Having now had hands-on experience of the new version of AutoCAD running on a MacBook, I am REALLY impressed. But before I wax lyrical (no, I promise not to sing! LOL), lets just break down my brief review in to sections. I will give you a real quick breakdown on the following: –
1. User interface
2. Processing power
3. General prettiness
OK, user interface. Well, I have to say that it beats the new Windows ribbon interface hands-down. Autodesk have combined the best parts of the Apple user interface with the best parts of the original AutoCAD user interface to form a highly functional experience for any new AutoCAD for Mac user. I loved the way the main command icons (drawing, modify etc) now live on a vertical toolbar on the left of the screen and are accessed by selecting just three sub menus; Drafting, Modeling and Annotation. Trust me, as a trainer that just makes things SO much easier! It will also make life so much easier for the user. In fact, it reminded me of some of the raster design products out there such as PaintShop Pro and Adobe CS 5 in its simplicity. It is great to see Autodesk simplifying things and making AutoCAD much more usable. Plus, you have the Apple OS interface which, personally, I do prefer. It just works. I guess that could be preference/mindset thing though. Saying that, I have been on MS-DOS and Windows platforms all my working life and you do get “programmed” in to your interface. However, the Apple/AutoCAD interface still wins and will definitely appeal to more seasoned AutoCAD users who have a penchant for toolbars and floating palettes. New user or old user, it really doesn’t matter, the new Mac interface just works.
Processing power was not an issue either. Various people tried their hardest to crash AutoCAD on the Mac and yes, they did succeed, but only after loading AutoCAD for the Mac with 3D modeling loads that any regular Windows-based AutoCAD would have probably run and hidden from! AutoCAD for the Mac proved it was more than capable of modeling extremely well in 3D. Also, the screen display during these tests was excellent. Smooth, no jerkiness and a pleasure on the eye, unlike some graphics I have seen on Windows platforms. Various modeling scenarios were performed, such as helices, lofts and sweeps and AutoCAD for the Mac took it all on the chin.
AutoCAD for the Mac will not only provide a capable 2D/3D drafting platform but it will also appeal aesthetically too. Apple provide very good looking bits of hardware. The MacBook is an enviable commodity for those that don’t have one (me included!) and they look superb. Combined with a VERY good looking user interface, AutoCAD for the Mac gets ten out of ten for looks and eye-catching screen graphics. It just all looks so good. You can just see all the university students with their MacBooks clamouring to get on to the Autodesk Student Community to get their student licences of it upon official release!
So what are my conclusions here, you may ask?
Simple. I think Autodesk have invested a lot of time and money wisely in their development of AutoCAD for the Mac. Apple with their computers, iPads, iPhones and iPods have a superb range of technology that I am sure Autodesk will embrace. Also, Apple is de rigeur right now. Fashionable but also very capable. You can run AutoCAD on a Mac and have AutoCAD WS running on the iPad, iPhone or iPod which in turn provides two-way collaboration and communication of AutoCAD drawings and designs. The iPad, for example, provides a superb, lightweight portal for a Facilities Management (FM) function. FM drawings can be made available via AutoCAD WS on the iPad and space can be managed, revised and commented upon on-site (via Wi-Fi or the cloud) and the details sent back to the drawing originator for updating. I noticed that a number of the Formula 1 commentators on the BBC last weekend are now using iPads instead of the old BBC clipboards. Apple is prevalent everywhere and I think Autodesk taking the bull by the horns and utilising current technology like this can only be a good thing.
So, there you go. My quick review of AutoCAD for the Mac.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Shaan Hurley (@mrcadman) for inviting me to the reception and also thank Jackie Hewett for her hospitality when we arrived. Pizza was great! Thanks!
All in all, a very cool evening in the heart of Soho in London!