AutoCAD Comes to Mac and Mobile

AutoCAD for Mac is set to become available this fall (essentially anytime now).

AutoCAD for Mac is set to become available this fall (essentially anytime now).

The rush to bring CAD to Mac goes into high gear this month.

Last week, Germany-based Graebert released its 2D drafting software ARES Commander for Mac OS. Dassault Systemes, a partner of Graebert and a competitor to Autodesk, is set to deliver a Mac OS version of its AutoCAD clone DraftSight in a matter of weeks. (Read “ARES Now Available for Mac; DraftSight for Mac On the Way,” Aug 26, 2010.)

Today Autodesk upstaged its rival by announcing AutoCAD for Mac, along with AutoCAD WS for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

In April 2009, when Autodesk tested the idea of AutoCAD for Mac in an online survey, the company received overwhelming support. Afterward the debut of AutoCAD for Mac was no longer an item of speculation but just a matter of time. This week, AutoCAD for Mac becomes official.

AutoCAD 2011 for Mac is the first version of AutoCAD to be made available to Mac users since 1992. Developed to run as native program in Mac OS, AutoCAD for Mac will allow you to use touch computing (finger taps and swipes to select and rotate drawings), characteristic of Macbooks and other Apple hardware.

In the absence of Mac-compatible AutoCAD, Apple devotees resorted to the next best thing: running AutoCAD on Mac via Apple Booth Camp, Parallels Desktop, and other Windows-emulation programs. This approach deprives Mac users of many features exclusive to Mac OS. Distributed free of charge and developed to run as native Mac software, DraftSight for Mac is poised to become an attractive, economic solution to Apple fans in search of a professional grade 2D drafting package.

In the last several years, Mac-driven mobile devices began encroaching on the CAD market, long dictated by Windows-based workstations. The growing number of iPhone, iPod, and iPad users represents a new challenge for software developers locked in years of R&D investments in Windows. Autodesk plans to address the emerging market with AutoCAD WS, developed for the Apple iOS.

AutoCAD WS is based on Project Butterfly, a browser-based DWG viewing, editing, and markup technology currently on preview at Autodesk Labs. Though not robust enough to replace AutoCAD as a design creation tool, AutoCAD WS is expected to be a complementary app.

But it may be premature to crown Autodesk the first to arrive at Mac Promised Land. AutoCAD for Mac is announced today, but it’s not yet available for purchase. Dassault may still beat Autodesk by delivering a working version of DraftSight for Mac from its DraftSight Community portal before AutoCAD for Mac goes on sale.

Autodesk plans to offer a student version of AutoCAD for Mac for free. Commercial version of AutoCAD for Mac is expected to sell for $3,995 (without a support subscription) or $4,445 (with subscription). AutoCAD WS for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch will be available for free at Apple Apps Store.

For more, also read DE editors’ new item “AutoCAD Comes Back to the Mac.”

Autodesk plans to offer AutoCAD for Mac free to students.

Autodesk plans to offer AutoCAD for Mac free to students.

The new Mac-compatible AutoCAD (shown here) will be complemented by AutoCAD WS (not shown here), a free DWG viewing and markup app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices.

The new Mac-compatible AutoCAD (shown here) will be complemented by AutoCAD WS (not shown here), a free DWG viewing and markup app for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices.

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