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Autodesk Announces AutoCAD 2021—Includes Free Extended Access to Cloud Tools

New AutoCAD 2021 boasts excellent new features that will streamline the work of AutoCAD users on desktop, web, and mobile, integrating with Google Drive and AutoCAD Web App, plus lots more.


The new Autodesk AutoCAD 2021 boasts many excellent new features while retaining its relationship with online versions and other collaborative tools on the cloud and on mobile. AutoCAD Web and AutoCAD Mobile are included with a subscription to AutoCAD 2021, but due to the present pandemic situation, Autodesk has extended the temporary free access for several flagship cloud collaboration products through 31 May 2020.

Also, the company has announced that AutoCAD 2021 for Mac is coming soon and will also boast the new Xref Compare and floating command-line features.

What’s New in AutoCAD 2021

The new version of AutoCAD features a new Drawings History feature that, along with Xref Compare, help you understand changes made to AutoCAD documents over time. Drawing History provides insights on the evolution of your drawings by allowing you to see a list of changes over time and gain insights by comparing previous versions of the file.

The new Drawing History feature will help deliver insight to customers on the evolution of documents.

Such a feature is quite useful for many purposes. Particularly with projects with intense iteration development—iterations within iterations—one can use this feature to go back to iterative designs and decisions without having to record those items in Save-As versions of the file.

MORE: INSIDER: Marcus O’Brien of Autodesk—A Conversation About AutoCAD for Mac and Other Platforms

Xref Compare adds tod the already popular DWG Compare feature by allowing you to compare what has changed in an updated Xref. Red color is used to show what is not in the current (newer) Xref doc while Green color highlights what is in the new Xref doc. Red represents the past, Green the current and grey is what is the same.

Perhaps the best new features is the new Xref Compare which enables users to see visually what has changed between an outdated and updated Xref document.

Blocks get enhancement via the new ability to sync recent blocks in a drawing to a cloud storage location and then access them from desktop or web. (You can read more about Block enhancements here).

AutoCAD is already considered one of the fastest 2D CAD platforms in the world, but Autodesk continues to speed things up. Pan, zoom, orbit and similar screen navigation tasks are now powered via multi-core processor support. Regeneration of the screen happens automatically with multicore processor support and this extends to viewing 3D models as well.

AutoCAD 2021 adds the integration of Google Drive and AutoCAD web app. When users are browsing AutoCAD files in Google Drive they can now open those drawings directly in the AutoCAD web app, in addition to opening them in AutoCAD Mobile. And users can now connect and link up their Google Drive from within AutoCAD Web.

“Businesses continue moving to collaborate in the cloud using Google Drive at a rapid rate, and as a result, we’re seeing the adoption of tools like the AutoCAD web app by many of our customers,” says Alexander Vogenthaler, Director, Product Management at Google Drive. “We are excited to launch a new integration with Autodesk, enabling our joint customers to open and save DWG files stored in Drive in the AutoCAD web app and helping our customers access the power of AutoCAD from desktop, web, or mobile.”

Modernizing AutoCAD

“Our subscribers will really appreciate what our development teams have been working on to modernize AutoCAD based on their feedback,” says Marcus O’Brien, Director of AutoCAD product management. “This new release delivers enhancements and features that will make a difference in efficiency and productivity right away.”

To learn more about AutoCAD 2021, visit here.

Architosh Analysis and Commentary

In many ways, Xref Compare is more valuable than DWG Compare. Architects, in particular, are constantly using Xref documents from engineers, like structural engineers, and to be able to visually understand what has changed speeds comprehension and makes it more certain that all the areas in the architect’s work get addressed with updated engineering data coming through the Xref. 

The new multicore processor support for screen navigation is also a welcome addition, as rival CAD platforms have recently added such features in the past few versions or years. The multicore support doesn’t just extend to 2D however, as it may in rival programs, complex 3D models are also more responsive due to multicore optimizations. 

We hope to speak with Autodesk executives soon about AutoCAD 2021 once the new Mac version is released and we will dive into all versions, including cloud and mobile. 

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