AutoCAD 2012: New features round up

AutoCAD 2012: New features round up

In the last few weeks, I posted about new features on AutoCAD 2012. So it’s time to wrap them up in a single scan able article. You can go to this Autodesk page to see the features comparison table to see the complete list. Or read on to see the them with short description here. I also provide resources to those features so you can read it further.

AutoCAD 2012

In my opinion, this is a good release, maybe not for everyone, but some features can be considered as major enhancements. Better than in AutoCAD 2011.

Key features in manufacturing industry

The first thing I would like to highlight are the key features for manufacturing industry. If you don’t work in this field, you may not be as excited as they who do. I personally think these are great features. And I know people who would really love these.

metal reamer

  1. Now we can import most common file format in manufacturing industry. We can import CATIA, UG NX, SolidWorks, and more.Unfortunately not Inventor. Not many CAD software can do this.
  2. In 2012, we can create 2D drawing views from 3D model. It’s pretty similar with creating base and projected view in Inventor. If you don’t have 3D model in modelspace, AutoCAD allows you to pick 3D model from Inventor (ipt, iam, and ipn). Limited to base and projected views, no section or details. I wonder if AutoCAD Mechanical can do it.
  3. This is not actually AutoCAD feature, but Inventor Fusion is now in the box. It’s no longer Autodesk labs project. You can do direct and parametric modeling with this application. What it has to do with AutoCAD? You can export 3D model from AutoCAD, edit in Fusion, then import it back. It may not be the most preferred method, but at least now AutoCAD users can do more with 3D modeling. Parametric design in AutoCAD is limited in 2D, now you have option to do it here, in Fusion.


Like always, there are something new in AutoCAD interface. Like it or not. I didn’t write it on separate post, because I consider they are minor updates. And further more, first thing most AutoCAD users do when they get the new version… is trying to make it back to normal. However, interface is the first thing we will notice. So let’s cover this.

autocad interface

  1. In canvas viewport control. Now you can change visual styles and viewport view quickly from viewport control. It’s a nice to have tool, because we don’t have to open view tab to do it now. However, if we mostly work in 2D, we don’t need this.
  2. AutoComplete will show you a list of commands after you type several characters. New users who try to learn using command alias might love it. However, I don’t think veteran users need it. Especially if you already familiar with pressing tab to cycle between commands.
  3. In AutoCAD 2012, we can choose to start AutoCAD without opening any file. Not even startup dialog box. Try to change STARTUP to 2. I like it. But I wish Autodesk provides welcome page like in Revit.

Drawing and modifying objects

So what are the new features to draw and modify objects? There are some minor enhancements, but feature in the spotlight is associative array.


  1. Array command is now associative. We can also use path array. Unfortunately, this enhancement costs the dialog box. Yes, no more array dialog box. You have to do it by typing in command line or dynamically using mouse pointer. The good thing is array now works with dimensional parameters. It means we can do more thing with dynamic blocks!
  2. Multifunctional grips are improved for more objects. We already see some grips improvements in 2011, and there are more in 2012.
  3. We also can ‘nudge’ selected objects to move it a few pixels or by grid snap definition.
  4. Group is now easier to manage. I personally like to use it to manage complex object, and now it’s easier to do it.
  5. We also have new value in these system variables: PICKADD and PICKAUTO.
  6. There is also enhancement in SNAPMODE. Now grid snap only active when AutoCAD need us to input a point, otherwise it’s not active.
  7. NCOPY and OVERKILL are now part of AutoCAD native tools. No longer part of express tools. It’s not a big deal for AutoCAD users, but certainly is for LT users. Now they are available in LT too.
  8. UCS icon can be edited directly. If you think editing UCS (move, rotate, etc) is difficult, then you will love it. You can modify UCS using grips.

Explore and share


Do you like design center? It’s very useful, and if you want more functionalities, try content explorer. AutoCAD 2012 also provides AutoCAD WS integration, so you can share your drawings and collaborate with your partners.

  1. Content explorer is pretty much like design center… with muscle. There are more capabilities here, includes setup the content explorer service to manage the data properly and quickly.
  2. AutoCAD WS plugins is now in the box. It allows you to upload drawings directly from AutoCAD. Provides quick access to online drawings, share your drawings, and see the drawings timeline. AutoCAD WS mobile application is also available for iOS and Android device. With mobile device, you can bring as many drawings as you like anywhere, without bringing large size papers. You can markup the drawings directly.

Help documentation


In version 2011, Autodesk introduced online documentation. Now it’s integrated with Autodesk exchange. I know there are many strong reaction against it, like comments in CAD nauseam here. It does look fancy, but I find that many users (at least here in my country) will not like it.

I personally don’t find the benefit of this (except being fancy). Only I notice that in exchange home, it notify if updates or service pack available. Yes, there are several links to online resources. But it’s got to be more than that. I expect that more will come, so I’ll see where it goes.

Will you upgrade to AutoCAD 2012?

Personally I think this version is good. I know many people will love to upgrade to this version. I expect to see more enhancement in online documentation, wondering if it will get better. I wonder if one day Inventor Fusion modeling tool will be a part of AutoCAD native modeling tool, without having to work with two software. But in short, I like this version.

Do you think you will upgrade to 2012? And which enhancement is your favorite?

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