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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.

Continued from page 3

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?

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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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