Is a shake-up coming to the Mac CAD market?

A longtime German CAD developer on Tuesday introduced a new cross-platform, AutoCAD-compatible program built with a fresh codebase. Could this be the knock on the door (or head) to spur Autodesk to really committing to the Mac?

A longtime German CAD developer on Tuesday introduced a new cross-platform, AutoCAD-compatible program built with a fresh codebase. Could this be the knock on the door (or head) to spur Autodesk to really committing to the Mac?

The ARES CAD platform will be offered in native versions for Mac, Windows and Linux, according to Graebert, the maker of PowerCAD. The company said the new product supports AutoCAD-compatible command line and scripts as well as a wide range of programming I/O.

From the company's release:

ARES development has focused on a number of core benchmarks, with performance being a leading criterion: ARES is typically 3-5X faster in operations such as open and save than other CAD packages on any platform. With more than a year of intensive beta testing by more than 100 major corporations and leading CAD users, ARES is the end-result of more than 250 man-years of development (5 calendar years) from Graebert, one of the pioneers in CAD software development since 1983.

Graebert is well known internationally for leading mobile CAD solutions such as SiteMaster™ as well as having more than 500,000 estimated users of PowerCAD™, its previous-generation CAD product. The company has more than 50 active VARs and OEMs on six continents, and is working with these and new partners to distribute ARES worldwide.

According to Graebert, ARES for Mac will be offered in two versions: ARES ($495) and ARES Commander Edition ($995), the latter supporting programmability and 3D support. The Windows version is available now and the Mac and Linux versions are expected to ship in Q2.

The Mac position at Autodesk is spotty. Last April, the company announced a poll and asked its CAD users for "feedback and opinions to shape the future of the next generation of AutoCAD products for the Apple Mac OS X Operation System and hardware."

Aside from a few native programs, the company's current story is support for AutoCAD running on Parallels. Of course, this runs, but Mac users want native applications.

Certainly, a product like Autodesk Softimage, the 3D modeling, animation and rendering package is long overdue for a Mac version. It's insane that its still Windows only (this is from its Avid history).

When asked couple of years ago what Apple should do with its cash nest egg, I suggested that Apple buy Autodesk. That logic still holds, it appears to me. In fact, with the increasing interest in 3D content, the proposition might be sweeter.

Perhaps the ARES release by Graebert will put some fire under Autodesk about Mac support. Or down in Cupertino. In the meantime, Mac users wanting a native solution can check out ARES.