Ten good reasons for AutoCAD LT 2004 versus the previous version of AutoCAD LT and other low-cost 2D systems.
Autodesk has released new versions of its two flagship general purpose CAD products: AutoCAD 2004 and AutoCAD LT 2004 in Russian. Both are highly efficient tools, and while they seem similar at first glance, they have significant differences in functionality and are targeted at different users. This article will introduce you to the main differences and help you make the right choice.
CAD Administrator Toolkit
AutoCAD 2004 includes a CAD Standards feature that allows CAD managers to view and enforce standards throughout the design office. If you don’t regularly check the shared files that the entire team uses, they quickly develop inconsistencies and errors that are costly for the company to fix. Standards controls help save time and ensure consistency across all files. AutoCAD LT 2004 does not have such tools.
CAD Standards allows you to specify the type of standard (for example, dimension styles, text styles, layers, linetypes) that you want to check so that the program only looks for violations that you need to fix. The Standards Manager automatically runs in the background, and while you work, it immediately reports every inconsistency it finds and suggests a fix.
You now have the ability to email CAD standards verification reports as attachments and print them in an easy-to-read format.
CAD non-compliance reporting and real-time fixes
AutoCAD 2004 offers several ways to monitor compliance with standards. After you enable the corresponding parameters in the CAD Standards Settings dialog box, the program will display a warning and signal with an icon in the status bar when it detects a discrepancy.
Batch Standards Checker
The Batch Standards Checker analyzes several drawings at once and generates an HTML report listing all cases of deviations from standards. Before running the Batch Standards Checker, you must create a standards check (CHX) file. Being both a configuration file and a report file, it includes a list of drawing and standards files and a standards check report.
By default, each drawing is checked against its associated standards files, but you can assign any other set of such files to it.
After the batch standards check is complete, you can view a detailed HTML report with notes. In a teamwork environment, you can transfer this report to the rest of the project, so that they can fix the mistakes at home.
In addition, AutoCAD 2004 has built-in tools such as the Layer Translator, Standard Tool Palettes, and Reference Manager to help you enforce CAD standards.
By helping to create, distribute, implement, and manage standards in your design office, AutoCAD 2004 solves some of the purely technical problems, ultimately providing real value to your firm.
Toolkit for IT manager
AutoCAD 2004 license management technology helps IT managers maximize the return on investment of their company.
Network licensing gives your employees access to the right software, at the right time, and lets you easily monitor software usage and performance. Effective use of a network licensing system requires planning, implementation, and maintenance costs. Done right, it delivers significant benefits to you and your company.
Here are just a few of the main benefits of network licensing:
1. Flexibility and efficiency in the use of licenses. Autodesk uses two types of software licensing. The first is carried out using the Stand-Alone License Manager utility, which assigns the program to a specific workstation. This type of licensing is most effective when the license does not need to be transferred from one workstation to another. The second type of licensing, implemented by the Network License Manager utility, assumes that the license travels across the entire corporate network with instant transfer from one workstation to another, if necessary.
2. Tracking license usage. The Network License Manager utility allows you to generate reports on overall license usage by department, weekly hours of operation with usernames, license denials, and more. This information is extremely important for day-to-day license control, as well as for budgeting and planning the cost of purchasing software products in the future.
3. Control. Network licensing allows the administrator to effectively control access to the program by individual users or groups of users. Licenses can be moved from one group to another, without the need to install or uninstall the program. You can guarantee or vice versa close access to licenses for individual users. You can also enable or disable special network licensing features (for example, borrowing a license from the network).
4. Standardization. The Network License Manager in AutoCAD 2004 is based on Macrovision Corporation’s FLEXlm technology, which is the de facto standard for network licensing.
AutoCAD 2004 adds two new features related to network licensing: license borrowing and license timeout.
The license borrowing feature allows you to install a license on your computer that is valid for a limited period of time. On the server, this license becomes unavailable for the same period of time. You can now run AutoCAD without accessing the license server. Borrowing licenses is very convenient when you need to take your computer on a trip or home.
The License Timeout feature allows the administrator to specify the maximum downtime after which the license is automatically returned to the server and made available to users again. License Timeout returns the license to the server when the connection with the client machine is lost, or when the license is unused on someone’s computer for too long.
Now you have the ability to create high-quality presentation graphics directly in AutoCAD 2004 without the need for other programs. You can create two-tone gradients or smooth transitions from one tone to another; Print shaded or rendered 3D isometric images using Shaded Viewport Plotting. Working in 24-bit mode with 16 million colors, referring to the PANTONE, RAL CLASSIC and RAL DESIGN libraries, you can set AutoCAD objects to any desired color. Meanwhile, AutoCAD LT 2004 only allows visual fidelity to graphics created in AutoCAD 2004.
The updated Select Color dialog box in AutoCAD now includes multiple tabs. The Index Color tab contains the traditional AutoCAD indexed color palette, and two new tabs offer real color palettes. The True Color palette allows you to enter HSL (Hue, Saturation, Luminance) or RGB (Red, Green, Blue) values. On the Color Books tab, you can choose colors from the PANTONE, RAL DESIGN and RAL CLASSIC libraries.
The new Gradient tab in the Boundary Hatch and Fill dialog box lets you apply color gradients to solid hatched objects. The program offers two-tone and two-tone gradients, various gradient styles, and allows you to set the angle of the gradient.
By combining a variety of gradients with True Color, PANTONE, RAL DESIGN and RAL CLASSIC libraries, you can create presentation-quality graphics directly in AutoCAD.
Shaded Viewport Plotting function
AutoCAD 2004 allows you to print tonal and rendered 3D isometric views for use in presentations. Shaded Viewport Plotting offers the ability to display shaded / rendered models from both modeling space and page layout mode.
Variety of productive drafting functions
AutoCAD 2004 offers attribute management tools that let you add intelligence to your drawings. AutoCAD 2004 includes new features for externally editing drawing (xrefs), linking to databases, and quickly resizing elements that are not available in AutoCAD LT 2004. In addition, AutoCAD 2004 offers the ability to batch print drawings.
The Block Attribute Manager module allows you to modify attributes in node definitions with a simple dialog. So, you can vary the following attributes:
- • properties that determine how values will be assigned to attributes, and whether the assigned value will be visible in the drawing area.
- • properties that determine how the attribute text will be displayed in the drawing;
- • properties that determine the layer on which the attribute is located, as well as the color, thickness and linetype of the attribute.
Drawing Change Messages
AutoCAD 2004 immediately informs the user of all changes made to the drawing opened for editing from outside. If files for external editing (xrefs) are attached to the drawing, the corresponding icon is displayed in the status bar. As soon as the xrefs file undergoes modification, the appearance of the icon changes and a “bubble” appears with a notification indicating the name of the linked file and the name of the person who changed it.
AutoCAD allows you to link information stored in an external database to AutoCAD graphics. This is done using links. Links are pointers to a database table and allow you to retrieve data from one or more of the records in that table. AutoCAD also allows you to add labels that will display data from selected table fields as text objects in the drawing.
The system for organizing communication between AutoCAD 2004 and databases includes the following tools:
- • a foreign configuration utility that gives AutoCAD access to the data contained in a particular database;
- • the dbConnect Manager utility, which allows you to link links, labels and queries to AutoCAD drawings;
- • Data View window displaying records from the database table;
- • Query Editor for composing, executing and storing SQL queries;
- • a migration function that converts links and display attributes from legacy files to AutoCAD 2000 or later format;
- • Link Select operation to create sets of iterative selections based on queries and graphic objects.
You probably would like to be able to print several drawings at once. The new Batch Plot utility lists AutoCAD drawings to be plotted. You can print drawings from this list immediately or save it to a batch print list (BP3) file. Batch Plot (batchplt.exe) is located in the AutoCAD product folder. Several drawings are also printed using the Design Publisher (PUBLISH) command, which can be applied to BP3 files (with lists for batch printing).
The contents of the files can be tested before printing. AutoCAD loads all the drawings in the package, but does not print. In the meantime, you can check them for missing xrefs, fonts or shapes.
By creating a registration file, you will thereby record who and when printed this or that drawing and what errors occurred during the printing process.
3D design capabilities
AutoCAD 2004 allows you to create, modify, render 3D objects and move from one object to another. AutoCAD LT 2004 does not offer this feature.
Three-dimensional modeling has several advantages and allows the following:
- • view the model from any point convenient for you;
- • automatically generate standard and auxiliary 2D views;
- • create 2D profiles;
- • remove hidden lines and perform realistic rendering;
- • check for interference;
- • export the model to create animation;
- • make technical analysis;
- • retrieve production data.
AutoCAD 2004 supports three types of modeling: wireframe, surface, and solid.
A wireframe is a skeletal representation of a 3D object. It has no surfaces and consists only of points, lines, and curves that show the edges of the object. In AutoCAD, you can create wireframe models from 2D planar objects by placing them in 3D space. AutoCAD also offers some 3D wireframe objects such as 3D polylines (this is CONTINUOUS line type only) and splines.
Surface modeling is more difficult than wireframe modeling because it defines not only the edges of a 3D object, but also its surfaces. The AutoCAD modeling module generates polyhedral surfaces using a polygonal mesh.
Solid modeling is the easiest type of 3D modeling to use. In AutoCAD Solid Modeling, you can shape 3D objects by creating simple 3D shapes: rectangles, cones, cylinders, spheres, prisms, and tori (donuts). You can then combine these shapes using addition, subtraction, or intersection to construct more complex solid objects. You can also create solid models by bending a 2D object along a path or rotating it around an axis.
The new AutoCAD 3D graphics system takes advantage of the OpenGL system to rotate, render 3D models, apply textures, and illuminate objects. AutoCAD 2004 supports hardware and software OpenGL acceleration for the fastest 3D graphics experience possible.
Printing 3D drawings
When you print a drawing that contains tinted 3D solid models, you can specify exactly how to print it.
You are offered the following options:
- • As Displayed: the drawing is printed as it is displayed on the screen, with full preservation of shading;
- • Wireframe: lines and curves that represent the outlines of the object are printed;
- • Hidden: objects behind other objects are not printed;
- • Rendered: Before printing, objects are rendered according to the Render settings you specified before printing.
The AutoCAD 2004 platform offers fully extensible customization of the program itself and the drawing process through application programming interfaces (APIs) such as AutoLISP, Visual LISP, VBA, and ActiveX. Meanwhile, AutoCAD LT 2004 is not expandable.
Autodesk has partnered with hundreds of software manufacturers around the world to create add-on applications for AutoCAD. These partner firms are helping to further expand our comprehensive portfolio of fully integrated and compatible software products for every design field imaginable. Visit partnerproducts.autodesk.com for a long list of products that complement AutoCAD 2004.
AutoCAD also offers a flexible platform for the development of custom design programs and production of shop drawings. The open architecture gives developers the ability to tailor AutoCAD for specific purposes. Examples include Autodesk industrial design software, additional developer partner applications, and the ability to use AutoCAD as an interface to other applications.
AutoLISP / Visual LISP
The Visual LISP tool is used to generate code within an AutoCAD program. It is a full-featured interpretive programming language that can be used to invoke AutoCAD commands, system variables, and dialog boxes.
Visual LISP has a complete development environment, offering:
- • Reduced development time through the use of a new integrated development environment (IDE), which makes it easier and faster to create, debug and release AutoLISP-applications;
- • access to ActiveX objects and event response functions;
- • protection of source code from theft and changes;
- • operations with files typical of the operating system;
- • extensions of LISP functions for processing lists.
Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications
The combination of the powerful ActiveX Automation Object in AutoCAD and the Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programming language provides a powerful foundation for customizing AutoCAD for a variety of purposes. Using ActiveX Controls and other applications that include VBA (for example, Microsoft Office) when developing your own AutoCAD solutions, you can work with any number of objects.
AutoCAD 2004 includes some changes to the ActiveX Automation interface used by Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and Visual Basic (VB) programs. Adding, removing and changing interface elements is caused by changes and additions of new functions in AutoCAD 2004.
The ObjectARX libraries, which include a versatile set of application development tools, take advantage of the open architecture of AutoCAD and provide direct access to database structures, graphics, and AutoCAD internal command definitions. ObjectARX technology helps you create fast, efficient and compact applications. It gives qualified users the ability to adapt AutoCAD for specific tasks, and frees designers from performing repetitive actions. Small files, fast drawing operations and perfect compatibility make applications created with ObjectARX the best choice for solving non-standard design problems.
AutoCAD 2004 offers new manufacturing tools and easy-to-use presentation graphics, CAD standards creation and control for greater communication convenience, and new software licensing tools to improve administration efficiency. In addition, the newest version of AutoCAD is the fastest.
Regardless of how you use AutoCAD – for creating working 2D-drawings, detailing, preparing design documentation or for preliminary 3D design, you can customize or program AutoCAD to meet your specific needs, or add some specialized program created for the job with AutoCAD. AutoCAD is the global standard for computer-aided design (CAD) systems. AutoCAD is more widely used than any other CAD program.
All of this is a compelling case for choosing AutoCAD 2004 over AutoCAD LT. AutoCAD 2004 offers new and enhanced functionality to speed up workflow, facilitate communication, and improve administration efficiency.
Why then do you need AutoCAD LT 2004? The answer is obvious: it is useful when you need a good, low-cost CAD program for creating and sharing drawings that is 100% compatible with AutoCAD 2004.