General Software

First Look Review: M-COLOR 9

1 Nov, 2005 By: Ron LaFon Cadalyst

Presentation Plots Made Easy


M-Color 9 Is The latest version of Motive Systems' presentation plotting software for AutoCAD users. M-Color continues to improve its extensive feature set and output quality.



Users can take advantage of a broad range of effects beyond those found in AutoCAD to generate plots that are perfect for presentations. Its many tools handle such tasks as filling areas, modifying linetypes and controlling color. PostScript support is top-notch. Users can export plots to PDF, PostScript, EPS, TIFF, JPEG, GIF and many other file formats. PDF files produced by M-Color 9 are about 50% smaller than in previous versions of the software. M-Color plots from all Windows printers and plotters. Plots can be previewed in full color, and M-Color relies on calibrated colors in both displays and printing.

 M-Color 9
M-Color 9

Users can add solid color fills, gradient fills and bit-map texture fills to entire AutoCAD layers and, with an eye on productivity, can save specific configurations for future use.

With this new release, M-Color users can create hand-drawn effects and one-click drop shadows to add depth and stylistic touches to plots (figure 1). Bit-maps and gradient fills can be made transparent so that the background shows through. All transparent raster images are now smoothly blended into the background with the new eight-bit alpha channel support. These new tools add a whole new look to M-Color's repertoire of styles.

Figure 1. Interface of M-Color 9 displays the new dialog box used to apply drop shadows and hand-drawn effects.
Figure 1. Interface of M-Color 9 displays the new dialog box used to apply drop shadows and hand-drawn effects.

We easily installed M-Color 9 in AutoCAD 2006. The application adds an M-Color 9 menu on the top menu bar. From here users can set paper, preview and plot, manage palettes, edit font mappings and create and edit MPolygons. AutoCAD Color Books (ACB files) can be imported from the menu system as well. M-Color 9 integrates well with AutoCAD. It provides clear and easy-to-use dialog boxes and an extensive online Help system.

Though M-Color's capabilities lend themselves to a broad range of presentation plots, they seem to be particularly useful for the AEC and GIS segments of the industry (figure 2).

Figure 2.  A sample plot shows a standard monochrome drawing on the right, and the same file processed through M-Color 9 on the left. Note the hand-drawn style that was applied using M-Color 9.
Figure 2. A sample plot shows a standard monochrome drawing on the right, and the same file processed through M-Color 9 on the left. Note the hand-drawn style that was applied using M-Color 9.

M-Color 9 is priced at $595 for 1–2 users on a single computer license, or $895 for a concurrent user license. The concurrent-user license permits installation of the M-Color program on as many computers on the network as you wish. Conversion from a single-user to a concurrent-user license costs $315 per license. All prices include upgrades and support subscription for one year. Quantity licensing discounts apply, and upgrades from older versions are available. Support subscriptions are renewable for $140 per year for the single-user license and $195 for the concurrent user license. A CD-ROM and printed manual package is sold separately for $30. The software includes electronic documentation.

This latest version of M-Color supports AutoCAD Releases 14–2006 and AutoCAD LT 2002–2006 running on Microsoft Windows 2000/XP. A time-limited demo version is available from the company's Web site at www.m-color.com. M-Color 9 is an excellent product. Highly Recommended.


About the Author: Ron LaFon


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