[Editor's note: This story was updated. A reference to comments in the Comments section was added. - 24 May 2010]
We’ve been getting tons of emails over the weekend about the new screenshots and video of AutoCAD Sledgehammer Beta for Mac. Earlier in the year we reported on other rumors of Autodesk planning to release its flagship program (AutoCAD) for the Mac. This time the evidence continues to pile up and aligns with multiple changes we continue to see in the market and even with items said and intimated by Carl Bass, Autodesk’s CEO. More on that in a minute.
Sledgehammer – What Is It?
Sledgehammer appears to be the code name for either the first native version of AutoCAD for Mac in more than 18 years or the specific beta phase name. We think possibly the former. The sighting was first tipped off to us by readers who pointed us to enthusiast site Italiamac.it. Within its forums was a post that said basically (translated from the Italian) “I managed to get a beta of Mac AutoCAD showing some first screen shots.”
The images have since been removed from the site and replaced by images containing the following text in Italian: “Questa immagine e stata rimossa dallo staff a seguito di una richiesta non-ostile proveniente da una persona legata all’azienda produttrice. Ci scusiamo con i nostri utenti. Lo staff di Italiamac.” The Google translation is approximately: This image has been removed from the team following a non-hostile request from a person connected to the company that produced them.”
Meanwhile, over at YouTube there is a video of the new Sledgehammer Beta. Very professionally produced, this video highlights Mac-specific features in AutoCAD Sledgehammer for dealing with Apple’s Magic Mouse and Multi-touch interface technology on trackpads.
What We Can Tell
We have no information from Autodesk on what Sledgehammer is. Since this emerged for us over the weekend we’ll have to wait until the upcoming week to try to contact the company for an explanation. Interestingly, Architosh just had a private WebEx meeting with Autodesk a week ago (on a related product) and there was no mention of a native way to produce a DWG file on a Mac from within an Autodesk software program. We note this because, as you will read shortly in our upcoming feature, this was a shortcoming of the product that was previewed for us.
The images of AutoCAD Sledgehammer for Mac beta have been taken down from the site from which they first appeared but they can be found on other sites and publications. The AppleLounge.com seems to have most of the images we have seen out in the wild. Macstories.net has some additional images, including one focused on the Apple Multi-touch technologies.
From what we have scanned and picked up off the Net, AutoCAD Sledgehammer is a true 64-bit, Cocoa-based application. Why do we think its Cocoa-based? Very simply, we don’t believe it is possible to produce a full fledged 64-bit Mac app that has standard Aqua interface and Cocoa UI without using Apple’s xCode development environment. Also, we have been told by those in the know that Autodesk would need to rewrite AutoCAD for the Mac from the ground-up–which is partly why the company has not produced it sooner.
This is not AutoCAD LT either. It appears to have full-fledged 2D and 3D features. In fact you can see the 3D functionality right away in the YouTube video mentioned above. It also has a Command Line option.
[Editor's note: some key comments on this story on below in the Comments area.]