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AUTHOR: Joseph Freund

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AutoCAD vs. AutoCAD Architecture | Know the Difference

In a previous post, we talked about the differences between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. Depending on your needs, you may require more features within AutoCAD (ACAD) specific to architecture, design & documentation. AutoCAD Architecture (ACA), which is one of the vertical products available with AutoCAD Including Specialized Toolsets, has all of the same functionality as AutoCAD, plus the addition of tools designed for Architects to enhance the workflow of construction documentation. Since all AutoCAD functionality is available within AutoCAD Architecture, you get more in almost every way*.

*AutoCAD is available for MAC, whereas AutoCAD Architecture and all other products in the Specialized Toolset only have compatibility with Windows.

2D Drawing vs. 3D Modeling vs. BIM

AutoCAD is used to convey design intent, by utilizing Lines, Arcs and Circles, to illustrate the design.  In AutoCAD Architecture, lines, arcs and circles are complemented by intelligent walls, doors and windows, known as AEC Objects. These intelligent objects give the designer the ability to manipulate building elements at a higher level, far beyond what Dynamic Blocks have traditionally offered.

NOTE: AEC Objects are not backwards compatible, and just because you can save back an AutoCAD DWG file from 2018 format to 2013 format, you cannot save back AutoCAD Architecture components.

These AEC Objects have hints of Building Information Modeling (BIM) which has become the standard for larger government and institutional projects. Autodesk Revit is a BIM authoring software that uses a standardized hierarchy of objects (Category, Family, Type, Instance) allowing the designer to build a 3D model at a higher level. Some may consider a project created in AutoCAD Architecture to be BIM, but this requires strict drafting and CAD Management standards to ensure. Even if it is not BIM, there are productivity studies indicating that AutoCAD Architecture can save up to 60% of time vs. regular AutoCAD, which is a significant value proposition. Take a look at the potential time savings for all AutoCAD verticals, including 85% productivity gain with AutoCAD MEP, and 95% gain with AutoCAD Electrical!

Higher-Level Design

It can be a difficult task for drafters to ensure that a change to an element in plan view (like a door or a window), is updated across all relevant sections and elevations. In AutoCAD Architecture, elements such as walls, doors and windows mimic real-world behavior and construction. So, you can insert doors or windows into your wall, and when you change the location or Style of object, you may update this same object in other drawings where it is shown. You can also modify all objects of that Style, meaning if you insert a certain style of window 50 times into several different walls, but want to update the style, you can modify it once and it updates every object; a huge time-saver!


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What’s New in Rhino 7

The release of Rhino 7 is the most significant in the 30 years since Rhinoceros3D was first introduced. At its heart, RhinoCommon offers a powerful geometry engine with high mathematical accuracy, and with new features like SubD modeling and Clash Detection, it is only getting better.

If you haven’t already purchased a license of Rhino 7, I hope that by the end of this article you are convinced that it provides huge value out-of-the-box and great potential in the future.

Rhino3d.com/7/new/ lists all of the new features and capabilities of Rhino 7. For ease of navigating, links to some of the best features are listed below:

SubD Modeling

Explore organic shapes quickly and easily

Rhino.Inside Revit (beta)

Rhino 7 can now be used as a plugin for Autodesk Revit, expanding the possibilities for both programs. More info below…

Quad ReMesh

Quickly create a Quad Mesh from existing geometries, including SubDs

Clash Detection

Detect and resolve clashes quickly.

Package Manager

Installing and managing plugins for Rhino+GH is now easier than ever, right from Rhino itself!

Grasshopper Player

Grasshopper was packaged as part of Rhino 6, and now with the GH Player, Plugins can be built to receive User Defined Inputs without the need to open and run the Grasshopper definition.

Presentation Tools and Display Pipeline

    • The Render Engine received a major update
    • Raytraced Viewport allows for interactive rendering
    • PBR Materials and Multi-threading with OpenGL, optimized with certain hardware


From Enhanced Text Fields that work with Formulas to Layout Management tools, it is easier than ever to document your designs

New Commands in Rhino 7

A full list of all of the new Commands that are available. For quick reference and similar to past versions, there is a tab called New in V7 which has some of the best new commands.

In addition to all of these new and enhanced features that come with Rhino 7, there is much effort afoot to bring the capabilities of Rhino into almost any environment (Rhino.Inside).

Development Platform

The foundations of Rhino are ready for broader and deeper applications of its capabilities. As plugins for Rhino have been developed over the years, it has spurred a thriving developer community with advanced tools for data and geometry manipulation.

In Version 6, Rhino was made into a Dynamic Link Library (DLL), which allowed for a couple of things to happen in the development of Rhino 7:

A. Plugins (particularly C++) developed for Rhino 6 will work with Rhino 7 and possibly later versions without breaking the SDK.

  1. For scripters, this provides a more solid footing for the development and support that would be necessary for plugins.
  2. For Firms and BIM/VDC Managers, this gives more long-term reliability in the tools that are incorporated into certain workflows

B. Rhino can be run as a plugin within other applications

  1. Standalone Console Apps / .NET Web Servers (Rhino Compute)
  2. CPython
  3. Revit (Rhino.Inside.Revit)

Rhino Compute lets Rhino run on a .NET Web Server, effectively bringing Rhino to the cloud. Startups such as Hypar are working to bring Grasshopper scripting and much more to the web browser, allowing for design input to come from anyone, anywhere.

The most popular flavor of the Rhino.Inside technology is Rhino.Inside.Revit (beta, free), which has effectively made Rhino 7 the largest possible plugin for Revit. Not only is it the full version of Rhino running within Revit’s memory space, but all of the plugins are compatible with Rhino 7 as well. Plugins that had been developed for Rhino 6 remain compatible, so the functionality that is part of many scripts and workflows can endure.

There are new Grasshopper Components found in V7, with the majority available within Rhino.Inside.Revit, in the Revit Tab.

For more information on Rhino.Inside.Revit Technology, please refer to our other blog posts and our Microsol Resources’ Youtube Channel for additional resources and webinar recordings.

Rhino 7 provides a framework with minimal barriers to entry. From the lone wolf coder to the multi-national firm, Rhino 7 can be very powerful if leveraged properly. A great conversation with Steve Baer, Luis Fraguada, and Will Pearson of Robert McNeel & Associates can be found on ProArchitect’s Youtube page. They discuss the rationale and forward-thinking concepts behind Rhino 7 and the Rhino.Inside technology, but for the most part, opine on Rhino Compute.

Want to upgrade to Rhino 7 or have any questions about any of the New Features? Feel free to contact us at rhino@microsolresources.com. 

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Using Autodesk Subscription Products “Offline”

Do you need to access Autodesk software from the job site, commuter train, or at a weekend home? If so, please review the important information in this article to make sure that you can maintain access to your software, even if the connection to the internet is unreliable.

With new subscription contracts, license validation and software activation are no longer handled with serial numbers, product keys, or license files. Rather, the licensing service uses an active internet connection to validate the licenses.

Per the terms of use, the user can access the software OFFLINE for up to 30 days after activation.

  • For a subscription with single-user access, named users need to connect to the internet every 30 days and sign in to the software so the product stays up-to-date and verifies that the subscription is still current

However, due to the functionality of the licensing service, activation can be wiped out if the attempt to validate a license fails. The Licensing Service will fail to activate for the following reasons:

  • The product has not been assigned to the Named User that is trying to access the software
  • A poor internet connection causes high latency with Autodesk’s servers, resulting in a timeout
  • The Firewall/Antivirus is blocking the licensing service from communicating across the internet

Ultimately, to maintain access when working OFFLINE it is important to ensure the following:

  1. Update the software in the Autodesk Desktop App, including Hot Fixes, Security Patches, Licensing Service Updates, and Service Packs.
  2. Check that the connection with the internet is stable and the necessary firewall settings are in place
  3. After the product has been activated, disable the NETWORK ADAPTER. This will force the computer to stay OFFLINE and will prevent the licensing service from attempting to activate, and risk failing.

At Microsol Resources, we have received a few support cases where licensing failed on a poor internet connection, even if it was activated the previous day. Based on feedback we have received, I have posted an Idea to the Autodesk Ideas Forum, which proposes the creation of a Borrow feature, similar to the functionality for Network Licenses.

Subscription Activation – Force OFFLINE mode

Feel free to vote for the idea, or comment and make a different suggestion! Community support is a great way to catalyze the development of better tools.

For general information on the Transition to Named User, please read our blog post Top 10 Resources for Autodesk Subscriptions.

Are you having trouble using an Autodesk product offline? Call us at 888-768-7568 or send us an email!

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