My experience of AutoCAD 2008 aka Spago.

Retired by Autodesk in 2011

Previous AutoCAD version AutoCAD 2007 and newer version AutoCAD 2009.

New and/or enhanced functions

New and/or enhanced functions and some bug fixes.

AutoCAD's new 2D Drafting and Annotation workspace contains only toolbars, menus, and palettes related to 2D drafting and annotation.

The dashboard displays buttons and controls that are associated with 2D drafting and annotation.

The Dashboard can be customized with commands and droplists using CUI.

To further automate the user interface, when you select a tool from the Dashboard the corresponding tool palettes automatically display.

When you drag an object from the drawing to an inactive tool palette, AutoCAD automatically activates it enabling you to drop the object to the proper location.

You can customize the icons associated with tools on the tool palette using the new Specify Image menu option available when you right-click on a tool. If you no longer wish to use the selected image, an additional right-click menu option enables you to remove it, automatically restoring the default image.

When you modify the location of tools on a tool palette, their order is maintained in the tool catalog (unless the catalog file is read-only) as well as in the profile. This enables you to share your tool palettes without having to manually reorganize the tools.
The new TPNAVIGATE command enables you to set a tool palette or tool palette group current using the command line interface.

The drawing status bar at the bottom right contains tools for scaling annotations.
Different tools display for model space and paper space.
When the drawing status bar is turned off, its tools are moved to the application status bar.

On the menu bar, InfoCenter provides access to multiple sources of information.
You can enter keywords or a question for help, display the Communication Center panel for product updates and announcements, or display the Favorites panel to access saved topics.

The Communications Center panel displays links to product update and announcement information and RSS feeds, and may include links to Subscription Center and CAD Manager specified files.

You can now directly edit layout tabs like in Excel. Double-Click on the name to change it. Hold down the Ctrl key and drag to copy the tab (layout).

If you are using sheet sets, you can easily add a layout from the current drawing to the active sheet set. Right click over the layout tab and select the new Import Layout as Sheet option from the right click menu or simply drag and drop the layout tab onto the sheet list. Using either of these methods will display the Import Layouts as Sheets dialog box listing all the layouts in the drawing, with the specified layout already selected. You can easily select additional layouts to import without having to access the right-click menu or drag and drop for each layout.

The Customize User Interface (CUI) dialog box has been updated, making it more powerful and easier to use. Enhancements to pane headers, borders, splitter bars, buttons, and tool tips make it easier for you to understand and manipulate the controls and data in the CUI dialog box. With the CUI dialog box open, you can drag and drop buttons directly on a toolbar to rearrange or remove them. In addition, you can Copy and Paste or Duplicate CUI elements such as commands, menus, toolbars from within the CUI dialog box.

The Command List pane includes a new search tool that enables you to filter command names as you type. You can view the macro associated with a command by simply passing your cursor over the command name and you can drag and drop commands from the Command List directly onto a toolbar.

The CUI customization tree enables you to create a new toolbar based on an existing menu. If you drag and drop a menu element to the top level of the Toolbars node, AutoCAD creates a new toolbar; if you drop it onto another toolbar, AutoCAD creates a flyout.

A new Dashboard node enables you to customize panels in the AutoCAD Dashboard. Customizing a Dashboard panel is very similar to customizing toolbars, both within the CUI dialog box and on the Dashboard itself. In addition, you can create a new row of tools in a dashboard panel by dragging a toolbar from the Toolbar node to the Dashboard node.
When you select a toolbar or dashboard from the customization tree, a preview pane displays a customizable representation of the selected element. You can drag commands from the customization tree or command list directly into the toolbar/panel preview. And you can drag and drop tools in the preview pane to rearrange or remove them. When you select a tool in the preview pane, the corresponding tool is automatically selected in the customization tree and command list. Likewise, selecting a tool from the customization tree automatically highlights it within the preview pane and the command list. The Button Image pane displays the name of the image file below the icon preview and a tooltip displays the name of each button icon as you pass your cursor over the image.

When you access the CUI dialog box by choosing Customize from the right-click menu of a toolbar, tool palette, or dashboard panel, it opens in a simplified state with only the Command List displayed. You can also access the CUI in this simplified state using the new QUICKCUI command.


Enhanced tables now give users the option to combine AutoCAD and Excel tabular information into a single AutoCAD table. This table can be dynamically linked so that notifications appear in both AutoCAD and Excel as data is updated. Users can then select these notifications, allowing instant updating of information in either source document. See image.

Alternatively, if you already have data in an Excel spreadsheet, you can copy and paste the Excel data as AutoCAD entities (PASTESPEC command). Pasting Excel data as AutoCAD entities automatically creates a new table with the static values already entered. The resulting table is the same as if you had started from an empty table and then entered the values manually.

Auto-fill cells.

Table Spanning.

DataExchange command links tables two-way with Excel 2003/2007 spreadsheets.

The DataLink command allows you to modify links.

The Excel table is included with packages created by the eTransmit command.

The split-long-mtext-into-multiple-columns feature also applies to tables: long tables can be split into columns.


The enhanced MTEXT editor provides the ability to specify the number of columns required and flows new text between those columns as users make edits. The space set between each column of text and the edge of the paper is also customizable. All of these variables can be adjusted to specific values in the dialog box, or adjusted interactively using the new multicolumn text grips. See image.

A new Paragraph dialog box enables you to specify tabs and indents as well as paragraph alignment and spacing.

Multiple Line MTEXT Attributes

Imports from Word 2003 and 2007 with formatting intact.

And, the new Text panel on the Dashboard provides easy access to text-related tools including multline text, single line text, Find, Spell Check, text styles and text height.

When creating or editing multiline text, new controls in the Text Formatting toolbar, provide more formatting options for your MTEXT objects.

New column controls enable you to wrap an MTEXT object across multiple columns. You can specify dynamic or static columns and adjust the number of columns as well as the column and gutter width and height. Grips and the text formatting ruler provide visual editing options.


This new object is a big improvement on the old QLEADER command. MLeader keeps text or block attached to the leader, it can justify all selected leaders, and combine multiple leaders into one. New leader lines can be added to existing MLeaders, and there are new editing grips on the mleader line. Command shortcut command is MLD. Multileader styles helps to define different multileaders for different purposes. The dashboard has a specific area for these commands.

AUGI has an article here.


You can access the layer Isolation tools from the Layers panel of the Dashboard. The Layer isolate functionality (LAYISO) command includes a new option for you to lock and fade background layers rather than simply hiding them. You can control the amount of fading of using a slide bar or with the new LAYLOCKFADECTL system variable. Since objects on a locked layer cannot be edited, their grips are not displayed upon selection.

Layer States - new dialog box and new droplist in the Dashboard.

The Layer States Manager, which you can now access outside of the Layer Properties Manager, provides powerful features for managing and editing saved layer states. Access the Layer States Manager using the new LAYERSTATE command (LAS alias) or from the Layer panel of the Dashboard as well as from its previous location in the Layer Properties Manager. New import options enable you to import layer states directly from DWG, DWT, or DWS files in addition to the traditional LAS files. You can edit layer states and view layer states from xref files.

Layer Properties Manager

You can easily rearrange the display order of layer properties by dragging and dropping the column headings and you can control which layer properties are displayed by turning them on or off from a right-click menu. A new Customize Layer Columns dialog box, accessible from the right-click menu, enables you to toggle the visibility of multiple columns. See image.

A new layer creation option in the Layer Properties Manager enables you to create a new layer that is automatically frozen in all viewports. You can access this option from a button as well as from the right-click menu. Additionally, if you right-click on an existing layer, you can freeze that selected layer in all viewports. The Rename option in the right-click menu is also new in AutoCAD 2008. However, you can still rename an existing layer by pressing F2 or by clicking twice (slowly) on the layer name.

You can display objects differently in selected layout viewports while retaining their original layer properties in model space and in other layout viewports. With layer property overrides, you no longer need to use tedious and error-prone methods such as duplicating geometry on separate layers or making copies of xrefs. Instead, when working in a viewport, you can use the Layer Properties Manager to set overrides for VP Color, VP Linetype, VP Lineweight, and VP Plotstyle. When a viewport contains overrides, a Viewport Overrides property filter is automatically created and the override properties are indicated with a different background color. You can select the Viewport Overrides filter to view all layers that contain overrides. A right-click menu in the layer list enables you to remove viewport overrides and a new VPLAYEROVERRIDESMODE system variable enables you to temporarily ignore the overrides for viewing or plotting.

The viewport overrides only affect the display of object properties that are set to BYLAYER. You can quickly change object properties including Color, Linetype, Lineweight, Material, and Plotstyle, of selected objects to BYLAYER using the new SETBYLAYER command. The SETBYLAYER command enables you to modify multiple properties at the same time and it works on objects within blocks and nested blocks as well as the block definitions themselves. A new SetByLayer Settings dialog box, accessible from the SETBYLAYER command, enables you to control which properties to include in the operation.

A Settings button in the Layer Properties Manager provides access to the new Layer Settings dialog box where you can enable layer evaluation, apply the layer filter to the layer toolbar, and change the background color for viewport overrides.

The new Layer Panel on the Dashboard acts as a central location for your Layer tools. It includes all of the tools from the Layers toolbar and more!

SetByLayer command forces blocks and other objects to use the color specified by the layer of the block. Supports nested blocks.


Clicking on the Settings button in the Layer Properties Manager shows this dialog box. It allows you to evaluate what should happen when new layers are added to a drawing. Even xrefs can be evaluated and you can be notified on different actions like Open, Save, Attach/Reload xrefs, Insert, Restore layer state and Plot. In a multi-user environment this functionality is useful as a help so you don't end up plotting a drawing with new layers that you are not aware of. But don't rely fully on it since there are some pitfalls as seen further on.

Unreconciled New Layers is a notification that let you know that new layers has been found. If you right click on the Unreconciled New Layers icon you can also access the New Layer Notification Settings.


Unreconciled New Layers is a temporary filter that shows the layers that can be reconciled using right click. Being a filter makes it also easy to review the layers before acting on them.

LAYEREVAL and LAYERNOTIFY system variables are saved in each drawing and are the settings for unreconciled layer evaluation and notification. It can be a good idea to enforce the values using acaddoc.lsp. But remember even though you set LAYERNOTIFY to 0 it might still show the notification because the notification is showed before the setting is changed. In a single-user environment or if you don't want to use this new feature just add the following two rows to acaddoc.lsp.

(setvar "LAYEREVAL" 0)
(setvar "LAYERNOTIFY" 0)

Layer notification does NOT happen during publish operations that run in the background (such as publishing from SSM).

The drawing has to be opened and saved in AutoCAD 2008 once for the notification to work properly. The "Resave all sheets" option in SSM does NOT initiate this.

The alert before plot shows for the commands PLOT, -PLOT and PUBLISH. It does NOT show if the command is run from a script file (.SCR) or used in AutoLISP. The alert does NOT show if you start using a plot preview followed by plotting.

Take also a look at you templates and consider if you want layers in them to be unreconciled or reconciled. When saving as a template there is an option for that. Consider also what LAYEREVAL and LAYERNOTIFY should be set to.

Since the baseline that is saved in the drawing needs to know if a layer is reconciled it makes the drawing larger and there is no easy way to purge that information once it has been added. Changing LAYEREVAL and LAYERNOTIFY does not help. But I've made an AutoLISP function that solved this. More about it can be found here. Download for PurgeReconciledLayers.LSP.

An animation is available on this Autodesk blog post by Heidi Hewett.


Introduces the concept of annotation scale as an object property. Designers can set the current scale of a viewport or model space view, and then apply that scale to each object and specify its size, placement, and appearance based on the scale set for the viewport. In other words, annotation scale is now automated. See image.


Now 3DORBIT can be used within the block editor.

Using the parameter description activates tooltips when you hover over dynamic grips.

You can quickly update a block definition in the current drawing to match a block on the tool palette by selecting the new Redefine option from the right-click menu of a block tool.

Using dynamic blocks is more intuitive with new grip tips! When you hover the cursor over a dynamic block grip, the associated parameter description is displayed as a tooltip.

A new option in the XCLIP command enables you to clip the inverse of a selected boundary. For example, if you select the Invert Clip option and then specify a rectangular boundary, everything within the rectangle is removed from the display.

Block attributes have been updated to support multiple lines of text. The Attribute Definition and Edit Attribute dialog boxes include a new Multiple Lines control. When you select Multiple Lines, the Default text box is disabled and you’re provided with access the Multiline Attribute editor.

The Multiline Attribute editor is a simplified version of the MTEXT editor enabling you to enter text, adjust the width for text wrapping, insert fields, underline, and overline. You can use the right-click menu to access additional MTEXT editing options such as Import Text, Background color, and Autocaps. When you define a muiltiline attribute, an additional control in the Attribute Definition dialog box as well as in the Enhanced Attribute Editor, enables you to specify a Boundary Width.


The SPELL command now checks words in dimensions, zooms into words being corrected; added option to ignore words with numbers or words with special characters; where to check selection option.


Inspection dimension. This type of dimension has the value, a tag, and a percentage. The command is DIMINSPECT.

   Inspection dimension dialog box 

    Inspection dimension

The DIMJOGLINE command adds or removes a jog line on a linear or aligned dimension. You can edit the jog location using grips and you can turn off the jog or edit its height using the Properties window. Additionally, a new option for linear jog size is included on the Symbols and Arrows tab of the Dimension Style dialog box.


The DIMSPACE command adjusts the spacing equally between parallel linear and angular dimensions.

Here is beforeand here is the result of the command

The new Dimension Break tool (DIMBREAK command) enables you to break dimension or extension lines where they intersect geometric objects or other dimensions. After specifying the dimension that you want to break, you can select intersecting objects to use as cutting edges or you can choose the Auto or Manual options. When you break a dimension by selecting objects or using the Auto option, the breaks will automatically update when the intersection point moves. If the objects are moved so that they no longer intersect, the break will disappear and if they are moved back the break will automatically return to the proper location. The Manual option enables you to specify start and end point of the break. You can use the Restore option to remove all the breaks from selected dimensions or leaders.

Enhancements to diametric, radial, and jogged radial dimensions enable you to dimension an arc beyond its endpoints. The process for creating these dimensions hasn’t changed. However, when you specify the location of the dimension line, you can drag beyond the endpoints of the arc. AutoCAD will automatically create an arc extension line using the same properties, such as extension line color and extension line offset, as traditional extension lines.

A new option for angular dimensions enables you to place the dimension text outside of the angle being measured. You can access the new option, Quadrant, from the right-click menu when prompted to specify the dimension arc line location. The Quadrant option asks you to specify the quadrant (angle) that you want to dimension separate from specifying the dimension arc line location. If the dimension arc line location that you specify is outside of the quadrant that is being measured, AutoCAD will automatically create an arc extension line to the dimension text.

The Tolerances tab of the Dimension Style dialog box has been updated to include controls for aligning tolerances. You can align stacked tolerances using either the decimal separator or the operation symbol


Properties of objects can be extracted, such as the length of a line or polyline. Custom created rows or columns are retained.


When a DWF file is attached as an underlay you can specify which layers to display. Use the DWFLAYER command.


MicroStation's DGN files can be imported or attached like xrefs. This is limited to 2D drawings only. DGN 8 and XM Files only.

You can use the new DGNATTACH command to attach a DGN file to your AutoCAD drawing as an externally referenced underlay. When you attach a DGN file, it is displayed in the External Reference palette along with other externally referenced files such as images, DWG xrefs, and DWF™ underlays. You can clip the display area of a DGN underlay using the new DGNCLIP command and you can adjust its properties, including contrast, fade, and monochrome, using the Properties palette or through the DGNADJUST command.

You can import V8 DGN data into your AutoCAD session as a new DWG file using the new DGNIMPORT and DGNEXPORT commands. The V8 DGN file format has also been added to the list of supported file types in the IMPORT and EXPORT commands.

After selecting a DGN file to import, AutoCAD displays the Import DGN Settings dialog box. Using this dialog box, you can specify how DGN references should import into the AutoCAD drawing. You can choose to ignore external references, translate reference data into the drawing file, or create a DGN underlay. In addition, you can choose to explode text node to text elements (this option maintains the shape of text created along a path) and you can choose to convert the DGN file to AutoCAD units using the DGN file’s Master or Sub units.

When you export an AutoCAD drawing to DGN file format, AutoCAD displays the Export DGN Settings dialog box. You can choose to translate all DWG references to DGN files, bind all DWG references into one DGN file, or ignore DWG references. You have the option to export externally referenced DGN files (underlays) and you can specify a seed file and units (master or sub). Specifying a seed file allows you to choose to export the data as a 2D or 3D file using imperial or metric units and master or sub units.


Managing Materials
The Materials palette has been updated to provide faster, easier access to materials properties. It includes expandable panels, which enable you to view and edit material setting without having to access multiple dialog boxes.

In the Material Editor panel, you can specify the type of material and select from a wide range of pre-defined templates. The pre-defined templates include appropriate values, such as shininess, opacity, and translucency, for common materials. Using these templates, you can quickly create realistic materials without being a “materials expert.”

The Maps panel enables you apply diffuse, opacity, and bump maps to a material and you can synchronize any or all of the maps with the material. When the maps are synchronized with the material, any changes you make to the material will automatically apply to the specified maps, saving you time and reducing errors. The list of supported map types has been increased to include more procedural maps, such as Checker and Tiles, enabling you to achieve more realistic results than from texture maps alone. A button next to the Map Type provides access to map-specific properties by replacing the current Materials panels with Map-specific panels. When you finish customizing the map properties, you can easily return to the general Materials panels.

The Advanced Lighting Override panel enables you to adjust material lighting parameters for greater realism. Adjustable overrides include Color Bleed, Indirect Bump, Reflectance, and Transmittance.

The Material Offset and Preview panel enables you to preview the material as well as adjust the offset and rotation values.

Applying Photometric Data
In AutoCAD 2008, you can create realistic rendered images by applying real-world photometric properties to light sources. For example, you can reference the lighting catalog for a specific fixture and then use the candela, lumen, or lux values to adjust the lamp intensity. Photometric properties are accessible from the Command line when you create a new light or from the Properties window when you select an existing light.

In addition to the improvements to materials and lighting, a new –RENDER command (don’t forget the dash “-“) enables you to use the command line interface to select from the available render presets. With this command line option, you can automate the rendering process by creating a script to batch render multiple scenes.


RECOVERALL Repairs a damaged drawing and xrefs - The selected drawing file and all attached xrefs, including all nested xrefs, are opened, repaired, resaved, and closed.

  • Drawing files are saved in the current drawing file format.
  • Copies of the original drawing files are saved as BAK files.
  • If the object enabler is present, custom objects are updated.

Results are displayed in the Drawing Recovery Log window. Each drawing file checked includes a Drawing Recovery Log that can be expanded or collapsed. The entire log can be copied to the Windows clipboard with the Copy to Clipboard button.

AutoCAD 2008 includes support for Microsoft® Direct3D® hardware acceleration only in Windows Vista.

New texture compression enhancements will require less video memory and improve performance when display images and textures.

Sheet Set Manager (SSM)

A new option in the right-click menu of the Sheet List tab enables you to publish your sheet set in reverse order. When this option is enabled, the sheets that you plot using Publish to Plotter or Publish using Page Setup Override will plot in reverse of how they are listed in the sheet set manager.

Two additional enhancements provide greater flexibility when plotting from the Sheet Set Manager. When using the Publish using Page Setup Override option to create a DWF file, it will honor the Sheet Set Publish Options enabling you to publish to a multi-sheet DWF file. Also, a new system variable, PUBLISHCOLLATE, allows you to disable homogeneous plotting when you publish using Page Setup Override option. Disabling homogeneous plotting allows plots from other drawings or sheet sets to enter the plot spool.

AutoCAD 2008 includes a new toolbar that enables you to try out some of the functionality available in Autodesk® Impression software. With Impression you can create presentation-ready graphics directly from your AutoCAD drawings.
When you first select a tool from the Autodesk Impression toolbar, you are prompted to download and install the Autodesk Impression technology preview. Once it is installed you can sample some of the Autodesk Impression pen and pencil tools by automatically importing the current AutoCAD view into Autodesk Impression.

After opening a DWG or DWF file in Impression, you can add everything from distinctive line types to textured color fills, using pre-built or custom appearance styles. Libraries of styles can be saved and reused, allowing you to generate unique looks for your work while saving time. Because Impression understands CAD data, you can take advantage of the power of layers and blocks when creating their images.

System requirements

The AutoCAD 2008 DWG file format is the same DWG file format as in AutoCAD 2007.

AutoCAD 2008 can be installed side-by-side with any other AutoCAD or Autodesk vertical solution—including AutoCAD 2008–based products.

Third-party add-on applications based on Visual LISP® or AutoLISP®, VBA, ActiveX® and ObjectARX® programming languages and developer tools for AutoCAD 2007 are compatible with AutoCAD 2008 32-bit. AutoCAD 2008 is binary compatible with 2007 and has the same DWG file format.

Third-party applications for AutoCAD 2004/2005/2006 based on Visual LISP or AutoLISP are also compatible with AutoCAD 2008. Third-party VBA based applications for AutoCAD 2004/2005/2006 are compatible with AutoCAD 2008 32-bit in some cases, but there are instances in which those applications will need to modified. For more details on AutoCAD 2005/2006 VBA-based application compatibility, please refer to Third-party applications for AutoCAD 2004/2005/2006 based on ActiveX and ObjectARX will need to be upgraded to be compatible with AutoCAD 2008. Check with your application developer/supplier regarding availability of applications built for AutoCAD 2008.

Third-party applications for AutoCAD 2007 based on ActiveX and ObjectARX will need to be upgraded to work on AutoCAD 2008 64-bit.

System Requirements

The system requirements for 32-bit AutoCAD:

  • Intel® Pentium® 4 processor, 2.2 GHz Recommended
  • Microsoft® Windows Vista™, Windows® XP Home and Professional (SP2), Windows® 2000 (SP4)
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 750 MB free disk space for installation
  • 1024x768 VGA with True Color
  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 6.0 (SP1 or higher)

Available on CD (Worldwide) and DVD (select countries and languages)

Additional System Requirements for 64-bit AutoCAD

  • Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and Windows Vista 64-bit
  • AMD64 or Intel EM64T processor
  • 1GB RAM, 2GB for Windows Vista 64-bit
  • 750 MB free disk space for installation

AutoCAD 64-bit cannot be installed on a 32-bit Windows Operating System.

The System requirements for Windows Vista or 3D modeling (32 and 64-bit AutoCAD)

  • Intel® 3.0 GHz or greater
  • 2 GB RAM or greater
  • 2 GB free hard disk available not including installation
  • 1280 x 1024 32-bit color video display adapter (True Color) 128 MB or greater, OpenGL®, or Direct3D® capable workstation class graphics card. 
  • For Windows Vista, a Direct3D capable workstation class graphics card with 128 MB or greater is required.

Get information on graphics hardware certified for use with AutoCAD 2008.

AutoCAD 2008 supports multiple CPU systems. The performance of AutoCAD graphics and rendering systems will benefit from multiple CPU systems.