AutoCAD 2018 – What’s New and Is it Worth the Upgrade?

As we continue into early 2017, it’s once again time for a new release and update of AutoDesks tested and true software, AutoCAD 2018. As recently as a few years ago , this annual announcement and unveiling would be a really big deal for drafters and design companies, finding out what cool features would be added to the new version of AutoCAD! But more importantly, it was the barometer of whether you or your company would be making the leap to upgrade to the newest version or if you would be waiting it out until the next year. Many times, if the changes weren’t drastic and the .dwg file type wasn’t changing (every few releases of AutoCAD we would get a new .dwg type and the previous version wouldn’t open the new files, this meant it was definitely time for an upgrade) we would make the decision to save some money and get the next one

In recent years though AutoDesk/AutoCAD has been offered in a subscription based model and while I know that this is a hugely debated change and is relatively disliked among independant and small design firms, larger companies and consultants tend to love it. Putting the debate aside, the subscription model has also changed how we, the designers react to the annual updates. This is because, if you are on one of the new subscription plans (the only option for new users) there is no longer the discussion or excitement of will we or won’t we be upgrading to the newest version this year. The answer now is always, of course, it’s included in the subscription and I’ll update when it’s available. I kind of miss the old days…

I feel like this model is both a good and bad thing for AutoCAD users. On one hand, I really do see the benefits of always having the newest versions, updates, and lower upfront cost of the subscription model especially for multiple seats. On the other hand, I feel like it lessens the need for AutoDesk to make major improvements and advances in the software. If everyone is on the subscription model, AutoCAD doesn’t need to drastically improve or add cool new features to convince me/its users to upgrade to the newest version each year as they used to.

It’s this concern that brings me to this years AutoCAD 2018 release and what’s new and improved. I love AutoDesk and AutoCAD and actually look forward to seeing what’s new each year and where the software is going. But unfortunately, this years introduction to 2018 was a bit of a let down, I was hoping for a handful new features and improved functionality, just last year, the update included one of my favorite in years: Importing PDFs to CAD and I couldn’t of been more on board with a release. This year, from what I’ve seen, other than two minor updates to existing features (better text recognition with pdf imports, and improved xref link fixing) which are nice to have but not exciting, the new improvements were kind of lackluster.

Here are the updates for 2018 From AutoDesk: Introduction to AutoCAD 2018

PDF Import Enhancements

“The fact that PDF import has come to be something that I feel that I can trust saved me several hundred dollars this week,” Tidball elaborated. The team has continued to make enhancements to this feature.

With AutoCAD 2018, you can use the SHX text recognition tool to quickly convert imported PDF geometry to text and Mtext objects. Add to that the enhanced Text to Mtext tool, enabling you to convert a combination of single- and multi- line text objects to a one multi-line text object, automatically inferring formatting.

PDF Import enhancements in AutoCAD 2018

External Reference Path Enhancements

Enhancements in AutoCAD 2018 help reduce the problems created by broken reference paths by saving time and minimizing frustration. Integrated tools enable you to easily replace the paths of one or more missing references with a new path.

Don’t just take our word for it. Senior drafter at BHB Engineers, Larrissa Anderton, explained, “I am so excited for this feature. We do ‘repeat’ projects and this will cut relinking time in half if not by more.”

External Reference enhancements in AutoCAD 2018

Object Selection

In AutoCAD 2018, you can begin a selection window in one part of your drawing and then pan and zoom to another part while maintaining selection of the off-screen objects!

Offscreen Selection in AutoCAD 2018

High-Resolution (4K) Monitor Support

AutoCAD 2018 supports high-resolution monitors to ensure the best possible viewing experience on 4K displays and higher. Commonly used user interface elements, such as the Start tab, Command line, palettes, dialog boxes, toolbars, ViewCube, pick pox, and grips, are appropriately scaled and displayed as per the Windows setting.

AutoCAD 2018 continues to improve graphics and performance while ensuring the TrustedDWG technology you rely on.

The DWG format has been updated to provide improvements in the efficiency of open and save operations, especially for drawings that contain many annotative objects and viewports. Additionally, 3D solid and surface creation is now using the newest geometric modeler which has improved security and stability.


For me, in the past, these 2018 updates probably wouldn’t have been enough to sell me on the new version of AutoCAD this year, however, since my company uses the subscription model it’s not an issue.
I may not be excited with the release, but I will be using it though.

I was really looking forward to some major new features and if I had my way, one I’ve been wanting for a long time is full and advanced compatibility with drawing tablets/stylus and the new digital drafting table products. Having a workspace option for graphic table drawing and editing would be amazing and I can only hope AutoDesk, with its similarity to Adobe in the new subscription model will also take note of Adobes integration with touch and stylus tools like Canvas & Surface recently and integrate these options into future releases.

As always, thank you so much for reading and don’t forget to leave me a comment and let me know what you think, are you excited or disappointed in this years release?

In case you missed it, I also did a short Live stream with my first impressions and some rambling about the new version of AutoCAD 2018. Check it out here:
Cheers and happy drafting!

Just in case you missed the last autocad tutorial check it out here:
How to Fix Linetypes and Scales

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Brandon is a Civil Designer, Aspiring Blogger/Creator, Husband, Father to two Amazing Kids and Tech Aficionado from a small town in Canada. He has been obsessed with design and technology since he can remember and working as a Civil Designer for nearly as long. Brandon’s blog and Youtube channel, has been his outlet and excuse for keeping up with new tech and trends in the CAD design world for the last 10 years growing to more than 60,000 subscribers and over 15,000,000 views, while also being the source of many great friendships and unique opportunities. If you would like to Sponsor CAD Intentions or Work together in some way, Please visit my About Page and send me an email: