September 13, 2010
Going Native with AutoCAD for Mac and Mobile Applications
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News
Going Native with AutoCAD for Mac and Mobile Applications
by Susan Smith

For some years, I've noticed at Autodesk conferences how much Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk, refers to his iPhone. The iPhone has been brought up as a topic during many keynotes, where either the brilliance of Apple's AppStore or the ease-of-use of that technology has been commented upon.

The iPhone and iPad are steps in the direction of making technology available to everyone, which is what appeals to Autodesk -- to bring AutoCAD to everyone. So it's no surprise that Autodesk announced last week AutoCAD for Mac software. This version of AutoCAD runs natively on Mac OS X. Coupled with this announcement was Autodesk's announcement of the AutoCAD WS mobile application, a new free app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch that will allow users to edit and share their AutoCAD designs in the field.

Autodesk discontinued AutoCAD on the Mac some 17 years ago, and in 2009 they surveyed users on their interest in re-introducing AutoCAD on the Mac. The query was met with an overwhelming response. Maybe more architects are using Macs these days, or Macs are used more in the entertainment industry, an industry that Autodesk products are now featured in. Will more consumers want to purchase AutoCAD now that they can get it in the AppStore? It may simply be what Autodesk states in their press release, that the reintroduction of the Mac broadens the number of platforms the software is available on. The popularity of the iPad is also a contributing factor.

Other CAD software vendors have been providing support for Mac for some time now: Nemetschek's Vectorworks 3D BIM modeling product was a Macintosh only application for many years, and still remains a favorite among the Mac community.

Recently, the German-based company Graebert, a partner of Dassault Systems, released 2D drafting software ARES Commander for Mac OS.

Guri Stark. vice president for AutoCAD and Platform products, said that users have been limited to running AutoCAD under Windows with the Mac. There is a growing marketshare of the Mac platform, and requests from customers. Because of this energetic push, Autodesk decided to make AutoCAD available for Windows on the Mac and also on iPod and iPhone mobile platforms as an extension of that family of Apple products. Rob Maguire, product manager for AutoCAD for the Mac, said AutoCAD for Mac “is a version of AutoCAD designed natively for Mac OS 10 -- it has to be AutoCAD and has to be native.”

What this means is that the new product will have Apple menus and UI, multitypes, cover flow and the wide screen aspect ratio standard on all Macs. Most AutoCAD users will recognize that things inside the drawing are exactly the same. People who are familiar with AutoCAD will be able to jump into the Mac product seamlessly just as Mac people should be able to use it quickly.

“AutoCAD is really 3D so all the solid mesh and surface modeling that we are familiar with in AutoCAD 2011 for Windows is all available inside AutoCAD for Mac, so all the nurb surfacing, visualization materials, has been pulled over, a full version of AutoCAD,” said Stark.

The same RealDWG library as is in AutoCAD is used, and the C++ library used to read DWGs on the Windows environment is the same library used with the AutoCAD for Mac. This offers the best in class DWG interoperability between Windows and Mac that has ever really existed, according to Stark.

The CUI interface for menu and palette customization and full Object ARX C++ libraries are all inside AutoCAD for Mac. The Object ARX sample apps will be compiled without modification and brought straight into the Mac for the Mac environment.

AutoCAD WS on iPod, iPhone and iPod Touch has been available on Autodesk Labs for quite some time. “Once you upload your DWG files from your desktop to the cloud, you can then view it in the cloud, share it with others, you can edit files and make change to them, can do live “co-edit” sessions with your partners,” explained Maguire. “This is a true DWG file - you can ask information about it, create new entities, you can collaborate, you can invite a partner or multiple partners to work in a co-edit session, in which AutoCAD users can view the same file at the same time and can modify the file at the same time while having a discussion about the event you're working on. You can also do a timeline feature which is where you download previous versions of the file, so if somebody modifies the file you can always go back to an older version or multiple older versions and see what's changed or use an older version if you decide to.”

Autodesk has plans to be able to run AutoCAD WS on other mobile platforms in the future, and that is why they ported it to the C++ language. Currently the product is wireless dependent, because it is downloading incremental parts of the drawing, so it is refreshing on the fly to enable users to view drawings of almost infinite size.

The goal for AutoCAD for Mac is to run at the same speed as for AutoCAD for Windows, which is much faster than through emulation of Mac through Windows. Autodesk says there is a high dissatisfaction rate among customers who are running through emulation because they have memory capacity limits and there is a lot more overhead. Autodesk still will support AutoCAD for Windows via parallels on Mac OS 10 for those who want to continue with it.

Top News of the Week

SketchUp 8 from Google is the next version of SketchUp available for download. Geo-modeling capabilities have been added that leverage Google's vast collection of geo-spatial data to make it quicker, easier and more fun than ever to build models of the world around us.

Corecon Technologies, Inc., pioneers in web-based construction software, announces its new product Corecon Mobile. Specifically tailored for use on smartphones and tablets with smaller screens, Corecon Mobile is compatible with Apple iPhone and iPad, Google Android, HP Palm, Microsoft Windows Mobile, and RIM Blackberry.

Alliances, Agreements, Acquisitions

In an effort to equip the next generation of architects with powerful new tools and uncompromising learning opportunities, GRAPHISOFT is partnering with the STEM Academy, a national non-profit dedicated to literacy in science, technology education and math for all students from K through 14 and beyond.

GRAPHISOFT's ArchiCAD building information modeling (BIM) software and its EcoDesigner energy optimization software will form the foundation of the academy's new year-long high-school and community college course, called "Architecture + Construction Management Featuring Green Methods."

Intergraph and Bergen-Power Pipe Supports Inc., a designer and manufacturer of pipe supports, have entered an agreement to supply the Bergen-Power hanger and support parts catalog with Intergraph SmartPlant 3D and SmartMarine 3D (collectively known as Smart 3D) engineering and design software solutions.


IMSI/Design announced that it is continuing its partnership with iRent to allow customer to use its popular TurboCAD Pro products through a monthly subscription.

TurboCAD subscription prices are currently $69.99 a month for TurboCAD Pro 17 and $89.99 a month for TurboCAD Pro Platinum 17.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.

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