2 September 2011
A new bite of the Apple
Autodesk has consolidated its grip on the cad software market with the release of three software applications for the Apple Mac platform.
AutoCAD 2012 for Mac is an update on the full version of the software for the Apple platform that was released late last year. A broader list of compatible hardware suggests that improvements have been made. It will be interesting to see whether the feature list more closely matches that of the Windows version.
Autodesk has also rationalised the licensing arrangements so that not only can a network licence server serve the Apple versions but also individual licence and activation details for a full version of AutoCAD are now cross platform. This allows users to freely migrate between Windows and Apple platforms.
Stripped down version
In our review of AutoCAD for Mac earlier this year we called for Autodesk to release a market competitive stripped down 2D-only version of the software. We were obviously not a lone voice as the company has now released AutoCAD LT for Mac.
Currently only available on Apple's online app store in America, it is priced very competitively at $899. Like the Windows version, it provides full access to the 2D draughting functionality of the full version.
The last of the suite of three is AutoCAD WS, a free application that joins the existing Windows application, web app and an iPhone/iPad app to provide DWG file sharing, viewing and mark-up facilities. While AutoCAD WS achieves little that wasn't achieved by the combination of file viewing software, email and FTP sites, it wraps digital drawing sharing up into a simple package that is now fully accessible across the Windows-Apple divide.
Giving a leg-up to 2D cad
In providing its core suite of computer draughting facilities across both platforms, and in developing the AutoCAD WS cloud and application-based system of distributing and sharing information, Autodesk is providing a much-needed leg-up for the use of 2D information in the industry.
While 3D information modelling software may win hands down on data richness, in the real world the 2D cad drawing remains a highly accessible and versatile form of construction information.
The development of Autodesk's suite of products across different platforms and its integration with a cloud-based collaboration system strengthens the continued place of 2D information in construction. But a one-horse race isn't to the industry's benefit - it would be good to see the likes of Nemetschek strengthen its hand with a cloud-based collaboration system integrated into Vectorworks, or Bentley broaden its reach by lowering the cost of its 2D-only PowerDraft entry level product.
Technology is all well and good but in the end it's doing things with it that counts.
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