10 AutoCAD Resources
As much as you probably wish it wasn’t true, you probably do need slightly more information and help to reach the highest peaks of AutoCAD mastery. Here are some reliable resources to help you.
Autodesk Feedback Community
If you’re interested in helping shape future releases of AutoCAD, sign in to the Autodesk Feedback Community portal using your Autodesk account, and then apply by clicking the Create Account link. If you’re accepted, you will, in return for small (or sometimes considerable) time commitments, contribute your ideas to the AutoCAD Futures group or apply to beta-test the next release of AutoCAD.
Autodesk discussion groups
Although independent, newsreader-based discussion groups are still out there, the majority of the AutoCAD action nowadays happens in Autodesk’s own moderated discussion groups. They’re user-to-user groups, but even so, Autodesk employees frequently jump in to answer questions in their areas of expertise, and sometimes on their own time.
Autodesk’s own bloggers
Several Autodesk employees run their own blogs via the company servers, and they’re chockablock with tips, techniques, and (occasionally) highly entertaining digressions. Choose one you like by viewing a list of all Autodesk blogs.
The AutoCAD-based blogs that are highly recommend are Shaan Hurley’s Between the Lines, Heidi Hewitt’s AutoCAD Insider, Kate Morrical’s LT Unlimited, and Lynn Allen’s Blog. And if you want to know more about Lynn Allen, check out “The cell phone story.”
Autodesk University (AU) is an annual event, sponsored by Autodesk, which usually runs for three or four days around the end of November. For the past few years, the event has settled in Las Vegas, Nevada.
If your boss balks at sending you, quote a few figures: At AU 2012, about 800 instructors presented almost 1,000 classes to more than 8,000 attendees on virtually every conceivable topic related to virtually every Autodesk product. Another 9,000 attended regional sessions in other parts of the world, and 53,000 took virtual classes online.
Add in almost 300 exhibitors showing their wares in about 180 booths — plus, the AU support staff and techie types — and you end up sitting down for lunch with about 10,000 of your best friends. The meals and the evening social sessions are great times for networking with your peers, and you can often learn as much as you do in the classes.
The Autodesk Channel on YouTube
If you use Google to search the web for solutions to particular AutoCAD issues, you’ve probably already discovered the YouTube Autodesk Channel. You can find dozens and dozens of video clips that cover not only AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT but also other Autodesk products such as Inventor and Revit.
You can subscribe and receive e-mail notifications of new videos every couple of weeks.
The World Wide (CAD) Web
Specific sites are often not helpful because they tend to come and go, but Cadalyst magazine has been in existence for nearly 30 years. In particular, click the CAD Software Tutorials link (in the list of links along the left side) to see the series of tutorials Circles and Lines, by Lynn Allen, and The Learning Curve, by Bill Fane.
Your favorite search engine can also be a good friend. Apart from Autodesk’s own web presence, thousands upon thousands of other sites are scattered around the world. Search by entering AutoCAD tutorials for online exercises, or try AutoCAD blogs for independent views and opinions as well as tips and tricks for using AutoCAD.
Your local authorized training center
Autodesk Authorized Training Centers (ATCs) are located around the world in both private institutions and public colleges and institutes. At an ATC, you attend scheduled, instructor-led classes where you learn to use AutoCAD from the ground up. Courses are designed for rank beginners or experienced users who want to learn the latest customization techniques.
Your local user group
AutoCAD has inspired an incredibly loyal following in the 30 years since its initial release. One primary reason is the especially enthusiastic individuals who arrange to meet one evening per month to talk about what they’ve discovered they can do with AutoCAD. And most are especially welcoming to newcomers!
To find a nearby group, enter AutoCAD user group and the name of your city in your browser’s Search box.
Autodesk User Groups International (AUGI) is the umbrella organization of the global user group community. You don’t even have to belong to a group to participate. Individuals can join too, and basic membership is free.
AUGI is probably best known for the annual wish list it presents to Autodesk; the list is compiled from requests from members for changes or new features in AutoCAD. It’s often the case that top wish-list items find their way into new releases of AutoCAD, so it’s another place where you can help to shape future releases.
AUGI also supports a series of online and live training sessions, and your membership usually earns you a discounted rate to attend Autodesk University.
You can find dozens of books about AutoCAD; visit Amazon and search on AutoCAD if you don’t believe us! For a more comprehensive look at AutoCAD (which a thousand pages allows), have a gander at Ellen Finkelstein’s AutoCAD 2013 and AutoCAD LT 2013 Bible (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). Ralph Grabowski also has more than 100 specialized e-books.