Autodesk Should Change Linetype Style

Tags linetype, Style, WATT

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Heck. No.
Linetypes work. Hardly anyone needs to mess with linetypes anymore. They are available standard linetypes for almost everything in every CAD discipline. With some adjustment they even work across multiple drafting disciplines. What do you mean by linetype style anyway?

Autodesk, please don’t change what works.

Heck. Yes.
The technology behind is 30 years old (or more). AutoCAD Linetype lacks many graphics fundamentals that require us to comb together arcane crap to produce even reasonable and acceptable representations. Many things are impossible that should be possible. The external resources have to be supplied to others and/or made available even to other softwares to display the proper results we intend.

Even if you don’t want Autodesk to redefine the Linetype Style we all recognize…

Linetype Sucks

“Use these resources and NEVER change anything.” The competent AutoCAD CAD Manager’s motto.

Linetype eats man-hours needlessly. It does this in your shop and even more outside of it.
Put it this way - BIM without smart responsive graphics is a marketing illusion.
We cannot communicate in more detail without better language.

Linear graphics shouldn’t be pain to users. Just recall how many AutoCAD system variables related to Linetype are there now? AutoCAD can’t even keep the rendering of basic primitives straight and/or interchangeable. If you are a competent user, you get that. In the future, we can bet there will be more sysvars related to this.

By the way, for many years the Microstation folk liked to tout Linestyles as a superior technology. Linestyle tech is, frankly, as old, outdated, and almost as bad as Linetype. Anyone who seriously works with translations all the time knows this. There are reasons why the State DOTs and other major Microstation houses have standard linestyles that look the way they do.
Linestyle is a different and more elaborate version of stupid.

For Autodesk, and in fact either vendor, the past competitive reasons to be different are effectively moot. Maybe there are people in the AutoCAD programming group who would think differently.

Frankly, I don’t think anyone at Autodesk wants to think about linetype at all.

Autodesk end users pretty much gave up on the linetype bitch years ago.

Linetype is Boring

Which is exactly the point. What can be done? This can be fixed. Real world usage can’t be changed overnight, but Autodesk as a market leader should strive to improve the lot of their vast user base instead of creating continued misery.
Perhaps however, misery truly does love company?


Formats like SVG make some sense. SVG had lots of proponents for a bit in the web world and now maybe is making a comeback. The strategic problem with SVG for Autodesk from their perspective is, of course, Adobe. They do the other graphics.
Keeping some distance for graphic company gorillas is important.

Second, external standards that may seriously effect application performance and that Autodesk doesn’t define are usually an official no no.

Autodesk could replace linetype with a more robust SVG or SVG-like set of graphics. I doubt they will. Why? SVG makes it too easy for users to introduce performance problems and inadvertent crashes into the dwg database core.  There are external ways around this. I still wouldn’t bet on SVG in AutoCAD.


Someday we will probably end up with some more specialized JSON like format. JSON is a fast developing structured world with more liberty and a lot more current intellectual capital at work. Such structure might allow us to build in smart rules and embed responsive data into the graphics. That would be sort of the Holy Grail of linetype.

What do I mean by that?
OK. Your surface model’s contour representation knows it’s a minor contour displayed at this scale and knows therefore it needs a view aware elevation every once in a while and needs a stroke that looks like your old friend Hidden but because it’s a contour in Cut it prints this way not that way.

In technical terms we point to a formal structure of rules (some calculated) not a formatted simple string of numbers. These abstracted linetype rules can “talk” with your model’s features (objects).
Real BIM requires smart features and smarter more responsive graphics.

Autodesk software outside of the AutoCAD groups already are begining to do the JSON thing. We keep seeing more and more of it. For civil folk Intraworks styles be one example. No real rules yet. Nah. No API. We can assume from the outside looking in this is the current internal strategy. Maybe you’re paying attention. Probably not.

This is why I dodged some of the details of the formats here. The are other potential condenders too. If you are interested in those issues, a little extra study will only help you.

Do Us All a Favor

If you are going to Autodesk University this month, raise a shout. Whine on the AUGI and Autodesk forums. Given the cost of AutoCAD, AutoCAD Map 3D, and AutoCAD Civil 3D software…

You Deserve Smarter Graphics

Our Production Solutions profide a huge selection of NCS compliant linetypes. These are tweaked for Civil, well documented, and follow an NCS like naming convention. They easy to customize too. Surprise. Where possible they even tranlate and map over to DGN acceptably.

"Dave? Do our Civil 3D templates do that?
Dave, did you hear me?"