Autodesk Labs had a a technology preview known as Project Cooper that now is graduated and named AutoCAD Freestyle.
AutoCAD Freestyle is built on the AutoCAD platform and is compatible with AutoCAD’s DWG file format. This means that in AutoCAD Freestyle you can open a file created in AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT add sketches, notes, and drawing enhancements and save completing workflow and round-trip with other DWG-based applications.
But while AutoCAD requires quite a lot of training most anyone can get started using AutoCAD Freestyle right away thanks to its Integrated learning tools.
"Many people--from do-it-yourselfers to home contractors to landscape designers--still use pen and paper or software that does not enable accuracy and is hard to use," said Amar Hanspal, senior vice president, Autodesk Platform Solutions and Emerging Business. "AutoCAD Freestyle has been created to meet the needs of these users and anybody else who needs to generate quick, accurate and professional-looking designs without the need for or learning curve of industrial-strength CAD software."
Right now you can get 81 copies of AutoCAD Freestyle for the price of AutoCAD 2011. At the introductory price of $49 and later suggested retail price of $149 AutoCAD Freestyle is the first and for many the only step needed into the CAD world.
AutoCAD Freestyle is now available for download from the Autodesk eStore at www.autodesk.com/estore.
Some limitations to be aware of and that AutoCAD users might wonder about:
When a DWG file from another application is opened in AutoCAD Freestyle, the original objects cannot be edited. That is, all geometry and text are on a locked layer.
AutoCAD Freestyle only opens one paper space layout at a time. If a DWG file created in another application contains multiple paper space layouts, the user can select a single layout to use.
DWG files created in other applications that contain 3D views may be somewhat limited in their functionality when opened and viewed in AutoCAD Freestyle.
All text, geometry, and fill elements added to a file using AutoCAD Freestyle are automatically placed on new, AutoCAD Freestyle-specific layers.
If you are an AutoCAD (or other DWG-based software application) user, and you plan to send a DWG file to a user who is unfamiliar with DWG drawings, the best approach is to create a DWG file with a single viewport in a paper space layout.
There is no way to add new symbols (blocks) to the library within the application. But the ToolPalette file AcTpCatalogacadfs.atc can be manually edited to achieve this. Dynamic blocks are supported.
AutoCAD Freestyle saves to AutoCAD 2007 DWG file format but can open AutoCAD 2010 DWG file format files. It looks like this first release is based on AutoCAD 2010 as 18.0 is the interval version number and not 18.1 as in AutoCAD 2011.
Will this product eventually replace AutoSketch?