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SIGGRAPH Feature: Architosh Talks to Robert McNeel About Rhino for Mac and More…

Without debate one of the most exciting announcements to hit the Macintosh CAD and 3D community in recent years was the decision Robert McNeel made to port the extremely well-regarded modeler to Apple’s Mac OS X platform. The project is taking some time as the company is developing Rhino for OS X alongside continuous improvements to the core program which competes with a good-sized group of other advanced modelers. Being this is Siggraph week I caught up with Bob McNeel, CEO of Robert McNeel and Associates, developers of Rhino, to discuss his company at Siggraph 2008 and the progress being made on Rhino for Mac OS X.

AFR: Bob, SIGGRAPH is the big event for the 3D community, what will your company be showing this week?

(Bob McNeel): Not much that isn’t already available in Rhino Labs. We have a few things we might be showing that aren’t stable enough to post on Labs.

Will you be showing Rhino for Mac OS X?

Yes, Rhino OS X, and hopefully with new advanced rendering, Flamingo 2.0, new Rhino 5 features, Grasshopper, Brazil and a few other things.

What is the status of Mac version of Rhino?

Everything is moving along as expected. We are still getting the core moved over and we are trying to make sure enough of the core is working so that users can get work done — otherwise it won’t get field tested. We don’t want to get distracted right now by the Mac OS X user interface issues. We can deal with that later.

When will you have time to address the Mac user interface?

Hopefully we can start on the UI overhaul in a few months.

AFR: I know the Rhino for OS X beta project has gone better than expected for your company. Clearly there was a big interest in Rhino on OS X. Can you tell me how many beta testers you have thus far?

(Bob McNeel): We have nearly 12,000 beta users so far…and the list is still growing at a good rate.

Are there any key customers of Rhino that are beta testing the Mac version? Do they specifically want to switch to the Mac version once it is done?

About 60% of the beta users are current Rhino users on Windows. I expect most will want to switch. I don’t think we’ll attract many non-Rhino users until we have a real Mac OS X interface.

AFR: How robust will Rhino for the Mac be in terms of third-party support once you get parity between the platforms?

(Bob McNeel): All of our third-party developer support tools are based on what comes with the operating system. We haven’t focused on this issue yet, so I really don’t know how OS X compares to Windows. I do know the development tools are very different but I don’t know if one platform will be more robust than the other. I expect they will be about the same level but very different.

Let’s talk about the new Grasshopper a bit. Has there been any demand for a Mac version of Grasshopper?

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