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AutoCAD Sledgehammer for Mac in the wild

Autodesk appears serious about releasing AutoCAD for Mac. The rumors have spilled over to screenshots. But we think its more than rumors and screen shots this time.


[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 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.”

01- Sledgehammer version of AutoCAD for Mac Beta. Autodesk appears to be serious about producing a native version of its flagship design CAD program for Apple's platform after being not available for over 18 years.

01- Sledgehammer version of AutoCAD for Mac Beta. Autodesk appears to be serious about producing a native version of its flagship design CAD program for Apple's platform after being not available for over 18 years.

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 seems to have most of the images we have seen out in the wild. 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.]

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Reader Comments

  1. […] Sledgehammer AutoCAD for Mac beta in the wild […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Anthony Frausto and xuso, xuso. xuso said: RT @architosh: -detailed report, contextualizes the story to Bass and Apple […]

  3. […] first saw this over at Architosh, where the article goes into further depth about how it was programmed, Cocoa v. Aqua which has […]

  4. Ralph Grabowski wrote this about AutoCAD on the Mac here:

    Ralph believes the images are fake. His best argument point is the language situation. Why would Autodesk have a beta in Italian when they historically handle localization after a product is out of beta? That is a good question. And Ralph would know about this far more than I would. But there is an answer.

    Autodesk likely built AutoCAD Sledgehammer with Xcode and is using the same “installer technology” that Apple uses for its own software. These installers automatically take on the Finder’s language choice. I ran a test myself. Grabbing the first software box near me (I have lots of software near me!!) I popped in a leading Mac CAD installation disk. The installer didn’t look like the typical installers that come with Apple’s tools and many others, nor the format used by Autodesk. Sure enough, the language did not change to Italian either, after my Finder was set that way. Then I tried some Apple software and another software all produced by Xcode. Sure enough the Finder’s Italian language designation changed the installer’s language to match even though the app installed only in English.

  5. So this is likely why we have an installer in Italian but the program’s menus in the screen shots are all in English. Though I don’t know this factually, I think this is the default installer technology that ships with Apple’s development environment (Xcode, et al). You can see in this image here over at MacRumors that the Mac being used has its Finder set to Italian.

    That image BTW shows the start-up screen, which has a similar size to the installer but it not a part of it thus it would be in English only as the beta appears to be only in English as Ralph mentioned.

  6. Posted by:
    Tom Fenn
    May 27, 2010 12:18 pm EDT

    This is obviously going to have a major impact on the computer aided design community- some of whom are the most conservative people I have met (especially the engineering variety). I remember having a heated debate with one of my engineering colleagues while studying for my bachelors degree, about the power and solidity of the Mac compared to Windows. This will be the first blow that wipes the smirk off their faces. The second blow will be the announcement that Apple are now worth more than Microsoft ($3billion more in fact), according to Cleve Nettles on the 9to5Mac blog. ( I would safety conclude that this factor, and the recent success of the iPad and the iPhone, would be a major contributing factor to Autodesk’s sudden change of heart.

  7. Apple has quadrupled the amount of Mac computers it sells each year compared to ten years ago when OS X was going to save Apple’s Mac platform. I remember the days when shipping 750,000 units per quarter was typical. Now north of 3 million units per quarter, Apple is really just getting going with Mac sales as both the iPhone and iPad will continue to drive up Mac sales incrementally via a double-halo effect. I expect Apple (at its current growth rates) will surpass 15 million Macs per year by 2012/13. That safely means 45 million active Macs out in the wild that are relatively new-ish at under 3 years of age. Count another 20 million Macs that are between ages 3+ and 5 years of age old and you have a vastly larger mac eco-system to sell applications into then ten years ago (and growing at that).

    Simply put the size of the Mac platform is getting so large that it simply cannot be ignored.

  8. […] Información | Architosh Esta entrada es original de […]

  9. […] news about AutoCAD for Mac is out in the open I think I can point you to an article titled “AutoCAD Sledgehammer for Mac in the wild” on Architosh. For the curious there’s a lot of information in the […]

  10. […] 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 […]

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