The way we communicate changes and revisions has evolved in recent years. For most of my years using AutoCAD, it was a manual process. We conveniently called it “red to black.” Someone (an architect, engineer, or drafting checker…) would use colored pencils to mark up a drawing, then send it back to you to incorporate the changes. A red pencil would be used, so we turned the red markups into proper black linework when we got it back. Red to black – get it? Many offices had an entire color-coded system in place…good times!
But the world is moving on. These manual systems are migrating into electronic markups and quickly evolving along the way. Initially, we could export our designs and drawings into a DWF (or DWFx) format, open them in Design Review, use the electronic markup tools there, save it, and import it back into AutoCAD. Lather, rinse, and repeat. Even with this new methodology, it was slow to take over. Colored pencils still ruled the world of markups. There had to be a better way…
AutoCAD 2023 debuted some fabulous new features that changed many minds about electronic markups. (Side note: There are new updates for markups in AutoCAD 2024 as well! More on that in a minute.)
The first of these is called Markup Import. First of all, it’s more flexible regarding what kinds of files you can use. You can markup your file in PDF, PNG, or JPG formats.
Markup Import places a marked-up version of your drawing on top of the original file to make it easier to view and incorporate changes. You can bring in a PDF markup with text and notes, which will overlay the file on top of the original. It uses machine learning to correctly identify the markups and place them exactly on top of your original! You can also adjust it as necessary.
This is usually where I’d say something like, “How awesome is that?” But if you have a printed version of your drawing that contains hand-written revision notes, you can take a photograph of the printed version and then import that also!
Let’s face it. Sometimes you need a little help. Maybe the person doing the markup secretly yearns to be a doctor and has developed the handwriting to go along with it, and Markup Import just can’t figure it out. That’s OK. Enter its awesome wingman, Markup Assist.
It automatically identifies markups and allows you to insert them as an MTEXT, MLEADER, or REVCLOUD object. And, if it gets the wannabe-doctor text wrong, you can edit it before inserting it (or just copy it to the clipboard). Of course, it also works on very well-written (or electronic) text.
New Updates in AutoCAD 2024
Now, AutoCAD 2024 helps make your cross-platform markup workflows faster through expanded machine learning capabilities and essential experience improvements. You can share and annotate your drawings safely and securely across desktop, web, or mobile devices. With Markup Import, incorporate feedback from a PDF or printed paper and automate drafting changes to your drawings. With enhanced Markup Assist, you can now update existing drawing text and automatically fade the markups you have addressed. AutoCAD uses machine learning to detect certain instructions in the markup text enabling shortcuts to commands like “MOVE,” “COPY,” or “ERASE.”
Enter a New World of Markups
How’s that for some incredible new markup tools? Oh, I know there will still be those who stand by their mantra of keeping their colored pencils until they’re taken from their cold, dead hands. But, for those of us who enjoy and benefit from emerging technology, it’s worth reconsidering your markup workflow to take advantage of Markup Insert and its trusty sidekick, Markup Assist.
More Tuesday Tips
Check out our whole Tuesday Tips series for ideas on how to make AutoCAD work for you. Do you have any favorite AutoCAD tips? Tell us in the comments!