Autodesk was the first to tease CAD users with the possibility of AutoCAD for Mac, but Graebert and Dassault Systemes may get bragging rights as the first to deliver commercial-grade 2D DWG editors for Mac OS.
Last week, Germany-headquartered Graebert, developers of ARES, announced that ARES Commander is now available for Mac OS. Dassault’s free software DraftSight, powered by Graebert’s ARES, is also set to debut on Mac in the next three weeks, according to Dassault. (At the moment, if you want to run AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT on Mac, you’ll have to do it through Parallels Desktop.)
Next to ARES Commander, Graebert also sells ARES standard. But Graebert’s current promotional pricing for ARES Commander for Mac at a 50% discount puts the software at €495, the same price as the standard version. When the promotion for ARES Commander for Mac concludes by the end of 2010, ARES standard for Mac is expected to appear.
Is ARES for Mac a harbinger for more native Mac programs? I contacted Graebert and Dassault for their views.
Graebert’s CTO Robert Graebert said, “We’re actively working on a [drawing file] viewer for the iOS [Apple’s operating system for portable devices, including iPhone and iPad] .”
Dassault’s Aaron Kelly, product manager for DraftSight, said, “In the next three weeks, we’ll be launching our Mac version [of DraftSight].” He pointed out, “We certainly have other applications that run on Mac. eDrawings is one of them.”
In February, excitement grew over the possibility of SolidWorks for Mac when attendees saw a preview that looked like the CAD program running inside Mac OS. That was not the case, Kelly explained, and SolidWorks for Mac is nowhere in sight.
Kelly explained, “What you saw at SolidWorks World  were applications running over the internet, or on cloud, if you will … They weren’t running natively on [Mac] OS … Looking at future products, it makes sense to consider serving up [programs] over the internet, without having to deliver something platform-specific.”
Graebert noted, “So far, people rely on Boot Camp [a Mac utility that lets you run Windows inside Mac OS] to run popular [Windows] applications, but I think you get more out of the platform if you run it native in Mac OS.”
Kelly observed, “Customers that we serve are pretty heavily invested in PC-based systems,” but also acknowledged, “More and more, I find that people have a PC at work but opt to use a Mac at home … Also, in education space, a lot of computer labs for engineering software may be set up with PCs, but in the dorm, you have Macs … There are small pockets where engineering software is used on Mac, but most of that seems to be in the AEC [architecture, engineering, construction] side. Dassault is not a big player in that space.”
CAD developers may consider the desktop Mac market negligible, but they’re finding it much harder to ignore the ever-growing portable market, dominated by iPhone and iPad. If these become standard devices among field crews, students, and jet-setting professionals, Windows-based engineering and design software publishers will have to find ways to accommodate them.
For more, listen to my recorded interviews with Robert Graebert and Aaron Kelly below: