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First impressions on AutoCAD for Mac OS


It should have been premonitory – while looking for other reviews or info on the upcoming AutoCAD for Mac OS release, I stumbled upon this post by Steve Johnson, owner of cad nauseam, in which he details why AutoCAD for Mac would be a bad idea. While I agreed with some of his views, as this has happened before countless times (case example: Skype, which took years to catch up still lacks behind in features and stability compared to its Windows version), I believed things wouldn’t be that bad.

It turns out there is a list of over 80 holes which Autodesk lists here. Steve has posted this in response, and we now even have an interview with Autodesk staff with money quotes such as:

It really does not make sense for us to implement features on the Mac platform that nobody’s going to use. So basically what the customers are asking for is that we are going to deliver. So like I mentioned before Mac users on the Architecture side shouldn’t notice much of a difference.

OK so you release a trimmed product with not-so-oft used features missing, but at the same price? That doesn’t really fly, no matter how you look at it.

San Rafael, we have a problem

My first reaction when I saw the activation window, right after installing AutoCAD on my Mac Pro, was “OMG they have transplanted the Windows version using Java”. It was SO ugly – in essence, a copy-paste of the Windows workflow into a Mac window, and I suspect they load the content as HTML from a server. Scrollbars? On a modal tool window?

This was before I had to activate the product, which required creating a whole new account, as my teacher login details would not work at all. Autodesk apparently “had no record” of my email address and password, so I had to go through the account creation once more, then finish the activation process, which takes a few more, totally unnecessary, steps. A simple “give us your product code and serial” followed by a “thank you for activating” is more than enough.

Once you fire up AutoCAD, you’re greeted by this splash screen:

which is not particularly informative, but still, shows something. The next thing you are greeted with, at least with the educational version, is this:

OK, so I am using an educational product, but you don’t need to keep reminding me of this fact every time I open a drawing done with a different version – a “don’t remind me again” checkbox is all it takes. The warning would be useful if it came up with drawings you made with a full AutoCAD version, given by others, etc. but it also shows up when creating a new drawing from one of the included templates!

Finally, expecting a normal drawing area, I was greeted by this (click for full size):

It almost reminded me of a BSOD. No matter what I did, I could not even get the cursor to appear in the drawing area, never mind actually draw something. The application was completely unusable. Creating a new drawing, from a template, blank – nothing worked, I either got the blue bars of death (BBOD) or a black drawing area into which everything was sucked into, a-la-black hole. No cursor, cross-hairs, nothing.

The next logical step was to open a drawing recently created using AutoCAD on Windows, and this came up:

I give up. I will try to install it on my MacBook Pro, and see what happens. If the problems reappear, I’ll go back to BootCamp or VMWare with the Windows version, which is fully-featured, stable, and usable. Nice and commendable work on bringing back AutoCAD to the Mac, but so far, it appears the bugs and missing features, even when they are fairly unused ones, are killing the product. Again.

2 Responses to “First impressions on AutoCAD for Mac OS”

  1. billy January 19, 2012 at 12:14 #

    I’m trying autocad for mac. It works. At a first sight. While working you experience a number of basic problems as crushdown and others. The most annoying ones are from my point of view the impossibility of creating ctb files. How the hell do they think I will print the drawings????? I’m a PC autocad user and I get used to the old interface. In mac version is impossible to get back to the old interface. The point is that it’s another software. They could have changed the name of the software since in this way it’s got nothing to do with the old autocad. They could have called it something-cad but not autocad.

  2. jamisonman October 6, 2012 at 05:23 #

    I can’t believe more have not commented. I have used both versions now Win and Mac, 2013 AutoCADs. Windows version is the AutoCAD we all know and love. Mac AutoCAD is straight garbage, no joke it’s awful.

    It looks nothing like the Win version, now they could have designed it to be cross-compatible, like Microsoft Office, Adobe Products, etc…But they thought they’d be cute over there at Autodesk and design it retarded and claim it has a more Mac-like interface.

    Well folks, I have never ever seen a Mac program with an interface like AutoCAD for Mac. It’s clunky and what they call “modular”. Modular is so dumb you have to use it realize why it is uncomfortable to use, I can’t explain it.

    Long story short I ran into so many just annoying and pointless problems while using the Mac version, and not always bugs, sometimes just the way it was designed is screwy and if you have used the Windows version then I can tell you right now that even though you might not HATE the Mac version, I guarantee you won’t like it in general and often find yourself getting irritated trying to do basic things you mastered already on the Win version.

    You will most likely come to the conclusion sooner or later that the Mac version is not enjoyable, pointless, and ultimately very diasappointing. You will end up right back using the Win version so don’t even try switching. The strangest thing is that it doesn’t seem to be Autodesk quality work at all. I love Macs and try to do as much work as I can on my Mac, but this I couldn’t work with so I have to boot into windows.

    I am just in dis-belief that Autodesk designed and created this and put it out there for sale, something is not right with that. Any thoughts?

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