✱ DraftSight CAD Software

Right now there's a beta test going on for a new, lightweight, free CAD program that works on Windows and Mac (and soon Linux). It support Autodesk's DWG format, and works very similarly to AutoCAD. It's a 2d environment only, so don't expect any 3d capabilities. It's called DraftSight, and you can get it here. It's made by Dassault Systems who also makes SolidWorks, Catia and several other professional products.

From their site:

DraftSight is a professional-grade, open 2D CAD product for users who want a better way to create, edit and view DWG files. DraftSight is easy to use and is available for professional CAD users, students and educators to download and activate for free.*
Based on an advanced architecture, DraftSight has a small footprint, should take a few minutes to download, and supports Microsoft® Windows XP®, Windows Vista®, Windows® 7 and the Mac®. (Linux® coming soon).

The download is around 60MB, and is obviously going after some market share currently owned by Autodesk. I gave it a try and found it to be very similar to Autocad - it even shares the same command line and keyboard driven interface if that's something you're already used to. The interface is simple (meaning it's nice), but definitely not as polished as the newly released AutoCAD for Mac, and it definitely doesn't have all of AutoCAD's features.


DraftSight interface

Something that I find very interesting is that they have shown a version of it running on Apple's iPad. This could get interesting, since AutoCAD WS on the iPad is currently very clumsy and limited in what it can do.

My advice is to give it a try and let me know what you think! Obviously the main ingredient here is price, of which there is none, so you really can't go wrong.

✱ Creating Revit Toposurfaces from Civil Survey Drawings - A Definitive Guide

Have you ever wondered if you can create a 3d topography model from the CAD survey data you have? Watch this video and you’ll see that we can use just about anything as long as it has proper height parameters.

I cover most of the scenarios encountered when you get a survey file from a civil engineer, which could be just about anything! We start with three different survey files in AutoCAD and distill the data down to just what we need, and then take it into Revit to make our 3d model using its Toposurface tools.

For a related video, click here.


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✱ Bonzai3d QuickTip - Flatten CAD Drawings

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Similar to Methodcast 9 where we were using SketchUp, in this QuickTip I show you how to flatten a CAD drawing that is all over the place into something you can draw on top of in Bonzai3d. This is a workaround for an export bug in Bonzai that should be corrected in the next release, but this may be useful for other things once that bug is fixed. 

If you haven’t started using Bonzai3d yet, you should. It’s got a lot of horsepower and is really fun to work with. You can get a free 30 day trial here

✱ It's Official - AutoCAD is Coming Back to the Mac

As a follow-up to my blog post back in May, Autodesk has finally announced that it is re-releasing Autocad for the Macintosh platform. It hasn't seen the inner workings of the Mac since 1996, when the last version to run on the Mac was release 12. That was before Apple even made the move to Power PC chips from Motorola and IBM (What? You didn't know Apple used processors from IBM? Yeah, those were the days) and strictly ran on the Motorola 68k-series processors. Now Apple has a new outlook, a new operating system, and an even bigger following than ever.

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✱ SketchUp QuickTips - Flatten crappy CAD drawings

Learn something? Please consider supporting us by making a donation. [Learn more…]

Make your files behave! This video teaches you how to flatten crappy CAD files that you thought were 2d, but were actually really sloppy 3d drawings so you can use them as a base for a 3d model of your design.

Sometimes we get files that look like they are 2d but really aren’t. The lines go all over the place in 3d space, but from the top view they look fine. I’ll show you how to use a workflow that smashes all those lines down flat so the file is usable and you can start extruding shapes over the top of it.

We start out in AutoCad, but this really applies to any Cad package. Then we move the file into SketchUp and run it through the ringer!

AutoCAD spotted running on 64bit Mac OS X

"Back in April we reported that AutoCAD was probably coming soon to the Mac, considering all the OS X references that were spotted in the SDK," Federico Viticci reports for MacStories.

You can see the screenshots here.

I'm not sure what to think about this. I try (my hardest) not to use AutoCAD if I don't have to. I'd be much happier to hear that Revit was coming to the Mac. But I haven't looked too deep into Autocad 2011, so maybe there's something to it?

I know AutoCAD is necessary, and you can't do some things without it, so I do welcome the news that it's coming to the Mac. What do you think?