Last night when I checked my Twitter timeline, I see an interesting tweet from @projbutterfly. He asked his followers whether Autodesk should add command line to Project Butterfly or not. Because this project is for AutoCAD users, then it is more likely many AutoCAD users will ask for it. I personally think command line era is over. It’s not cool anymore to have it. In this post, I would like share my opinion. I also would like to have your opinion: do you think Autodesk should ‘purge’ the command line from AutoCAD?
Shortcuts are Always Good
Don’t get me wrong. Having shortcuts is always good. I started using AutoCAD since R.13, when they are twins: DOS and Windows version (cmiiw). Many AutoCAD users are command line masters at that time. I also loved having command line to access AutoCAD shortcut. Maybe I could even consider myself a command line ninja or something :) I use shortcut in every application I use, even in my Gmail account. Using shortcut is always good to access our tools faster.
When I teach AutoCAD, I always teach my students how using command line. They might not use it, but they need to know it’s there. But keep in mind, I use and teach using command line only because it’s the best option for accessing AutoCAD shortcuts. It’s good but can be better.
Then it came to the time I have to learn other CAD applications. At this point, I’m kind of forced to use other method than command line.
Productivity is not always about shortcut!
However, since I’m focusing on vertical product, I realize that even I access some tools a bit slower, my productivity is better. It takes a few more seconds to activate tools, but with one tool I can do dozen of AutoCAD commands at once. Save me few minutes.
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If you have been following CAD Notes, you will find some tutorials to increase your productivity. In the dynamic block tutorial series, you can create common objects like walls, doors, and columns. After you create them, you can place them, modify it, and create a report very quickly.
How you can access your block quickly? Using tool palette. It’s faster than inserting block using command line. You can also draw lines, dimensions, hatches, blocks with a specific properties with just one click. You don’t even have to create layers or styles in your drawing.
I don’t feel command line shortcut is that important anymore. But it still nice to have it for common tools though :)
AutoCAD Based Command line versus Other CAD Application Shortcut
Some people are still insist working with command line is faster. So let us compare how shortcuts work in other CAD applications.
How do we activate line tool in AutoCAD? L then [enter]. In Revit, we press LI.
For dimension, in Revit we simply press DI. In AutoCAD we need to type DIMALIGNED.
Revit and Inventor have one or two character shortcuts. You can list all AutoCAD shortcut, and will find there are many shortcuts require more than two characters. And don’t forget you will need to press [enter] or [space]. This shortcut will grow longer when we use vertical product such as AutoCAD Mechanical or AutoCAD Electrical. Try to see the available command list in AutoCAD electrical. To insert component, we have to type AECOMPONENT. How many characters is that?
We can access tools faster by clicking the palettes or toolbar or ribbon than typing some of AutoCAD commands. The only reason typing is faster, probably because AutoCAD users are used to it. It will be more interesting if Autodesk change the way we can access AutoCAD shortcuts. Probably like in Inventor or Revit. One or two characters should be faster!
^C ^C ^C!
Having common Windows shortcuts will also be easier for AutoCAD users. Easier when it comes to time they want to migrate to vertical products. I found many AutoCAD users are so attached to command line and try to find similar feature when they use other CAD application. I’m also frustrated when they easily press [esc] many times when they feel something is not right. It will close a running wizard -or cancel whatever they did- and make them have to do it all over again.
Imagine if you have created 5 wall layers in Revit wall definition, and press [esc] simply because something is not right. Revit will loose the settings, and they have to repeat every steps all over again. This is frustrating for them and many of them decided it is too hard to learn. And back using AutoCAD. AutoCAD has became a totally different animals for command line lovers. The learning curve is become very steep for them. It’s not their fault. It is just a hard habit to break.
Delete It, don’t Purge it
I understand that command line cannot be removed completely. We need it to test programming routines. The best option is to remove it from default interface, but we can still access it by pressing [F2]. So we can also use it for changing system variables or other command that only can be access from command line.
Microsoft does not provides command console at the bottom of Windows, and certainly does not set the main focus to that console. It needs more effort to use it. It is like deleting all blocks from your drawing, but the block definition is still there.
So what do you think if Autodesk finally remove Command Line?
*This poll is closed. See the result in this post.