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Which has been the best version of AutoCAD?

We often see the question there, about which version is best or why we defend it; then when it arrives a new one is often said that it is only makeup. Finally, as starting point we did the query on Facebook, where eGeomate original Spanish version has near to 20,000 followers, and see what we had in response:

  • AutoCADAutoCAD 2012 stands out, we understand, by the novelty, and for being Facebook a space dominated by the younger generations.
  • But what draws attention is that secondly protrudes AutoCAD 2007, despite being a version of 6 years ago.
  • Then thirdly AutoCAD 2013 goes back again, we also understand by its novelty, and if we ask the question two years later the same will be said of the latest version.
  • Appears as fourth AutoCAD 2010 with lowest score but topping a list that includes almost unique votes from all other versions.


What makes people appreciate AutoCAD 2012, 2007 and 2010 versions?

The aim of this article is to make an analysis of the AutoCAD’s last 10 versions in order to try to explain AutoDesk’s release patterns and also the evolution that have taken consumers now that the Internet traffic and social networks play an essential role in the news dissemination.

We will use for analysis the following table that summarizes the changes that have occurred to AutoCAD in the past 10 years. Include new commands that arose for each year (excluding 2004 to which we do not apply this consideration), commands that are available in the release, commands that were changing, not available by reason of the total current commands and discontinued commands (this does not include the 2013 version but in that cell are added all those that were discontinued in 10 years). We also only review basic versions, not the vertical (eg. AutoCAD Civil 3D, AutoDesk Maya, etc.)

1. The cycle of new dwg formats

AutoDesk held a dwg format for each version from 1.0 in 1980 to 1998 with AutoCAD R14. After AutoCAD 2000 onwards it becomes an approximate cycle of three years, practice questioned by many as unnecessary.

There long before the 2004 version but the milestone of this format is that henceforth dwg ceases to be shared with the Open Design Alliance (ODA) as it had been until the 2000 format.

From now on we see that when there has been a format change, managed to achieve it because they represented better resource exploitation but also because it forced the user to get rid of the old version to stay consistent in the new format. It is a curious fact that the years when AutoCAD got rid of commands were precisely in 2006 when it left 36 commands and by 2010 another 17 commands, the remaining years was miniscule drop from 1 to 3 commands.

From here there is our first conclusion:

AutoCAD Milestones are often marked by the years in which dwg format had a change: AutoCAD 2000, AutoCAD 2004, AutoCAD 2007, and AutoCAD 2010.

From that we also conclude that the 2013 version should have similar pattern as the dwg format changed. Although we don’t believe as possible by the boundless popularity which reached AutoCAD 2012 and the tiny amount of enhancements in AutoCAD 2013.

Although, by clarifying that the format change is not necessarily associated with the fact a version is better than an earlier. But it plays a role that could not be applied to other platforms where this change does not happen regularly and unnecessary.

2. The amount of improvements

To analyze this I avail myself with the chart shown below. See that yellow line represents enhancements to existing commands, while the blue represents new commands implemented. The 2007 version stands out as the year when more commands were enhanced (116), coupled with no less than 89 new commands. The changes had much to do with a new face of 3D visualization, improvements in textures handling, rendering and animated display. The 3D design is no longer from primitive objects and includes the 3D models concept.


The following graph taken from AutoCAD query traffic, reflects how AutoCAD 2007 is the version that has most endured (dark blue line), to the extent that at the end (to July 2012) is consulted both as AutoCAD 2011 (red line), and of course exceeds 2009 (green line) and 2008 versions that does not appear in the graph. It is understandable why people remember the 2007 version as one of the best, because the command’s improvement impact is in already existing users who decided to stay in that version despite the changes in the following years.

  • They felt that AutoCAD 2008 involved only minor adjustments, and the 2009 version just had a new interface that caused them more resistance.
  • It would become surpassed until the 2010 version came with 93 improved commands and better use of the new interface. It also coincides with the 2007, which is when started a series of improvements in the three-dimensional models management and support for Windows 7 in 32 and 64 bits.


AutoCAD 2007: Improvement of existing commands favors users’ fidelity to an AutoCAD version. But it also generates resistance to change for later versions.

We can also observe that AutoCAD 2010 exceeds AutoCAD 2012 despite the latter’s novelty, but in query volume is greater because of accumulating years. Despite being AutoCAD 2007 a very satisfying users’ experience, AutoDesk would do the opposite in new versions since it doesn’t favor him in sales. So we see that in the next milestone, AutoCAD 2010, it is repeated but is avoided in 2012 with has more novelties than improvements.

3. The number of innovations

Innovation is important, is a topic that has had more emphasis in the 2007 release where there were 89 new commands and the 2012 where it reached 139.

Although it is somewhat strange the impact that has on the users with respect to the improvement of existing commands. Looking at the above graph, we see that AutoCAD’s version popularity reaches its peak in the following year’s first months of its release, just when the new version is displayed. AutoCAD does that in the month of April, and from there starts the descent because there is something new. The precipitous fall depends on whether it managed fidelity in previous users, not in new.

But see how AutoCAD 2010 achieved the highest point that all the versions have had the 2012 just reached 80% of this before starting its descent. We should understand this 2012 version will achieve a greater impact than the previous ones by the degree of innovation, but it is not. And the reason is that the 2010 version has more improvements to existing commands (93) against 46 of 2012 version although there is more innovation in the last. The 2010 version continues to be in wider use than the 2011 version and could be that it survives more than the 2012 over the next three years. Meanwhile AutoCAD 2013 will just be a flying version, as its improvements and innovations are minimal although the change in dwg format just as the 2011 version, despite it brought back the version for Mac.

It’s just like first love that is usually only given once in life with software tools, we are all impacted with one of the first versions we saw and continue believing that it was the best version “even if it is oldie”, and even after that we moved to the new one we continue admiring that version. This version is usually which impact us with their news. This can be noticed in the users that after many versions, found that the R14 was impressive, to others was the 2000 which surprised them with the use of the 32-bit, and we saw few major developments up to version 2007 when we thought it didn’t need much more. The milestone of news was caused by 2012, although I clarify, it is first love with new generations.

But the advantage that innovation has is to be in the new users minds. The University students, although their teacher taught them AutoCAD 2010, they will accommodate using the last; it is what has happened to AutoCAD 2012 with the new generation. This version is in the new users mind, evidenced by the survey we did on Facebook. But closing the section, this is our conclusion:

AutoCAD 2012: The largest number of innovations involves greater popularity of a version with new generations. But it doesn’t necessarily mean loyalty in the long term.

4. The accumulation of improvements

This is perhaps a somewhat complex issue to handle, but we will consider it since emulates what is supposed as evolution and something of the difference in how things happen with other programs such as Microstation.

As time has passed, AutoCAD has remained unused commands, or abandoned. Little by little has been disposed of, or enhanced or new commands have been incorporated:

  • Until the 2006 version it had 674 commands in use.
  • Before that had been discarded 97 and in 2013 version were discontinued 68.
  • To 2013 there are a total of 1047 commands in use and just 86 not available that existed in those 10 years.
  • Protrude over the 2006 and 2010 years when there were unnecessary commands swept 53 in total.

This cleaning is perhaps little noticeable but represents an internally job to recover commands that were there with little use. Although more commands denote more functionality, a small amount of that total is used in practice. AutoCAD came to resolve us life in what we were doing with many efforts at the drawing board, that has not changed much in all these years, but certainly in the 3D models management where although evolution has been slow with respect to other Autodesk’s vertical, it has been well appropriated by users.

Counting the number of commands ceased to be important since long, because now the commands used are those seen on the buttons. But in the past, if we did not know the command… it does not exist. And if it was on the list, we wanted to see for what was used.

Best versions of AutoCAD

In conclusion, these are the best versions of AutoCAD:

  • AutoCAD 2007 has been the version that more fidelity achieved in time, product of the number of improved commands rather than by their news.
  • AutoCAD 2012 follows as the product of most widely improvements and acceptance in new generations.
  • AutoCAD 2010 has been a major release as it was when generations began to accept the potential of the Ribbon, and integrated many capabilities in parameterized modeling and 3D with simplicity.
  • AutoCAD 2013… a version that won’t reach the shade of the 2012. To wait another, we will have to wait a couple of years.
And for you, what was your best version?

One comment

  1. Somupadma

    Very useful coverage on Autocad and a great help to zero on a version.Thanks a lot.

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