‘Is that AutoCAD? Running on a Mac?!’*
Shaan Hurley was in London this week, and he put out an open invitation to anyone who wanted to see Autocad running on the Mac.
If you are interested Shaan is having another open session tonight (15th Sept 2010) at the Autodesk office in London. You can contact him via his blog if you want to rock up.
Unfortunately I was late, but I caught up with the rest of the Geeks at Starbucks in Covent garden. Shaan was demoing AutoCAD for Mac as well as AutoCAD WS on his iPhone (His iPad wouldn’t connect to the Starbucks WiFi, we won’t hold that against him!).
My first impression was that AutoCAD for Mac is a really stylish and good looking product, it will definitely appeal to Mac users from this standpoint. I haven’t used a Mac in years (see my previous post about AutoCAD for the Mac) but with a bit of fumbling around with the unfamiliar keyboard and track pad I managed to sketch out some polylines and apply a few constraints. I looked briefly at the plotting and page setup dialogs and typed a few Lisp commands to see what was working (no VLIDE – I guess that was too hopeful!).
The User Interface.
Whilst the interface looks different to the Windows version, the standard elements are all there (Command line, Layer manager e.t.c) I think that if you were coming from the Windows version of AutoCAD you would quickly find your way around. If you’ve never used AutoCAD, learning Autocad on the Mac would not inhibit you from using AutoCAD on Windows.
Native DWG Support.
AutoCAD for Mac writes native DWG files, so you can open drawings up in AutoCAD for Windows with no translation problems.
In this interview with the AutoCAD for Mac development team, Deelip Menezes discovered that Autodesk have had to split the code in two to bring AutoCAD to the Mac platform. The underlying CAD engine is the same, but they’ve had to re-write the interface using ‘Cocoa’ – the application development language for the Mac.
For this reason not everything in the Windows version of Autocad has been ported over to the Mac. Some of the notable exceptions are no Sheet set manager and no tool palettes. AutoCAD for Mac does have a CUI editor and an equivalent to the Design Centre.
One of my fellow Geeks who has been Beta testing AutoCAD for Mac revealed that, whilst many of the AutoCAD for Windows standard tools have been worked on, only those that are most stable have found their way into the release product, so I guess that we can see some of these missing features come in in later releases.
Will you be adding AutoCAD for the Mac to your office network?
It would appear that the licensing model is standalone only, no network licences; and we already know that you will need separate licenses for your Windows and Mac versions of Autocad.
Rolling all this together, if you were thinking that you might integrate a seat (or seats) of AutoCAD for Mac into your Windows based office network, think again! AutoCAD for Mac is for Lone sharks right now with few of the tools to integrate corporate standards that we enjoy on the Windows version.
Bearing all this in mind, it seems a bit cheeky that Autodesk are intending to sell AutoCAD for Mac for the same price as AutoCAD for Windows. I wonder whether this might be about perceptions right now, to price AutoCAD for the Mac at a lower cost to AutoCAD for Windows might seem to imply that AutoCAD for Mac is a lesser product… However, considering that Autodesk seem to be intending to roll AutoCAD for Mac out to the student community first – I guess it will be a while before anyone actually pays for it.
It’s my opinion that Autodesk are taking the softly, softly approach – building up enthusiasm amongst the student community whilst taking the time to develop the ‘corporate’ features that will help sell AutoCAD for Mac to the ‘Professional’ market. By the time that the students will be in professional practice Autocad for Mac will be a standard tool for Designers and Architects.
AutoCAD WS on the iPhone was a neat little App, but to be quite honest looking at an architectural plan of a building that was reduced down to the size of a postage stamp was not very practical. Trying to add a mark up with my sausage fingers just didn’t work at all. However I expect that if I had had the chance to try it on the iPad it would have proved to be more useful. I can definitely see this team of products in our future – keep your eyes peeled for Architects and designers wandering around the site with their iPads!
In summery I am excited about AutoCAD for Mac. It looks like a good product. Whilst I don’t see a high adoption by building contractors in the near future I am really hopeful that AutoCAD for Mac is adopted by the Architects and Designers who are working on the Mac platform.
This would be of a massive benefit to us contractors, with less time spent on file translation, less translation errors, less re-work when the translation is inadequate and less errors through confusion over which version of a file is current.
Here I am with Shaan – Looking a bit flustered after arriving late!
* The quote in the title came from an Architecture student who happened to be sitting near by. His next comment was ‘Holy F&%k!’