What’s new in Autodesk 2018?

AutoCAD 2018

First up, we have AutoCAD. In AutoCAD 2018 we’ve had a few improvements, mostly to workflow and ease of use. In AutoCAD 2017, we were introduced to PDF Import and now in the 2018 release, it’s had some improvements. Now, when selecting which PDF you would like to import a new preview window has been added to the Import dialogue box to help you in choosing the right PDF file. When creating a PDF from a drawing that has SHX text, when you come to import that PDF, the text will become geometry, that’s because the PDF file format does not understand SHX fonts. However, to solve this issue, we now have the SHX Text Recognition function. This tool recognises clusters of geometry and compares them to selected SHX fonts. The most common fonts are presented as default but you can select others to compare from. You can tell AutoCAD to use the best matched font, by ticking the “Use best matching font” box. This will allow AutoCAD to pick from all the chosen fonts, and will choose the best match to the geometry in the PDF. Once this is complete, a dialogue box will appear providing information on how many MText objects were created.

Enhancements to the External File References, specifically changes to the way paths work roll out in AutoCAD 2018. When importing an XREF the default path type is now Relative Path rather than Full Path, this was done in order to reduce problems with broken reference paths. However, if you would like to stick to the Full Path type, you can now use the REF Path Type system variable, using 0 for not path, 1 for Relative Path and 2 for Full Path. Some other minor changes were made to the way External File References work, such as; in previous AutoCAD releases, you could not assign a Relative Path to a reference file when the host file is not saved. In 2018, you can now assign a Relative Path to a file even when the host drawing is unnamed. If you select the reference file in the External References pallet the Saved Path column, displays a Full Path with an asterisk prefix, to indicate that a change will take place when the host drawing is saved. Even with these changes, it is likely that you will still encounter broken file paths. The Context Menu that appears when right clicking a file in the External References pallet now has 2 more options. Select New Path allows you to browse to a new location for that reference file, it also gives you the option to apply that location to other XREFs and if your Ref Path Type System Variable is set to 1, it will automatically converts the path type to Relative Path, even if they were Full Paths originally. The Find and Replace option allows you to select one or more reference files and lets you replace any occurrences of an existing path with a new one. This command also converts the path type, depending on your Ref Path Type System Variable. You can change the path type of selected files manually too, by selecting Change Path Type in the External References context menu. The current path type will appear greyed out; allowing you to easily identify which path type is in use. If the current drawing contains XREFs with Relative Paths and you save it to a different location, you are prompted to update the path location. Other minor changes include: The “Open” option for missing XREFs is no longer disabled and Orphaned References are now displayed in the proper tree view location.

AutoCAD’s user interface has had some enhancements also. Now, when you go to open a file using the Open dialogue box and you use any of the search filters, when you use the Open dialogue box again, it remembers the filters that you previously used. In previous versions of AutoCAD, you could not stretch the Drafting Settings dialogue box; however, in AutoCAD 2018 you can now do this, allowing you to see more information at once. The True Colour tab has also seen some improvements, now accepting RGB values when choosing a colour, allowing you to finally pick that elusive shade of blue you’ve been after.
The Quick Access Toolbar has a new option; Layers. Allowing users to easily toggle the Layers pallet on and off from anywhere in the User Interface. The rubber band line that appears when copying an object from a basepoint is now customisable. AutoCAD 2018 lets you change the colour of the rubber band line, for individual operations.

A big new addition in AutoCAD 2018 is HD High Resolution Monitor support. In older versions of AutoCAD, if you had a high resolution monitor, then the User Interface would become bulky and messy with information in different locations, at different lineweights and sizes. Now, AutoCAD recognises your Monitor resolution and adjusts accordingly. Some other slight improvements are to do with saving blocks and .DWG files. Performance and efficiency have both been noticeably improved when it comes to saving Blocks and MText with columns. AutoCAD 2018 now lets you save incrementally rather than fully saving the file. Some minor tweaks to Graphics Performance and 3D movement commands improve the overall AutoCAD experience.

Revit 2018

Revit has also seen some changes this version for architectural, structural and MEP. Now in Revit 2018 is the new multi-stair feature which allows modellers to quickly create multi-stair towers by attaching stairs to the levels within your project. The height of the stairs adjusts to the changing of level heights automatically. Stairs will be grouped by level height, and any changes made to one stair will be applied to all stairs within that group. You can add stories to your multi-story stair and you can also remove levels as required. For special cases, you can unpin a story from your stairs, allowing you to make adjustments to that story only. This new feature greatly simplifies the process of creating multi-story stairways in your projects.

Railings have also been altered and can now be added to an entire multi-level stair tower with 1 click. Similar to multi-stair towers, railings will also be grouped by their level height along with their host stairs. Any unwanted railings can be removed and new ones sketched into place with ease. Also, railings can now be hosted to other families other than just stairs; railings can now be hosted to walls and toposurface objects, allowing for things such as construction fences.

MEP Modelling has been greatly altered. You can now slope pipe, part-by-part and you can also apply and modify slope to elements that have already been modelled in the 2018 version of Revit. You can also apply slopes to T or Y parts and predefine slopes for elements inside Revit. Multi-point routing for fabrication elements is now available and will automatically take into account the fitting, priority, current conditions and connectivity rules for piping, ductwork and containment.

The Design & Analysis aspect of Revit has also been enhanced and now includes outdoor air requirements in space & building types. Data can now be exported for further energy analysis such as Energy Plus and simulation through gbXML and Insight 360. Revit 2018 introduces ventilation rates on the building and the space types to support work flow. Also, this information will now export to Energy Plus unlike previous releases. Previously, you could not alter the pathway for Downstream Analysis but in Revit 2018 you can now manipulate the pathway for your intentions which grants you a better base of analysis when collecting data.

Mechanical Simulation has been enhanced and Revit now connects the Flow and Pressure Drop data back to the pump via built in definitions in order to capture vital design criteria. Revit now allows you to make adjustments to the model while running a simulation to improve your workflow and time management. Analytical Connections has been updated to now make connections between piping and equipment to help facilitate main distribution sizing, preliminary flow and model based head requirements for your pumps. Revit 2018 now allows you to move equipment without having to re-model your piping in order to retain connectivity.

Revit 2018 now allows you to place Rebar in elements with complex geometry such as curved piers and decks, you can do this in 2D plan or 3D views. The new release of Revit now lets you set constraints for Rebar. Reinforcement of imported concrete elements from SAT files of from Infraworks is now possible with Revit 2018. Revit now allows users to view rebar constraints in 3D views and graphically make changes of rebar constraints for enhanced and accurate rebar placement. Add constraints to rebar which allow you to snap to host faces and to make this easier, Revit now highlights segments that can be constrained. All snap constraints maintain its relationship when you snap, replace or remove Rebar.

Revit 2018 also brings in new steel connections for users. You can now create steel connections between columns, beams, and bracings using custom families or certified families. Along with this, over 100 new connection types have been added in Revit 2018. When using families, Revit uses Recognition Methodology and examines the family geometry and tries to match its section to common steel shapes. This information is then used to run code check for custom, parametric user defined profiles. With these new additions, errors in fabrication are reduced by exchanging steel connection information for more accurate estimating and detailing. Improvements in the way users can specify the primary element and the order of secondary elements within steel connections have been made – Now when the user selects a connection the primary connection is displayed with a filled circle and secondary elements identified by numbered circles allowing users greater control when it comes to modelling steel work.

Navisworks 2018

It appears, in the 2018 version of Autodesk, no changes have been made to Navisworks 2018 other than the changeup of the file formats. .NWD file format for 2016-2018 is now the same and you can open 2018 .DWG and .RVT files in Navisworks.

This lack of love for Navisworks has a lot of users upset.

Inventor 2018

A lot of improvements to Inventor have been made for the 2018 release, some minor, some major. Improvements to some core functions of Inventor have been made, such as the ability to project geometry while sketching and enhancements to multi-body sheet metal parts and part modelling workflows. Inventor 2018 gives you the ability to add Geometric Dimensioning, Tolerancing, and 3D Annotations to your models; this streamlines the documentation process and enables downstream use of your 3D designs for manufacturing and quality processes. Along with this, new tools for adding annotations, GD&T, and other manufacturing information directly to a 3D part. An integrated Tolerance Advisor has also been added in Inventor 2018 which allows you to check the health of your tolerance Advisor browser.

Improvements to performance have been made. Noticeably when working with large assemblies and large assembly drawings. Faster navigation around model space with improved performance of Navigation tools. Drawing view creation, preview and edit have now also been given a performance boost.

After selecting an assembly document to place in a drawing, if the preview can display in 3 seconds, it will do. If it takes longer, a Preview Progress dialogue box appears. During this time, the dialogue box is the only element you can interact with while it is displayed. From this dialogue box, you can turn off Model Preview, recover Mesh Bodies, Surface Bodies, and all Model Dimensions.

In Inventor 2018, you can continue to use imported mesh data in your designs, and also leverage STL or OBJ files in your Inventor 2D drawings. Surface Data can now be combined with other 3D data in the Presentation environment for animations, exploded views, and documentation. BIM Content workflows allow for direct publishing of Revit files. Improvements to DWG Underlays streamline your workflows when integrating your 2D data inside of 3D designs. Inventor 2018 is now backwards compatible with Inventor 2017 however, Inventor LT is not.

In Inventor 2018, AnyCAD has been expanded and now allows you to leverage files from Inventor 2018 in you Inventor 2017 designs, this means you can now collaborate with others who are running a different version of Inventor without any issues. To easily identify what version an Inventor file is, in the Open dialogue box, it now displays the Inventor version that the file was last save in. Your AnyCAD workflow has been greatly enhanced by the addition of robust support of new features and non-native Inventor files.

DWG Underlay improvements make working with DWGs faster. Inventor 2018 allows you to import your DWG directly into an assembly using Place Components command. You can select multiple DWG files directly from the right-click context menu in your part or assembly model browser node in Inventor. If the selected DWG underlay geometry is within the XY, YZ, or XZ plane the resulting joint is created on the same plane as the sketch.

The Presentation environment in Inventor 2018 now allows for support of surface data which can be included in Window Selection, Component Tweaks, and use surfaces to orient the tweak triad. Multiple new actions have been added to allow for Group, All Before, and All After selections. The option to create a Presentation file directly from an Assembly file is also present in Inventor 2018.

In Inventor 2018, the Measure tools and workflows have both been simplified and improved in order to enhance overall productivity. And you can now perform all measure workflows from the new Measure tool panel. The improved tools and workflows allow you to display rich information for each selection with a single click. You can also measure angles and identify measure selections in the graphics window, and easily identify measure selections within the graphic window.

With the new browser tools Inventor 2018 brings, you can now find things quickly and easily in the current active document with the new browser search. You can now use a Filter tool in an Assembly file to narrow your search; however this is not available in Inventor LT. A lot like AutoCAD, you can now move and dock tabs to suit your way of working.

Part Creation has had some tweaks in time for Inventor 2018. Extrude has had some minor improvements and you can now use the distance from Face option in the Extrude dialogue box to start an extrusion from a face or work plane with a distance. Chamfer has been enhanced and you can now create a chamfer that does not require an entire edge. A new tab “Partial” in the Chamfer dialogue box is there to support the creation of partial chamfers. Hole has had multiple improvements, most noticeably; you can now create a symmetrical hole that extrudes in two directions. Flip Termination button is now replaced with Direction 1 and Direction 2 buttons. You can now specify zero value for bore depth on spot face holes, as a result you can now place spot face holes on the termination face of a body. The new addition of Extend Start in the Hole dialogue box allows you to extend the start face of a hole to the first place where there is no intersection with the target body, the purpose of this is to remove a fragment resulting from the creation of the hole.

Some minor changes to drawings have been made, including exporting to PDF. The Form and To values specified for Sheets in range are no longer session based and the addition of Display Published File in Viewer, when selected, displays the sheets in Adobe Acrobat Reader after clicking save. In Inventor 2018, you now have the ability to add a border around text and leader text. Improvements to the Parameter dialogue box, it now includes a Consumed by column and By Features filter.