Alias 2011 feels more responsive and snappier compared to the previous versions and the menus and other items have received more shine. I suppose Alias might run on lot more graphics cards other than the certified ones. More operating systems are supported including Windows 7 and Snow leopard. Hardware anti-aliasing is still not supported under Windows Vista. The licensing system has been made consistent with other Autodesk products with compulsory on-line activation. Also, there are separate packages for Design, Surface and Automotive products. File sizes are a lot less because the Image Based Lighting (IBL) cache data is not stored along with the wire file. Help contains lot of movie files describing technical surfacing, which is a welcome feature for new users.
- Construction settings: It is possible to create and share construction presets across a corporate network by using ALIAS_CONSTR_PRESETS_LOCATION env variable. This is a notable improvement for large organizations, where such a non-editable preset is essential for data integrity. Previously the custom construction settings could be changed by individual users.
- Fit curve: Fit curve functionality has been extended to other entities like surfaces edges and trim edges. Performance of default fit curve is OK, but slows down when fitting higher degree curves. This option will enable easier creation of quality curves and surfaces, especially when building surfaces from trim edges.
- COS Changes: COS created by Tubular Offset, Surface Fillet and Fillet Flange operations, are segmented according to the number of surface created... good and bad. Good because long and complicated COS can be avoided and will help in creating manual transition surface. Bad because very small COS can get generated. By using an appropriate Short Edge Tolerance the small segments can be avoided.
- G3 Continuity: It is now possible to create G3 continuous transition surfaces automatically. Surface fillet, Free-form Blend and Profile gets a new option to create G3 continuous surface. There is no way to check whether the surfaces are indeed G3 continuous, because the continuity locater still shows only up-to Curvature continuity. All G3 continuous surfaces are made by seven degree surfaces. Probably the future versions will have some diagnostics to check G3 continuity. But in any case curvature analysis shows a smooth rate of change of curvature.
- Project curve: Surface Edit > Project is now consolidated to include project normal too. That also means project now gets the ability to create curves instead of COS. But lot of people will have to change their short cuts and marking menus to reflect the change.
- CV move: CV move box in the control panel has a lot of changes. New control for mouse sensitivity is a welcome change, while retaining the step size control for arrow keys. Additionally new variable for pick box size is introduced. Can't be sure if this is a welcome feature, especially if there are lot of CVs crowded together .. best to leave it at the default value of 4. CV slide control now displays bigger arrows. It is easier to see, but difficult to select especially if adjacent CVs are obscured by the arrow head. Need to zoom back and forth in such cases. Definitely not a welcome feature.
- Other new features are productivity improvements while offsetting a number of surfaces together, changes to blend curves and a more proper surface rebuilding using Surface Edit > Rebuild Surface tool.
- Cross-section consolidation: The control panel cross-section and the Evaluate > cross section tools have been consolidated together with additional functionalities. But unfortunately the tool cannot be docked inside the control panel. It will be an additional floating window and is listed under Windows > editor > Cross section Editor.
- Pedestrian Protection: Seems to be a cool new tool, unfortunately I am not qualified enough to comment on a extremely complex area of pedestrian safety. In any case this feature is available only to Automotive customers.
- Other improvements include Curvature Comb for symmetric curves, thinner surface continuity tool.
There are other changes in IGES transfer, which now uses Direct connect.