Thursday, 10 March 2011

CAD on the Mac..

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It’s not often you will see me write about OSX on this blog, so make the most of it while you can!! I’m not anti Apple, really I’m not, I own an iPod Nano!!! I have used OSX, it is no more intuitive than Windows or Linux. I just don’t see what is so amazing about it. Anyway…

Back in 1992, Autodesk released AutoCAD 12 for the Mac. It was to be the last release of AutoCAD on that platform for 18 years, only returning with AutoCAD 2011 released back in March 2010.

The lack of AutoCAD on the Mac platform has meant that it never really stood a chance in the Engineering world. Sure, some architects used ArchiCAD or Vectorworks, but in my experience, this led to many issues with other team members who were firmly based in the PC world and running AutoCAD or one of its variants.

Where am I going with this?? Oh yeah, as I said, AutoCAD finally returned to the Mac back in early 2010. Choirs of angels descended from the heavens singing hallelujah and all was good in the world, or was it? Over the years, many cheaper CAD packages have come on the market that look a lot like AutoCAD, use DWG files as their native file format and are a lot cheaper.

Sure these CAD packages may not have all the bells and whistles of AutoCAD, but then, how many of us needed everything AutoCAD had to offer. With these cheap CAD systems (CADopia, ProgeCAD, Bricscad…), users could produce quality work that worked seamlessly with AutoCAD. Unfortunately for OSX users, this was not the case. If you wanted something like AutoCAD, you had to make do with AutoCAD.

Happily, over the last few months, this has all changed. First came Draftsight from Dassault. I have written about it many times on this site, so I’ll keep it brief. Draftsight is a fantastic 2D CAD System that looks like and works like AutoCAD. It uses 2010 DWG as its native file format also. If you can use AutoCAD, then Draftsight will be a breeze. It is currently in Beta at the moment, but can be downloaded here.

Secondly, and the product that prompted this blog, is iCADMac. An email appeared in my inbox today extoling the virtues of this package. From what I can gather, it is brought to us by the same people behind progeCAD, one of my favourite ITC based CAD packages.

iCADMac currently retails €830.62 on their website, expensive when compared to its Windows cousins, but it is still a lot cheaper than AutoCAD. You may question why would you pay so much for iCADMac when Draftsight is free. That’s a fair question and the reason is simple. iCADMac reads and writes 3D solid objects with the ACIS Solid Modelling libraries. It also allows you to customise the Menu through GUI or on XML and also offers Lisp and C++ (DRX) support. Draftsight does not offer ACIS Solid Modelling and if you want access to customisation though APIs, then you have to pay extra.

Unfortunately, I don’t have an OSX box hanging round the office to try out iCADMac at the moment. Actually, I probably would not have the patience to sit and use OSX for long either, but I would love to hear feedback from anyone who has used it.

*** Just for clarity, it should be noted that over the years, CADopia did give me free copies of their software in return for testing it. None of the other vendors above have given me free copies of their CAD. Obviously Draftsight is an exception as the software is free in the first place.

1 comment:

NumberTenGi said...

iCadMac is the best I have found. Almost purchased Autocad LT but when I saw the price w/3D of iCadMac I jumped on Demo. Love it!

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