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Autodesk combines 7 toolsets into one new version of AutoCAD

After fine-tuning different professional AutoCAD verticals for decades, the latest release includes access to 750,000 different features and functionalities.

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Autodesk on Thursday is releasing AutoCAD 2019, a major update to its 36-year-old design and drafting software used by a range of professionals like engineers and architects.

After fine-tuning different professional AutoCAD verticals for decades, the latest release gives subscribers access to seven different professional toolsets -- that includes access to a whopping 750,000 different features and functionalities.

"AutoCAD itself is millions of lines of code. It's evolved to be the trusted, high-fidelity product that customers need," Marcus O'Brien, product line manager for AutoCAD, told ZDNet. "We wouldn't be offering this today had we not invested in this over the last 20 years."

The toolsets included in the new release are: Architecture, Mechanical, Electrical, Map 3D, MEP, Raster Design and Plant 3D. The 750,000 features offered help users with specific tasks like quickly drawing electrical panel layouts, working with GIS data or editing scanned drawings.

Autodesk has been in the process of transitioning its business model, away from perpetual license sales in favor of subscriptions and flexible license arrangements.

O'Brien said the new AutoCAD release is designed to resolve a pain point some customers experience, of having to choose which verticals to commit to.

"In the past they'd have to buy one [vertical] before they realized which one fits their specific needs," he said, pointing out that different verticals, such as Architecture and Electrical, could very clearly benefit the same customer. Now, if a customer already has a version of AutoCAD, they can download only the toolsets they're interested in adding.

AutoCAD 2019 also includes access a new AutoCAD web app and the AutoCAD mobile app. Autodesk released a web version of AutoCAD in 2010, but it was removed a few years ago "because we didn't quite get it right," O'Brien said. The new version, he said, "couldn't be more different." It offers access to rich DWG files, core 2D drafting and editing tools, Xrefs and layer management.

The mobile app, meanwhile, is available across Windows, Android, and iOS phones and tablets. It's optimized for the iPhone X, iPad Pro and Windows Surface.

AutoCAD 2019 also comes with a variety of performance updates and new features, such as a new Shared Views feature that makes it easier for users to show designs to stakeholders without releasing their original drawing files. Autodesk has also invested in areas like streamlining 2D graphics performance and offering full 4K support.

"We invest a lot of our dollars into things that possibly go unnoticed but that make AutoCAD great," O'Brien said.