Back to the Drawing Board

Upgrading from Version 2 to Version 3

If you have been using Version 2 of Back to the Drawing Board you will find that we have made some significant changes to the way some of the familiar tools work. We do not make these changes lightly. We know how annoying it is to have to relearn something after you finally get the hang of it. However we have heard from users that certain features of the app were not discoverable and others were more awkward to use than they could be. We sincerely hope that you will find the changes we have made to be improvements and worth the trouble of having to relearn a thing or two.

In this section, we will mainly be discussing the things that are different, not just new. For a more complete list of features in Version 3, see the Release Notes.

App bar layout

We have made some minor changes to the layout of the app bars.

The Groups button in the top app bar (where you created and inserted groups) is gone. In its place is an Insert button that contains an Insert group tool that retains most of the functionality of the Symbols tool in Version 2. The Create [group] tool is gone. Groups are now created in the Select objects tool (see below).

There is also an Insert image tool that isn't active yet. That will come in Version 3.1. It will be worth waiting for.

There is also a new Arrays button in the top app bar. This is where you now go to create linear arrays and radial arrays of objects. You may remember that these functions used to be in the Symbols tool.

Select objects and Edit object

When we developed the original Select and Edit tools, we tried to be true to the core Windows 8 user experience goals, however the resulting experience was awkward. The Select and Edit tools are very powerful tools that allow you to select objects and then modify them. In their original implementation however, once an object was selected it wasn't obvious what to do with it. The actions were hidden in the bottom app bar and were not visible unless the app bars were displayed. Worse yet, these actions were modal (i.e. you either were moving, or deleting, or resizing, etc.), and it was difficult to tell which mode you were in.

In Version 3, the Select objects and Edit object tools use a "context dialog" that clearly shows what actions can be taken on a selection and what mode you are in. The context dialog replaces the action buttons in the bottom app bar which is now empty.

For more details, see the Select objects and Edit object documentation.

Creating groups

Groups are now created in the Select objects tool. This results in a much cleaner experience. Creating groups is now a simple and lightweight operation. The old Create [group] tool is gone.

The old Create tool was highly optimized for the creation of symbols. You could set the insert location, insert vector and name, and you could immediately save a group as a symbol. In Version 3, the setting of the insert vector and the save as symbol functions have been moved to Edit object. The naming option amd insert location specification have been moved to the Symbols and groups settings panel.

The process of creating and saving a symbol is now done is two steps. First, you select the objects and create the group in Select objects. After the group has been created, you can then select the Edit object action in the Select objects context dialog where you can set the insert vector and save the group.

The Symbol library is now managed strictly using the Symbols and groups settings panel. A new feature in the settings panel is the ability to specify that a symbol should be inserted in "paper space" rather than at its native "model scale." This ensures that unscaled symbols like drawing title blocks and flowchart symbols will be inserted correctly if they were created in a scaled drawing.

See the Symbols and groups documentation for more details.

Inserting group and symbols

As alluded to earlier, symbols and groups are now inserted using the Insert group tool under Insert instead of the Symbols tool under Groups.

The Symbols tool had a Repeat option that brought up a complex dialog that could be used to create arrays of objects. This functionality has been moved to the Array tools. See the Arrays documentation for details.

Properties panel

In Version 2, there were icons at the bottom of an object's properties panel that let you copy or delete the object. These are gone. The Bring to front and Send to back buttons are still there.

In Version 2, the properties panel for group instances had a button that let you fill or change the instance's text attributes. This button is gone. Text attributes are now changed using the Fill in text attributes action in Edit object.

Selecting colors

In Version 2, colors were selected from a long list of named colors in the color menu. The list was arranged by name, not by hue or anything useful. This required a lot of scrolling, and unless your were very familiar with the W3C list of color names you probably didn't know what colors to look for.

Version 3 adds a new color picker that lets you select colors by name, by AutoCAD color code, or by specifying explicit ARGB color values. If you want to select by W3C name, this adds an extra step, but you can now search the list by typing a partial color name. For example, if you type "blue" the list if filtered to the 20 names that contain "blue."

See the Color picker documentation for more details.