Last week, Dassault Systemes announced some big news that quiets the thunder of Autodesk’s big news from the same week. Autodesk announced they will release a Mac version of AutoCAD this Fall. I’m guessing that this new version of AutoCAD will likely be in the same price range as their current AutoCAD offering (thousands of dollars). Draftsight, a free .dwg 2D editor, has been available since June 2010. But that’s old news. So, what’s Dassault Systemes’ big news now?
A public beta release of Draftsight for Mac is available on September 15, 2010, for free! Not only that, but Draftsight for Linux is due for release in October 2010, for free! That is a one-two punch directed at the heart of AutoCAD’s core customer base. Autodesk’s choice to drop Mac support many years ago now comes back to haunt them. Just as Autodesk makes their big announcement, the wait to re-adopt their application to the Mac appears to be too little, too late, and too costly.
In all fairness
To be fair, AutoCAD is a very powerful .dwg editor with several powerful add-ons. Draftsight has a ways to go before approaching that level of maturity. However, I don’t think it will ever need to reach that same level.
When a CAD customer moves from 2D to 3D, the extra functionality of AutoCAD isn’t needed in most cases. Also, new companies that need 2D capabilities will likely not need AutoCAD’s added functionality either. In many cases, companies and individuals will opt for a free application that covers their needs rather than spend thousands of dollars to get the little extras they aren’t likely to use.
Mac user interface
Mac users have certain user interface expectations for Mac applications. Dassault Systemes appears to understand this. The user interface of Draftsight for Mac should be familiar to Mac users. For example, tools are organized onto a palette instead of Windows-like toolbars. The Draftsight Mac toolbar is floating in the same fashion as most other Mac applications.
Linux user interface
The Linux user interface is more Windows-like with various toolbars and the pulldown menus. Variations of the user interface will support variations in Linux.