My experience of AutoCAD 2004 aka Red Deer.

Retired by Autodesk March 15 2007


Previous AutoCAD version AutoCAD 2002 and newer version AutoCAD 2005

Hundreds of New and/or enhanced functions

In no particular order:

Hundreds of New and/or enhanced functions

New Features Workshop helps you learn the new features in AutoCAD 2004. Some topics in the New Features Workshop include a short, hands-on exercise.

More stable.

Better performance.

New look on the toolbar buttons.

The toolbars are redesigned. Some buttons are added and some are removed. The format of the icons is also now 16x16 and 32x32 not 16x15 and 32x30 as before and now supports True colors and transparency, therefore they might need to be redesigned to have a good look.

Opens faster than 2002. Xrefs are loaded significantly faster from network than in 2002.

File compression. This is from a run using SmartPurger. The size of the files after saved to 2004 format compared to 2000 format. Almost half the size! Download SmartPurger today and give it a try. This way you can migrate all your drawings and have them purged at the same time. Remember that not the whole DWG file is internally zipped. The preview bitmap is excluded. This explains why some files might get smaller by zipping them. The zip method is also balanced to performance and therefore you might get them smaller it you manually zips the drawings.

Licenses can be borrowed from the license server in a convenient way.

Drawing thumbnail preview in Window Explorer and the file browser dialog boxes within AutoCAD. This is when you have Windows XP.

True color support.

Pantone, RAL design and RAL classic color books are included.

Gradient hatch.

This is an example of gradient hatches functionality in AutoCAD 2004
combined with napkin functionality in ADT 2004.

Shaded viewports can now be plotted directly.

Snap to corners of Mtext can be done using node snaps.

Xref editing in place is easier.

Xref attach using relative paths are as easy as it could be.

When an xref on your drawing is updated you can get a notification of this.

You can reload all xrefs by right clicking on the xref tray icon.

When a standard is violated you can get a notification of this.

Notifications on drawings with digital signatures.

Right-click delay.

Side by side installs, this is great for those in need to run older version during migration. AutoCAD 2004 can be installed at the same time as AutoCAD 2002 or older.

Select crossing before stretch now works.

The render window can now be closed.

Attach multiple xrefs within a single command. Use CTRL+click to select multiple files.

Xref manager and Attribute Extension wizard dialog box and some other ones are now resizable.

The xref manager shows a notification if a drawing needs to be reloaded because it's updated.

From the xref manager you can open one or more xrefs as separate drawings.

Xopen command to open an xref as a separate drawing. Can be reached from the right-click menu.

Multiple redo. This is good. Now you can undo you whole drawing and then redo it!

WHOHAS.ARX is automatically used to make it easy to see who has the drawing opened that you are denied access to.

Express tools are included. Most of the commands are not in the core but you don't have to buy it separately. But they are not really supported.

The QDIM command has been enhanced to create dimensions that are automatically associated with the underlying geometry.

Today is removed.

Drawing window maximized on startup.  By default, the AutoCAD drawing window is maximized the first time you open AutoCAD.

MTEXT Line Space Factor setting available.

When filleting and chamfering objects, you can now use the Multiple option to automatically repeat the command.

PDFs for books available on CD.

REVCLOUD is moved from Express Tools and is now a core command. Enhancement is that you can convert polylines into revclouds and you can have the size of the cloud varying. It also works with zooming and panning transparently with the mouse wheel.

Draworder bugs are fixed. Changes to DRAWORDER are permanently stored in xrefs and blocks.

Mtext has a new GUI and can contain tabs and indents.

Tool palettes. New fancy GUI. In ADT 2004 it's really useful.

Auto hide of palettes like Properties and the Tool palettes.

Transparency on the palettes like Properties and the Tool palettes and even the command line. But there are bugs related to floating command line that you should be aware of. Check below.

Attributes are editable in the properties palette.

Drawings can now have passwords. Only for restricting an open of them. You cannot set a restriction like not to be plot from them or copy objects from them.

New installation interface making it easy to install from the CD.

Network Installation Wizard is making it easy to prepare deployments. You can add custom paths and files to the initial profile and files and folders to the installation.

License Timeout allows you to set up a timeout period on your license server to automatically return a license to the server so that it is available for use again. License Timeout returns a license to the license server when a client connection is lost, and it also prevents a license from being checked out and unused on a user’s computer indefinitely. If a user’s license is lost because of the idle timeout, the product attempts to claim a new license once the user attempts to run the product again. If no license is available, the user can save work before the product shuts down.

Close drawings or AutoCAD work with active commands running.

Support for installation without power user rights.

Mtext is not creating empty text anymore.

QNEW can be set to use a custom template drawing. Then it's just a one-click to start a new drawing based on that template.

CTRL+PageUp/PageDown to change tabs (layouts).

You can press CTRL+0 to hide and display any open user interface features such as toolbars, tool palettes, and DesignCenter. CLEANSCREENON, CLEANSCREENOFF are the commands.

The status bar has been updated in AutoCAD 2004 to offer you more control over the tools that are displayed. Right-click over the status bar to display a list of options.

The Zoom Window and Window Selection now pan past the edge of a viewport.

"off-screen pan/zoom": you move the *cursor* to the edge of the screen and you keep on moving the *mouse* the pan/zoom operation continues. This is only available on XP. Earlier OS don't have device independent API to track
the mouse offscreen.

"edge pan": Windows selection will pan the drawing to the opposite direction when your drag rectangle hits the edge of the *viewport*. You must hold the left mouse button down during dragging for this to work. This works on all OSes.

OLE copy from Excel has not the old limit if Office XP is used. SP 1 is needed. You can now have a 256
column X 10000 row spreadsheet if you have the system RAM to accomplish it.

Polyline (including width) and viewport objects have been added to the list of special properties that can be "painted" from one object to another using the MATCHPROP command.

The grips are now planar to the object UCS. When a 2D object lies on a plane other than the current UCS, the object is stretched on the plane on which it was created, not on the plane of the current UCS.

The path and filename can now again be entered and browsed for in the Wblock and Plot commands. In 2002 it was in separate fields.

Wipeout is now a core command. If you list a wipeout it's showed as a wipeout object, but if you use the properties you will see that it's showed as a raster image.

Wipeouts works for DWFs.

The new Publish functionality in AutoCAD 2004 provides an easy way to publish electronic and paper drawing sets. Helps you create DWF with multiple sheets.

DWF format is improved to hold multiple sheets.

AutoCAD Express Viewer included. Autodesk Express Viewer is a small, fast viewer with simple, easy-to-use tools for anyone who needs to quickly view and print to-scale DWF files.

Access to the Autodesk DesignCenter Online for quick and easy connection to online content.

Communication Center delivers opt-in notifications of product updates, extensions, news, and support information.

You now get a warning before opening a drawing created or "infected" by a Education version. This is also true for commands like insert and pasteclip.

CAD Standards GUI has been improved.

The CAD Standards plug-ins can be filtered. This way you can make checks on for example only the layers.

CAD Standards now supports a real time notification and repair functionality. The notification is using the new status bar icon.

CAD Standards reports are now stand-alone.

The digital signatures functionality provides another method to ensure the security of your digital design data.

Autodesk Shape Manager technology is used for 3D solid models.

The layer dropdown control is wider and thus makes it possible to see long layer names.

Text Styles and DimStyles are available via a toolbar, along with access to the Text Style and Dim Style dialog boxes.

Length of polylines shows up in the properties palette.

Hidden Line Settings are now accessible from the User Preferences tab of the Options dialog box and as a separate command. HLSETTINGS is the command.





The settings for the Insert and Xref dialog boxes are now persistent between drawing sessions.

All options available for multiple viewport selections using the shortcut menu. It is including Viewport Clip, Display Viewport Objects, Display Locked, and ShadePlot.

AutoCAD about is enhanced. The product information dialog box gives you useful information on the product and how it is licensed.

CAD Manager tools are included on the CD to make it easier to manage and deploy the software.

The Autodesk Product Manager enables you to inventory installed Autodesk software on a
PC, LAN, or WAN from a single location. The CAD or IT manager can easily keep track of
software assets to ensure maximum return on technology investment and avoid excess
software purchases.

The Installation Script Generator enables you to quickly create scripts to deploy service packs, extensions, and even your own customization tools.

During installation when you enter the license number you don't have to tab after the first 3 numbers.

CAD Manager Control Utility which can be used to disable Internet-based features such as DesignCenter Online or the Communication Center.

AutoCAD is prepared to work with multiple monitors. I've tried using 2 with a PNY card and 3 with a Parhelia card.

1-1/2" = 1'-0" scale has been added to the plot scales drop down.

The Audit and Recover is enhanced a lot to be able to take care of problematic drawings. Drawings that where not recoverable in AutoCAD 2002 can be recoverable now. I found several examples of this.

Reference Manager is a freestanding tool to change or report the paths for referenced files like xrefs, images, standards, fonts and plot styles.

During a preview of a hatch or gradient fill, you can now right-click or press ENTER to accept the preview. You no longer have to return to the Boundary Hatch and Fill dialog box and click OK.

Buzzsaw integration.

Layer filters are not multiplying on your drawings since they are not following when you insert or pasteclip to a drawing.

A button is added inside the layer properties manager>named layer filters dialog box to allow you to delete all named layer filters.

WMFBKGND default is now off by default.

The default value for the MIRRTEXT system variable has been reset to 0 (retains text direction) instead of 1 (mirrors the text).

The PEDITACCEPT system variable allows you to specify whether to convert nonpolyline objects to polylines that can be edited.

The GRIPOBJLIMIT system variable suppresses the display of grips when the initial selection set includes more than the specified number of objects.

AutoCAD is designed for Windows XP and has received a certification for this. Installation can be done for limited-right users also.

SAMreport-Lite 3.2 is included.

Error Reporting utility let's you send in reports to Autodesk if AutoCAD crashes. Do it and make the next Service Pack or Release more stable. If AutoCAD ends unexpectedly, and the Error Report message is not displayed, make sure the REPORTERROR system variable is set to 1.

New ActiveX objects with methods/properties and events like AcCmColor, FileDependencies, FileDependency and SecurityParams. Length property added to Acad3DPolyline, AcadLWPolyline and AcadPolyline

The bug resulting in loosing many profile/registry settings if you are denied a license is fixed.

The properties palette is enhanced so if you have prepared what category to show or not is individually saved for each type of object.

Focus is the value field when double clicking on an attribute. (Eattedit command)

(initdia) (command "_.XREF") does now work even though not stated in the documentation.

"Default Windows System Printer.pc3" is nice new addition that is dynamically pointing to your default windows system printer.

ActiveUCS no longer creates multiple named UCSs. The behaviour is now different from AutoCAD 2002. Take a look at the help example for the new usage.

Call to GetAcadState no longer hangs acad if AutoCAD is busy.

AutoCAD no longer crashes on calling Acadcocument.Close on a dwg containing an image and mview.

GetXData memory leak fixed.

InsertBlock API method no longer fails when the drawing being inserted is already open.

User interactive commands (i.e AcadUtility.Get*) no longer get cancelled by transparent command from toolbar/menu.

ExportProfile API now works similar to the GUI.

Exploding using API a block containing mtext no longer converts the mtext to text.

Wblock API now creates the preview image too.

More than 21 people can now open a dvb file from the network. This was a limitation before. (might not work I have heard reports about)

When AutoCAD is launched for the first time on a new or different profile, AutoCAD's 'Second Stage Installer' is launched, which copies a cache of base user customizable files to the new user's profile directory. They are located in a folder named UserDataCache in the application folder.

Several long-standing issues with solid hatches have been fixed in AutoCAD 2004. You will notice improved reliability with solid hatches, although drawings that contain solid hatches may now produce larger plot files. 

Express tools can be silently installed.

AutoCAD 2004 is supported on the TabletPC.

(acad_truecolordlg color [allowbylayer] [currentlayercolor]). Prompts for colors through the new dialog box.

(acad_truecolorcli color [allowbylayer] [alternatePrompt]). Prompts for colors at the command line.

In AutoCAD 2004, the entmod and entmake functions now have new behavior in color operations. DXF group code 62 holds AutoCAD Color Index (ACI) values, but code 420 holds true color values. If the true color value and ACI value conflict, AutoCAD uses the 420 value, so the code 420 value should be removed before attempting to use the code 62 value.

With the PreferencesUser object, you can use the SCMTimeMode and SCMTimeValue properties to control whether a quick right-click has the effect of pressing ENTER while a command is active. Right-clicking has the effect of pressing ENTER if SCMTimeMode is set to TRUE, and is disabled if SCMTimeMode is set to FALSE. (FALSE is the initial value.). The value of SCMTimeMode is stored in the SHORTCUTMENU system variable, and setting SCMTimeMode requires that the ShortcutMenuDisplay property be set to TRUE. If SCMTimeMode is TRUE, the SCMTimeValue property determines the number of milliseconds a user must hold down the mouse button for the shortcut menu to be displayed. Additional information on the properties is available in the VBA Object Browser.

The MText object now has a LineSpacingDistance property, which you can use to set the line spacing factor of multiline text. The LineSpacingDistance property changes the LineSpacingFactor property of an MText object.

ShadePlot property. This property specifies the shaded viewport plotting mode of a viewport.

HWND property. This property is now supported by the Application object.

If you have set the composition to Nonassociative in the bhatch dialog box it is remembered for the next time you open it.

Now you can insert and redefine or redefine only from Designcenter. You can also copy (copyclip) and create tools for the Tool palette.

TSPACEINVADERS is an undocumented Express Tools command that selects texts overlapped with geometry.

Many bugs not mentioned are fixed but some are also introduced.