AutoCAD 2012 for Mac review

Just under a year ago, Autodesk announced the release of AutoCAD 2011 for Mac. This made available; for the first time in many years; an application that would natively handle PC AutoCAD files without need for complication or conversion and on the whole it worked very well. It was lacking somewhat when compared to the PC version; and with AutoCAD 2012 the balance is being redressed somewhat.

Mobile working has been identified as being a key function for the future. Recognising this Autodesk have released an application called AutoCAD WS for Mac, iPhone and iPad. From AutoCAD 2012 you can share drawings online that are then available via AutoCAD WS on the move. The AutoCAD WS application is free and works very well.

The user interface has been altered with a number of new preferences and controls. You have the option of setting up a theme override; this allows you to set the AutoCAD 2012 interface to use the colour scheme of your choice. You can also alter the size of the icons within the interface if you find them too big/small to work with.

Improvements have been made to the 3D functionality; but this has come at a cost: unless you have a higher-spec machine you may find it takes longer to render your 3D imagery.

A number of other improvements have been made, including Associative Arrays, Auto-complete command entry (wherein the application takes the first few letters you’ve typed in and suggests which command you wish to use); Drawing Recovery (useful if you’re computer crashes – you may lose just 10 minutes work instead of many hours); Layer Tools such as Layer Match; Mleader enhancements; Multi-function grips and a Plot Style Table Editor.

You can now export to PDF directly from AutoCAD 2012. If you’re incorporating aspects of your plans into an InDesign document this is immediately useful.

There are other tweaks to bring AutoCAD 2012’s functionality closer to that of the PC version; but at this stage it makes more sense to think of AutoCAD 2012 as a different but related product that provides full hassle-free access to AutoCAD DWG files to Mac users and works very well.

OUR VERDICT

AutoCAD 2012 for Mac is a product for professionals. There’s still a steep learning curve; often addressable with two-day/three-day courses all over the country. The price is steep, at just short of £3,000; but for this grade and quality of product it seems more than justified. If you have a need for a CAD package, AutoCAD is the best; but for anybody other than a small-medium size studio it may be impossible to justify the purchase price.

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