Wednesday, August 24, 2011

AutoCAD LT for MAC: is it enough?

This is AutoCAD LT running in Apple's Desktop/Laptop Operating System, and you can purchase it right now from the Apple Apps Store (North America only for now): that's the power LT has at Autodesk, their best selling Windows application, is now readily available to all Mac users.
AutoCAD LT for Mac is, much like its Windows sibling, AutoCAD with no support for LISP or 3D modelling or rendering, and no Network Licensing. It concentrates on the 2D functionality required for drafting and documentation.
AutoCAD LT for Mac follows common native Mac application user interface guidelines (read: No Ribbon), with a familiar Apple menu bar together with a number of workflow-based palettes. It also supports native Mac OS X Lion behavior, including Cover Flow navigation and Multi-Touch gestures, Visual Quickview, Layout Visor, and Cocoa-centric collapsible and dockable Palette System.

So what else is new? This is LT2012 for Mac, and except for the interface, it should be an identical experience, with almost identical commands and features. Work faster with the 2012 productivity tools and enhancements such as multi-functional grips, command line autocomplete, Associative Array, Multi-Function Grips (for more entities), Nudge objects with ctrl+ Arrow keys , Group Enhancements, and Hatch and Mleader enhancement. and more. Watch this VIDEO demonstration.

But, and these are important to many serious drafters, there are some missing LT2012 features compared to the Windows version:
  • Sheet Set Manager (a Batch Publish command is available as a substitute).
  • Migration tools (it is Version 1 for Mac, and you cannot migrate any LT for Windows content).
  • eTransmit Command (you have to share files old-school style, by hunting and searching).
  • CUI Import and Export (you got a great menu but you can't share parts of it with your colleagues).
  • CUI Workspaces (true drafters get this one).
  • Table style editing (Hope your LT for Windows buddy is generous with their time).
  • Dynamic Block authoring (who needs the greatest enhancements to the old blocks anyway).
  • PDF and DWF Underlays (hope your partners are good at sharing DWG files).
  • Filter and Quick Select commands (you cannot custom sort or select objects easily).
  • Hyperlinks.
  • New layer notification.
  • Layer State Manager (Fundamental layer state operations can still be performed using the stAte option in the -LAYER command)
  • Layer Filters (a great tool for those that use Xrefs or have many layers, but not here)
  • Most of the Layer Tools (LAYCUR, LAYDEL, LAYON, LAYTHW, LAYMCH, LAYMRG, LAYWALK, LAYVPI commands are not available: think LT2006)
  • Creating or opening password-protected drawings from AutoCAD for Windows.
  • DGN underlay (limits collaboration).
  • WMF import/export
  • DesignCenter (the equivalent in AutoCAD for Mac is the Content Palette)
  • Tool palettes (the equivalent in AutoCAD for Mac is the Content Palette)
  • Quick Properties palette (the AutoCAD for Mac property palette has “Essential” and “All” views). And if you are hoping to reuse that Digitizer tablet, Digitizer integration has been dropped.
There is also an inexplicable flaw: Command auto-completion may offer commands that are not currently defined or available in LT for Mac 2012.

There are no issues with DWG format: you can share your files with anyone in Windows, and they can share their files with you. 100% compatible, and they mean it.

Command keyboard shortcuts are a little different thatn Windows: see this LINK for details. Yu can define your own with the following PROCEDURE.

Due to the restrictions of the App Store, there is no trial version of AutoCAD LT 2012 for Mac. If you want to try before you buy, your current only choice is get the 30-day free version of AutoCAD for Mac, then make sure you fully read the comparison matrix before you go get AutoCAD LT.

Check out ths FAQ file for bare-minimum system requirements (that's code for it-will-run but you may hate it). FOr the most part, ensure your Apple/MAC is no more than two years old and not the "value" line that is as hobbled as low end Windows PCs from storefront stores.

Explore this new LT variant at the Autodesk WIKIHELP website and soon on YOUTUBE (if you are not on an Apple/Mac of course). Like the full version of AutoCAD for MAC 2012, the missing commands and features combined with the full price/cost of each makes this version a challenge to enthusiastically recommend to professional drafters familiar with AutoCAD/LT. If you are an Apple/MAC devotee, and a true drafting/designing CAD user, I suggest you do not ignore purchasing LT for Windows and running it with Windows Emulation in your MAC. ◦