autodesk Civil 3D 2004 was the greatest thing had an incredible WOW factor associated with it. Of course as we got our hands on the product and started using it, we soon discovered the product was not yet mature enough to sustain real-world design. Thankfully Civil 3D has come a long way since then, maturing to the point where real-world design is now possible. Even still a bigger question remains, what's up with AutoCAD 2008?
After being one of two CAD Managers leading an install of over 250 users in 25 days, I have learned quite a bit. Some of what I am about to mention is probably common sense to many. Hopefully even those users will find a little something tucked away in this post.
- Download the Service Pack â€“ Civil 3D, LDT, and many of the various vertical products already have a Service Pack out. Do note that the Service Pack for Civil 3D and LDT blow away all of your AutoCAD support paths upon installation. Links to the civil service packs can be found on my post "Service Pack 1 for 2008 Civil Products Released".
- Certified Hardware XML Database â€“ Want to see AutoCAD become slower than a speeding turtle? Ignore the updated XML Hardware Database file, and you can almost guarantee AutoCAD will soon become the slowest program you have set your eyes on. The latest version of the file can be downloaded here. Save it to your AutoCAD installation directory (probably something like "C:\Program Files\AutoCAD 2007\Drv\AdskHwCertificationDatabase.xml"), and restart CAD.
- 3DCONFIG Manual Tune â€“ For some users even the updated XML file didn't put AutoCAD 2008 in the fast lane. One thing we found was using the 3DCONFIG command and then clicking [Manual Tune} > [Reset to Recommended Values], seems to speed most users up.
- Improper Scaling of External References and Blocks â€“ My firm upgraded from AutoCAD 2006 to AutoCAD 2008. Being in a civil firm, many of our users ran into the XREF command scaling down external references 1/12. This was because both the reference and host DWG's were not saved in the AutoCAD 2007 format. Simply opening the file in AutoCAD 2004 format and saving it up to the AutoCAD 2007 DWG format fixed the issue.
- Linetypes â€“ Our biggest linetype issue was with the TREELINE_L and TREELINE_R linetypes (which ship with the civil products). Most of the time this was a file version issue. Saving the file in the 2007 format and reloading the linetype fixed the issue. Sometimes though the line would still display as a bunch of dots, not the repeating arcs it's supposed to be. We have yet to find a black & white solution to this one, but if all else fails creating a WBLOCK seems to work.
- ET: Layers Toolbar â€“ We mentioned this in our training, and thus didn't get too many calls on it. Even still, starting with AutoCAD 2007 the Express Tool Layer Tools grew up and became real AutoCAD commands. As a result the old ET: Layers toolbar is now named Layers II, and is stored inside of the acad.cui. This only becomes an issue if you migrate CUI's from 2006 to 2007/08.
- Accidentally Hiding Layout Tabs â€“ If you are accustomed to right-clicking a layout tab and selecting "Plot", beware it is now the 3rd option and not the 1st option in the right-click menu. The 1st option is now "Hide Layout and Model Tabs".
- Multileaders â€“ If you rotate a multileader, be sure to save your drawing in World UCS.
The above list is more-or-less a quick download of my most common support request during our upgrade. If you are looking to upgrade I would highly encourage conducting some sort of training for your users. Your reseller likely offers some sort of update training. In fact many resellers have been conducting free demos of AutoCAD 2008 based products. While they oftentimes have a sales flavor to them, they can be a valuable way to get an overview of the new product on a budget. A quick note to the CAD Managers out there, don't even think about installing AutoCAD with a hands-of approach. Seems fundamental, but you will want to sit down at each machine to perform the upgrade, verifying things like support paths and such afterwards. A little extra time spent doing some QA/QC will go a long way in keeping post-install support requests to a minimum.