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Product Review: IMSI TurboCAD Mac Pro 7

Architosh reviews IMSI / Design’s latest TurboCAD Mac Pro now at version 7. The venerable TurboCAD product line is a key rival in the overall CAD market to noted heavy-weight Autodesk and is particularly strong on the Windows side. But since 2006 the company returned to the Mac platform to address an expanding overall CAD market. This latest version is powered by the same underlying technology in SolidWorks and contains photographic realistic rendering options. In this review we take a look at what is new.

It has been many years since we last reviewed IMSI/Design’s well regarded TurboCAD product line.  As always, we want to clarify and explain how easy or not easy a product is to learn and master. In our last review, which was of TurboCAD 2D Mac version 1.0–admittedly, it lacked features in some basic areas. One area we are happy to see IMSI addressed is the addition of guided QuickTime tutorials. We are not sure when these came into the picture, but we did bring that up in our latest review.

Learning TurboCAD Mac Pro

We always emphasize here at Architosh the importance of ease-of-use. As we have noted in the past, this is because we feel dramatic ease-of-use and scalable ease-of-learning (something we are going to coin here as SEOL) are essential features of Apple’s ethos…even before the legendary Mac. Apple was always good from the beginning at helping users into computing and providing learning that scaled gracefully. If you owned or used any Apple computers from the Apple II onward and into the 80′s you will know doubt know what we are referring to.

Let’s be more specific. Scalable ease-of-learning (SEOL) involves things that are analogous to “training wheels” on a bike. The software provides the user with aids which can either be ignored later or turned off entirely. Some popular examples we see in many tools include things like help bubbles which can be turned on or off. IMSI’s TurboCAD Mac Pro includes audible prompts, which are actually helpful if you’d rather focus your eye on what you are doing (under cursor) than look at the property bar for next-step guidance. (see image 01)

01 - Audio prompts in TurboCAD Pro Mac 7 are not new but a useful learning option.

01 – Audio prompts in TurboCAD Pro Mac 7 are not new but a useful learning option. We also like that in this program we can decide which background color we utilize (white is the default) for our model space. Other preference options include reverse mouse wheel zoom, use small palette icons, dialog collapse delay for expand and collapse timing, resolutions for display of object line thickness by element type, aerospace standard for view definitions, etc.

We also are happy to see a complete series of QuickTime instruction and guide videos all accessible from the Help menu. There are actually thirteen videos built into the app that cover various topics and at least one complete tutorial video (the Goblet tutorial). We draw our own goblet below as part of our review testing.

02 - The Tip of the Day is another learning aid in TurboCAD Mac Pro 7 that allows a scalable learning option.

02 – The Tip of the Day is another learning aid in TurboCAD Mac Pro 7 that allows a scalable learning option.

There is a complete electronic user guide, which is fairly complete and well written. There is also a “tip of the day” feature that is very nice, which can be shown at startup. You can quickly toggle through these quick tips or close the Tip of the Day palette with one button, as well as not make it show up at startup again. (see image 02) Lastly, one final new feature in the area of learning and help is the new Context Sensitive help system. Hit F-1 after putting the cursor over any tool and the guide section for that tool opens right up.

New Drawing Wizard and DWG Paper Space and Model Space

Version 7 includes a New Drawing Wizard from the File menu that helps you setup your drawings. You can select Custom Drawing or 2D Templates. When you choose the former you proceed to setup items like units, print paper size, orientation, drawing scale, annotation settings, dimension formats (eg: ANSI), etc. If you choose from 2D templates you get a pre-formatted title block. If you choose the latter you must finish your title block or bring in another from a different file. (see image 03 below).

03 - The New File Wizard helps users setup drawing files easier.

03 – The New File Wizard helps users setup drawing files easier.

04 - Another major change in version 7 is the new DWG Paper Space and Modeling Space capabilities.

04 – Another major change in version 7 is the new DWG Paper Space and Modeling Space capabilities.

One of the biggest changes in TurboCAD Mac Pro 7 is the new DWG Paper Space and Model Space capabilities. All major leading CAD and MCAD systems that are not owned by Autodesk, have largely already implemented this ability in their own programs to better support the import and export (but more so the former) of native AutoCAD files. In addition, this paper-space/model-space paradigm forces the use of what is commonly known in the industry as a “Viewport.” And a “Viewport” is a vital concept behind BIM (Building Information Modeling).

One of the unique features of this program is that you can open a DWG (AutoCAD file) that is a 3D file and it will automatically create a 2D paperspace setup complete with side and top views. Or you can optionally open it up directly into model space as a 3D object. (see image 04)

This feature doesn’t just apply to the importation of AutoCAD files. Native TurboCAD Mac Pro 7 files have this feature too. This means you can model away in 3D and then auto-generate drawing sheets using the new Model to Sheet tool. This tool works very well and with experience and practice one can quickly setup drawing sheets.

next page: Modeling – What’s New

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