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RM: We needed to respond to how Macs are different, with their wider format screens for example. There was some kind of need for some of that on the Mac but it had to reflect how Mac applications typically work. Our tool and inspector and settings palettes leave the appropriate proportioned main work window given the Macs’s widescreen format.
We get a lot of feedback from customers about migration [to Macs] and they are looking to make things familiar, looking to customize the UI elements to assist in that. With the Mac version of AutoCAD again we made the tool palettes vertical because Macs have wide screens and that is how you see pro apps on the Mac; users are accustomed to Adobe programs and programs like Aperture and they work that way.
AFR: What kind of alignment and commonality are you guys seeking in the PC and Mac versions of AutoCAD going forward?
RM: The closer we make the code bases under the hood the better for both sets of AutoCAD users.
AFR: I believe that you guys have your own modeling kernel code base now. So the question of support for the Mac naturally emerged with me. What is the kernel in AutoCAD for the Mac?
RM: We licensed Spatial’s ACIS kernel a few years ago. When Dassault aquired Spatial that forked us in terms of the kernel we had been using. We decided to license it and develop the ASM component (Autodesk Shape Manager). So ASM is the geometry kernel in AutoCAD for the Mac.
AFR: That would mean that your primary kernel is fully Mac ready. That removes a significant barrier in crossing over some of your staple products to the Mac. What other products use Shape Manager?
RM: Autodesk 3d Studio Max for sure. Not sure about the Alias stuff.
AFR: Speaking of which, when Autodesk acquired Alias you acquired Maya and lots of superb Alias-Wavefront applications and technologies. Maya was already on the Mac and so you acquired Mac expertise at the highest level of 3D development. How did Autodesk tap that expertise for AutoCAD for the Mac?
RM: We did borrow stuff from the Maya team. Like the SubDivision surface modeling code and some other things. Also, some of the stuff from Alias Studio 2011 came over as well. Alias had beat us to the Mac so we had the raw saw code available.
AFR: And what about rendering technology? What is the rendering engine in AutoCAD for the Mac…is it the same as the Windows version?