Friday, March 20, 2015

LT2016: Zoom to infinity... and Beyond.

Autodesk announced the release of the 2016 versions of their AutoCAD line on Thursday March 19, 2015. If you are on subscription, and in the correct time-zone with stars aligned in your favor, you might, just might, see a download link as soon as today.  Autodesk's official announcement, as well as website update and the availability of the free 30-day trial downloads, will start Monday March 23, 2015.

There many good updates and additions in this version of AutoCAD/LT 2016, and in this blog, we will highlight the many features we found worth exploring and hope you get excited enough to try them soon.
  • No file format change: bucking a trend they set many years ago, LT2016 will be the fourth version of AutoCAD to still default to the 2013DWG format, just like LT2013, LT2014 and LT2015. For one more year at least you can freely exchange files with those AutoCAD users without having to 'save down'.
  • ZOOM is finally fixed: ever zoom in or out with your mouse' scroll wheel and notice that LT2015 and older would simply stop, forcing you to use REGEN command just to be able to continue? Well, no more my friend: starting in LT2016 you can scroll-zoom so far in or out that you will move your drawing into oblivion. Luckily for us, a ZOOM Extents will snap it all back.
  • Revision Clouds are now object types: no longer are they aimless Pline arcs that are impossible to reuse once created. These now behave like real objects, similar to closed Polygons: make larger or smaller just like you would a closed Pline shape, even add and drop nodes. LT2016 even offers predefined shapes (like Rectangular revision clouds) that you can place around objects in two clicks. Click HERE to see a video of this new feature in action.

  • DIM command: all new, this is no longer that old DOS-days command that forced you to type every style of dimension needed. This one command can be used to totally replace all other individual dimensioning commands combined. Simply start DIM, click on any item and AutoCAD LT2016 will start the correct tool, or just click on two points to draw the dimension. It's that flexible: select a line, an arc, a circle, and angled object, it just knows what to do next.
  • Another great enhancement to dimensioning: if you create a dimension and try to overlap it with another dimension at the same location, a pop-up menu appears that allows you to automatically move (that distance is controlled by the DIMDLI variable), break up that existing dimension, replace it entirely, or just overlap it if you insist on doing so. Click HERE to see these new abilities in action.
  • MTEXT enhancements have been added in LT2016: you can now add a frame, or box, around MTEXT objects, plus there is now the ability to Match Text Formatting inside the MTEXT editor (as well as Mleader text, Dimensions and Tables too).
  • Geometric Center object snap has been added to LT2016: yes, its now a thing, you no longer need to use convoluted methods to find the center of a shape.
  • MOVE and COPY commands have been enhanced in LT2016 to allow you to move a large amount of objects without the hesitation and exceptional slowness now experienced in older versions of LT.
  • LT2016 expands on preview abilities first introduced in LT2015 to help you predict an action before you commit to it: Command Previews have been added to ERASE, STRETCH, ROTATE and SCALE commands, and previewing has also been added to Properties as well (for example, you will see object colors change as you hover over colors to select from in Properties).
  • If LT2016 is installed on a fully supported system that allows for hardware acceleration to be on, you get the option to change the Selection Effect/Drag Color (helpful if the default color is just too dark to see on your monitor).
  • XREF Enhancement: You need to change the display color of objects in your xrefed file to better show off the objects in your top file. So you start LAYER command, change all the layer colors to a dark gray, click Apply, OK out, only to discover the last person to touch the XREF set the object colors to be unique and different from their layer colors. In LT2016, simply turn on the XREFOVERRIDE variable, and your top file will override the display of those objects to match your desired BYLAYER setting without actually changing the referenced file itself. XREF layers also no longer appear inside PROPERTIES Palette since they cannot be selected there (they will remain on display in the Ribbon Layers List but greyed out for quick visual distinction). Click HERE to see a video of these and previous enhancements in AutoCAD/LT2016.
  • LT2016 (and Autodesk) are finally embracing PDF file fully: PDF underlays are more nimble inside DWG files. PDF files from LT2016 now are improved as well: you can search text inside these new PDF files regardless of whether you use TTF or SHX fonts, Unicode Characters, and whether you use MTEXT or TEXT to create those words. Plotting to PDF is now faster with built-in optimizations that better handle complex shapes and hatches. You can also include hyperlinks and bookmarks into your PDF files when your PLOT or PUBLISH to that format.
    PDF options (like whether to turn on layers, set LineMerge and more) are readily available from the PLOT or PUBLISH dialog pop-ups, and PLOT command in LT2016 has (4), yes four, preset different output options for PDF files for you to pick from so you don't have to reset when you need higher or lower resolution results.
  • Layouts have improved in LT2016: when Publishing to multi-page PDFs, the Layouts Names appear are Page Names. You can Drag and Move or Copy Layout Tabs even in the hidden overflow menu (an inability added with LT2015). You can now also dock the Layouts Tabs above the adjacent status line instead of keeping it inline.
  • CLOSEALLOTHER command has been added so you can close all the other open files but keep your current one open.
  • With GALLERYVIEW variable turned off, you can finally hide all the Ribbon previews of Blocks, Text Styles, Dim Styles, Mleader Style and others.
  • HELP has been enhanced to assist you to find where buttons and icons in the Ribbon or the Status bar are located even if there are not visible when you seek them.
  • The new Graphics Engine first introduced in LT2015 has been improved in LT2016 to run better, smoother, and hopefully run better on your system than the previous version. We noticed an improvement on many of our systems.
  • SYSVARMONITOR variable has been added: this is a great way to start keeping an eye on those critical variables that seem to create havoc when they change. LT2016 now gives you, the user, a way to store your favorite setting and show you in a pop-up if that variable has changed. You can add or drop variables from this pop-up as you see fit.

If you have not implemented LT2015 in your office yet for whatever reason, you might want to consider skipping it in favor of this AutoCAD LT2016. In testing to date this seems to be a stable version with new features worth using every day. ◦