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RM: We started recruiting them last December. We announced something under NDA then. We got interest from 10-13 partners right away. It was a tough sell at that point. We got about five of them to start writing code. We then got some good feature and responses on the APIs.
AFR: Why so small out of thousands of third-party apps?
RM: Well, AutoCAD for Mac needs to establish itself first. We then see many apps coming soon after.
AFR: So what does Autodesk have planned to get AutoCAD for Mac established more? What efforts will you be putting into this initiative?
RM: We will be running a bunch of AutoCAD for Mac classes on migrating to Mac for developers. Apple will be a partner in those events. Those classes will offer several levels of support for Mac, for example helping developers to decide and implement if they want to do a Mac-native UI (user-interface) or not.
AFR: So are some key big third-party guys making support for the Mac?
RM: Well, we can’t announce everyone at this point but some include Hydrotec, who do an add-on for sprinkler analysis and design. Savoye is another major developer.
AFR: Let’s talk about AutoCAD for the Mac in more detail. It has an all native Mac UI (user-interface). We think this is a major deal and a good call on your part. What are some of the unique features of the UI that you guys are proud of?
RM: We are proud of our general approach to staying true to the Mac but also staying true to AutoCAD. We also did things that acknowledge that Mac people are indeed different in the way they approach technology. On AutoCAD for Windows, for example, you can customize pretty much anything you want–and many of our customers will totally tinker and do that. You can completely change the UI. But Mac users seem much less interested in doing that. So we gave them far less options with the UI. They have two color tones to choose from [in the UI] compared to the unlimited approach on Windows.
AFR: Yes, but are there things that are unique and special? I guess what I am getting at is are there things you learned about doing a Mac native UI that worth carrying over to the Windows version, simply because they are great UI things to do?
RM: There are certainly things that are going to come through. We put a lot more emphasis on design and visual appeal than anything we ever did before by the AutoCAD team. Some of that will come over. We are going to implement the AutoCAD WS integration at the same level as the Mac version into the PC version. Right now it’s only available as a plugin.
AFR: Why did you not try to emulate the Ribbon interface on the Mac version?