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    By Dennis Collin

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    It is that time of year again when a new AutoCAD is available to download and install from our Desktop App or Online Account. This post will highlight many of the new features listed.

    The inevitable questions are what new features do I get with this new release, and will it help me save time and become more efficient? There is definitely a new look with a revamped application icon and splash screen, but the overall interface looks very familiar once AutoCAD has loaded. The current DWG format remains at the 2018 version which will be welcome by many offices who just need to view AutoCAD drawings.

    The Trace feature introduced previously has been improved so that Trace Markups can now be created directly within the Desktop Application and users can contribute to traces of drawings created by other users. AutoCAD 2023 has new buttons where drawing traces can be created, contributed and shared with the wider design team. Markups created on Web and Mobile apps can also be added to the Trace history with the Markup Import function.

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    In terms of Graphics display there have been improvements to both the 2D and 3D graphics systems. These will maximise the benefit of modern high-end GPUs and provide a smoother navigation experience for larger drawings. This was introduced as a technology preview in the 2022 release.

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    When enabled with DirectX12 compatible hardware, the viewport control should read Shaded Fast. The system can be enabled or disabled with the FASTSHADEMODE system variable.

    The modern 3D graphics system does not currently support the following features:

    • Point clouds
    • Materials
    • Geolocation (maps)
    • Large coordinates
    • Customisation of visual styles

    It is also limited to model space. In paper space, a viewport continues to use the existing graphics system.

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    The 2D graphics engine improves drawing performance when files contain many True Type Fonts, complex hatch objects or when there are multiple files open.

    Other improvements are better behaviours with floating windows across multiple monitors and the ability to pin the command line to each window.  Should floating windows overlap, the active window displays on top. It is also possible to pin a window to a location. To return a window back to the AutoCAD Application right click the title bar and choose, move to file tab. When working with drawing tabs the active tab is more clearly highlighted.

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    In terms of interrogation commands, the Block Count function has been improved with a new count within a specific area button.

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    Users can specify a rectangular or polygonal selection area, everything within model space, or select an existing boundary object as a count area. The entity must be a closed polyline object that consists of line segments and does not self-intersect. The count area defined previously can also be used in the current block count.

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    Other new commands include a new CUTBASE command which will cut elements to the windows clipboard and provide an option to set a basepoint. This works in a very similar way to the existing Copy with Basepoint function.

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    Grip editing has also improved when editing Polyline objects. Users tend to draw polylines in a certain way, but sometimes additional vertices need to be added. This can be easily done with the existing grip commands where vertices can be added or converted to, or from a curve on intermediate segments. A new option, however, is the ability to add an additional vertex at the beginning or the end of a polyline sequence without altering the direction the polyline has been drawn. Choose Extend Vertex to add additional vertices at the beginning or the end of a polyline element.

    Multileader objects now can incorporate an existing Mtext object and use it for a new leader annotation. This was previously only possible via programming. The Select Mtext option is available on context menus and the command line.

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    Other improvements include, when inserting blocks, the Block redefine dialog box provides an option to rename a block when the specified block name already exists in the drawing. The Options Dialog Box can now prompt users to either save or discard the changes made when closing the Options dialog box. Object selection is now maintained when you exit isolation mode. Hovering over the New drawing drop-down menu on the Start tab, displays a tooltip with the name of the drawing template file that will be used.

    In summary there are quite a few enhancements to existing commands, I would say it is more a refinement of AutoCAD’s robust existing command set than anything too revolutionary. However, there are certainly enough new or enhanced features which will make many routine tasks easier to warrant deploying and using the new AutoCAD version. Over the coming weeks I will investigate these features in more detail as well as other products within the AEC collection.