AutoCAD 2011’s new Help system – what do you think?

AutoCAD 2011’s new Help system – what do you think?

With all this talk of clouds in the air, it is interesting to note that Autodesk has moved AutoCAD’s Help system to a browser-based format, with online access as the default. So, how has Autodesk done with this first dipping of its toes into the cloudy waters with its primary mainstream product? I’ve already had a couple of unsolicited comments on the subject, and I’d like to hear from you. How do you rate the following, compared with previous releases?

  • Performance (online)
  • Performance (offline)
  • Search results
  • Content completeness and accuracy
  • Ease of manual browsing
  • Efficiency of user interface
  • Concept of online Help
  • Anything else you want to mention

Please comment to express your views and use the poll on the right to provide an overall rating of the new system.


  1. ◦Like the style, format & so on
    ◦Like the idea that it can be dynamically updated
    ◦Like the fact that it can be far more comprehensive and include more detailed pictures and videos without cluttering up my computer
    ◦Like the idea that I can get to this without having Autocad open, or even having Autocad installed.

    I have been happy with the speed and accuracy of searches with the 2010 on-line help. I would like to keep a ‘minimal’ help file on my machine for the rare occasions that I’m not able to get on-line (particularly system variables and Lisp, VB reference)

    The only down side I can see would be if you are in corporate environment with stringent internet rules. But then I’m naturally optimistic about this sort of thing… What do YOU think we should be looking out for!

  2. Chris Cowgill

    Performance (online) – terrible, it takes about 6 times longer to search for something than using the offline version

    Performance (offline) – significantly better than online, but I still think it is slower than the old compiled help files.

    Search results – should display everything at once in my opinion, If I’m looking for something, and really have no clue where it is, why should I have to click on 4 separate tabs to finally find what I want, why cant it all be listed in one area like the compiled help.

    Content completeness and accuracy – I dont know, it will take some time to determine this aspect. the previous ActiveX section has changed its name, and when clicking on a subject, it doesnt appear to show all the information that used to be in the chm files.

    Ease of manual browsing – about as easy as the chm

    Efficiency of user interface – One of the things I liked about the chm help is that the search/content/index area was always on the side, so I could click directly to another topic, where as now, you have to go back home, find the letter you want, and then click back out. Not very Efficient

    Concept of online Help – I think the concept is great, the fact that it can be updated on the fly is really nice, however, a user is screwed when they dont have high speed Internet, or their office connection speed is limited, or even the extra resources required to run a browser vs a chm 73mb vs 6mb of ram, you take your pick.

    Anything else you want to mention – the concept may be nice, but the way it has been incorporated in this release seems to not have been well thought out.

  3. Marco

    I am missing the index of the old help browser.
    Typing the first few letters in the index of the old system jumps to the items beginning with these letters.
    For example: i searched for transpa (i do not know the exact command) the result is zero. When you search for transp* it goes somewhere in the text of commands you do not want. In the old index it jumps to it and then you can select the command.

    Please, give the old system bac.

  4. Wm.J.Townsend

    Just to note to add that the normal compiled helpfile (acad181.chm) is in AutoCAD Mechanical 2011. Not a hint of the silly help system files. They appear to have the same internal linking problems as have the past few releases. -Bill

  5. John

    Why does Autodesk change things just for the sake of it? There was nothing wrong with the help system, in fact, compared to 2011 help it worked perfectly. Please give us back our help system along with the index where I can type the first few letters of a command and the index jumps to the items beginning with these letters.

  6. Stuart C.

    Absolutely terrible interface. They should stick to 2D only. Leave the 3D to those who do it better.Why must we have upgrades every year even if they cant think of any real improvements.In fact I cant think of how they have improved anything in the last 5 years.

  7. 2011 Help is a joke. It takes forever to find anything, then when you do only half the info is there compared to 2010. Where is the quick ref, procedure and concept tabs. How can we quickly get to the associated sysvars in the new system. Please give us back the chm files.

  8. martin

    yeah. help is shite. where can I type in a search for acad 2011 system variables without searching the entire autodesk site.

    does it expect you to trawl through the letters you might think the system variable exists

    I AM ANGRY!!
    do something about about you dicks. I am paying for an upgrade every freakin year. It should be getting easier.. FAARCK

  9. As Autodesk gets closer to Microsoft they seem to act exactly the same way. They do things that are completely ridiculous and makes the user experience worst year after year. I don’t know what their goal is if it’s not to make their clients angry. It is like they just don’t listen to users. How could they actually do things like move the fast, simple and easy F1 to a slow, complicated and not efficient at all help? What if you do not have access to the internet? Come on, think about the price you pay for that upgrade when you find something like that inside your new box. I hate the way developers think when they think this way. When the sauce is right would you mind not touching a single ingredient? I feel ripped off. I love Autocad and this has always been my main software since R14, but man, what they do sometimes is like they are looking to change things just to change things.

  10. Tom

    I installed IE9 and firefox, Now autocrap help system doesn’t work. hyping “‘_help” does nothing, same with pressing F1. The menu lists the topics but double clicking on them doesn nothing.

    what a piece of dung

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.