Each AutoCAD release adds new features. As an end-user, I’m always excited about new features, but what about CAD managers?
My focus as CAD manager is simple. I want to help my teams improve. Sometimes that’s a software button, and sometimes it’s sharing ideas and knowledge. CAD management involves people, process, and technology, no matter the facility. This post describes the features and functions that help me do so.
As a CAD manager, I rely on eight things. Let’s see.
Many consider AutoCAD a 2D and 3D drafting tool. Today’s AutoCAD offers much more, especially with toolsets. AutoCAD is the only software with seven industry-specific toolsets.
3D Toolset Map
Plant 3D Toolset
The toolsets make you more productive. Autodesk commissioned an independent consultant to study productivity and found the Electrical toolset completed design tasks 95% faster on average (depending on the user’s expertise level with the Electrical toolset software and based on experience and training). Here are the toolkit studies.
Raster design and map 3D are my favorites. Raster design is essential for incorporating scanned details or as-builts into plan sets.
Raster Design Boat
Raster design corrects many common raster image issues. This includes XY-axis-distorted scans and images that need cropping or despecking. This is all done within AutoCAD (or your chosen industry-specific toolset). Raster Design can convert raster linework to AutoCAD linework or vice versa.
I also use Map 3D. Map 3D offers many geospatial (GIS) features and much more. Map 3D connects a database to an AutoCAD drawing. Connecting an AutoCAD drawing to a database has led to some creative non-GIS Map 3D implementations. Map 3D is used as a lightweight CAFM tool to track and manage building space.
Even if you don’t use all of Map 3D’s features, many AutoCAD users will find them useful. I like Map Cleanup. Misleading name. Map Cleanup is a powerful version of AutoCAD’s Overkill command. It can remove vertices from lines and clean up non-intersecting geometry.
#2: Installation and Deployment
Most CAD managers have installation and deployment war stories. I’ve also had trouble installing AutoCAD.
Autodesk isn’t known for easy installation. until AutoCAD 2022 and Autodesk’s 2022 desktop software. Installation is better than ever and includes CAD manager-focused features.
As a CAD manager, I like building a custom installation from my Autodesk account. With Custom Install, you can install only the AutoCAD toolsets or other Autodesk software you want. You can also include your AutoCAD Profile (ARG) in your custom install so that AutoCAD is automatically configured for your company.
With Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager, you can push AutoCAD to hundreds of workstations without touching a single one.
No license server is needed for simple software licensing.
Pandemic has increased remote work. Using tools like AutoCAD remotely in an enterprise environment requires checking out a license or using a VPN. Many end-users find it confusing, in my experience.
CAD managers and end-users no longer struggle with license servers thanks to subscription and named-user models. Since AutoCAD subscriptions are tied to a person, they can take them with them. No server is needed.
Manage CAD standards.
CAD managers liken CAD standards to toothbrushes. No one wants to use another’s. If your firm uses AutoCAD like this, check out the CAD Standards Manager.
The CAD Standards Manager checks drawings for standards violations. The CAD Standards Manager can keep an eye on text styles, line types, layers, multileaders, and dimensions.
CAD Standards Manager is a powerful but often-overlooked tool. Few people are aware of all its amazing tricks. Batch Standards Checker is one of them.
AutoCAD Ribbon CAD Standards
CAD Standards Manager’s Ribbon location. Sam Lucido’s.
Sam Lucido taught an excellent class on the CAD Standards Manager at Autodesk University 2020. You can watch a free recording of his class on Autodesk University.
How often have you helped a teammate with AutoCAD and then shared a tip? It’s common when I’m helping team members. My analytical self can’t help but think about the time spent with the less efficient approach.
What if I’d noticed the user’s inefficiency sooner?
My Insights in AutoCAD 2022.1+ does just that. Using a built-in advisory engine, it analyzes how a user uses AutoCAD and provides personalized insights on how to improve. It’s a dynamic AutoCAD Tips & Tricks presentation tailored to how you use AutoCAD.
Measurement Suggestion #6: Collaboration
Improving project team collaboration is a constant priority, but it’s never been more important than in our post-pandemic world. The entire project team won’t be co-located during the design process. There’s also no guarantee the whole team will work simultaneously.
Today’s collaboration needs are more demanding than ever. We need more than a comment or drawing feature.
AutoCAD integrates with Autodesk’s cloud collaboration tools like Autodesk Docs and BIM 360. What about other cloud storage solutions?
AutoCAD integrates with them too. AutoCAD can work with Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, and Google Drive, among others.
While storing DWG files is important, what about other project collaborations? Shared Views and Trace can help you, your team, and your clients.
You made changes to a drawing sheet and need client feedback right away.Shared Views is a great alternative to PDF, email, and other workflows. Plus, Share’s security features let you send someone a drawing and limit their access.
Maybe you’re working with a teammate. Your team may have used the AutoCAD Mobile app to visit a site. You noticed an error on the as-builts on site. In this scenario, you can use Trace on desktop, web, and mobile to capture and coordinate field observations.
From Revit to Inventor and everywhere in between, many projects use AutoCAD plus additional tools. Here, interoperability is vital. As a design team, you add the most value to your client when you’re designing, not gambling on data interoperability.
Every AutoCAD DWG is a TrustedDWG. This is a key function of AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT as it validates the DWG’s compatibility and integrity. It ensures that the DWG files you send can be opened and used properly.
Beyond TrustedDWG, AutoCAD has many interoperability inputs. It’s important to be able to reference BIM Coordination Models in DWG files. Using this feature, you can display Revit data.
#8: Autodesk Forum
The last is Autodesk Community. This has been a great resource for my career over the years. Autodesk Community is a collection of resources for Autodesk software users to learn, ask questions, and connect with experts.
I use Autodesk Forums, Autodesk Group Network, and Autodesk University.
Autodesk Forums are where you can ask questions about AutoCAD and CAD management and get expert answers. Members of the Autodesk Expert Elite Program are available to you.
Of course, while it can be helpful to connect with global experts, sometimes you’ll want to connect with local experts. The Autodesk Group Network has arrived.Autodesk Group Network has user groups for all Autodesk software, including AutoCAD, both in real life and online.
Last, Autodesk University Autodesk University is a user conference. Each year, attendees enjoy sessions by the best industry speakers and a wealth of networking opportunities. AU has been a free digital conference for the past few years due to the pandemic. There’s no substitute for attending the conference in person, but recordings of the hundreds of sessions are free year-round on the Autodesk University website.
Being an effective CAD manager requires more than technical knowledge. So, while my inner geek loves new software features, what benefits me most as a CAD manager is subjective. My overall goal is to help my team be better.
How do you improve your teams, and what Autodesk tools do you use? Comment below or tweet me and the AutoCAD team to let us know. me, @TheCADGeek, and AutoCAD, @AutoCAD.
*Data based on studies commissioned by Autodesk from an outside consultant. The seven toolset studies compared basic AutoCAD to specialized toolsets used by experienced AutoCAD users. As with all performance tests, results vary by machine, OS, filters, and source material. Although the tests were made to be fair and objective, your results may differ. Information and specs may change without notice. This information is provided “as is” without express or implied warranty.