AutoCAD For Dummies 18th Edition by Bill Fane
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AutoCAD For Dummies 18th Edition by Bill Fane

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Author of AutoCAD For Dummies eBook

Bill Fane is a recovering doorknob designer. He was a product engineer and then product engineering manager for Weiser Lock in Vancouver, Canada, for 27 years and holds 12 U.S. patents.

He has been using AutoCAD for design work since Version 2.17g (1986) and Inventor since version 1.0 beta (1996).

He is a retired professional engineer and an Autodesk Authorized Training Center (ATC), certified instructor.

He began teaching mechanical design in 1996 at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Vancouver, including such courses as AutoCAD, Mechanical Desktop, Inventor, SolidWorks, machine design, term projects, manufacturing processes, and design procedures.

His son Trevor was one of his students. Bill retired from this position in 2008. He lectured on a wide range of AutoCAD and Inventor subjects at Autodesk University from 1995 to 2012, and at Destination Desktop from 2003 to 2009.

He was the AUGI CAD Camp National Team instructor for the manufacturing track between 2008 and 2011. He has written over 220 “The Learning Curve” columns for CADalyst magazine since 1986 and claims to be a close personal friend of Captain LearnCurve.

He has also written engineering software product reviews for CADalyst, Design Product News, and Machine Design.

In his spare time he skis, water-skis, scuba dives, sails a Hobie Cat, drives his ’37 Rolls-Royce limousine or his wife’s ’89 Bentley Turbo R, travels extensively with his wife, and plays with his grandchildren.

AutoCAD Contents  

Part 1: Getting Started with AutoCAD

  • Chapter 1: Introducing AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT
  • Chapter 2: The Grand Tour of AutoCAD
  • Chapter 3: A Lap around the CAD Track
  • Chapter 4: Setup for Success
  • Chapter 5: A Zoom with a View

 Part 2: Let There Be Lines 

  • Chapter 6: Along the Straight and Narrow
  • Chapter 7: Dangerous Curves Ahead
  • Chapter 8: Preciseliness Is Next to CADliness
  • Chapter 9: Manage Your Properties
  • Chapter 10: Grabbing Onto Object Selection
  • Chapter 11: Edit for Credit
  • Chapter 12: Planning for Paper

Part 3: If Drawings Could Talk 

  • Chapter 13: Text with Character
  • Chapter 14: Entering New Dimensions
  • Chapter 15: Down the Hatch!
  • Chapter 16: The Plot Thickens

Part 4: Advancing with AutoCAD

  • Chapter 17: The ABCs of Blocks
  • Chapter 18: Everything from Arrays to Xrefs
  • Chapter 19: Call the Parametrics!
  • Chapter 20: Drawing on the Internet

Part 5: On a 3D Spree

  • Chapter 21: It’s a 3D World After All
  • Chapter 22: From Drawings to Models
  • Chapter 23: It’s Showtime!
  • Chapter 24: AutoCAD Plays Well with Others

Part 6: The Part of Tens

  • Chapter 25: Ten AutoCAD Resources
  • Chapter 26: Ten System Variables to Make Your
  • Chapter 27: Ten AutoCAD Secrets

Introduction to AutoCAD For Dummies PDF

Welcome to the wonderful world of AutoCAD and to the fame and fortune that awaits you as an AutoCAD user.

(Would I lie to you?) Believe it or not, AutoCAD is almost 40 years old, having been born in December 1982, when most people thought that personal computers weren’t capable of industrial-strength tasks like CAD.

The acronym stands for Computer-Aided Drafting, Computer-Aided Design, or both, depending on who you talk to.

What’s equally scary is that many of today’s hotshot AutoCAD users, and most of the readers of this book, weren’t even born when the program first hit the street and when the grizzled old-timer writing these words began using it.

AutoCAD remains the king of the PC computer CAD hill by a tall margin, making it one of the longest-lived computer programs ever.

It’s conceivable that the long-term future of CAD may belong to special-purpose, 3D-based software such as the Autodesk Inventor and Revit programs, or too specialized market-specific variations built on top of AutoCAD.

At any rate, AutoCAD’s DWG file format is the de facto standard, and so AutoCAD will be where the CAD action is for the foreseeable future.

You may have heard that AutoCAD is complex, and therefore is difficult to learn and use. Yes, the user interface includes about 1,300 icons.

But it has been my observation that the easier any software is to learn and use, the sooner you bump up against its limitations.

A car with no accelerator, one forward gear, no steering, and no brakes would be easy to use until you reached a hill, a curve, or a stop sign or you needed to back out of a parking space. Yes, AutoCAD is complex, but that’s the secret to its success.

Some claim that few people use more than 10 percent of AutoCAD’s capabilities. Closer analysis reveals that most people use the same basic 5 percent and everyone else uses a different 5 percent after that.

The trick is to find your 5 percent, the sweet spot that suits your particular industry. If you follow my advice, I think you will find that using AutoCAD is as simple and intuitive as driving a car.

It should be perfectly clear that if your career path has put you in a position where you need to know how to use AutoCAD, you’re no dummy! 

About AutoCAD For Dummies eBook

Unlike many other For Dummies books, this one often tells you to consult the official software documentation. AutoCAD is just too big and powerful for a single book to attempt to describe it completely. The book that ultimately covers every AutoCAD topic would need a forklift to move it.

Literally. They stopped shipping paper instruction manuals with the software somewhere around 1995 when the full documentation package grew to about a dozen volumes and more than 30 pounds.

In AutoCAD For Dummies, I occasionally mention differences from previous releases so that everyone gains some context and so that upgraders can more readily understand the differences; plus, you’re bound to encounter a few of the billions and billions of drawings that were created using older methods.

I also mention the important differences between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. In particular, AutoCAD LT has no programming language and has extremely limited support for parametric (Chapter 19) and 3D (Chapter 21).

This book is not Mechanical Drafting For Dummies, or Architectural Drafting For Dummies, or even Crash Testing For Dummies. It doesn’t cover drafting principles and procedures, but it does cover the AutoCAD commands necessary to create drawings.

Remember, though, that knowing AutoCAD's drawing commands won't make you a great designer, just as knowing how to touch-type and run a word processor won't make you a great author.

The job title CAD operator doesn't exist, but almost all drafters and designers use CAD. In addition, the book does not cover the discipline-specific features in AutoCAD-based vertical market products, such as AutoCAD Electrical or AutoCAD Mechanical, although most of the information in this book applies to the general-purpose features of those programs as well.

This book covers AutoCAD 2015 through 2020. The obvious major differences between these versions and 2014 and earlier are the initial startup screen and the format of the Ribbon menu. The underlying principles remain the same. I will draw your attention to other differences where appropriate.

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