AutoCAD for the Mac goes official… at last

Published 31 August 2010

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: autodesk, apple, iphone, autocad, ipad, mac

Quirky: The UK PR team sent us this little beauty - no use for drawing CAD models, but part of our five-a-day nonetheless

As most have pointed out, AutoCAD for the Mac has just gone public, following the New York Times ignoring Autodesk’s () embargo on the news until a conference call later today.

To use the “worst kept secret” cliche, this was, the worst kept secret. A beta version has been doing the rounds over the last few months (Architosh covered it a while back), many of us have been asking Autodesk for official word of the application once we’d got hold of it and seen that it was real (and getting the usual “can’t comment” response) and some authors have been feeding us tid-bits here and there.

So, let’s look at the press release and what we know. Firstly, this is the first time in over ten years that AutoCAD’s been on the Mac (I dimly remember using a Mac version at university). It looks to be a native Mac user interface, has had 5,000 beta users, and despite the claim that it “makes available many of the powerful AutoCAD features and functionality”, the word on the street is that there’s a pretty hefty percentage missing in this first release - which for those thinking of switching out their Windows versions at the next upgrade round, you might need to check that the operations and commands you use the most are actually ported across once it ships in Autumn this year.

At the same time, there’s good news for CAD using Rectangle Strokers as Autodesk are also announcing that its extended its offering on the Apple mobile platform devices, with AutoCAD WS Mobile that will allow “AutoCAD users to edit and share AutoCAD files on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch so they can have real-time collaboration even while on the go.” And it looks like it’ll be free when it ships.

Autodesk has been pretty heavy on its Mac-based activities over the last few years. In the design and engineering space, Alias is already on the Mac and there’s SketchBook Pro. In the DCC space, there’s Maya and Mudbox to name but a few, so they’re used to the Apple marketplace and see value in it. When Alias launched, I spoke to Thomas Heermann, senior product line manager for Industrial Design to ask about what their gut feeling for Mac acceptance was and he claim that “based on our data, and talking to a lot of customers over the years, we believe roughly 30% of creative professionals prefer the Mac platform over Windows.

While this is a good thing for those looking to at taking on AutoCAD onto their platform of choice, there has to be some comment on a couple of bits in the press release. Firstly, Amar Hanspal, senior vice president, Autodesk Platform Solutions and Emerging Business has a quote stating that “The release of AutoCAD for Mac marks the return of professional design and engineering software to the Mac platform”.

Umm. No.

The “return of Autodesk professional design and engineering software” maybe but let’s not pretend that this is the first release of CAD software on the mac platform. Many others have been doing it for pretty much the same amount of time that Autodesk has been ignoring it. Ashlar Vellum and Shark 3D have been doing it for a while, Siemens launched NX for the Mac sometimes ago and McNeel’s Rhino is due out of Beta very soon indeed. If you want to talk about AutoCAD-like tools, Nemetschek has had VectorWorks on the Mac platform for a while, as have IMSI with TurboCAD ( and many others are due soon.

Autodesk has a conference call this afternoon and there’s a couple of questions that spring to mind - anyone got any others?

  • If the software isn’t a 1:1 match for Windows AutoCAD, why the high pricing (it costs $3,995)?
  • Any time-line on when the two variants will achieve parity?
  • Are they looking to allow cross platform licensing on the same machine (Allowing you to have both Windows and Mac variants on the same machine).
  • Will the iPhone/iPad versions allow syncing with iTunes and will they allow the viewing of DWG-based attachments from the Mail app?

Oh and I can’t give you any screenshots yet. New York TImes broke the story, Autodesk sent out the press release, but neglected to bother with the supported materials…


You can do a screen grab on ralph grabowski's world cad access report

Posted by Martyn on 31 August 2010 at 08:51 AM

The return of the Mac eh? Autocad might have grown into a reasonable 3D modeller but most of its users use it for 2D drafting. Will be very interesting to see how this sells. Personally I think it will be a dud except for those companies who wish to switch to mac or already use macs and PCs running Autocad. The problem is that is a relatively small market as many Autocad only companies run other systems on Windows or add ons for Autocad. VectorWorks 2011 is out soon as well - and trust me - this wipes the floor with anything Autocad will do in either the 2D or 3D realm - for a fraction of the price. Then there is the rendering....

Posted by Kevin Quigley on 02 September 2010 at 02:54 PM

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