Welcome to the wonderful world of AutoCAD and to the fame and fortune that awaits you as an AutoCAD user. (Would I lie to you?)

Believe it or not, AutoCAD is 34 years old, having been born in December 1982, when most people thought that personal computers weren’t capable of industrial-strength tasks like CAD. The acronym stands for Computer-Aided Drafting, Computer-Aided Design, or both, depending on whom you talk to. What’s equally scary is that many of today’s hotshot AutoCAD users, and most of the readers of this book, weren’t even born when the program first hit the street and the grizzled old-timer writing these words began using it.

AutoCAD remains the king of the PC computer CAD hill by a tall margin, making it one of the longest-lived computer programs ever. It’s conceivable that the long-term future of CAD may belong to special-purpose, 3D-based software such as the Autodesk Inventor and Revit programs, or to specialized market-specific variations built on top of AutoCAD. At any rate, AutoCAD’s DWG file format is the de facto standard, so AutoCAD will be where the CAD action is for the foreseeable future.

You may have heard that AutoCAD is complex and difficult to learn and use. Yes, the menu system includes about 1,300 icons. Well, it has been my observation that the easier any software is to learn and use, the sooner you bump up against its limitations. A car with no accelerator, one forward gear, no steering, and no brakes would be easy to use until you ...

Get AutoCAD For Dummies, 17th Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.