AutoCAD 2018 – bear this in mind

AutoCAD 2018 – bear this in mind

Given the dearth of new functionality in AutoCAD in recent years, it’s understandable that Autodesk has taken to claiming credit for the same thing twice. The same features have been touted once for the 2017.1 mid-term update and again as 2018 new features. Even I fell for it, listing linetype gap selection as a 2018 feature in my original review.

For the purposes of reviewing the earlier AutoCAD releases and AutoCAD 2018 as upgrades, I have included the 2017.1 features in 2018, not 2017. Some of those features are praiseworthy, and there have been some minor improvements to some of the 2017.1 features in 2018, but let’s count them just once, please.

Blogs and sites that just regurgitate Autodesk’s take on what’s new in AutoCAD 2018 might inadvertently repeat the double-dipping. Bear that in mind when you read reviews.


  1. FWIW – In my initial post on 2018, I do say “Some of the features listed above were fully or partially implemented in the AutoCAD 2017.1 mid-year update”. I did not go into detail on which ones exactly however.

    If I have time, I could go back and make use of an orange dot that AutoCAD is using to notify users of new features (inside the application) to indicate truly new items in 2018…

      1. Well I can’t go back and check but I added this same layer control and adjusted the width to show the whole thing instead of truncated back several releases so I’m sure it’s old. I dropped it because using ACA I brought in a chopped down version of the acad menu so I have the layer controls along with color/linetype/thickness etc options in ACA that you do in Acad.
        I guess one possibility is that it’s been in ACA but not in Acad but that doesn’t really make sense.

        Actually having a look in 17 it’s not a simple tick so perhaps I found a hack to put it there? Maybe this is an embrace of the hack?

      2. mmm yes it appears that some clever people worked out how to do it back in 2010. Seeing how simple it is to do it must have taken Autodesk all of 3 mins to add this to the new release but hey! That’s progress! Who could say that Autodesk is leading from behind.*

  2. Dieter Schlaepfer

    Just for your information . . .

    Previously, you could copy the Layer drop-down from the Layers panel into the QAT, which is pretty handy for people like me who like to turn off the UI to maximize screen space. The challenge was the CUI editor. Until you get some experience with it, it can be daunting, especially for people new to AutoCAD.

    So, in 2018, it was added as an option in the QAT drop-down. A nice touch, but unfortunately there was something that was missed by everyone, testers, Gold sites, Customer Council participants, me, etc. until after 2018 was released. Everyone, that is, but the one customer who pointed it out to us.

    Due to long layer names, he wanted a longer control, something that’s available in the control properties of the one in the Layers panel (known as the Layer Combo Control in the CUI) and that’s not available in the QAT version. Yes, I’m sure this must on the docket for fixing.

    The solution is to copy the Layers panel version into the QAT, deleting the one that’s there. Then, you can increase the Minimum Width property, which is set to 208 by default.

    If you’re like me, I think you’ll enjoy having it there. But everyone’s different of course.


    1. Thanks for the tip, Dieter.

      About 10 years ago, among a lot of other specific actionable new-UI feedback, I pointed out what seemed to me to be an obvious requirement: all controls and buttons should be available in all relevant places. So the layer control should always have been available in the QAT, the enhanced Undo/Redo controls should always have been available in toolbars, etc.

      There shouldn’t be a need for users to notice and point out the desirability of having certain UI features available in certain places and with certain functionality, and then hope that request is noticed, taken seriously and acted upon (eventually). It should have been built from the ground up such that it’s all easily interchangeable.

      That it wasn’t built that way is the root of the problem. Fixing that is what needs to happen, not tinkering with 1% of the issue this year, another 1% the next, and so on.

      While you’re taking suggestions from single customers seriously, the min/max width of any control should be easily user-modifiable with right-click > Properties.

      And let’s have our status bar toggle text option back, please.

      Oh, and the CUI editor is rubbish. But you knew that.

  3. I have always used that “Add to Quick Access Toolbar” from the context menu for all kinds of controls. But some of them, i.e. Text Styles and Color Combo would not offer this option.
    I think I opened up a support case for this back in 2010 or 2011. Meanwhile it has become a fine tradition for me to grab a glas of Pinot Noir and look at this option every year. And every year I see no change besides the Pinot Noir getting better every year.

    I know, there’s a CUI-Hack for this. I’ll need to dig it up again.

  4. Dieter Schlaepfer


    >> And let’s have our status bar toggle text option back, please.

    Here’s something that we finally agree on. I strongly prefer fewer status bar buttons that are identified with text. Similarly, when the engine warning light in my car lights up, I don’t want to see a blob that could be interpreted either as an engine or a UFO. I want to see the word ENGINE in large letters.

    Same with OSNAP, ORTHO, and so on. Ok, maybe in small caps.

    See, I knew this would happen some day. 😉


  5. Dieter Schlaepfer

    What I can do (and have again done this morning) is bring the recurring request to the attention of our designers. I included two images of a speedometer, one with the words, CHECK ENGINE, and the other with a small orange blob that might be imagined to represent an engine (or possibly the lung of a crocodile).

    Having said that, realize that I don’t and shouldn’t have as much influence as each of our customers. Many software companies make the mistake of producing what’s called “self referential” designs. Steve Jobs did that, but he was mostly lucky, IMHO.

    I realize that my preferences *might* sometimes coincide with those of our customers, but I try to force myself not to pretend to represent them.

    If I were an Autodesk customer and wanted to influence a particular change, I would join the AutoCAD Customer Council, submit a specific request along with several use cases in support, and I’d use the forums to elaborate my request in a direct, businesslike tone, hopefully recruiting other members to do the same.

    If you do that, I will once again happily carry your banner! 🙂


    1. Dieter, you have me at an advantage here. You’re free to promote the AutoCAD Customer Council as some kind of potential solution to this and various other product problems, but I’m not free to point out why it hasn’t been, and isn’t.

      In the case of the text labels, now a years-old problem, this has been discussed at length in public places with a bunch of customers wanting their removal reversed. I guess I’m free to ask the reader to imagine whether such a thing might have been raised within ACC, and the sort of feedback Autodesk might have received about this change. I don’t have to ask the reader to imagine whether such feedback has been acted on.

    2. Dieter the Gallant,

      Since you probably have constant direct access to those who may have industry-wide influence… That fairly new Microsoft Surface Studio machine could use an upgrade to Professional status. Big “adolescent” (PC shit) CPU, the other 32GB, another M.2 slot, and P100/5K/6K Quadro or GTX1080+ GPU. $8.5K USD for a CAD-centric pretty box including the first three year ACAD disposable license ($1.50 per billable hour). Design studio inna box. DHL right to your door.

      Steve, sorry about the off-topic hijack. Just being a jerk. – Bill

        1. Yes, sir – all yours… I do believe that Autodesk has made the carefully considered and brilliant unilateral decision to never sell anything to me, bundeled or otherwise, beyond the 2016 PDS of three years past. Siemens doesn’t mind.

          I’ll be making some interesting product announcements toward Q3/4 this year. Guess which software company hasn’t subscribed to my generous ‘CAD Creation Credit’ publication & appreciation program. Only $2400 per seat per year for the incredibly comprehensive ‘Big Picture Package’ – and in thirty-six months they’ll retain absolutely nothing, perpetually. Subsequent tri-annual renewal packages will only tack on a minor 37.174% cost of lying increase. They’d save nearly seven gallons of orange juice by 2030. Nobody else offers such an unbelievable value for that bargain basement price. Offer void where understood.

          I shoulda been a marketeer… – Bill

  6. Dieter Schlaepfer


    >>Dieter, you have me at an advantage here.

    Sorry, that was not at all my intent.

    For the record, Steve has passionately advocated certain product changes and prioritizations in the Customer Council in his own inimitable crusty style. For a variety of reasons, his proposals didn’t come to pass. For example, Steve would like a more functional Help system that includes a table of contents, and index, and the ability to work primarily offline. Fair enough?

    Ok, let’s say that I have a brilliant new idea about an AI Help system utilizing machine learning and big data to anticipate issues with your software, installation, operating system, drivers, and hardware. Before you even finish asking your question, it provides the answer at three levels–what you can do immediately, what you should consider doing instead, and what directions you might want to explore. Since my solution transcends CAD, I decide to start my own company. However, to implement this Help system for Autodesk products, I need a change made to AutoCAD.

    How would I do this?

    1. I’d join the AutoCAD Customer Council as an enthusiastic, articulate, and polite participant who answers all the surveys, submits requests that are supported by several use cases, and convinces other participants to do the same.

    2. I’d create a popular blog, and I’d attend Autodesk University, volunteering for Autodesk usability sessions, and talking to the Autodesk people there.

    3. I’d research a technical workaround, perhaps contracting with an expert software engineer such as my friend, Bill Adkison, or perhaps a creative implementation expert such as Deeter Smith (I’m not making this up–I met her at AU 2015 and she knocked my socks off).

    That’s exactly what I’d do.


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