If nature didn’t make it, someone using AutoCAD probably did. And you can bet they needed plenty of help along the way. For 21 years, AutoCAD has grown increasingly powerful -- and ever more daunting, too. AutoCAD 2004 is no exception.
Fortunately, there’s Ellen Finkelstein’s AutoCAD 2004 Bible. This is a book you can keep by your side no matter how experienced you are with AutoCAD -- or how experienced you become.
Some AutoCAD 2004 improvements needn’t be learned -- you can simply appreciate them. (Faster loads. Fewer regens. Less time waiting. The ability to embed spreadsheets as large as your heart desires.)
But most of what’s new does need your attention. New tool palettes. A new Styles toolbar to simplify text and dimension style changes. Many new tools for creating presentation-quality output. If it’s significant, it’s covered here.
Finkelstein has woven the new stuff into exceptionally clear discussions of every facet of AutoCAD. Getting started as a beginner. Drawing in 2D and 3D. Working with data. Organizing and managing your drawings (significantly easier, because the latest DWF format supports multiple drawings in the same file). Customizing AutoCAD. And, last but not least, programming -- with AutoLISP, Visual LISP, and VBA.
If you’re new to AutoCAD, the first 100 pages will get you rolling. You’ll get acquainted with AutoCAD’s drawing tools; open and work with drawings; use commands (both menus and the command line); and specify and work with coordinates. You’ll also learn to set up your drawings efficiently, mastering the underappreciated timesaver MVSETUP to create reusable, customized drawing boards, title blocks, and multiple views.
Next, Finkelstein presents a complete course on 2D drawing, starting with simple lines, rectangles, polygons, rays, circles, arcs, donuts, and points. There’s a full chapter introducing AutoCAD’s views, then systematic coverage of editing -- all the way through advanced selection filters and revision clouds.
You’ll learn how to organize your drawing with layers (and other techniques); how to retrieve drawing- and object-level data; how to edit text; and, especially, how to use AutoCAD dimensions. (And, yes: there’s equally thorough coverage of AutoCAD’s 3D drawing features -- surfaces, solids, rendering, you name it.)
You’ll find three chapters on working with data. Finkelstein shows how to insert and manage blocks; use the XPLODE command; and work with attributes. Next, she explains how to create and use “Xrefs” to other drawings. Finally, she presents 40 pages on integrating with external databases -- from installing AutoCAD’s database feature through creating SQL queries.
Finkelstein pays significant attention to managing and sharing your drawings -- especially publishing to your intranet or web site using the new, XML-based Publish to Web Wizard. She concludes with thorough coverage of customizing and automating AutoCAD.
The accompanying CD-ROM contains a 30-day trial version of AutoCAD 2004, so you can learn the newest version of AutoCAD before your company rolls it out. The CD also contains all the practice drawings associated with Finkelstein’s hands-on exercises and tutorials, plus a PDF of the entire book. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.