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Despite the addition of a diminutive i into the title of the latest AutoCAD release Autodesk are at pains to describe it as a major upgrade.
In addition to the major theme of internet tools with a stylised local and web browser appearing at start-up, there are also numerous claimed enhancements to productivity, collaborative working, visual learning assistance and plotting facilities.
The new functionality can be realised without a further data upgrade as the DWG file format is unchanged as are the scripting languages so that ARX and LISP routines remain compatible.
AutoCAD 2000i offers new users the opportunity to buy into the AutoCAD world combined with the opportunity to expand into the industry specific 'flavoured' 2D versions such as AutoCAD Mechanical 2000i and 3D Mechanical Desktop.
AutoCAD Mechanical 2000i adds a dedicated interface for 2D mechanical design while the Power Pack add-on offers a library of 600,000 standard parts, tools for creating representations of machinery components and calculation tools including basic Finite Element Analysis.
The flagship product Mechanical Desktop Release 5 adds 3D parametric functionality to the full range of Mechanical and Power Pack 2D functionality.
There is also a Mechanical Desktop Power Pack version offering 1.2million standard 2D and 3D parts and features, structural steel profiles and intelligent part placement and 3D static FEA.
A significant advance for the UK and a number of other territories is the elimination of hardware locks (dongles) in favour of the more reliable and flexible software lock technology from C'Dilla.
Although there is 3D functionality in AutoCAD 2000i, it is primarily implemented in its base version as a 2D tool.
Performance improvement claims are impressive with the AutoCAD User Group International indicating 6-38% speed increases although this potentially highlights shortcomings of the 2000 release.