MacDraft PE 5.5 full review

MacDraft PE (Personal Edition) 5.5 is a slightly scaled-down version of Microspot’s well-known MacDraft, a 2D CAD (computer-aided design) application for creating floor plans, architectural and landscape drawings, technical illustrations, and flowcharts. This version is aimed at the home, small-business, and education markets.

MacDraft PE includes nearly all the features of its more powerful sibling, such as drafting tools for lines, fills, dimensions, and more. And with a conceptual lineage that goes back to the original MacPaint and MacDraw, MacDraft has a familiar Mac interface that is very easy to learn and fun to use.

Attributes such as line weights, line styles, fill patterns, and line and fill colours can be easily viewed and changed via the Attributes and Resize palettes. You can also set an overall scale (choosing from 25 standard scales) and use European or American units of measurement. MacDraft PE also lets you create and edit fill patterns as large as 32-x-32 pixels; this facilitates more-complex and detailed designs.

But this version has limits. The maximum physical page size is only 17-x-17 inches (though that doesn’t limit the size of drawings). The consumer version also doesn’t support layers, which professionals need so they can show and hide different parts of complex drawings.

Quartz Graphics – the name refers to the high-quality native graphics engine in Mac OS X – is a new feature for MacDraft PE, and it’s unusual even in more-expensive CAD programs. It provides higher-quality on-screen graphics, resulting in better differentiation between various line weights, for example. In addition, this version has a transparency feature for lines, fills, and other objects, and you can control the level of transparency – from 0 to 100 per cent. This makes it possible for multiple overlapping objects to be visible at the same time. Another new feature is ATSUI (Apple Type Services for Unicode Imaging) text. This makes text look terrific on screen no matter what its rotation is.

Version 5.5 lets you import graphics file formats such as PICT, TIFF, GIF, JPEG, BMP, Photoshop, and PDF. Imported images can be rotated and scaled and can have various levels of transparency applied to them. Drawings can be exported in formats such as PICT, TIFF, JPEG, Photoshop, and PDF. However, you can’t import or export the architectural and engineering industry-standard formats DWG and DXF. To work with these formats, you need the professional version of MacDraft.
And MacDraft PE now lets you undo your last 100 actions – an essential feature when you’re working on a complex technical drawing.

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