It's not just the monster* CAD vendors with their millions in R&D spending who come up with new ways of interacting with our beloved software. Sub-$1000 and even free CAD systems are doing their own thing, even as they avoid the Microsoftian-view of how a UI should operate (that is, ignoring the awful ribbon interface).
Bricsys Invents the Quad Cursor
Last fall, I reported on the new in-drawing interface Bricsys added to the 3D direct modeling component of Bricscad V12. They call it the "quad cursor," because it displays five buttons. Well, before competitors of Bricsys start guffawing, it starts with a one central button; when you move the cursor over it, four more buttons appear.
The center button is the last-used command, while the diamond ring of four present three of the most likely other commands for the selected part, plus the More button that drops down a shortcut menu of other options. The colors of the quad cursor indicate the type of element being edited. Here, green means a face is being edited.
Graebert Dassault Systemes Adds Mouse Gestures to DraftSight
Meanwhile, over in the land of free, a recent update to Dassault Systemes's DraftSight adds mouse gestures. These are four or eight movements that activate a command. Four is good when you don't want to be overwhelmed, eight is the max.
To use this one, you press the mouse's right button, and then move the mouse in one of the four (or eight) directions: up, down, left, etc. This starts the command that is associated with the movement, such as Line or Offset.
When you do a longer drag, a wheel segment appears on the screen briefly, visually reminding you of the command you activated. Naturally, you can also look at the command bar.
When you do a very short drag, then the full wheel appears with all four or eight icons representing the commands.
You can change the command associated with each movement through the Tools | Mouse Gestures option. (Graebert has a license to use this IP in its ARES software, upon which DraftSight is based.)
When it comes to innovation in CAD UI's, you don't drop $4,000 or $6,000.
*) "Monster" is defined here as $1 billion or more in annual revenues.
[Disclosure: I write ebooks about both CAD packages at www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks.]