The AutoCAD users' community stands on a few pillars, one of which is the "AutoCAD Bible", published by Wiley and refreshed every year in accordance to the new version of the AutoDesk product. The author of this important and popular book is Ellen Finkelstein, an AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT expert who also publishes a very popular weekly newsletter. Ellen is a prolific author, writing books for many software programs, most notably AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT as well as Microsoft PowerPoint. Continuing my exploration of the AutoCAD world, I interviewed Ellen and asked her a few questions. If you are an AutoCAD user, this can be an interesting read.
Ellen, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your professional activities?
I have two professional lives, one in AutoCAD and one in PowerPoint
I have two professional lives, one in AutoCAD and one in PowerPoint/presenting. On the AutoCAD side, I’m the author of AutoCAD 2010 & AutoCAD LT 2010 Bible (10th anniversary edition!). I publish the AutoCAD Tips Newsletter which contains new tips from my web site, www.ellenfinkelstein.com. In the past, I’ve been editor of Inside AutoCAD and written articles for that publication, Autodesk, and others.
Despite being the most popular CAD software, AutoCAD is frequently dismissed as not technically advanced. What keeps attracting millions of users to this program?
AutoCAD is pretty popular!
Actually, AutoCAD is pretty popular! But it’s in the middle. On one end, you have AutoCAD LT, which is less expensive and contains all the basic features that 2D drafters need. More people use it than AutoCAD. On the other side, you have Revit and Inventor, which are specialized, offer much more intelligence in the drawing, and so on. So, many people gravitate to one end or the other of the spectrum.
You have been working, writing, and teaching about AutoCAD for quite some time. During this time, has AutoCAD changed in any unexpected ways?
I’ve been pleased at the new features that Autodesk has added
Not really. I’ve been pleased at the new features that Autodesk has added, especially 3D features and the new parametric constraints.
If you could recommend a new feature for the next AutoCAD version what it would be?
Inventor recently added 3D dimensions which are very cool. I’d also like to see 3D dynamic blocks.
With the Internet offering countless opportunities for AutoCAD users, from users' forums to video training, what is role of a book such as the "AutoCAD 2010 Bible"?
us old-timers still like to use books
I think all types of training can be useful, but us old-timers still like to use books! But seriously, almost everyone needs to sit and read about a feature in depth from time to time. Forums and video training cover topics in brief, but my book covers them in depth, and then offers an exercise to practice. People search on the Internet for issues and find these forums and video training, but they also find tips and tutorials on my site. I also include video lessons for a tip, sometimes. So, I really offer both. In fact, the book’s DVD contains videos of parametric constraints and 3D meshes. People may not realize that the AutoCAD Bible’s DVD contains the book in (non-printable) PDF format, which is search-able. This makes finding what you need pretty easy.
How do you collect, select, and organize the information required your AutoCAD books?
The first time was really, really hard. Now, I’m just updating…
The first time was really, really hard. Now, I’m just updating, so it’s much easier. But I always consider carefully how to organize new material so that people can understand it if they’re reading through the book from start to finish, as some new learners do. Each year, I participate in the beta program (which is excellent) and make a pretty complete list of new features. I assign each feature to the appropriate chapter and then start writing!
You are an inexhaustible source of AutoCAD tips and tricks. How do you find new and original tips and tricks each week for your blog readers and newsletter subscribers?
AutoCAD has lots and lots of features
It’s getting harder and harder! I welcome ideas from my readers and subscribers, and sometimes their questions are the spark for a new tip. I use my book as a major source as well. Sometimes, I just explain a feature in detail in a tutorial, and AutoCAD has lots and lots of features.
I would like to thank Ellen for taking the time to answer my questions. If you have any questions for Ellen or for Novedge, please leave a comment below and we will be glad to answer.
Ellen PowerPoint Sample TrainingEllen Finkelstein tips for AutoCAD and PowerPoint are available at www.ellenfinkelstein.com