Autodesk no longer tries to sync its Windows and Mac releases of its venerable AutoCAD computer-aided design software. As explained in this executive level discussion about the Mac version, the company is more interested in syncing its Mac version development with Apple’s OS X release cycle development.
Apple typically introduces OS X releases at WWDC around the June time-frame and shipping version of the the Mac OS at around the fall. Hence, the Mac version of AutoCAD is now being timed for the fall, if history is our guide.
In terms of what is new in AutoCAD 2016 for Windows, the press release notes are a bit thin this year. In this release Autodesk is pushing the notion of the importance of “trust” with regards to file interoperability and therefore have incorporated TrustedDWG™ technology, the original and most accurate way to store and exchange design data. This has impact, of course, within the AEC space and BIM environment.
“AutoCAD 2016 makes detailing and documentation work faster, while stunning visual enhancements bring a new level of clarity and depth to every aspect of a design,” said Amy Bunszel, vice president of AutoCAD products, Autodesk. “Our customers will also appreciate productivity boosts like enhanced PDF output and tighter coordination with Building Information Modeling (BIM).”
A key new area of improvement in AutoCAD 2016 is the new visual improvements. Users will now see smooth curves and arcs rather than jagged line segments, all a benefit of improvements to the drawing canvas technologies. (see image 01) In essence, AutoCAD 2016 now taps the power of the GPU for the first time in this way with 2D representation. Users can also predict more results and minimize the need to “undo” a command with expanded Command Preview functionality, also driven by GPU-based enhancements.
Additional Key Features Include
- Smaller PDF Output Files — AutoCAD 2016 outputs enhanced PDFs that are significantly smaller than previous versions of the software, while retaining visual fidelity. PDFs are now fully searchable, maintain all hyperlinks and can be attached to drawings faster
- Improved Smart Dimensioning — AutoCAD 2016 automatically creates appropriate measurements based on the type of objects selected
AutoCAD 2016 can now be used with other Autodesk technologies for what the company calls “Reality Computing” or what might be a superset of Augmented Reality (AR) computing. Autodesk RECAP™ workflows can drive captured real world data to AutoCAD 2016.
AutoCAD licensing largely remains similar to the past, users can still get a perpetual license for the moment, with options for Maintenance Subscription or Desktop Subscription with “pay-as-you-go” monthly, quarterly and annual options. You can learn more here.
Architosh Commentary—Looking Forward to Mac Release
Looking forward to what new features may come to the Mac version of AutoCAD, based on what is released here, it isn’t so obvious. Certainly, any technology that enables crunching down on PDF output into smaller files would be useful on the Mac version as well. Autodesk typically introduces the new Mac version of AutoCAD in the fall, as they did last year.
Last December we spoke to Micah Dickerson, Product Manager for Autodesk AutoCAD for Mac product line about AutoCAD for Mac 2015. What we learned is that last year’s release was a massive step forward or AutoCAD on the Mac and a really big step forward for feature parity and interoperability with AutoCAD for Windows.
Last year Dickerson said the graphics were improved with AutoCAD for Mac 2015 but couldn’t say much more than that. It looks apparent from graphic captures (see image 02 above) of last year’s AutoCAD on Mac that the new GPU-based visual enhancements to AutoCAD 2016 did not get initiated on the Mac first. So at this point, perhaps the coolest new feature that should be expected in the Mac release later this year would be the new GPU-based visual enhancements.
In terms of additional features we may see in the future next version of AutoCAD for Mac, here is a list of good ones that could be added:
- ReCap point cloud tool technologies
- DGN™ underlay support — adding Bentley Microstation file support (key for architects and those involved in plant design)
- Import SketchUp support
- Action recorder and action macros for customization
- some serious third-party support add-ons…
Again, the PDF features added in this 2016 Windows release would be make nice additions for its Mac-based users as well, especially the searchable text and hyperlink support in exported PDFs.
In terms of complete feature by feature parity between the platforms for AutoCAD, Autodesk has a chart here.
In our initial posting we made a mistake in the “excerpt” section and said “next year” rather than later this year as it stands now. We have no proof that Autodesk will absolutely ship the next version for Mac later this year, it could indeed be next year. The comment is based on the history of their releases and comments spoken to us in the past about how the Mac version wants to be timed around progress in OS X itself.