What’s new in AutoCAD 2019 for maintenance customers?

So you’re a long-term customer who has used AutoCAD since it ran on an abacus. You paid for upgrades when you could and switched to maintenance (then called Subscription) when that became the only cost-effective option for keeping current. You’re not about to fall for the subscription (rental) trick; they can prise your perpetual license from your cold, dead fingers.

It’s no secret that the value for your maintenance dollar has been poor for years. Autodesk is jacking up maintenance prices in leaps and bounds; is the maintenance being performed at a rate that matches the amount being charged?

In short, is AutoCAD 2019 enough of an advance over its predecessor to make it worth the maintenance money you paid in advance for it? This post seeks to answer that question.

What you’re not getting

As a maintenance customer, you’re being denied the big item that would make the answer to that question a definite ‘yes’ – Specialized Toolsets. Despite the name and the There Can Be Only One hype, if you’re a renter you’re not getting one AutoCAD that has the extra bits available. You’re getting the availability of a bunch of seven different AutoCAD variants and one add-on (Raster Design), each of which needs to be downloaded, installed and run individually. This initiative has been unkindly referred to as ‘shovelware’, and it’s highly likely that throwing in all of these verticals for ‘free’ means that we’ve seen the end of their meaningful lives. Expect no significant future enhancements and you may avoid disappointment. However you look at it, it’s subscription-only and therefore need not concern us further.

Similarly, as a maintenance customer you’re not getting AutoCAD Web and Mobile. Despite the names, these aren’t AutoCAD. They’re simple online viewing tools with some editing and markup functionality.

What you’re getting taken away from you

You may recall me describing (and praising) the AutoCAD 2017 feature, Share Design View. This was slightly improved in AutoCAD 2018. In AutoCAD 2019 it has been revised again and renamed to Shared Views. Presumably, the Views you’re Sharing are no longer of Designs. Whatever the reason for the rename, it has a sinister connotation. Share Design View is considered obsolete and has been removed. Shared Views has been provided only to subscription customers. The upshot is that this is a feature removal. Yes, you’re getting negative value for your maintenance dollars. This is one of the more petty, vindictive attempts to convince you to go rental. Whoever put their hand up at the product meeting to suggest this particular piece of anti-customer nastiness probably got a gold star from Andrew Anagnost, but I don’t approve and I think it is likely to prove counterproductive.

Another feature that has been removed from AutoCAD in 2019 is the ability to export to FBX files. If you didn’t use this feature, you won’t care. If you used it as the basis of a Virtual Reality workflow to allow you to get your DWG 3D models into, say, Unity to create a virtual environment, then you will probably care a great deal. Similarly, FBX import has also gone. Autodesk’s suggestion that you use the DWG import and export feature in their other products instead is no use at all to you if you don’t use those products in your workflow.

Because Autodesk A360 has been deprecated, a bunch of related commands have also gone AWOL. The lesson here is to not get too used to any Autodesk cloud-based workflows; they could vanish on a whim at any moment.

What you’re getting

What’s left? What are you getting for your hard-earned? Here are some enhancements:

  • Some of the icons have been slightly modified. This includes the status bar icons. Unfortunately, Autodesk remains deaf to the many requests for the return of text to this area.
  • 2D graphics performance is supposedly improved.
  • The Graphics Performance dialog box now has a 2D section.

OK, these are minor tweaks. Some are welcome (performance), others (icon tampering) are just tinkering that nobody will care about. How about worthwhile new functionality?

Well, there’s one feature that many will find useful: Drawing Compare. But wait! Isn’t that new? Well, no. Let’s put aside the fact that this is just playing catch-up to a core BricsCAD feature. Purely within the AutoCAD world, it’s still not new. Drawing Compare has been available as an Autodesk-supplied free app since 26 April 2012. It’s still available now for AutoCAD 2016 and later, even though the one for 2013 to 2015 has been ‘unpublished’.

I’ll examine the differences between the AutoCAD 2019 core feature, the AutoCAD add-on and the BricsCAD core feature in a future post. I can tell you that Edwin Prakaso thinks the old add-in is better than the core feature, but I’ll compare the compares for myself and you can make up your own mind.

Summary

For Autodesk giveth (a bit) and taketh away (a bit more). Overall, maintenance customers are down on the deal. Customers are paying ever-increasing amounts for tiny or even negative benefits. Why do they bother?

7 Comments

  1. You used to be able to refer to certain marketing items to determine in what version a feature debuted, but not in the last several years. They like to hint that “hot new feature A” is new, when it was actually new in the previous release or via a mid-term “HotPackAdvantageThing”

  2. Don

    My Rant: If I am not mistaken, a few summers back when the new sell into “Subscription vs Maintenance” began, and it’s deadline loomed, there was a campaign to us, traditional subscribers, to upgrade our suites, buy ANY extra programs OR SEATS because that July XXth(?) was the last day that any of us would ever again be able to purchase software. Like many others, I forked over (about $1,575) to upgrade my BDSS to BDSP. They swore and promised that for us, we would receive the identical software in the future, but our terms would be different and we would miss out on all the fabulous benefits of monthly subscription. Of course, they buried the meaning of what trading in your investment over the years of thousands of dollars in the licenses for the privilege of renting back what you had already bought and paid for. I calculated that for one BDSP seat, I would effectively be paying the equivalent of the suite purchase price in subscription every 2.25 years. If I am not mistaken, it sure feels like they have rolled back over every guarantee and promise they made from that point forward. I sure don’t have the money to sue them for fraud and malfeasance but I can’t help but feel that every small practice professional regardless of their field of practice was screwed by them with malice aforethought. I remember years ago (1998) when 3DSMax went by a different name ADSK decided to split it into two slightly different packages, one for Architecture and one for Entertainment/Film. The price differential between the two was astounding. It was not based on value, it was based on the thought that a particular industry could be charged a multiple of the other based on… what exactly, that everyone in film was a George Lucas operation? Over the decades I watched the rigidity and omniscience factor creep in, dictating exactly what they decided should be part of each industry suite, regardless of practice. I hope everyone in the maintenance program is getting closer to retirement or gearing up to switch to a new Vendor product line.
    By the way, if you try and Google for the info, it’s impossible to access a telephone number, email address, or Customer Service desk at ADSK corporate offices. Each set of new offerings and the how we are going to screw you now letters from C-Level Marketing, there is no way to contact, no real name to write to, nothing. Now it seems, according to my Vendor, that if I stop paying, and have an occasion where I need to do a clean reinstall, they will refuse to provide the authorization codes to any prior years suites, assuming they will even provide the current one. I usually have 3 sets installed so I can bridge the platform changes that cause difficulties with archival files or subs who are running older versions. I find increasing numbers who either have stopped any form of subscription or plan to in the next year when the level of rape reaches non-viable conditions. There is no real cost difference supporting two systems, they are artificially created claims. The toolsets are a great example of deceit, fraud, and intent. They are creating a difference only to claim that the newly created difference is putting increased burdens on them. I might note that Adobe has a subscription program for its cloud suite. It’s a large roster of programs. I originally bought into it on a special launch deal of $29.99pm (the regular price was $39.99). They just raised the price $10.00. The first price increase in 5 years. I get the whole suite for a little over $50 pm. If I wanted just one program, it might cost me $9.99 to $14.99pm. If I am not using a particular program, my partner on their machine can use it. No fuss. Young people in school can afford it, and professionals can buy into the suites.
    It’s a better feeling when the first few hours of every workday aren’t being paid to Autodesk before you begin to pay rent and wages. It used to be a hack-driver (Cabbie) in NYC worked the first 8 hours to pay the medallion owner, and then drove for 4 more to actually earn their income.
    Autodesk has turned us into the same system.

  3. James Maeding

    The thing that astounded me was the people who did the “trade perpetual for discounted rental” were not eligible for the extended toolset. Those were existing contracts. It was only new contracts that get the extended tools. Talk about a slap in the face with a fish. Autodesk just likes bad ideas these days.

  4. Anthony Russell

    Is it also true that perpetual/maintenance users will not get the AutoCAD 2019.1 update? I know it’s available but not listed in my downloads section.

    Surely that’s a breach of terms. In theory, they are selling you software that is broken and are refusing to fix it!

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