My experience of AutoCAD 2012 (aka Ironman).

AutoCAD 2012 ('twenty twelve') was released on Tuesday, 22 March 2011.
This is the 26th version of AutoCAD.

Previous AutoCAD version AutoCAD 2011 and newer version AutoCAD 2013.

New and/or enhanced functions

New and/or enhanced functions and some bug fixes.

No New file format "AutoCAD 2010 Drawing" is used. The version number is 18.2.

The big news in AutoCAD 2012 are:

  • Associate Array
  • Autodesk Exchange
  • Content Explorer
  • Auto-Complete Command Entry
  • Model Documentation + Import several new CAD formats
  • Inventor Fusion
  • In Canvas Viewport Controls
  • Editable UCS Icon
  • Performance Enhancements
  • New AutoLISP Functions

AutoCAD 2012 installation

The installer UI has been updated.

Create Deployment, Install Tools & Utilities or Install on this computer. See the System Requirements.

Installation Overview

The process of installing or deploying AutoCAD 2012 consists of the three main steps shown in the diagram above.

  • Preparation is very important for achieving a trouble-free and successful installation.
  • Entering Information varies depending upon the kind of installation or deployment you need.
  • Installation or Deployment executes quickly once you have made and specified your choices.

You will either perform an installation on a single computer or create a deployment for multiple computers. In both cases, you decide whether to accept the typical default options or select your own options to configure a custom installation. Although the AutoCAD Installer has been designed to be self-explanatory, you can find answers to your installation questions in the FAQ provided here. Note that complete details for creating deployments are provided in the Network Administrator's Guide.

What kind of installation will you perform?

Here are the four main installation types with a summary of the data and decisions they require:

  • Typical installation with default options. For a typical installation, begin with a proper preparation. Then, just click through the installer, providing your serial number, product key, and license information. Pre-selected components will be installed with AutoCAD.
  • Custom installation with selected options. For a custom installation, in addition to the items listed above for a typical installation, you will also need to determine:
    • Which of the additional bundled products (such as Autodesk Design Review) to install with AutoCAD.
    • Which features (such as Express Tools) to install with AutoCAD.
    • Select standard content libraries to install.
    • Whether to accept the default to create a desktop shortcut.
    • Whether to install any available service packs, either from Autodesk or from a local or network drive.
  • Typical deployment with default options. To create a typical deployment using default options, in addition to providing your serial number, product key, and license information, you will:

    • Name your deployment.
    • Specify a location for your administrative image.
    • Specify whether you want a network log file.
    • Determine whether to run installations to workstations in silent mode.
    • Determine whether you want to create a client log file in the Temp directory of each workstation.
  • Custom deployment with selected options. For a custom deployment, in addition to the items listed above for a typical deployment, you will also specify:
    • Which of the additional bundled products (such as Autodesk Design Review) to install with AutoCAD.
    • Which features (such as Express Tools) to install with AutoCAD.
    • Whether to install any available service packs and whether to merge them with the deployment or append them.
    • Whether to add additional files to the deployment.
    • A folder or folders where support content will be installed.
    • What modifications to make to the default search paths and the location of some program files.
    • User preferences.
    • Whether to enable access to communication channels, live updates, and RSS feeds.
    • Whether to enable access to online resources.


VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) is still available as a separate installer.

UPDATE: As of January 31, 2014, Autodesk is no longer authorized to distribute VBA 6 or earlier versions of VBA for use with Autodesk AutoCAD and other Autodesk products. This change affects the availability to download and install VBA for Autodesk AutoCAD 2013 or earlier.


Simplified Migration to AutoCAD 2012: New and enhanced tools make it easier to migrate your custom settings or reset AutoCAD to the default install settings. Improved handling of tool palettes and new migration of custom materials help ease the transition to AutoCAD 2012, and a new reset tool helps easily return to default settings.

Autodesk Vault

Autodesk Vault is available for AutoCAD 2012 subscription customers.


  • Faster startups, particularly running Vista or Windows 7.
  • Switch ribbon tabs is nearly instantaneous.
  • Opening large 3D models with lofts and meshes.
  • Initializing orbit command and orbiting large 3D models.
  • Improved performance with large, dense hatch objects.
  • Selection highlighting, license checkout, running LISP routines.


In AutoCAD 2012 The ARRAY command has been largely improved and is now creating a new array object that is also associative by default. The old AutoCAD array dialog box is gone (ARRAYCLASSIC available in SP1) with only –ARRAY as classic command line command and the ARRAY command is instead working with the command line, properties and the Ribbon.


Associativity allows you to quickly propagate changes throughout an array by maintaining relationships between items. Arrays can be associative or non-associative.

  • Associative. Items are contained in a single array object, similar to a block. Edit the array object properties, such as the spacing or number of items. Override item properties or replace an item’s source objects. Edit an item’s source objects to change all items that reference those source objects.
  • Non-associative. Items in the array are created as independent objects. Changes to one item do not affect the other items.

To edit the array properties, use ARRAYEDIT, the Properties palette, Ribbon or grips.

Apply Item Overrides: Ctrl+click items in the array to erase, move, rotate, or scale the selected items without affecting the rest of the array. Reset the array to remove all item overrides.

Replace items: Replace selected items with other objects. Any item overrides are maintained. You can also replace all items that reference the original source objects, rather than selecting individual items.

Edit Source: To edit an item’s source objects, activate an editing state for a selected item. All changes (including the creation of new objects) are instantly applied to all items referencing the same set of source objects. Save or discard your changes to exit the editing state.

There are unfortunately a few bugs still in the new Array command that hopefully soon will be squished either as a hotfix or in AutoCAD 2012 Update 1 (AutoCAD 2012 SP1).

There is no LISP API to create and edit the new array object.

What if a drawing with the new Array object is opened in AutoCAD 2011 or older versions? The Associative block is a static anonymous block and all arrayed objects are also anonymous blocks. So you would need to explode twice to get the individual objects back.

Copy Tool

The Copy tool includes a new Array option that enables you to create a linear, non-associative array. You can enter the distance between a specified number of copies or enter the number of copies to fit between two specified points.


AutoCAD 2012 introduces AutoCAD Content Explorer. It overlaps to some extent with the old Design Center and comes via Autodesk Labs Project Snap.

Content Explorer is available on the Plug-ins ribbon tab and comes with the commands CONTENTEXPLORER and CONTENTEXPLORERCLOSE and system variable CONTENTEXPLORERSTATE.

Content Explorer aggregates design content from different folders that have been specified for monitoring by the Content Service (that is using Lucene for index/searching).

With Content Explorer you can index design content for quick access, catalog the objects in each file, and search for content in local folders (not external drives), network folders (not Windows network drives), and the Autodesk Seek Library.

With Content Explorer, you can

  • Browse and search design content in local folders, network folders, and the Autodesk Seek Library and immediately access files and objects from within the AutoCAD environment
  • Browse into DWG files and access and insert blocks, layers, linetypes, styles, etc.
  • Search for objects, all text, attributes (including block attributes), and files in specified local and network folders.
  • Pinpoint specific block references or text strings and automatically navigate to the containing file
  • Open any file from Content Explorer and zoom to any attribute within it
  • Save search parameters for instant access to design content that meets your design needs
  • Customize how search results are displayed to streamline your work environment
  • Right-click and select Open and Find text to open the drawing and locate any text within.

All text and attributes in the files are indexed, including block attributes. In addition, the following objects are indexed when a folder is selected for monitoring:

  • Block definitions
  • Block references
  • Dimstyles
  • Layers
  • Layouts
  • Linetypes
  • Multileaderstyles
  • Tablestyles
  • Textstyles
  • Xrefs
  • Hyperlinks

Manage Saved Searches in Content Explorer

The saved searches feature allows you to capture a certain search string in a single click.

You can eliminate all of the steps required to search for specific files or objects by saving the search string.

For example, you can save a search that locates all of the furniture created by a specific designer. Any time you want to quickly access furniture, select the saved search. Since the index is continuously updated, any new files that meet the search criteria are displayed every time the search is recalled.

You can also delete saved searches, edit the names of existing saved searches, and save new searches on the Saved Searches drop-down menu.

Advanced Searching with Content Explorer

Advanced searches can be performed using property:value pairings or boolean operators.

You can refine your searches by using string combinations and value pairings.

Use Property Name and Value Pairs

A property:value pair is the property name and specific value for which you want to search. To search for a property with a specific value, enter the data as property:value in the Search field.

For example, enter author:jsmith in the Search field to find all of the DWG files where the author was JSmith.

More than one property:value pair can be used in a search string. For example, you can search for all of the drawing files identified as seating which were created by jsmith by entering objecttype:seating author:jsmith in the Search field.

You can create custom properties and values for your files on the AutoCAD properties dialog box.

Use Attributes and Value Pairs

An attribute:value pair is the block attribute and specific value for which you want to search. To search for a block attribute with a specific value, enter the data as attribute:value in the Search field.

For example, enter Designedby:JohnDoe in the Search field to find all of the objects designed by John Doe.

Search Text for a Specific Value

With the basic search capability, you can enter a text string and the search engine will return all files with a file name, keyword, title, author, or other properties that meet the string criteria, as well as any files containing the string, and objects with names that match the text string. Sometimes this type of string search will return more results than you need.

Use the text:string pair to search only for text entities, such as leaders, fields, hyperlinks, MText, tables, or any other text that may show up on a drawing. This type of search parameter will not search file-level properties, such as Author or Title.

To search for a specific text string, enter the data as text:string in the Search field.

For example, enter text:reviewed in the Search field to find all of the files with text entities containing the string “reviewed.”

Search with wild cards

You can use wild cards when specifying search criteria.

* - Represents any number of characters within a string.

? - Represents a single character within a string.

The search engine assumes a trailing asterisk (*), so you do not need to put an asterisk at the end of a search phrase.

Search with Boolean Operators

You can use operators to further refine your search results.

For example, to search for all of the files identified as seating that were not authored by JSmith, enter objecttype:seating NOT author:jsmith in the Search field.

AND - Searches for x AND y in any order. The search granny AND smith returns anything containing both words.

OR - Searches for either x OR y. The search granny OR smith returns anything containing either word.

NOT - Searches for x but NOT y. The search granny NOT smith returns anything containing granny but not smith.

" " - Searches for the exact phrase contained within the quotation marks. The search "granny smith" returns everything containing the exact phrase granny smith.

Filter Results in Content Explorer

The filter lets you choose object types, specific dates, date ranges, and relative dates to display in search or browse results.

Filter settings persist throughout searches and browsing until they are changed or the filter is deactivated. If you do not get the search or browse results you expect, try checking your filter settings to make sure they are current.

Indexing Stages

The indexing occurs in three stages, with deeper indexing occurring with each stage. The stages can be determined by the thumbnails displayed in the Content Explorer window.

And after a while when indexing is ready...

Stage Icon Displayed Description

File has been discovered by the indexer.

By the end of this stage, file name and standard Windows properties have been extracted. You can search for file names and Windows properties, but you cannot explore the content within the file.

Note! Since all text and attributes in the files are indexed, the initial index of the files contained in the watched folders may take some time to complete.


Thumbnail and DWG-specific file properties have been discovered. During this stage, all objects and any text in the drawing, including block attributes, are being indexed.

You can now search for DWG properties, but you cannot explore the content within the file.


File is completely indexed.

You can now explore or search for content within the file.


There was an issue while indexing this file.

Select the file and press CTRL+ I for more information regarding the issue.


If the Sheet Set Manager dialog opens every time you open a file in Content Explorer, it is because of the SSMAUTOOPEN system variable setting. Change the setting to suppress the dialog.

If you plan to search folders on several different network computers, Content Service must be installed on each network computer and the folders added to the watched folder list for indexing. Any machine running AutoCAD or an AutoCAD vertical with Content Explorer can access the network machines running Content Service for real-time search results.


Autodesk Exchange provides a web-based experience directly within the product. Included are tabs that access the following sources of information:

  • Home. Provides a wide variety of content, including announcements, expert tips, videos, and links to blogs. When enabled for online access, the Home tab also includes access to the Knowledge Base, Communication Center, and Subscription Center.
  • Apps. Released 2011-06-13. See the blog post on Autodesk Exchange Apps
  • Help. Opens the AutoCAD Help system.

The tabs for online sources are not available in all languages, products, and installations. Autodesk Exchange can be configured for offline use only, in which case only the Home and Help tabs are displayed.

The Autodesk Exchange is a modeless windows showed on top of AutoCAD but work in AutoCAD can be done. It can be minimized itself or together with AutoCAD when AutoCAD is minimized. Using Alt+Tab when Autodesk Exchange is minimized will not show the window even though it can be seen on the taskbar.

Options>System has Autodesk Exchange settings:

  • Access online content (including Help) when available
  • Offline Help browser:
    • Internet Explorer (Supports all functionality)
    • Default System Browser

It's not possible to get internal content or custom help files to integrate. The only option is to access it via the CAD Manager Feed button. Deployment Wizard or CAD Manager Control Utility can be used to enable the CAD Manager Channel.

To disable Exchange for all users at deployment, uncheck the option "Use Online Help from Autodesk when available" in the deployment wizard. The end-user can turn it back on in the Options dialog though.


In-canvas Viewport controls are displayed at the top-left corner of each viewport, and provide a convenient way of changing views, visual styles, and other settings.

The labels display the current viewport settings. For example, the labels might read
[+] [Top] [2D Wireframe]
You can click within each of the three bracketed areas to change the settings.

  • Click + to display options for maximizing the viewport, changing the viewport configuration, or controlling the display of navigation tools.
  • Click Top to choose between several standard and custom views.
  • Click 2D Wireframe to choose one of several visual styles. Most of the other visual styles are used for 3D visualization.

VPCONTROL system variable controls whether the menus for viewport tools, views, and visual styles that are located in the upper-left corner of every viewport are displayed.


The UCS has been updated to allow direct manipulation. Select the UCS icon and use the multi-functional grips to change the UCS.

Easily move the origin, align the UCS with objects, and rotate it around the X, Y, or Z axis without having to access the UCS command.

When selected Properties give access to UCS icon On, UCS icon at origin, UCS per viewport and UCS Name.

Right click on the UCS Icon for more options. This is customizable using CUI.

Blend Tool

Create spline objects with options for tangent or smooth continuity between two curves with the new Blend tool. BLEND creates a spline in the gap between two selected lines or curves.

In below image the green spline is created by the blend command.

Valid objects include lines, arcs, elliptical arcs, helixes, open polylines, and open splines.

Layer Enhancements

A new layer management option enables you to quickly freeze specified layers in all viewports except the current one. You can access this functionality from the right-click menu in the Layer Properties Manager as well as from the Freeze option of the VPLAYER command.

Mtext Enhancements

The Mtext background mask has been updated to remember the last used fill color and border offset factor rather than always defaulting to red and 1.5.

MLeader Enhancements

To have more control over your leaders, you can now change the gap around Mleader text in a text frame. You can also extend the leader line to the text rather than ending at the text bounding box. Access the MLeader improvements in the Multileader Style dialog box.

When the Frame Text property is enabled, the Landing gap value specifies the distance between the text and the text frame.

Fillet, Chamfer, Blend, and Join

The Fillet and Chamfer tools have been updated to display a preview when passing the cursor over the second object in the fillet/chamfer selection. Now you can confirm and change the radius or distance values before even completing the command.

When using the Polyline option, the preview fillet arcs or chamfer lines are displayed for the entire polyline.

If the preview is not as desired, you can edit the fillet radius or chamfer distance/angle prior to completing the operation.
The Fillet tool now supports filleting of spline objects.

The new Blend tool creates spline objects with options for tangent or smooth continuity between two curves, speeding documentation time. It supports lines, arcs, 2D and 3D polylines, splines, helixes, and elliptical arcs.

The Join tool is streamlined to automatically combine selected objects using typical selection methods such as crossing or picking objects in any order. You are no longer required to select the source object first.

Spline Enhancements

Splines have been updated in AutoCAD 2012 to support periodic splines. When you specify the Close option for a spline, a periodic spline with C2 continuity between the start and endpoints is generated and the new Periodic property is listed in the Properties window.

An example of a periodic spline.

With Control Vertices shown.

Periodic behavior is also supported when rebuilding closed NURBS surfaces. When converting an analytical surface to a NURBS surface, a periodic NURBS surface is created if the end conditions of the surface allow for it.
AutoCAD 2012 provides more flexible and intuitive behavior with greater control when grip-editing fit points of splines. In addition, the knot parameterization property of the spline, which is displayed in the Properties palette when the method is set to Fit, has changed from a read-only text field to a drop-down list where you can specify chord, square root, or uniform knot parameterization. Changing the knot parameterization value is often useful when switching from editing the control vertices of the spline to editing the Fit points of the spline. It provides greater control over the shape of the spline as it passes through the Fit points.
The Kink option has been added to the Splinedit tool when selecting a Fit Points spline.

The Extend tool is enhanced to support splines when selecting objects to extend. The spline is extended while maintaining a curvature that is continuous with the original spline.

The 3D Edit Bar is enhanced to support splines and is accessible from the right-click menu when a spline is selected. It enables you to move the location of a point on the curve, change the magnitude of the tangency at the point, and change the tangent direction relative to the point.

Dimension Right-Click Menu

When you right-click with a dimension selected, you now have the option to Remove Style Overrides.


Save time by automatically generating intelligent documentation for AutoCAD, Inventor, and other models. Drawing views, edge display, and location are instantly updated when an engineering change is made.
Access the model documentation tools from the Drawing Views panel of the Annotate ribbon tab.

Using the Drawing View editing tools, you can easily modify drawing views after they’ve been created.

When changes are made to the source of a drawing view, various notifications appear.

Standards play a role in almost every aspect of documentation, including the representation of drawing views. You can specify drafting standards for new drawing views using the Drafting Standard dialog box, which is accessible from the dialog box launcher in the lower right corner of the Drawing Views ribbon panel. You can specify first angle and third angle projection methods, which support the ISO and ANSI standards.

The Export Layout tool has been updated to support new 2D View functionality in AutoCAD 2012. You can access this tool from the Save As>Save Layout as Drawing option in the Application menu.

Import a wide variety of other formats including SolidWorks®, Pro/ENGINEER®, CATIA®, Rhino, and NX®. Drawing views, edge display, and location are instantly updated when an engineering change is made.

The ability to import these file formats supports surfaces, solids, and 2D and 3D wire geometry. The data is translated to native AutoCAD geometry and inserted into the drawing as blocks. Parts and assemblies in the original models are preserved and replicated as nested blocks. After importing, you can freely modify the data using standard AutoCAD editing tools and document the 3D models using the new model documentation tools.


With access directly from the AutoCAD 2012 interface, AutoCAD WS web and mobile application for AutoCAD software allows you to stay connected to your designs over the web or from your mobile device.


Adds to the 3D conceptual design capabilities of AutoCAD and sets a new standard for professional 3D modeling ease of use. It enables you to flexibly edit and validate models from almost any source, helping you further experience the benefits of easy-to-use 3D in the native DWG format.

Inventor Fusion 2012 that got installed along with AutoCAD 2012 and Inventor 2012 has the Alias Design surfacing technology in it.

Fusion is very different from AutoCAD and is in reality a separate application running within AutoCAD making it take relative long time (several seconds or minutes) to go back and forth because the “Inventor Fusion.exe” process has to be started and closed each time.

When you click the “Edit in Fusion” button you can select only solid objects.


Multi-functional Grips has been extended to include AutoCAD objects like lines, arcs, elliptical arcs, dimensions, mleaders, 3D faces, edges, and vertices.

External Reference Enhancements

When passing the cursor over the edge of an attached image, DWF, or PDF file, a selection preview frame is displayed, even when frames are turned off.

When passing the cursor over geometry inside an attached DWF, PDF, DGN, or DWG file, a selection preview frame is displayed, even when frames are turned off. Select the frame and it is possible to grip-edit a clipped boundary frame.

When a reference is selected in External References manager the frame is automatically displayed.

FRAMESELECTION controls whether the frame of an image, underlay, or clipped xref can be selected.

Copy Nested Objects

The former NCOPY express tool is integrated into the core AutoCAD software application enabling you to copy objects that are nested in xrefs, blocks, or DGN underlays without having to explode or bind them. Easily access the Copy Nested Objects tool from the Modify panel on the Home ribbon tab.

Delete Duplicate Objects

Clean up your drawings by removing duplicate or unneeded geometry. The Delete Duplicates tool provides increased performance— especially when running on drawings with many objects. The command OVERKILL is now a core command instead of an Express Tool command.



To nudge selected objects in orthogonal increments, press Ctrl + arrow keys. Snap mode affects the distance and direction in which the objects are nudged.

  • Nudge objects with Snap mode turned off: Objects move two pixels at a time; movement is relative and orthogonal to the screen, regardless of the view direction or the UCS orientation.
  • Nudge objects with Snap mode turned on: Objects are moved in increments specified by the current snap spacing; movement is orthogonal to the X and Y axes of the current UCS and relative to the view direction. See SNAPMODE and SNAPUNIT.

Snap Mode Improved

When Snap Mode is on the cursor no longer snaps to grid points when selecting objects, only when specifying points.

For those users who prefer the "old style" Snap, a new variable called SNAPGRIDLEGACY was introduced in SP1 for AutoCAD 2012.

Implied Selection Improved

When picking the first point of an implied window (when you select a point outside an object) it is possible to access Fence/WPolygon/CPolygon.

Command: Specify opposite corner or [Fence/WPolygon/CPolygon]:


Selects a clicked object or begins a selection window whether the cursor is on an object or not.

For PICKAUTO settings 0 and 1, object selection occurs when the mouse button is pressed. For PICKAUTO setting 2, object selection occurs when the mouse button is released.


With the new option when PICKDRAG is set to 2 there is no need to choose how to make a selection window.

Create a selection window using two points. Click once to begin a selection window, click again to complete the selection.
Create a selection window clicking and dragging. Release the mouse button to complete the selection.
Create a selection window using either of the methods above.

Sheet Set Manager

Autodesk Vault support is integrated with the Sheet Set Manager. Open and check out sheet set files from Autodesk Vault. And, when using the Workgroup, Collaboration, and Professional versions of Autodesk Vault, revisions and lifecycle management are also supported by Sheet Set functionality.

Updates to the Vault Client enable you to display sheet set data, extract and index sheet set properties, and publish sheet sets with the Autodesk Vault Batch Plot Manager.

If Autodesk Vault is installed on your system, Vault status icons are displayed in the Sheet Set Manager for the sheet set, individual sheets, and files. The status is also displayed on the tooltip when you hover the cursor over a sheet in the sheet list.
The right-click menu in the Sheet Set Manager is updated to include a Vault option. When you right-click on the background of the Sheet List, Sheet Views, or Model Views, you can access the options to Log In and Log Out of Vault.

A big news in AutoCAD LT 2012 is that Sheet Set Manager is available.

See also JTB World's SSMPropEditor that further helps work with SSM.

DWG Convert

Helping make it easier to collaborate, the DWG conversion tool enables you to translate AutoCAD DWG files to any of the following DWG versions: Release 14, 2000, 2004, 2007, and 2010. And since you can convert files in batches, you can quickly bring older file libraries up to date.
Easily access the DWG Convert tool from the Applications menu in the upper left corner of the AutoCAD window.

Choose Save As>DWG Convert to display the DWG Convert dialog box. In the DWG Convert dialog box, you can specify the DWG files to be converted, save the list for future use, create new lists, and open or append existing lists.

Conversion Setups enable you to specify the conversion properties, such as file format and path options. You can specify how to store the converted drawings, in a zip file or self-extracting executable, for example. Additional options enable you to perform actions such as purging the drawings or replacing page setups during the conversion process.

You can save multiple conversion setups, enabling you to easily restore a specific set of conversion properties. For example, you may have a particular client that requires you to save all the drawings to AutoCAD 2000 file format, while another one insists that you purge all the drawings and submit them in AutoCAD 2010 file format.

Osnap Enhancements

The behavior for Perpendicular and Tangent object snaps is enhanced in AutoCAD 2012 to provide more flexibility. Now, when grip-editing the endpoints of lines or the endpoints and vertices of Polylines, AutoCAD enables you to choose from multiple snap points based on the location of the cursor. In other words, AutoCAD finds object snap points to make objects tangent or perpendicular, as well as the tangent or perpendicular points relative to the selected grip. The Osnap glyph is displayed at each possible location as you move the cursor of the object.

If Infer Constraints is enabled when using the perpendicular or tangent object snaps, the corresponding geometric constraint is automatically applied to the objects.

Integrated 3Dconnexion Support

Support for 3Dconnexion devices is improved in AutoCAD 2012. The precision and controllability of 3D mouse movements were further optimized to provide a more superior 2D and 3D navigation experience. In Walk and Fly modes, the navigation speed accelerates as the camera position moves away from the model. With Object mode, a consistent zoom speed is maintained regardless of the model size or position of the camera within the drawing.

3D Autosnap Marker

The Autosnap Marker control in the Drawing Window Colors dialog box is renamed to 2D Autosnap Marker and a new 3D Autosnap control was added. With different colors, you can more easily distinguish between 2D and 3D osnaps in the drawing editor.

Surface Modeling Tools

Presspull Functionality

Presspull functionality provides an easy way to create and edit solids. You simply click in a bounded area of a solid and AutoCAD dynamically creates an extruded solid. If the bounded area is the face of a solid, the extrusion is added or removed from the solid. In AutoCAD 2012, powerful Presspull functionality has been updated to repeat until you exit the command enabling you to quickly press and pull multiple times in a single operation.

Offset Edge

The new Offset Edge tool, available on the Solid Editing panel, enables you to create an offset curve from a planar face or from a surface where all the edges lie on the same plane. After you select a face, the edge of the face is dynamically offset to the inside or outside based on cursor location producing a polyline or spline. During the offset operation, you can access the Corner option to specify sharp or rounded corners for the offset curve. After offsetting an edge, you can use the Presspull tool to easily add or remove the bounded area from a solid.

Chain and Loop Selection

Chain or Loop options to simplify the process of selecting a set of contiguous edges or curves. The new Chain selection option detects if there is a set of contiguous edges within a solid or mesh object, or within or between surfaces. The chain may either be open or closed and is available in the SURFPATCH, SURFBLEND, MESHCAP, and FILLETEDGE commands.

The Chain option within the FILLETEDGE command identifies and fillets edges that have continuity. For example, the part below on the left does not have rounded corners so the fillet operation is limited to the selected edge. The part on the right, however, has rounded corners enabling the Chain option to select and fillet all the continuous edges.

In addition to the Chain option, the FILLETEDGE and the CHAMFEREDGE command include a Loop option. A loop is similar to a closed chain. After selecting an edge, you can choose which of the potential loops to use.

Trimmed Surface Properties

The Properties palette for trimmed surfaces is updated to provide more control and flexibility. A new Trims pane displays trim properties for the selected surface. It includes an Edge property, which cycles through the edges and highlights them in the drawing. The new Associative Trim property indicates if the current edge is associative. You can remove the associativity for any given edge.

Creation Preview

A new preview provides a visual cue indicating when a surface or solid is in an intermediate state during creation. For example, as you select profiles to create a lofted solid or surface, an updated preview of the resulting object is displayed with each selection.

And an example with FILLETEDGE.

PREVIEWCREATIONTRANSPARENCY controls the transparency of the preview generated while using SURFBLEND, SURFPATCH, SURFFILLET, FILLETEDGE, CHAMFEREDGE, and LOFT commands.

Solid History

Solid history is turned off by default in AutoCAD 2012. With solid history turned off, you can directly edit faces, edges, and vertices of solids. To retain solid history, you can set the SOLIDHIST system variable to 1.

Point Cloud Support

AutoCAD 2012 includes an improved indexing algorithm for generating PCG files in addition to optimized viewing at changing zoom levels.


The Materials Browser has been updated in AutoCAD 2012 for improved usability. The Create Material menu includes descriptive labels to clearly indicate that it is for creating new materials. And, when you use the Search tool, the results more clearly describe where materials were or were not found. Many material swatches have also been updated. To help you more easily find materials based on category, materials in the Autodesk Materials Library have been organized into nested categories where appropriate.

The Materials Editor has also been updated with labels that make it easier to find controls for creating materials, specifying options, and accessing the Materials Browser. The Information tab in the Materials Editor now includes a field for the material name.

Behavior in the Texture Editor is updated to automatically expand the Transforms options, making it easier to find key properties such as position and scale.

This Medium Resolution Image Library contains medium resolution images (approximately 1024 x 1024) for rendering materials in medium detail and is used for close-ups and for rendering objects at larger scale. Due to its size (close to 750 MB) and somewhat infrequent usage by most AutoCAD customers, this library is not included in the 2012 installer.

If the AutoCAD 2012 Medium Resolution Image Library is required to produce higher resolution renderings when issuing the RENDER or RENDERCROP commands you will get the options to Install the Medium Images Library, Get More Information or Work without using the Medium Images Library.

Autodesk Material Library Medium Resolution Image Library 2012:

With the evolution of the Autodesk Materials Library, the MATSTATE and MATERIALSPATH variables are no longer necessary and have been removed.

Multiple Plot File Search Paths

AutoCAD 2012 provides increased flexibility for managing plot files. You can now specify multiple folders for printer configuration (.PC3) files, printer description (.PMP) files, and plot style (.CBT & .STB) files. You can add support paths on the Files tab of the Options dialog box. If these files are not found in the specified folders, AutoCAD automatically searches for them in the folder of the host file. A copy of the shortcut to the Add-A-Plot Style Table Wizard or Add-a-Plotter Wizard is added to the new path.

Object Groups

Working with groups is made more streamlined and easier to use. Access the Groups tools from the Group panel on the Home ribbon tab.

The Group tool replaces the traditional Object Grouping dialog box. When a group is selected right-click for related tools.

The Group Bound Box controls how groups are displayed. When it's enabled, AutoCAD displays a single grip and a bounding box around the group. The Named Groups tool displays the classic Object Grouping dialog box.

PURGE command has been updated to support the purging of groups that contain no objects.


Auto-Complete Command Entry

Entering a command or system variable at the Command prompt is assisted with several features that list or complete the commands and system variables as they are being typed. The AUTOCOMPLETE command controls which of the features are turned on.

Right-click in the command line to access the new AutoComplete controls: Auto-Append, Suggestion List, Display Icons, Display System Variables and Delay Time.

Use of wildcards like * and ? works when entering a command as seen below.

Command window command history

The command history is by default distinguished from the active command line with a grey background color. In Options>Display>Colors>Drawing Windows Colors dialog box the Command history background, Command history text, Active prompt background and Active prompt text colors can be changed.

Vertical and horizontal scroll bars only appear when hovering on the right side or right bottom.

Quick Properties

Quick Properties is automatically displayed when you double-click on most objects and is automatically dismissed when the selection set is cleared. The default list of quick properties has been updated to include more frequently used properties.

Ribbon Interface Updates

Home tab includes changes in the Draw and Modify panels.

The Insert tab now has Block and Block Definition panels.

Wblock is included in the Create Block flyout.

View tab includes a new Forward tool and a Rectangular viewport option has been added to the Viewports panel.

DGN Support

Support for complex linetypes in DGN files is improved in AutoCAD 2012. Now when you import or export using the DGN V8 file format, complex linetypes are maintained.


We now have the ability to access and modify object properties with a set of 4 new functions. The functions can be used to access both graphical and non-graphical objects in a drawing. The functions are not available in earlier releases and are a nice alternative to using the VLAX functions that are only available in AutoCAD 2012 on Windows and can also be used on AutoCAD for Mac.

The 4 new functions are:

  • dumpallproperties - Outputs all the properties and their current value for the specified entity.
  • getpropertyvalue - Returns the current value of the specified property for an entity.
  • ispropertyreadonly - Returns T or nil of the specified property for an entity is read-only or not.
  • setpropertyvalue - Sets the specified property to a new value for an entity.


Syntax: (dumpallproperties ename [context])

ename: Name of the entity being queried. The ename can refer to either a graphical or non-graphical entity.
context: Value expected is 0 or 1, the default is 0 when a value is not provided. When 1 is provided as the context, some property values such as Position, Normal, and StartPoint are promoted from a single value to individual X, Y, and Z values.

(setq ent (car (entsel "\nSelect object: ")))
(dumpallproperties ent)


Syntax: (getpropertyvalue ename propertyname [or collectionName index name])

ename: Name of the entity being queried. The ename can refer to either a graphical or a non-graphical entity.
propertyname: Name of the property being queried. For a list of all the valid property names of a given object, use dumpallproperties.
collectionName: If the object is a collection object, the Collection name is passed here.
index: The collection index being queried.
name: The name of the property within the collection being queried.

The following example demonstrates how to get the current radius value of a circle.
Command: (command "_circle" "2,2" 2)
Command: (getpropertyvalue (entlast) "radius")


Syntax: (ispropertyreadonly ename propertyname [or collectionName index name])

ename: Name of the entity being queried. The ename can refer to either a graphical or a non-graphical entity.
propertyname: Name of the property being queried. For a list of all the valid property names of a given object, use dumpallproperties.
collectionName: If the object is a collection object, the Collection name is passed here.
index: The collection index being queried.
name: The name of the property within the collection being queried.

1 is returned when the property is read-only; otherwise, 0 is returned when the property is writable.

The following example demonstrates how to check the read-only state of the Radius and Area properties of a circle.
Command: (setq e1 (car (entsel "\nSelect an arc or circle: ")))
<Entity name: 10e2e4ba0>
Command: (ispropertyreadonly e1 "Radius")
Command: (ispropertyreadonly e1 "Area")


Syntax: (setpropertyvalue ename propertyname value [or collectionName index name val])

ename: Name of the entity being modified. The ename can refer to either a graphical or a non-graphical entity.
propertyname: Name of the property to be modified. For a list of all the valid property names of a given object, use dumpallproperties.
value: Value to set the property to when the object is not a collection.
collectionName: If the object is a collection object, the Collection name is passed here.
index: The collection index to be modified.
name: Name of the property in the collection to be modified.
val: Value to set the property to.

nil is returned unless an error occurs when the property value is being updated.

The following example demonstrates how to change the radius of a circle.
Command: (command "_circle" "2,2" 2)
Command: (setpropertyvalue (entlast) "radius" 3)

The following example demonstrates how to apply overrides to a linear dimension.
Command: (command "_dimlinear" "2,2" "5,4" "3,3")
Command: (setq e2 (entlast))
<Entity name: 10e2e4bd0>
Command: (setpropertyvalue e2 "Dimtfill" 2)
Command: (setpropertyvalue e2 "Dimtfillclr" "2")
Command: (setpropertyvalue e2 "Dimclrt" "255,0,0")

Via Hyperpics.

The following outlines the additions and changes made to the ActiveX API in AutoCAD 2012 and AutoCAD 2012-based products.

IAcadSurface3 (New)
  SurfTrimAssociativity - Property
IAcadPlaneSurface3 (New)
  SurfTrimAssociativity - Property
IAcadExtrudedSurface3 (New)
  SurfTrimAssociativity - Property
IAcadRevolvedSurface3 (New)
  SurfTrimAssociativity - Property
IAcadSweptSurface3 (New)
  SurfTrimAssociativity - Property
IAcadLoftedSurface3 (New)
  SurfTrimAssociativity - Property
IAcadNurbSurface2 (New)
  SurfTrimAssociativity - Property

Raster File Support

AutoCAD 2012 provides increased support and flexibility for using raster images in your drawing files. If you open a drawing with images from Raster Design, such as satellite and elevation formats, they are automatically displayed in AutoCAD 2012. Furthermore, the Attach and Image Attach tools in AutoCAD 2012 support the following image files in addition to the previously supported raster file formats:

Type Description File extension
DDS Microsoft DirectDraw Surface .dds
DOQ USGS Digital Orthophoto Quads .doq
ECW Enhanced Compression Wavelet .ecw
HDR High Dynamic Range image .hdr
JPEG2000 Wavelet-based compression standard created by the Joint Photographics Expert Group .jp2, .j2k
MrSID Multiresolution Seamless Image Database .sid
NITF National Imagery Transmission Format
Note: NITF files containing elevation data require AutoCAD® Raster Design software
OpenEXR Industrial Light & Magic High Dynamic Range image .exr
PSD Adobe® Photoshop® document .psd