Yesterday evening Micah Dickerson, product manager for AutoCAD for Mac at Autodesk, spoke to Architosh about their big release today. We have a separate article on the news of the new AutoCAD 2014 for Mac and the new AutoCAD LT 2014 for Mac here.
In this article we’ll cover more detail on the new release as well as some background on decisions and some forward-looking information about where Autodesk is taking AutoCAD for the Mac OS X platform. Micah Dickerson–who is an unabashed Mac fanboy at Autodesk–says Autodesk as a company has great enthusiasm for Apple’s resurgent OS X platform and its market leading iOS mobile platform. In fact, later today we shall here more in that direction.
Some may quickly see that AutoCAD 2014 for Mac is somewhat lacking in a lot of major new features. Dickerson said this is because they have “put a lot of work and emphasis on things under the hood to get ready for the future.” And that’s one of the biggest points that needs to be emphasized here.
You see, when AutoCAD for Mac originally came back to the platform a few years ago many CAD pundits seriously doubted the long-term viability and sincere interest behind the project. And they often cited things like a lack of third-party developers or major large end user installs as their evidence. Those CAD pundits and critics are turning out to be wrong.
First Things First
Dickerson has already stated to Architosh in the past that AutoCAD for Mac users use the product a bit differently than most veteran Windows AutoCAD users. They are a new class of CAD user for a variety of reasons. Part of this is that they are Mac CAD users who have recently adopted the program. Another segment is that many are very young and in school and are Mac users who are learning CAD for the first time. Dickerson said Autodesk is adjusting and learning how to serve this community well.
There is a big effort of change in this release with how one goes about learning and mastering AutoCAD. The Welcome Screen has some welcome changes, most notably on the third tab where social and community extensions come into play. Dickerson said that for instance there are growing members of Mac AutoCAD users entering the official AutoCAD forums at Autodesk and so they are making it easier for users to find those types of resources and to fit more in to the larger AutoCAD community.
Another interesting thing Dickerson said about education is what is happening in colleges and schools. Students in engineering (in college) are grabbing the free educational version of AutoCAD for Mac and loading it onto their MacBook Pro and then coming into class where the lab or teacher is familiar with only the Windows version and because there are small differences in the UI/UX the teacher often cannot help the student. This turns into a point of frustration and the student then runs the Windows version in an emulator or Bootcamp on their Mac. Dickerson said, “we know this is happening and we are going to solve this…”
Getting the message out there, making Mac-based AutoCAD users feel more at home and dramatically increasing learning opportunities for the AutoCAD for Mac user is a big priority for the company and you can see it in the small and large changes in this latest release. Under the third Extend tab you can now find Linda.com connections where–in the near future–there will be a series of new training specifically on AutoCAD for Mac. And there will be specific new classes on AutoCAD for Mac at the next AU (Autodesk University).
Autodesk has focused on the core infrastructure and feature set in all the past releases of AutoCAD for Mac, including this one. For instance AutoCAD 2014 for Mac and the LT version both have new Autodesk 360 support.
But the company is reaching the point where they can turn more detailed attention to spurring on development of third-party apps. A core behind the hood achievement recently is what has happened technically to allow multiple platform support at the Autodesk Store for third-party developers. The company will work directly with some select developers at bringing their tools over.
The Most Mac of all the Mac CADs
Dickerson said that Autodesk wants to make AutoCAD for Mac the “most Mac” of all the CAD tools in the market by taking advantage and leveraging unique Mac technologies.
“In the CAD space people stare at their screens all day, which is hard on their eyes,” said Micah Dickerson. “So supporting Apple’s Retina display is a great addition in version 2014.” Apple’s Retina displays offer 4x the pixel density of a normal display allowing phenomenal sharpness.
Dickerson said it wasn’t trivial to support Apple’s Retina display. “You have to do more than just modify and redraw all the tool palettes, we had to figure out how to change the canvas.” Dickerson said that engineering work is behind them now and can be shared with the AutoCAD for Windows team when it comes time to make that change.
Lastly, AutoCAD 2014 for Mac and AutoCAD LT 2014 for Mac are built for Mavericks and ready to go!
To learn more about AutoCAD 2014 for Mac or AutoCAD LT 2014 for Mac go to www.autodesk.com.
[Edit. note: This article received some typo edits at 12:15pm EDT, 22 Oct 2013, that unfortunately went unnoticed at press time. Our apologies with our editing.]