AutoCAD 2019 rollout disaster

AutoCAD 2019 rollout disaster

If you’re an AutoCAD user, you may have been intrigued by the news about the new way Autodesk is bundling up AutoCAD 2019 with various verticals (perpetual license owners need not apply). This is Autodesk’s latest attempt to promote its subscription model and raise prices again. 7% this time, but much more to come. But never mind that, the main point is that you’re getting a whole lot of stuff, and who could say that’s not a good thing?

So it’s most unfortunate for Autodesk that the AutoCAD 2019 rollout has been an unmitigated disaster.

My own experiences in trying to download the product were sub-optimal, but I later learned that I was one of the lucky ones. Subscription users not only had problems with AutoCAD 2019, they found their AutoCAD 2018s were broken too, victims of an Autodesk licensing system meltdown. That’s right, the AutoCAD 2019 launch acted as a remote kill-switch for people’s production software.

Perpetual license users were fine, of course. Only subscription customers suffered. There’s a lesson there that should not go unnoticed.

Back to my own experiences, to begin with I couldn’t download AutoCAD 2019 anywhere, despite it being having been announced everywhere some hours earlier. Autodesk Account wasn’t showing 2019, but it was showing this:

The usual workaround method of downloading the free trial wasn’t any better; that was still on 2018. I even tried installing the execrable Autodesk desktop app (temporarily!), but there was no sign of AutoCAD 2019 there either.

I’ve never had any success using Autodesk’s AVA bot for any real questions, but there was a time when it served as a gateway to Akamai-free downloads, so I tried that. Unfortunately, AVA has been “improved” and that once-excellent feature is gone. I did try asking AVA for the download link to AutoCAD 2019, but that didn’t go well.

First attempt:

Second attempt:

I mentioned my difficulties on Twitter and a few hours later the long-suffering but always-professional @AutodeskHelp people offered this:

Despite appearances, this actually turned out to be helpful because by then the product trial download had been fixed and was offering 2019 rather than 2018. I still didn’t see a direct link and against my better judgement tolerated a very temporary installation of Autodesk’s nasty Akamai download manager. About 5 minutes into the download it said it was going to take about 9 hours so I went away and left it. I returned within the hour to find it was finished, so I have no idea how long it actually took. After immediately uninstalling all traces of Akamai and Autodesk desktop app, I was able to start my evaluation.

So how’s the product? Pretty much the same as 2018, except with a better drawing compare tool. Oh, and the icons are better. The first command I ran in the new release reminded me that some things never change. The ancient rectangular pickbox bug popped in to see me, just like an old friend.

I’ve been warmed by the familiar, comforting experience of this and various other early 90s-era bugs and limitations, where the easiest workaround is to use a competitor’s product to do those bits. More on that in a future post.

An hour or so into using the product saw it crash and burn for the first time:

Don’t take my word for it, though; here are some comments from various users, CAD Managers and long-term Autodesk fans, most of whom had a worse time of it than I did. It’s not just AutoCAD; LT and Navisworks are definitely affected and there may be others. Comments here have been reproduced from various sources under fair use; names have been removed to protect the innocent.

I think it is safe to say that Autodesk are having a very bad day. Account and activation issues, subscription access issues, forum login issues, kudos and comments blocked to some users…

I installed the brand new @Navisworks Manage 2019 last night, and this morning I get the “Your trial has expired” !!!

I can safely say that ‘unimpressed’ is my status right now with the licencing idiocy going on. Not only can I not get the 2019 version, but my 2018 version has stopped working too.

Looks like all subscription (not maintenance or legacy) software is affected this way: logging in and out as well as workarounds posted are not working. Now this is a good reason to abandon Autodesk subscription model.

Good news: Autodesk began rollout of 2019 licenses! Bad news: It might break your 2018 licenses.

Hard to imagine this rollout going any worse.
[Autodesk]”Hold my beer….”

2.5 days without AutoCAD available. I just wish Autodesk would have told us so I could have gone on vacation. Instead, I will have to work thru the weekend to make up lost time.

I love Autodesk and their software, but they have just ditched an entire generation of Autodesk ‘rockstars’ and their subscription portal isn’t working. It really doesn’t look good, does it?

my 2018 is hosed on 3 devices

Unfortunately the situation has lasted for nearly 24 hours and no work done. Can we send the bill to Autodesk?

so I thought I’d try and activate LT

Although some parts of this are supposedly fixed, it’s not over yet. As I type this, people are still reporting problems and Autodesk is still offering apologies:

Even now, AVA is still completely in the dark about the current release of Autodesk’s traditional flagship product.

It’s great to see users helping each other, though. You may find this Autodesk Forum post by Travis Nave useful as an interim workaround. Also, in a marvellous continuation of McNeel’s free service to the AutoCAD (and BricsCAD) LISP community, DOSLib has been made available for AutoCAD 2019 even before many people were even able to get hold of the software it runs on. That’s what I call service!

All in all, this has not the best start to AutoCAD’s brave new world of oneness. How did it go for you?


  1. Eleven-hundred & fifty people built new icons over the last year. They were recently executed by Autodesk. A few thousand beta testers admired said icons, but will never surface. This is 2019 – it has exciting new icons. And you’ll never again have to pay extra for the extremely limited Mac demo. Rejoice. And reach deep. Again.

    The icons in my 2016 are staring at me. Challenging me. Their tiny heartbeats echo in the darkness. “Renew us. We demand a sacrifice.”

    So in a week or so I’ll DL 2019 to extract the tbicon.dll file(s) for scientific purposes. Then I’ll burn the rest at midnight.

  2. Autodesk has also downsized a lot of their support staff…instead relying on BOTS. As a result, I’ve submitted 3 support cases recently (that the BOT couldn’t handle) regarding my account. 2 of the cases took over a week for an initial response. Ultimately they provided misleading and incorrect information…I ended up resolving myself.

    The latest case was flagged Urgent as I couldn’t get a network license file for our new license server….too many activation. Again, 4 days without a response. It was with the help of my reseller (Who Autodesk wants to cut out of the picture) that I was able to get what I need.

  3. James Maeding

    This will only get worse because Autodesk is not good at troubleshooting licensing issues. Twice now, I have had home use seats and ADN seats expire when they should not have, and I had to do the chat option from AVA. The chats generally last 20 minutes before they are convinced I need to talk to a real person. There are a few moving parts to account licensing, one is the product shared properly by the admin, another is if the product activations are messed up, and another is if your IT group is somehow messing up your connection to adesk servers. The support people simply cannot handle all three, and you are lucky if they handle one well. My infraworks still will not open unless I switch to phone teather internet, yet other account licensed items such as civil3d open fine. That scares me into thinking its cloud based data, like IW has, that is jamming the startup. So add that as the fourth moving part. Its just getting too complex for them.

  4. David Rock

    We have been given a dud serial number buy Autodesk, its been weeks of back and fourth with our re-seller and Autodesk, we are on subscription, suggestions include resetting user passwords, resetting the TSF files, etc etc but still no luck.
    Next year, no license, no pay the subscription.

  5. J. Emory

    Absolutely hate autocad 2019. It is as if some complete idiot manager from a non-cad industry came in and made their idea of “Improvements”.

    Its crap. No, garbage. Unusable. Hides simple commands like scale and annotation scale. Can’t find anything unless you do a web search for “How do I do something simple in AutoCad 2019”.

    AutoDesk – if you care, then please know your 2019 product is a disaster. Way to ruin something a lot of us have used since the early 1990’s and turn it into a useless colletion of 1’s and 0’s filling our hard drives. Checking other CAD software that hasn’t ruined it’s interface yet.

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