AutoCAD Comes to the Mac … and the iPad!

Last week, Autodesk announced that it is releasing a Mac version of AutoCAD, and simultaneously also releasing a version of AutoCAD that can run on Apple’s iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and other mobile devices. This article looks at what has been shared so far about these two new “avatars” of AutoCAD and analyzes its potential impact on the AEC industry—including the possibility of the iPad becoming an exciting new medium for accessing, communicating, and even creating building information.


5 thoughts on “AutoCAD Comes to the Mac … and the iPad!

  1. Of course Autodesk kept it a secret. Most software companies do, lest they be accused of developing vaporware to inflate their stock price. With 90%+ of the CAD market, they finally decided they had to tap the Mac resource to expand their customer base. And the hand-held possibilities are HUGE!

    There is one Mac holdout in the AEC industry: graphic designers. If you are doing signs for say, an airport, you hire Pentagram or one of their competitors. They will send you a Mac file and you will have to figure out how to read it!

  2. Lachmi,

    Great post! It’s awesome that AutoCAD is returning to the Mac and coming to the iPad but I’m glad you took the opportunity to talk about your broader thoughts for the future of the iPad in architecture. I think Autodesk recognizing iPad as a viable tool for architects is really validating and will help pave the way for others looking to develop tools for the platform (like me).

    I still have trouble seeing the iPad as a detailed design tool, but I think you are otherwise dead on in your analysis of iPad’s potential in AEC. I wrote more about it on my blog here

    Matt Galloway, Architactile

  3. As a former Windows-user, I currently do 95% of my work (and leisure) on a Mac. Only for my teaching and some specific applications, I have to go back (Grasshopper, AutoCAD and sometimes Revit, 3ds max or MS Access). I currently tend to choose applications supporting both platforms (e.g. ArchiCAD, Cinema4D and SketchUp), but gave up on migrating to Linux, as it proved to be unfeasible for work and integration with my teaching.

    I’m not specifically suggesting CAD users to switch to a Mac or Linux, but I welcome cross-platform applications, as it will put the single-platform limitations into question: e.g. reliance on .NET or VBA or VBAscript or OLE and similar technologies on the Windows side. CAD applications on Mac tend to not utilize too much of Apples technologies (no Cover Flow for ArchiCAD or VectorWorks files that I can see).

    Overall, I am really glad that Autodesk decided to make a “real” AutoCAD (full functionality, including 3D and programming, apart from some of the above, I guess) and still with a “native” platform behavior. In fact, exactly in line with what I replied on their survey some time ago. I’m wondering if indeed a port of Revit is coming in the future. Since right now, only ArchiCAD has mature BIM functionality on a Mac (but Graphisoft doesn’t seem to capitalize on this advantage they still have).

    Considering the iPad: if the attention to multi-touch and more natural interaction is successful for iCAD apps (e.g. Viewers and simple editors) it might influence the actual design applications too. But then we have to face the fact again that smart-phones and tablets are held flat while the large screens we need for CAD stand upright. Multi-touch inside CAD software needs a different approach to using screens.

  4. This is good news. It would have been a ‘great’ news if it read “Revit on Mac”.

    And when they actually bring Revit natively to the Mac, it would spell the end of Windows PC’s in our environment at least…

    The iPad is a great data consumption device that could be used in conjunction with Virtualization and application streaming. With cloud computing becoming more prevalent, lightweight ‘terminals’ would be the way we interact with most software. In the AEC industry, I already see a big surge of iPads, as a lot of communication is being done using email and PDFs. We can send, view, markup and mail back PDFs with such ease. Multi-touch allows one to zoom into details while the iPad is laid out flat in between the group of viewers. Savvy users are creating ‘books’ out of PDF’s in the iBooks app to share set of CAD drawings for projects.

    Now that Autodesk is releasing AutoCAD WS for the iPad/iPhone, it will help save time currently required to convert DWG to PDFs, but sacrificing offline access to the files (say during flights). Maybe Autodesk or another developer will figure out working from the files saved on the device.

The iPad cannot replace a laptop, but if you look at certain user groups, the device works better than a laptop.

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