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Exclusive: AutoCAD’s Fateful Return to the Mac

In this exclusive feature report Autodesk talks to Architosh about their fateful return of AutoCAD to the Apple Mac platform after nearly two decades absence.

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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.

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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?

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Reader Comments

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Anthony Frausto, Anthony Frausto. Anthony Frausto said: Exclusive: AutoCAD's Fateful Return to the Mac. Architosh has the complete story. http://lnkd.in/fvEB8C […]

  2. Posted by:
    markuspirker
    December 17, 2010 04:00 pm EST

    I can’t wait fro them to bring over REVIT. Now that would be awesome.

  3. Posted by:
    nolton
    December 17, 2010 10:46 pm EST

    I am impressed! I really never warmed up to Acad and do not use it, but I have a passion for CAD on the MAC. I maintain that Mac productivity is much better. Windows has so many issues and problems that it wastes my time. After 20 years on the drafting board I bought a CAD package in 1983. It was based on a built up Apple lle. I had looked at Acad and it scared me. It looked very inefficient. No joystick or GUI.

    Today I have 27 years experience with many CAD programs on Mac & Windows. Mac wins, period. I have gone to extremes now and purchased Siemens NX Mac to be able to work efficiently on my chosen platform. I will always have a PC to use SolidWorks and integrate with the Windoze world but I naturally gravitate to my Mac as much as possible.

    I am having a discussion with Siemens NX people in the Linkedin NX User’s Group at http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=36619937&gid=869117&commentID=28040105&trk=view_disc
    about the logic of making more money (as an independent) or being more productive as a large company by simply adding a Mac to each solid modeling designer’s workstation.

    Your business may have chosen Windoze as the standard platform but an Apple Mac can be added to run Acad, NX 6 or higher with no downside. If it pencils out and makes me more money, I would add a hippopotamus to my office.

    The question I am asking is will someone (Siemens?, Autodesk?), do a benchmark test over a few weeks to put the two OS’s up against each other. The only question should be which platform supports the designer best and allows him to produce the most paying work with a given dual platform program. And how much more. The PC can be along side the Mac in this test to allow the user to have access to anything he needs in the Windoze world. I think the payback will be so good that both platforms can be afforded and used at will. I use both every day and I am shopping for a hippo.

    Merry Christmas,

    Nolton Johnson

  4. Posted by:
    emergencypicnic
    December 18, 2010 01:23 pm EST

    AutoCAD is crap. Just like Microsoft AutoDESK uses their market dominance to shell out poorly designed software that forces users into corners they should stay away from. They compel the industry away from open standards. There’s a strong indication in the story that the company is also violating privacy principles to discern who among their users is running on Macs. I don’t trust that even if they deliver a credible product that they will stick with it or maintain adequate support. I don’t think Architosh should be providing free marketing for a company that has shirked the platform for so many years.

  5. Dear Emergencypicnic,

    Your views are of course welcome and appreciated at Architosh. You do raise an interesting point about privacy but I am not sure they are doing anything that Apple and Microsoft don’t already do in some form or another. When programs crash and send crash reports, they send vital info on the OS and hardware they run on. If the OS companies are doing it, not sure it is all that terrible for third-parties either. Just a thought?

    As for “providing free marketing”? We don’t provide free marketing to anyone. A feature interview does give corporate and product managers/creators a chance to tout their stuff but only in the context of genuine interest to the larger community of users. Many Mac CAD users have been wanting to see this happen for a very long time. Some PC AutoCAD users didn’t! We think the story is interesting on many levels as it provides a glimpse into background thinking, forward-looking vision and implementation details for one of the world’s largest most important software companies in the context of how it affects the Mac CAD/3D community.

  6. Congrats to the AutoCAD crowd, but as an animator for games, I still say that Autodesk treats Mac users as second class customers.
    After buying Alias out, they killed the Mac version of Motionbuilder, which despite promises from Autodesk in several forums (including their own Area.com) shows no signs whatsoever of making a comeback after 3 Win-only versions.
    As a direct result of this, Autodesk’s much touted Entertainment Creation Suite is not available for Mac Users either, since such bundle includes Motionbuilder along with Mudbox, Maya et al.
    Their solution? “run it on Bootcamp”. Just don’t expect A-desk to credit the $300 that it costs to buy the copy of Vista/7/XP to Mac users.

Comments are closed.

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