AutoCAD for Mac: It’s Finally Here (Again)

18 Oct, 2010 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

A brand new, native version of AutoCAD arrives for the OS X platform, sporting an intuitive interface but lacking a number of key features.

Grown-up AutoCAD's hip little brother arrived on the scene Friday with Autodesk's long-awaited announcement that AutoCAD for Mac, which runs natively on the OS X platform, is available for purchase. The Mac flavor of the prevalent 2D/3D CAD solution is back after Autodesk shelved it in the late 1980s.

You know you're hip when you're the center of attention at the Apple Store in New York City, which is exactly where the newest AutoCAD will be tonight, escorted by Lynn Allen, Autodesk technical evangelist and Cadalyst contributing editor. The presentation is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Apple Store at 401 W. 14th Street.

Less than a year ago, AutoCAD for Mac wasn't much more than rumor and speculation outside the walls of Autodesk. At Autodesk University 2009 in December, Autodesk CEO Carl Bass would not comment on whether a Mac version of AutoCAD was in the works, saying only, "Mac is a very important platform for us already [referring to other Mac-based products in the Autodesk line], and we are working on quite a few more that we'll be announcing soon." But speculation persisted, and in late August Autodesk announced officially that AutoCAD for Mac was coming.

AutoCAD for Mac retails for $3,995, the same price as standard Windows-based AutoCAD. Although AutoCAD for Mac 2011 is based on AutoCAD 2011, it was written to be a native Mac application and is not simply a port from the Windows version. Much to its credit, Autodesk has published a list of the standard AutoCAD features that are not available in AutoCAD for Mac 2011. The list is not short or insignificant; it includes features such as DWF support, DesignCenter, Express Tools, Sheet Set Manager, and Visual LISP Editor.

What is available, according to Autodesk, is an intuitive interface that will feel familiar to Mac users and takes full advantage of Mac OS X, including graphical browsing of design files with Cover Flow and use of Multi-Touch gestures for pan and zoom on Mac notebooks, Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad. With native creation and editing of DWG files, AutoCAD for Mac also supports easy collaboration with suppliers, customers, clients and partners regardless of platform, according to Autodesk. And the new version is integrated with the new AutoCAD WS so users can upload and manage designs in an online workspace directly from the desktop and easily edit and share those designs through a web browser or Apple iOS devices using the free AutoCAD WS mobile application.

A free 30-day trial of AutoCAD for Mac is available for download, as are free educational licenses for students and educators through the Autodesk Education Community. Students and educators are also eligible to purchase commercial seats of AutoCAD for Mac at a substantial discount.

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