Getting serious about CAD on the Mac

Getting serious about CAD on the Mac

Summary: Taking a page from the Apple App Store, German developer Graebert on Tuesday announced an online store and community for DraftSight, its multiplatform CAD platform. The company said acceptance of its recently released CAD software for the Mac had blown away projections.

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TOPICS: Apple, Hardware, Software
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Taking a page from the Apple App Store, German developer Graebert GmbH on Tuesday announced an online store and community for DraftSight, its multiplatform CAD platform. The company said acceptance of its recently released Mac CAD software had blown away projections.

The Graebert Market for DraftSight will open in April and will let large and small developers as well as customers discover and promote solutions and applications. Currently, there are some 300,000+ worldwide DraftSight users, according to Wilfried Graebert, founder and CEO of Graebert GmbH.

A year ago, Graebert announced its ARES CAD platform for Mac, Windows and Linux, which supports AutoCAD-compatible command line and scripts. In July, the company announced a technology-sharing relationship with French 3D and PLM software company Dassault Systemes for the DraftSight brand.

I spoke with the executive in the week before the SolidWorks World conference in San Antonio, where the marketplace announcement was made. Graebert said that people were looking seriously at CAD on the Mac again.

"From September to December [2010], we gained 30,000 Mac users," he said, adding that this demand blew away their internal sales projections. The Mac was now 10 percent of the DraftSight customer base and growing quickly.

According to Graebert, the sales team had expected that most Mac customers would download the Windows version and run the program in Boot Camp. Instead, they went for the Mac-native version.

"We have many [customers] telling us that they are happy to have all their programs on the same platform," Graebert said.

Any Mac user, newbie or old-timer, could have told the company that this might happen. Who prefers to run a program in a virtualization environment or in the case of Boot Camp, take the time to reboot the machine? No, Mac users want Mac programs.

Check Out: Engineering: The Mac is coming back

Meanwhile, there's Autodesk's AutoCAD 2011 for Mac . It offers 3D visualization and rendering; menu customization; and support for LISP and ObjectARX/DBX apps.

Like DraftSight, there's no support for Windows-specific controls and services.

You can create custom scripts, linetypes, hatch patterns, and command aliases, as well as AutoLISP and ObjectARX applications, in AutoCAD 2011 for Mac; however, there is no support for DCL in AutoLISP, nor is there access to some of the custom AutoCAD user interface controls in ObjectARX. Technologies specific to Windows, such as Visual Basic for Applications, OLE objects, and Windows Media Audio, are not supported in AutoCAD 2011 for Mac.

The most commonly used functionality of AutoCAD is included in AutoCAD for Mac. However, there are a few commands that are not included in this first release, including layer filters, layer groups, and layer states; Sheet Set Manager; and DGN, PDF, and DWF underlay support.

Graebert didn't appear to be sweating. Unlike past competitors that took aim at the entry-level AutoCAD LT, the German company is targeting Autodesk's core business. The simple story may be cost:  DraftSight starts under $1,000 while a comparable AutoCAD package is more than $3,000, he said.

In addition, Graebert is targeting a wide range of CAD tasks, including ray tracing. pointed to the recent integration of Lightworks' Artisan SnapShot Studio 3D rendering technology into ARES for Windows. He said Lightworks was working on a Mac port.

There's a bit of back to the future in this Mac CAD story.

Long ago in a time before Mac OS X and Intel-based Macs, Apple made forays into several technical, architectural and engineering markets. But Windows-centric purchasing policies in government and enterprise stopped the platform's progress. Apple retrenched around more-profitable markets in 2D design and video.

Now, without any help from Cupertino, it appears that the Mac will elbow a place at the engineering and CAD table. Amazing.

[Correction: AutoCAD for Mac came out of beta in Q4 of 2010. ]

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Software

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11 comments
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  • RE: Getting serious about CAD on the Mac

    cool!!!
    pennwarren
  • RE: Getting serious about CAD on the Mac

    Vectorworks never left the Mac and is a far more capable CAD and BIM program than yet another AutoCAD clone. Your statement "Now, without any help from Cupertino, it appears that the Mac will elbow a place at the engineering and CAD table" suggests that "engineering and CAD" have been absent from the Mac. Hundreds of thousands of users would tell you otherwise. Where have you been?
    Beartoe22
    • Vectorworks

      @beart0e Yes, I've been using Vectorworks for years, and before that, its predecessor MiniCAD. It's much more intuitive than AutoCAD (which I've occasionally been forced to use), and supports Windows and Mac with files that are completely interchangeable. Lets not forget Renderworks, their great 3D solids rendering program. Thanks for bringing Vectorworks into the discussion.
      PaulatFox
  • RE: Getting serious about CAD on the Mac

    So when is Solidworks coming to Mac?
    nix_hed
  • RE: Getting serious about CAD on the Mac

    I've been using AutoCAD for over 20 years because all of my colleagues have PCs and I run a Mac running at first VirtualPC (workable but extermely slow) and now Parallel or VMware (much faster performance but minor issues with printing with large format printers) with AutoCAD. Now that AutoCAD back in Mac arena maybe I could try to get drawings and try these applications to see how they work. The most important issue with using any of these , DraftSight, Vectorworks or any other CAD application for the Mac is seamlessly opening, editing and saving AutoCAD drawings and then have colleagues opening, editing and saving AutoCAD drawings seamlessly also.
    phatkat
  • Significant change is happening in IT

    "But Windows-centric purchasing policies in government and enterprise stopped the platforms progress....<br><br>Now, without any help from Cupertino, it appears that the Mac will elbow a place at the engineering and CAD table. Amazing."<br><br>The MCSE power is eroding. This will end in them losing their jobs. What a tragedy;-)
    Richard Flude
    • RE: Getting serious about CAD on the Mac

      @Richard Flude

      CAD on a Mac? How retro are you prepared to go? I'll stick with functional CAD programs thank you and that means Windows.
      tonymcs@...
      • So you didn't comprehend the article

        I'm not surprised.
        Richard Flude
  • It's always been serious...

    ...welcome to the present day.
    james347
  • RE: Getting serious about CAD on the Mac

    Our Architectural firm moved its CAD division workstations from Autocad over to Vectorworks (on Mac) 10 years ago, and it's been a complete success for us. It's a better CAD application, on a more stable platform, with superior user interface. Oh, and it's a also far less expensive hardware / software cost than it was previously, with a fraction of the IT support costs required. Its been a real competitive advantage for our firm.
    Cornerstone Arch
  • RE: Getting serious about CAD on the Mac

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    liezelee1109