Although there are new features, which I'll cover in future posts, for me the major change in Autodesk Design Review 2010 (ADR) is the new User Interface. I hope I don't offend those who made the previous UI when I say ADR finally has a User Interface that actually works for reviewing design! it's not perfect but the few niggles that remain all have workarounds enabling me to say this is the best Autodesk Design Review yet.
So, what about this new User Interface then?
It starts a little bit faster and entertains you while it does... There is now a "splash screen" which displays while ADR starts up. This avoids a problem I found with 2009 where people quite often started multiple ADR sessions thinking nothing was happening.
Application Button: As usual with Fluent UI applications this gathers file related operations and also has the application options. One Item I looked for here was "Measurement Units" settings but it is found on the measure panel fly-out. The Save As fly-out reveals one new feature: the ability to save a mark-up summary list.
Quick Access Toolbar: Like the other ribbon applications you can Right Click > Add any tool to the Quick Access Toolbar. Unfortunately the placement of a couple of very handy controls means you'll need to do this.
Canvas Bar: This is a permanent feature below the ribbon and something I think some other applications should consider. It houses the very important "Select" control and a variety of zoom options. Apart from Home anyone with a wheel mouse (or equivalent) won't use them much but they are good for use with a pen (Tablet PC). The Canvas Bar also has Previous/Next Page buttons but not the Previous/Next View buttons which were there in 2009. For some reason 2010 hides them on a fly-out on the Home tab?
It you like the canvas bar in ADR you can achieve a similar functionality/layout in other Autodesk applications by having the Quick Access Toolbar display below the ribbon.
Home: It's pretty sparse with large controls for Full Screen and Copy Current View. Strangely that doesn't look anything like a conventional windows "copy" button yet that's what it's for. The Find tool isn't new but few know it searches both text and object properties if they are included in the DWF publish. There is also a link to Autodesk Seek.
A couple of control placements on this tab seem strange to me.
- Show Mark-uips and Snap to Geometry: Why have these on Home and not on the Mark-up Tab?
- Why have the Next/Previous View buttons hidden on the Home Panel fly-out when they used to be beside the page controls on the canvas bar? First thing I'll do is add them to the QAT.
Mark-up & Measure: This is where the ribbon shines. All the mark-up, drawing and measure tools are exposed without resorting to fly-outs. This makes using a pen, by far the best way to mark-up, much easier than previous versions.
Why the ribbon is better for mark-up: ADR 2009 hid all the mark-up options in fly-out controls. This reduced the number of toolbar buttons but hugely compromised use. The ribbon exposes the controls and format tools making all the options just one click away. For example to change the colour and transparency of an item in 2009 (below left) meant;
- Select the item, fly-out the Fill tool, select the colour
- Then the fly-out disappeared so you had to fly-out the Fill tool again to select the transparency.
With the 2010 ribbon (below right) all the formatting choices are on the ribbon just one click away.
Measure Units: You have to visit the Measure Fly-out to set the 2D and 3D DWF Units (to real world units). They can be set to remember your defaults so it's not really a problem, once you've found it!
Tools: Compare and Snapshot are the main reason to visit here.
Properties Tabs: Slide tabs reveal the extended data published with DWFs. You can pin them open if desired but the default show/hide action is nice.
Ribbon, meet browser:
Where is the ribbon - Part 1? When you first load a DWF in a browser the ribbon appears minimised
Clicking the ribbon toggle swaps between the full and tab only view options.
Where is the ribbon - Part 2? Internet Explorer 7 has one snag with the new ribbon. It is fine for the first tab view but subsequent tabs will not display the ribbon and only offer the Canvas Bar and right click option. This is due to a limitation in IE7 and has two simple solutions:
- Open a new browser session for each view, which is a bit of a pain
- Install Internet Explorer 8!
The new Autodesk Design Review User Interface also helps integration with another favourite product of mine, more on that in a future post.
UPDATE 2009-04-16: Mohamed Haris has a cool tip to use ADR as an image viewer for formats the native Windows viewer can not access - How To Use Autodesk Design Review As Your Default Raster Image Viewer