I've downloaded and installed the beta Mac OS X version of DraftSight, the free DWG-based 2D editor from Dassault Systemes (OEM'ed from Graebert of Germany). I'm going to run through all the menu items to see what's new or different from AutoCAD for Windows...
All Mac apps share the same menu bar (bad design, in my opinion), and all have an application menu that's made from the name of the app. In this case, it is DraftSight. This menu item holds the Preferences (Options) command, as well as system commands, such as About, Hide, and Quit.
New provides access to just two DWT template files, Standard.dwt and StandardIso.dwt. Naturally you can create your own. There is no start-a-new-drawing wizard.
Open opens DWG and DXF files, I think. The dialog box is strange, because it lacks a "files of type" extension filter. All files in the current folder are listed, even though most cannot be opened. Select a JPG and nothing happens.
You can open files regularly, as read-only, or with encoding -- which refers to the text code for international languages.
Save As does have a 'files of type' dropdown, and it supports the following formats:
- DWG -- R12 through 2010
- DXF -- R12 through 2010, ASCII or binary
Export exports drawings in a number of bitmap formats (JPG, BMP, etc), PDF, and "Export Drawing," which brings up the WBlock dialog box.
Drawings Now didn't work for me. My understanding it that it should upload the current drawing to Dassault's servers, for viewing by others in their Web browsers or iPads. Same for the Publish eDrawings command; perhaps both are activated once you pay maintenance?
Print brings up the Mac-style print dialog box, with options specific to DraftSight. It is nothing like AutoCAD's Plot dialog box, so be prepared to spend a bit of time learning how it works. I like the way it easily saves print configurations.
This menu is missing OLE-related commands, which are not possible on OS X. Pasteboard-related commands like Copy and Copy with Reference Point, Cut, Paste and Paste as Block are available.
This menu contains 3D viewing commands, even though DraftSight is considered 2D-only. (See more comments about 3D under Draw Menu, below.)
The 3D-related commands include Constrained Orbit (3dOrbit), Hide, Shade (flat, grourard), and Animated Rendering. I was surprised by the name of this last item, because the rendering is not animated movie-style -- more like real time rendering, in which you can interact with the model.
This menu lets you insert blocks, hyperlinks, xrefs, and images.
Here you have access to properties (layers, linetypes, etc), as well as styles (dimensions, text, etc). The interface is different from AutoCAD, in that most of these items are part of a master dialog box called "Options." So these commands just open the related portion of this dialog box; only Layer has its own dialog box.
The name of the Options dialog box should be changed to match its Mac name, Preferences. It really needs a Find facility, to make it easier to locate specific settings in this monster dialog box.
All the usual dimension commands, including some of AutoCAD's new ones, like Jogged and Arc Length, are here. Dimension Styles opens the appropriate part of the Options dialog box.
The Draw Menu has most of AutoCAD's 2D drawing commands, including Table, Mask, and Region. The Mesh section of the menu is limited in 3D drawing of polyface meshes, like TabSurf. Curiously, the 2D Solid command got stuck in this section.
Thickness is not available at the command line, so you cannot turn 2D entities into 3D.
DraftSight can open drawings of 3D solids and new-style meshes -- thanks to the Open Design Alliance's DWG API. Some do not display correctly, however, such as section jogs not cutting objects.
You can perform basic editing on 3D drawings created by AutoCAD, such as move, copy, change properties (color, layer, etc), erase, and so on.
Here you have many of AutoCAD's modification commands, including the Properties palette, clipping, ref editing (of "components" nee blocks), trimming, and so on. This menu shows the Graebert heritage in that they forgot to subsitute the AutoCAD names. So you see Pattern (instead of Array), Split (instead of Break), and others.
This CAD program is based on another, named ARES, which has its own set of command names. The names are AutoCAD-ized through aliases, so you can always type the AutoCAD version of a command; no need to memorize a new collection of names!
This menu repeats the Properties command, accesses the Reference Manager, and sports something called "CCS" -- short for custom coordinate system, which is the ARES name for UCS.
Also on this menu is the Customize command, whose dialog box is very, very different from AutoCAD's CUI command. You can customize command macros (including Diesel), menus, tooblars, mouse buttons (single, double, and right clicks), keyboard shortcuts and overrides, and UI profiles, which are like workspaces in AutoCAD.
This menu contains a unqiue command, Switch UI Mode. It switches DraftSight's user interface between Mac and Windows styles:
- Mac style -- all user interface elements are independent of one another, irritating, in my mind. Drag the drawing window, and everything else stays in place. Some people like this, apparently.
- Windows style -- this mode is called "fixed style toolbar mode" curiously enough, and only comes into effect after you quit and restart DraftSight.
The help is fairly comprehensive, although it lacks any reference to system variables. And the section on system requirements still lists the specs for Windows and PCs, instead of OS X and Macs.
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In summary, DraftSight for Mac is similar enough in most areas for AutoCAD users to adapt quickly. The two areas that will probably be initially problematic are the very different Options and Customize dialog boxes. For Windows users, the Print dialog box will also prove to be a challenge, initially.