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Autodesk updates Architosh on what’s happening with AutoCAD for Mac

In this special interview feature Micah Dickerson, product manager for AutoCAD for Mac, discusses with Architosh what’s going on with AutoCAD for Mac.

Continued from page 1

The Future of AutoCAD for Mac – What’s Coming Next

AFR: Now not that long ago we reviewed AutoCAD for Mac for the very first time. (see, Architosh, “Product Review: AutoCAD for Mac 2013,” 30 Jan 2013) And we enjoyed its capabilities and especially liked several aspects of it including its user-interface and some tools in specific. But one thing we noticed was lack of support for specific interoperability features that the Windows version has. So my next questions are about that. Does AutoCAD for Mac 2013 have STEP export/import?

MD:  No, AutoCAD for Mac at this time doesn’t support STEP.

AFR: Okay. Microstation is a major CAD application and it’s popular with civil engineers, landscape architects and other architects. Why is there no DNG support in the Mac version like Windows?

MD: It is important to recognize that Autodesk was eager to get this product to market given the demand for it and there are many things we could not address in the first set of releases. We continue to make changes and improve the product. As for the Microstation DNG file format, I cannot say specifically, but we are definitely looking into putting more file format support in the future. We definitely want AutoCAD for the Mac to be a full-fledged member of the family. We want to make the product as useful as possible.

AFR: And when you say “full fledged member” of the family, you are referring to what exactly?

MD: I am referring to the other AutoCAD product family members, they also support things like the new Autodesk 360 cloud services and deeper integration with other cloud apps. We are looking at ways to support that in the future versions of the AutoCAD for the Mac.

AFR: In reviewing the product we felt that the learning materials were not as rich as they could be. We were particularly struck by how much better the Welcome Screen was on the Windows side. At Architosh we believe ease-of-use–even for pro apps–is very important and part of the Apple software design philosophy. What can you say about that in the future?

MD:  To be honest parity between the two products is not our goal, but ease of use is absolutely a goal. We want to make sure we address this issue in a way that makes sense for the Mac. We did some research back in the fall of last year and not surprisingly the number one thing that people look for in adopting a Mac CAD product is ease-of-use. Something like 90 percent, way above and beyond even the second characteristic they are looking for. So that is something we know we want to focus on. So the “Welcome Screen” experience is definitely something we can put some more attention on.

We have learned that Mac users are a bit different as a group than Windows users, and while they can be masters of their respective craft, they typically aren’t interested in becoming CAD-masters. They need software that ‘just works’ and allows them to communicate their design intent without tons of specialized CAD software training.

AFR: That is good because some of your rivals–not just in the CAD market but in 3D as well–have superlative educational experiences built directly into the tool itself.

MD: Right. I agree and something that we will be focusing on in upcoming versions will be addressing the learning component for users but in particular–and we keep learning from our engagement research on this–how Mac users are different in terms of their expectations for learning resources. You will definitely see more learning resources in the future.

AFR: Okay, my next question also relates to the “Welcome Screen.” In the area of third-party applications and extensions for AutoCAD, has there been much progress there in developers writing third-party solutions for the Mac?

MD: I’m hearing more and more that people want to write for the Mac. However, I also think there is a lot more we can do for the end user first. There are some things that are absent and we want to take care of them first. Like there are some pretty big–I don’t want to say gaps in the functionality between our product and the Windows version–but yes, there are things that are kind of absent that people definitely want. I want to take care of those items first and then we will be looking at how to really grow third-party apps and extensions for the product.

It’s funny that you ask this because I also manage developer-related products for the AutoCAD group and I’m very much in contact with developers all the time. There is this power user over on the east coast–Jim LaPier–who is a big-time Mac fan and he is writing little LISP routines as well as using Apple’s built in Automator (AppleScript) to generate all this customization. He has been the IT guy for an architecture firm for a long time….so yes, there are definitely passionate people out there who want to extend and customize the Mac version just like folks do for the Windows version.

AFR: That sounds very interesting. I want to switch gears a tiny bit here. Since the return of AutoCAD to the Mac in 2010, Autodesk has also introduced this great new application for product design called Inventor Fusion for Mac, which is in public beta. Are there any plans for interoperability or connection between that product and AutoCAD for Mac?

MD: No. Not formerly yet. That isn’t to say it couldn’t happen.

AFR: That’s all my questions. Were there any things you wanted to share with me?

MD: Well, yes one of the things you asked Melanie early in setting up this meeting had to do with collaboration, and what are the options and futures for additional collaboration via new cloud services that Autodesk is building out throughout its portfolio.

When we do our Mac CAD research what we are finding is that more than 90 percent of them are using some kind of cloud services. But on the issues of security there is a big difference again between Mac and Windows users generally. With some exceptions, of course, what we are finding is that the majority of Mac users report little or no concern about using cloud services or storing files in the cloud, as compared to Windows users.

AFR: That’s interesting.

MD: We are also finding that AutoCAD for Mac users are much more mobile and are installing our software on products like Apple’s MacBook Pro. More than half of AutoCAD for Mac users are on laptops. This is hugely different than our Windows AutoCAD users.

I can tell you that collaboration and cloud services are a big priority for Autodesk these days and I can tell you that Mac users personify–with their stronger mobility use patterns–the requirements of these types of cloud services. So the future of those types of services will be important for AutoCAD for the Mac.

AFR: Micah, thanks for talking to Architosh about AutoCAD on Mac.

MD: You are very welcome.

[Edit. Note: We have made a minor edit in the  way a link was implemented in the article on page 2 and caught a minor typo on the second page of this article, 26 Apr 2013.]

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Reader Comments

  1. […] morning Architosh published their interview with Micah on the future of AutoCAD for Mac, what features and areas of technology they are focusing on for […]

  2. macncad,

    I hope you enjoyed this interview article. Talking to Autodesk is always insightful. Thanks for the ping back!

  3. macncad,

    I hope you enjoyed this interview article. Talking to Autodesk is always insightful. Thanks for the ping back!

  4. […] om forskellen på, hvad der appelerer til Mac-brugere og hvad Windows-brugerne ønsker sig. I et interview med Micah Dickerson, der er product manager hos Autodesk, udtaler […]

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  6. […] redattori del sito Architosh hanno avuto modo di parlare con Micah Dickerson, product manager di Autodesk che si occupa di […]

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  8. […] magazine dedicated to Mac & iOS CAD and 3D professionals and students worldwide) published an interview with Micah Dickerson, AutoCAD for Mac 2013 Product manager. In this in interview he spoke about the present and the […]

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