News from Gudrun Tebart
A press release from CAD Schroer of Germany says that downloads of the Linux version of their free MEDUSA4 Personal MCAD software nearly doubled, from 14% of downloads in 2013 to 26% in 2014.
Linux users among the Top 10 download countries are...
The CAD Schroer press release is lacking in two ares: it does not provide absolute numbers, and because percentages are relative, we don't what it means for Russia to be up 12% and Switzerland up 48%.
The other missing info is a red flag for cherry picking: stats were reported only of January to April of last year.
OTOH, the stats are interesting, because they correlate with another CAD vendor. This one provides software for Linux, OS X, and Windows. He finds that Linux outsells OS X by 2x.
A reader writes:
Some time ago I bought ARES Commander and I use it on my Linux Mint. As the Mint upgrades every 6 months, I was asking Graebert for a new activation code every time. Well, the last time they said that I ran out of activations. Can you tell me how can I transfer ARES to the newest long-term Linux Mint 17 without this code or with the code I used before? I don't need to update or anything, just to be able to use my ARES the way it is.
Mint Linux has risen to the top of the charts as the most popular variant of Mint, after Ubuntu went nutso with the Unity interface, an all-encompassing interface they figured would work equally well on desktop and on tablet. Um, no.
Anyhow, I have used Mint Linux as well, even though it has a singular flaw: updating a major release means re-installing it, wiping out the previous installation -- along with installed programs, license files, data. There is a workaround, but it is too complicated for me to bother with, and so I generally stick with one version. Major updates are not all that major nowadays.
This, however, does not solve Mr R's problem, so I asked Graebert tech support for help. This is their response:
The licensing files are saved in the Linux folder:
You can save them via a USB stick and restore them after the ARES Commander Installation again.
Mr R is happy.
A reader asks,
I am in the process of reinstalling Windows on an older netbook computer and also wanted to partition the hardrive and install Linux.
What Linux distribution would you recommend for this purpose. I'm brand new to Linux, but am trying to wean myself off of total Windows dependence.
Running in the Linux environment, what word processing application would you suggest?
Finally, have you ever used Oracle VirtualBox for running both OSs simultaneously?
- J. R.
First off, to which address may I submit my invoice for consulting?
And now to answer your questions...
The most popular now is Mint Linux, which is also the one I use. (See figure below.) Ubuntu went weird on the user interface, which is why people prefer Mint, which kept the traditional Windows-like UI; before, it had been the #2 or #3 distribution, anyhow.
As for the word processor, well, there is basically only one: LibreOffice (a.k.a. OpenOffice; see figure below). I think there might be others, but it is #1. You can download it from inside Mint Linux, but if you use a Web browser, then download the .deb version.
I use VirtualBox to test operating systems, like Android for x86 or the old Windows 2000. I found, however, that it is not great for running both Windows and Linux on one computer, because the copy and paste does now work well for me, and I have problems setting the Linux screen resolution.
Two Ways To Install Linux
When Linux installs, it offers to create a dual-boot through its utility called "grub.". When the computer boots, you have the choice of Linux or Windows.
To do this, however, the hard drive must be split into two bootable partitions, one for Linux, one for Windows. This is the scary part of the install, because it is possible to overwrite Windows (as I did once), and Linux refers to drives by their logical names, such as sda1. I create a partition of, say 64GB, and then look for the partition sized 64GB (instead of the inscrutable name).
A safer alternative is to install Linux on a USB stick, and then when the computer restarts, tell the computer to boot off the USB drive. (You could even install Linux to a CD drive, but it is too painfully slow.) Prices are coming down; our local BestBuy now has a 64GB USB 3.0 drive for $35.
It's a hard job porting CAD software to other operating systems. Indeed, the hardest job is the very first task. The CAD vendor needs to decide which way to go:
#1. Give CAD software a uniform look on all operating systems.
#2. Make the CAD software look like the operating system.
There is no "And."
When Bricsys ported Bricscad to Linux and Mac, they decided on #1. The result is that they had to custom-code a lot of stuff for Linux and Mac that's native on Windows. It's hard work for the vendors, but users benefit from running software that looks the same, something that's a significant advantage to multi-OS design offices.
When Autodesk ported AutoCAD to Mac, they decided on #2. The result is that they can ignore large swaths of Windows-specific stuff, because Mac users wouldn't expect it. The drawback is that much more code code must be rewritten, and so the first release of Acad/Mac had just 2/3 of the commands found in Windows, yet sells for the Windows price. The benefit is for Mac-only users who face software that runs the way they expect it to; multi-OS offices are not so well off.
Anyhow, back to the title of this posting. Bricsys has been (unhappily) forecasting the immanent release of Bricscad for Mac in "a couple of quarters" for a few years now. Some 2.5 years ago I reported Bricsys saying that "once Linux is out the door [in 2010], then it's the turn of Macintosh." A year and a half ago, Henrik Vallgren reported that "once the Linux version is released, expect a quick path to Mac OS X."
Now, an insider tells me the Mac software will enter alpha testing this Spring, and the company's own press release of Monday said to expect "the entire Bricscad V12 suite on Mac OS X in the second half of 2012."
No matter a CAD vendor takes route #1 or #2, it's a long haul to port CAD to Mac.
Today's the day that Bricsys (finally!) launches Bricscad V12 for Linux at www.bricscad.com. Since the Linux version is so similar to the Windows version -- 2D and 3D constraints, direct editing, quad cursor for just $675 -- I thought I'd just list for you the names of system variables specific to the Linux version:
Allowtabexternalmove -- Allows a tab to be moved externally
Allowtabmove --Toggles whether tabs can be moved
Allowtabsplit --Split tabs
Autosavechecksonlyfirstbitdbmod --Ignore all but first bit of DBMOD for autosave
Middleclickclose --Close tabs with middle click
Showscrollbuttons --Toggle scroll buttons
Showtabclosebutton --Show Close button on tabs
Showtabclosebuttonactive --Show Close button on active tab only
Showtabclosebuttonall --Show Close button on all tabs
Showtabcontrols --Toggle tabs visibility
Showwindowlistbutton --Toggle window list button
Tabcontrolheight --Tab height in pixels
Tabsfixedwidth --Fixed width tabs
The references to "tabs" are Excel-like tabs for quickly switching between drawings, and the the reference to "window list button" is a button that lets you move Bricscad to another workspace. (Linux comes with four workspaces, by default -- something Mac users know about, but probably not most Windows users.)
More info at www.bricsys.com/en_INTL/bricscad/features.jsp.
TIP: If you want to try out this software, but don't want to dedicate a computer to Linux or even bother with a dual-boot system, Bricscad V12 for Linux mostly works running in a virtual machine, such as Oracle's VirtualBox. I recommend Mint Linux.
[Disclosure: I write ebooks about Bricscad.]
The tech world is talking excitedly about the next release of Apple's OS X operating system for its Mac line of computers. Reading through some of the articles, here's a list of new features that I think macCAD vendors might be interested in implementing:
Notification and Alerts Centers - slides down notifications, like first found on Android. CAD vendors can use this to report when linked files change, updates are available, plotting jobs are finished, and so on.
Share Sheets - (sounds like too many people and not enough beds, unfortunately) lets you share CAD drawings with other services, such as email or the CAD vendor's own sharing service.
AirPlay Mirroring - - shows what's on your (small) screen on a larger HDMI-compatible monitor via a second-generation Apple TV module, which acts like a wireless video adapter.
Mountain Lion is now fully integrated with iCloud, but that's of lesser interest to CAD vendors, because services like SugarSync and Autodesk's own WS are OS-independent, and so work on many more hardware platforms.
When OS X Lion shipped last year, some macCAD packages suffered from incompatibilities, and so users should check if Mountain Lion creates unexpected problems, once it become available for purchase this summer.
Mike Whusberg over at Geometros alerted me to their C++/C# solid geometry library for CAD development. They have versions for Mac and Windows, with iOS coming soon.
Back in the days of PalmOS and WinCE, there was some rudimentary CAD software, typically viewers or calculators. With today's cell phones and tablets packing the horsepower requivalent of desktop PCs, we're starting to see desktop-like software, like AutoCAD WS, TurboViewer, and Gstarcad M.
But it is still early days.
Just this morning, in my cramped bedroom of my inlaws place in north-central Alberta, I see mobile announcements from three very different vendors:
Now we just gotta get these companies to see the wisdom of porting their software to Android, with its marketshare being 2x larger than iOS devices.
When IMSI/Design first told me about their DWG viewer for iOS, they promised to make "an announcement of significance every month" for the next several months.
The first one was about TurboViewer, and that it displays actual vector DWG files in 2D and 3D on iPads. In contrast, Autodesk's AutoCAD WS displays 2D only, and then only a rasterized version. (You can see the blur briefly when you zoom in.)
The second was releasing the same software officially on iPhone and iPod Touch. The software is free from Apple's iTunes store.
The third is coming this week, with the release of the Pro version. Not free, but $9.99 introductory.
For the price, you get the following extra features:
On iPad, iPhone, and iTouch. So that's this month's monthly announcement. IMSI/Design gave me a sneak peak at next month's release, which'll add --.
ZWSOFT and GstarSOFT of China became successful on the back of IntelliCAD, creating me-too CAD software that looked a lot like AutoCAD. That was just the base, their warmup act.
Last year, ZWSOFT bought VX of Florida, USA, and turned it into ZW3D, their 3D solid modeler and CAM [computer aided manufacturing] software. The company is busy updating the program a couple of times a year.
And this week GstarSOFT released their first CAD program for iPads, GstarCAD MC, where "MC" is short for mobile client. Written in-house, it creates and edits CAD drawings, as illustrated below.
You can download GstarCAD MC free from the iTunes store here.
(The catch is that the program uses the OCF format, so you have to use the latest version of the company's GstarCAD for Windows to convert DWG files to and from OCF; sync drawing files with iTunes. Download a demo version of the desktop CAD system with OCF translator here.)
upFront.eZine will feature an interview with Huang Meiyu (vice president and oversea business director) in our September 2 issue.
Well, whod'v'e thought there'd be two big significant computer conferences, one week after the other, out here in Vancouver, Canada. Last week, it was SIGGRAPH, which pulled its second lowest attendance since 1983 in its first time outside of the USA.
This week, it was LINUXCON, this one put on by The Linux Foundation, who most famous employee is Linus Torvolds, who I actually got to see waiting for the elevator! When you've been in the computer biz as long as me, you get used to thinking everyone who's a founder of some sort is getting old now. Not Mr Torvold, who is now only around 40, having started Linux at age 20.
When you work out the math, you arrive at the fact that this year is the 20th anniversary of the launch of Linux, a new version of Unix based on Richard Stallman's edict that software oughta be free, freely modifiable, and so on.
To celebrate the 20th, LINUXCON had a display area of some 120 historical items, several videos, and a timeline of accomplishments. Here is the famous red hat and an early Linux watch made by Casio and IBM.
The actual red hat worn by Red Hat Software founder, Bob Young.
I could have contributed my copy of CorelLinux.
The keynote address by Linux Foundation exec director Jim Zemlim was greeted by cheers and laughs he scoffed at fears of Microsoftian nay-sayers, such as Bill Gates calling GPL "Pacman-like" and Steve Ballmer calling Linux a "cancer." Mr Zemlim pointed out that GPL was indeed a Pacman, swallowing up proprietary licences, and Linux is indeed a cancer, a cancer for good that runs most computing devices in the world today, and even has Microsoft contributing device drivers.
He showed a video birthday greeting from Microsoft, which gave a slanted version of the history of the antagonism of Microsoft against Linux, slanted as it showed Linux being anti-Microsoft, such as a penguin throwing a rock against a window made of the Windows logo, behind which a cowering Bill Gates hides. There are other scenes of the penguin being nasty -- as seen by prejudiced Microsoft eyes. The video ends on a hopeful note, that perhaps Windows and Linux could work together -- again, a false sign, for Linux works with Windows, and Microsoft is generally the unwilling one. 'Course, it must be lonely for Microsoft, pretty much having now the only OS not based on Unix in some way.
Mr Zemlim is a good cheerleader, pointing out the false claims made by those fearful of Linux, and the successes of the last 20 years. He jokes that LINUXCON was forced to be held in Canada, because of the threat from US patent 9,999,999 that describes "a method for socially-awkward people to gather..." He says out that a world without Linux would be a world without nuclear reactors, trains, super computers, cell phones... It would be monochromatic, instead of in color.
He adds that Linux is on the right side of history against proprietary systems, fighting legal FUD, technical FUD, usability FUD, profitability FUD. He shows slide after slide of false claims made by opponents, such as Forrester Research's George Colony predicting in 2004 the demise of Red Hat Software; this year, Red Hat is set to make $1 billion in revenues.
"Linux is the largest face in computing today because of freedom." He does admit, however, at being wrong in declaring four years in a row that this is the year of desktop Linux.
And yet, yet...
I am surprised at the small size of the event. A baker's dozen or so of 10x10' booths. Some 20 media. A "packed" keynote hall with an audience size perhaps half that of a SolidWorks World event. Just one minor (relatively speaking) specialized software package can attract more attendees than the most used operating system in the world?
Jim Whitehurst is now the ceo of Red Hat Software, and his keynote topic was what to expect for the next 20 years in Linux. He began by looking at the last 20, giving concrete examples of how the openness of Linux gave rise to significant improvements.
For example, the US Navy needed an anti-missile missile, which required a real-time OS. They added code to Linux so that it could handle real-time operations, contributing it to everyone. This code made its way into the Linux used to run most stock exchanges in the world. "Linux allows new innovations not possible otherwise," such as Google, Facebook, and Android.
Favorite quote: he showed a chart of sales of operating systems, and added, "This is IDC data, so it must be wrong!"
And then it was time for his predictions for the next twenty years...
...well, he doesn't know. That was the point of the lead up in which he described the strange twists Linux has taken so far. The same is forecasted for the next two decades. Ta da!
For the next twenty years, Mr Whitehurst says, "It is not just the technology, but what the technology enables."
Linus Torvolds was scheduled to speak late in the afternoon, but unfortunately I could not stay that long.
GstarCAD revealed this morning that it is is developing GstarCAD M -- the M is short for "mobile" -- for viewing and editing DWG files on the iPad. Not a lot more detail available, except that this is a great time to release such software, as the press release puts it:
With the advent of vehicles, variety delicious food as well as internet, etc., people’s lives become more and more colorful. Now with iPad came into being, the applications running on it is inevitable, for the work efficiency improvement turns into urgent, among which CAD software bears the brunt and GstarCAD M emerges as the time requires.
There are quite a few DWG and DXF viewers available on iPad, but no native DWG-file editors yet.
This tablet is named simply "MID" (short for "mobile internet device") and is based on the WM8650 chip from VIA Technologies, who designed it specifically for building the lowest-priced tablets on the market. There are a number of vendors -- Elonex, FlyTouch, HTC, SmartQ, MayLong, EPad, TomTech, InnovTek, and ViaPad -- producing tablets using this chip and they all have the same look (roughly). In fact, I wonder if the new $100 tablet from Archos is based on this design. I have no idea who made mine.
The specs for this CPU include the following:
First, the bad news. As expected for $80, there are problems with the build quality:
- The touchscreen does not always respond as I expect. For example, I'll swipe down to scroll, but the nearest item is selected instead.
- When I plug in an audio cord, I have to jiggle it to hear both channels.
- I haven't got the USB ports working, but files can be exchanged through Dropbox, GMail, or through a microSD card.
- It looks like an iPad, complete with "Home" button. But this button actually performs the Back function; useful in most cases, but not when using full-screen apps, like Angry Birds. On the edge is a Menu button, puzzlingly enough. (Other buttons: power and volume.) I haven't found where the buttons can be reassigned.
- The power connector is a standard round pin, rather today's more common microUSB. Not a big deal, but it can't use the microUSB chargers I have around the house and car. (Other connectors: microSD slot and proprietary connector for USB-and-ethernet dongle.)
- Not all Android apps work with this tablet. For example, the HMV music apps runs, but won't download the music I've purchased. I haven't been able to install AutoCAD WS, but there are a few more workarounds I need to test. OTOH, Kobo works, and downloads the ebooks I've purchased. Sketchbook Mobile works.
Now, the good news. For an $80 device, this thing does a lot:
- While its USB ports don't work for file transfer, they do work as ADB (Apple device bus). I have attached the wireless transmitter for an external keyboard that has an integrated touch pad. This lets me type more quickly, but -- more important -- overcomes the touchscreen quirks.
TIP: On the touch pad, scroll handles left-right and up-down swipes: I hold down the first button, and then scroll sideways or up-and-down.
The special keys work, as follows:
Home - takes the tablet to its home screen; press Home a second time to see all screens.
Cursor keys - move between icons on the screen.
Enter - runs the app associated with the currently highlighted icon.
Esc - acts like the Back button.
Windows key - brings up the current app's menu
Windows Shortcut Menu key - brings up Google Search.
F1 - opens the browser
F2 - Music app
F3 - Video app
F4 - Photo app
F5 - Calculator app
F6 - Weather app
F7 - Sound recorder app
F8 - Clock app
F9 - Calendar app
F10 - File Browser
F11 - Task manager
F12 - USB settings
(You can change the meaning of the function keys in Settings.)
ScrollLock - Settings
PrintScreen - nothing, although a dedicated button on the status bar takes screen grabs.
Pause - nothing
PageUp and PageDown - nothing
Insert and Delete - nothing
End - hibernates device and locks screen
Ctrl+Alt+Del - reboots the device
- While some apps don't work, and Google's official Apps Store won't let me access some apps, there are work-arounds. For apps that don't work, I can usually find a substitute, or just live without. For apps blocked by Google's store, there are plenty of other sites that allow side-loading. I found that Opera Mini browser makes it really easy to sideload apps.
- The screen's coating successfully resists finger smudges, unlike the glossy screen of the iPad. The thicker body, smaller size, lighter weight, and rounded back make the MID easier to hold than an iPad.
- There is a community dedicated to customizing the OS on this device. One of the best is at TechKnow, which has a replacement version of Android 2.2. This Uberoid ROM roots the devices, installs some HoneyComb-like UI changes, and so on.
TIP: When installing Uberoid WM8650 HYBRiD HoneyCombMOD ROM at step 7, try a different number for CHANGER.BAT until the OS successfully boots on the MID. I found that #8 worked best for mine.
In summary. This device is great for seeing if a 7" tablet is right for you, and is cheap enough to experiment with custom ROMs. With the Uberoid ROM it runs faster, and with the external keyboard-touchpad, it runs more smoothly.
Much to my surprise, I now have two tablets -- that, after some weeks ago writing a screed about how there was no way I would buy any tablet, especially not this year.
Then the 1-2 punch knocked out my anti-tablet stance:
1. A month ago, I fell for a 7" Android v2.2 tablet listed on eBay for $80, shipping from China included. (I can't tell you the brand or model, other than "MID WM8650": link.) I justified it as my Father's Day present, and last week it arrived. At $80, even my wife approved.
2. Last week, a CAD software vendor asked if I had an iPad with which I could test his upcoming iOS software. When I replied in the negatory, he offered to loan me one, and on Monday it arrived. Free. This time, my wife lost interest.
Now that I've had the two for a few days, here's my reaction:
Size and Shapes
The MID 7" tablet is a nice size, and I can see why many Androids come in that size -- provided you don't intend to type with the on-screen keyboard. The rounded, plastic back makes it easy to hold.
The Apple 10" size is a little too large to hold comfortably, and the sharp edges with the aluminum back make it hard to hold for more than short periods.
The 7" is all-plastic, including the screen, with a battery that lasts just 2-3 hours. This makes for a lightweight tablet, and one that feels cheap.
The 10" is all glass and aluminum with a 10-hour battery. That makes it heavy, and it feels even heavier than it looks -- making it feel expensive.
The 7" has headphone, power, microSD slot (I inserted a spare 2GB card), and a proprietary port. It includes the dongle with 2 USB ports and an ethernet port. (Naturally, it has WiFi, but no Bluetooth or GPS.) A nice touch is that the USB ports can be toggled to act like ADB (Apple device bus) ports, making it a snap to use the tablet with external keyboard and mouse. There are two small speakers and apparently there is a mic built-in, but I have not yet tested it.
The 10" has a headphone and a proprietary port. The proprietary port handles power, USB, and other interfaces, but Apple only includes the power cable. It also has Bluetooth, GPS, Wifi, a speaker, and a mic.
The 7" runs Android v2.2, which includes means it runs Flash 10.1. It does not have official Google support, so Google's market is missing. Using a Web browser like Opera Mini, however, it is trivial to sideload (download and install) any Android app from sites like freewarelovers.com/android.
In addition, it is trivial to root the device -- trivial compared to Android phones -- to install better versions of Android, such as HYBRiD WM8650 HoneyCombMOD (registration required). TIP: I found this mod installed best on this model when I specified 8 in changer.bat.
The 10" runs iOS and I had to suffer through a surprising large number of authentication and registration steps to get onto the App Store, even though I already have an Apple ID. Apps cannot be sideloaded, which makes me wonder how the CAD software vendor will get me access to their still-confidential app.
At this point, I gotta say that I just don't like the iOS and OS X interfaces. I avoid using Apple products, except when I have to for work reasons. Android is just more me.
Interfaces and Operation
I find it interesting that the 7" runs Android 2.2 (meant for cell phones) on its screen like a tablet. I am guessing that some Android apps are already tablet-aware, meaning they take advantage of the larger screen area. This cheap tablet's screen has the same resolution as my 4" Android cell phone (800x480), but it does not look coarse. It's as if there is some anti-aliasing going on.
As you would expect, this 7" is not the smoothest performer. When you start using it, keep in mind it costs $80, and then you'll be impressed by its performance. For the most part, it runs as well as the iPad. Where it falls down is with the screen, because it is resistive. The pro is that you can use a finger or a stylus; the con is that it is not as sensitive as a capacitive screen, and so sometimes I have to swipe or pick more than once to get a reaction.
The 10" runs many iOS apps in tablet mode, which means that apps tend to split the screen, with a selection area on the left, and the larger work area on the right. The resolution is 1024-by-768, exactly 2x in area as the Android. Being a capacitive screen, it is very responsive, but can only be used with a finger.
I mention cameras, because this is the weakest point on each.
The 7" has one front-facing camera, VGA resolution and, if you can believe it, 256 colors. It takes stills and video clips, but poorly.
The 10" has a front- and a rear-facing camera. The front one is as bad as on the Android tablet, but captures more colors. The rear one has such an embarrassing spec that Apple does not list its still resolution. The images made with the 0.7 megapixel camera are noticeably grainy.
The 7" Android is cheap, is built cheap, has no vendor support, but is fun for playing around with, like rooting, using as an ebook reader, or running as a music player (which is what I do with it). As a result, it is a pleasant but sometimes frustrating surprise.
The 10" Apple is well-built and well-supported, but is large and heavy, and surprisingly lacks in a few areas.
Neither is perfect, confirming my earlier anti-tablet column.
Over on his Outside The Box blog, Owen Wengerd has started a tutorial on how to write BRX programs for Briscad using Linux:
The next order of business was to build and load a BRX module. I started by installing Code::Blocks, an open source cross platform C/C++ IDE that can be used in both Windows and Linux. The IDE installed fine, but then things got interesting.
Read it all at BRX on Linux: Getting Started.
CAD software running on Linux OS was a precarious thing. Yah, it was out there but none of the packages I tried were ready for Joe Headsdown Drafter who got his training at the local Autodesk-authorized Training Center. They didn't install effortlessly; maybe they read and wrote DWG files; and definitely didn't look or operate like AutoCAD.
(Yah, I know Joe isn't going to be running Linux, but work with me here.)
Until today, we had two flavours of DWG-based Linux CAD from which to choose:
Today, however, a press release from Bricsys tilts the playing field. Bricscad for Linux is now available in a Pro version that adds the missing 3D solids modeling and APIs -- currently at the Classic price of $395. Further tilting the playing field in the other direction, Dassault is beta testing a free but hobbled version of ARES for Linux relabeled under the DraftSight name:
Graebert-Dassault pricing spans the extremes, while Bricsys sits in the middle.
Whereas Graebert concentrates on the OEM market, Bricsys chases the third-party developer market. And the details of what Bricsys includes with the Linux version sound pretty interesting:
Download a 30-day version from here.
Europe Likes Linux
It is no surprise that the leading edge of DWG-based Linux CAD is coming from Europe, an area that embraced Linux and other lower cost software early, because of software vendors' penchant for overcharging Europeans.
(I still recall my shock in 1985 upon learning that Lotus charged 3x as much for 1-2-3 in Germany as in USA. Likewise, a German cousin was stunned at the low prices in USA, and dreamed of becoming a graymarket importer.)
One of the surprising things I learned from my trip around Russia is that Windows is popular there, because it was "free." I suppose the same is true in other countries where intellectual property protection is a matter of opinion.
Meanwhile, those of us who like to (1) run an OS more efficient than Windows or OS X; (2) not have to buy new hardware, as for OS X; and (3) be different, we like our Linux.
Interesting range of reactions to DraftSight running on Linux:
There are 92 comments as I post this. Some readers complain it isn't open source, as Linux users expect. Others complain it isn't fully 3D. But kaka.mala.vachva responds:
You realize stuff like this is the only way Linux may become popular on the desktop? We can't really expect everything to be FOSS [free and open source software]. Support this if it's useful to you, and look past the activation -- more companies may start developing for Linux then. Would hate to see the Loki* story all over again.
*) Loki failed in its attempt to port games from Windows to Linux.
Normand Chamberland of Courira.ca explains the steps needed to install 32-bit DraftSight on 64-bit Linux systems: http://courira.ca/en/2011/03/draftsight-for-linux-how-to-install-on-ubuntu-64-bit
DraftSight for Linux is now official, as of 10:00 pm today. You can download the Linux (or OS X or Windows) versions from www.3ds.com/products/draftsight/free-cad-software/
Of course, if you were using ARES for Linux, then you would already be familiar with it. The diff: DraftSight is free -- free, as in free Linux -- while ARES is $995.00.
I've been using ARES for Linux (for the ebook I wrote about it: "Inside ARES for Linux"), and it is pretty much identical to the OS X and Windows versions -- both in terms of UI and operations. There are minor UI differences, which might be due more to the dialect of Linux I use (Mint Linux 8) -- just like it would look different on Windows XP than on 7.
Operationally, ARES for Linux is more like the OS X version, because only the Windows version supports things like OLE. Still, having OS choices is pretty exciting for an anti-proprietary guy like me.
I do, however, get the sinking feeling that the future of these CAD packages on Linux -- ARES, Bricscad, DraftSight -- is about a bright as Linux on netbook computers. (For a while, 95% of all netbooks ran Linux; today, 95% run Windows.) Maybe it won't be a problem, as long as CAD vendors are content with their Linux products staying at a 5% OS market share, or so.
Engadget is reporting that -- as part of Nokia's attempt to jump off of a burning oil platform or something -- Nokia is selling off...
...the Qt framework at the heart of Symbian and MeeGo development -- a platform Nokia acquired from Trolltech back in January of 2008.
From Nokia, Digia acquires Qt commercial licensing, services business, and 3,500 customers. In its press release, Digia promises to...
...continue development of Qt desktop and embedded versions.
...implement new service models.
...open branch offices in USA and Norway, adding to existing offices in Sweden, Russia, and China, with head office in Finland.
...support older platforms not on Nokia's roadmap.
...add 19 people from Nokia to its staff of 1,600.
Nokia won't be needing Qt much, now that it sold its soul to Microsoft, and Microsoft probably preferring Nokia not use a competitor to its own MFC.
Qt [pronounced "cutey"] is a user interface framework, handling things like dialog boxes, windows, palettes, icons, and so on. It also handles data structures and networking. Its primary benefit is that it is OS-independent. This means a programmer can use the same UI for his software running on Linux, OS X, Windows, embedded OSes, like Symbian, and so on. It makes mutli-OS apps easier. (In contrast, the equivalent from Microsoft, MFC Microsoft Foundation Classes, is limited to apps running on Windows.)
CAD companies like Autodesk, Bricsys, and Graebert use Qt for their multi-OS CAD systems. [Update: a reader from Greece reminds me that Bricscad uses wxWidgets.] [Further update: All Points Blog says ESRI and Bentley also use Qt.]
Their hearts may be going pitter-patter this morning as they wake up to the change in ownership. The anxiety level can't be helped by the front page of Digia's Web site, which features stock photography of Happy People (including someone at a coffee klatch) and a featured press release announcing a profit warning, "NET SALES OF DIGIA'S MOBILE SOLUTIONS SEGMENT IN 2011 WILL FALL SHORT OF PREVIOUSLY EXPECTED LEVELS; CHALLENGES ALSO IN PROFITABILITY."
So, Qt will be in the hands of a company with lower-than-expected profits, and who just spent a boatload of money on an acquisition costing hundreds of millions of dollars. (Nokia bought Trolltech for $130 million three years ago. Trolltech invented Qt back in 1991.)
I recall from a couple of years ago a CAD programmer telling me that he felt safe using Qt, since it was now owned by Nokia, the biggest cell phone company in the world, which meant Qt had a secure future. How quickly things change.
PTC runs a Weblog for the so-far-unreleased Creo software, and today they posted a coy interview with themselves over Creo running on non-Windows devices. What we get out of the brief item is (a) yes, it will run on iOS devices; and (b) no, it won't be with the initial release of Creo.
You can see the teaser videos here, which show fingers zooming and rotating a 3D model on an iPhone and then on an iPad, while a BBC radio interview monologues in the background. The UI is cut off from the camera's viewpoint.
Nick Spence of MacWeek quotes Autodesk's Carl Bass as saying, "Very soon, users will be able to sit with an iPad at home and make a movie like Avatar."
Bass added that a combination of cloud computing and 3D printers* could see home users creating products at home, with designs being produced and made available to all.
Do you think his like-Avatar claim is realistic? After all, it is remarkable what phones with Android and iOS are able to do now. Or is his statement mere marketing hype, in the line of former Autodesk-ceo Carol Bartz's claim that anything not designed by God had been designed with Autodesk software?
You can read the brief interview here.
- - -
(*) Tomorrow's WorldCAD Access will describe the possibility of a dark future for 3D printing.
Patrik Emin has written lots of apps for Android, as you can see by searching for "Emin" among the 100,000 apps at Android Market using your Android device. Most are one of general interest and/or are in French, such as "Mark Twain Quotes" and "Quotes Cafe du Coin."
Some, however, are of interest to AutoCAD users:
Sure, AutoCAD for Mac has its limitations, but there are a few things that make it more interesting than the Windows version. Here are some of the things I found that you won't find in the Windows version:
1. Press Tab to show and hide all palettes instantly.
2. Hold down the spacebar, along with the left mouse button, to pan the drawing.
3. Creating tables is now interactive: instead of a Windows dialog box asking you for the number of rows and columns, you just drag the mouse to show AutoCAD. As you drag the mouse, the number of rows and columns increases, depending on your drag direction.
4. When it comes to fields, creating custom date and time formats is now interactive. Drag and drop date and time elements, and then edit them as necessary.
5. Similarly, field elements are customizable inside the AttDef dialog box. When you add field text, it appears with a blue background and sports a white arrow. Click the white arrow for options, such as Convert to Text.
Bonus tip. One of the drawbacks to Acad/Mac is that CUI does not customize keystrokes. I found that the work-around is to use OS X's own keystroke customization facility. But there are a couple of twists to do thing: You may had to add autocad.app to its list, and you have to enter the menu name (no the command name) to associate with the keystroke.
So I've been using this MacBook for about three months now, pretty much every day, nearly all day long.
In this time, I've written three books about CAD for Mac, using software like Adobe InDesign CS5 (which is identical to the Windows version), OmniGraffle Professional (an immature replacement for Visio), FireFox (why can I not zoom the browser window with the mouse?), AutoCAD for Mac (for about six weeks), ARES for Mac (ditto), OpenOffice (once in a while), and I installed Parallels.
I use the MacBook with a PC mouse (Logitech bluetooth), and an external PC monitor for a dual-monitor setup. It's on my 1Gbit network, but only once did it briefly see the rest of my PCs, then never again. My PCs see the MacBook on the network, but cannot open any its folders. I use a USB transfer cable instead.
(The MacBook's goofiest bug: I wake it up, and it sometimes forgets it has a built-in screen; it only displays on the external monitor. One time it locked up so bad, I had to wait 5 hours for the battery to drain; no keyboard shortcut would arouse it from its pale blue screen of death.)
I don't get the awe Mac fanbois have for it; I wonder if some are stuck in the far past, such as the one commenter who talks about "beige boxes" -- a derogatory term used by fanbois to describe the color of PCs from the 1980s. A neighbor across the street praises her MacBook as being simple, "because I can just drag and drop things." (She has never used a PC.) The myopia, deliberate or otherwise, is sad to experience.
I find that Windows 7 is better than OS X in many small details. Here's one I don't get: OS X is based on Unix, and yet I have to reboot it after installing updates, just like Windows; that time-waster is simply unknown on Linux.
I think maybe my problem is with the limitations Apple imposes on its hardware and software. Go with Apple, and you are stuck with their "take it or leave it" attitude. I don't care for the look of the OS X and iOS user interfaces, nor of Apple software. The hardware has its flaws that should not be in products marketed as cadillacs.
A year ago, I bought a 64GB iPod Touch. I found it interesting at first, but then got frustrated with its limitations. Last month, I replaced it with an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant for just $50 more, and am so much happier. Stuff on Android makes more sense to me; it isn't restrictive; the UI is better. The many functions of the status bar alone are worth the switch. I can change the UI: imagine that!
But then I'm the kind of guy who doesn't like others dictating to me, which is why I am self-employed. I am a child of the PC revolution; my computing experience will not be dictated to me by someone else. Even a decade ago, I remember thinking that our computing world would be a very scary place if Apple had won the war against Microsoft.
It's g-g-g-r-reat that we still have choice.
Next up: I begin work on my first book about CAD on Linux. I'll be writing it on my PC, not the MacBook.
So I've got Linux running in a VM window on Windows.
Now to fix a few things, something that Normand Chamberland of the CAD on Linux blog helped me with. For instance, the maximum resolution in the VM window is 800x600 -- fine on a cell phone, but a pain on the desktop, especially taking into consideration my main monitor's resolution of 2018x1162.
Mr Chamberland answered my query with this advice: "That's because you need to install the Guest Additions" on VM VirtualBox He suggested some steps, and then I found that the following worked for my system:
First, in the Ubuntu operating system, ensure that the dkms package is installed. You can use the Synaptic package manager and its dialog box (System | Administration), but I find the easiest way to install it is by entering the following in terminal (Applications | Accessories | Terminal):
sudo apt-get install dkms
Enter your login password when prompted, and then wait while the package is installed. You will also need to enter Y when prompted. When the installation is finished, you can close the terminal window.
Next you have to mount the Guest Additions CD-ROM image: go to the Devices menu in the VM menu bar, and then select Install Guest Additions. The name of this menu item is somewhat misleading, in that it does not install the additions; it only mounts the image. ("Mount the image" means to attach a file or other device to make it look like a drive to the operating system; while Windows can only mount drives, Linux and OS X can also mount files as drives.)
Now you need to launch the install script. I found this was easiest through File Browser (like Windows Explorer or Finder). Notice that a "drive" named VBOXADDITIONS_3.2.8_64453 is mounted.
Double-click (or single-click, depending on how your system is set up) the drive to open it, and then double-click autorun.sh. Wait for it to finish installing the additional software.
Reboot (restart) Ubuntu to effect the change.
After restarting, choose System | Preferences | Monitors, and then specify a higher resolution. On my system, the max is a kind of funky 1360x780; maximizing the VM window increases the resolution to my monitor's maximum.
The first question being, why would you want to? In my case, I use InDesign to write and typeset the books, ebooks, and manuals so that limits me to Windows or OS X. Since I have a contract to write a book about a Linux-based CAD package, that means running Linux in a virtual machine on the most convenient computer, my desktop Windows 7 computer.
Normand Chamberland of the CAD on Linux blog recommended I try Oracle's free VM VirtualBox software. I downloaded and installed it, and then found that it is pretty good for free, but has a few foibles when installing the guest operating system.
(Virtual machine software lets your computer run more than one operating system. Some developers use it to run a second copy of Windows or OS X; should the software they are writing crash "the computer," is the virtual machine that crashes, not the entire computer. Note you have to purchase the second copy of Windows. VMs are possible because recent CPUs enable this feature.)
Upon creating the first virtual machine (just click New to start the process), you are asked a few basic questions. (Read Oracle's documentation; I am envious at how well it is written.) Here are my answers:
After providing these parameters, VirtualBox takes 5-10 minutes to prepare the disk space. (This will be a section of your hard drive that is walled off from the rest of the computer, although it can access folders and files on the rest of the drive, other drives, and the network.)
Here is the tricky part that VirtualBox does not handle well: when you click Start to launch the newly-created VM, it begins by trying to install the guest operating system, which VirtualBox expects to be (1) on a CD or other portable disk; and (2) ready and waiting.
I was going to use the ISO file from a recent download of Ubuntu, but VirtualBox would not let me select drive C:. It went on to boot a non-existent OS anyhow -- that is to say, none.
I had to delete the VM, start over, and then specify the computer's D: drive, which now held a copy of Ubuntu that I burned to a CD. This time it almost worked; the drawback to installing from a CD is that it much slower than from an ISO file on the hard drive. After I told Ubuntu to install itself from the CD, it complained about insufficient disk space. I realized I specified just 32MB, instead of 32GB, for the hard drive.
Erase VM. Install VM again. Install Ubuntu. And it works.
Running Linux on Windows
A virtual machine has drivers to access your computer's hardware, including USB drives, the graphics board, and the network. The VM usually runs in a window, but there is an issue with the mouse's "focus."
When you work inside the VM window (using Ubuntu), you'll find that the cursor gets "locked" inside the window. With VirtualBox, you press the righ-hand Ctrl key to release the cursor to travel outside the window. These and other issues are explained by dialog boxes that pop up at the appropriate times.
(Normally, I would install Linux Mint, because it includes all non-open-source software you neeed, such as Flash. Since I was going to be writing a book, I thought I should stick with the most popular variant of Linux, Ubuntu (download here), which tries to remain pure by excluding anything that is not open source. It just meant that I needed to separately download Flash, MP3 decoders, Acrobat, etc, after Ubuntu is installed.
I installed the 32-bit version of Ubuntu v10.04, since the Linux-based CAD system is also 32-bit. If you wish to use something like ARES on a 64-bit Linux system, follow the instructions by Mr Chamberland at How-to: Installing ARES Commander Edition on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS 64-bit.)
Running CAD/Linux on Windows
Wow! Ubuntu boots fast: 18 seconds, including the time to launch the VM.
Figure 1: Firefox running on Ubuntu inside the VM window on Windows 7; to the left is the VirtualBox control panel.
My final installation step was to install the CAD package. This is completely straight-forward, if you are familiar with modern-day installs of software on Linux.
The CAD vendor has package files for a variety of dialects of Linux:
I picked the Ubuntu/Debian file (Ubuntu is based on Debian, and Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu).
One thing missing from Oracle's free VM that it does not allow copy'n paste between the VM and the host OS -- as does Parallels (which I run on my MacBook). I can do screen grabs of the entire VM window, which I then need to trim.
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:
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:
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.
- - -
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.
And yes they do, now. CAD Schroer is launching STHENO/LX Intelligent for 2D drafting on Linux and Windows, compatible with DWG R12-2010. From the "LX" portion of its name, you may have already guessed it doesn't work with add-ons or APIs. Or, as managing director Thomas Schubert put it, "It's a 'shrink-wrapped' solution with no add-on modules or design automation capabilities."
Parallels is well-known for its software that lets you run Windows apps on OS X computers. Now they are showing a free version that lets you run them on the iPad -- remotely.
Dean Takahashi of DemoBeat explains:
The free Parallels Mobile app will let you log into a Parallels account and then browse your Parallels-equipped computers at home. You can run the applications on those computers remotely, using the Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac software, which lets you run Windows or Mac apps simultaneously.
You could, then, in theory, "run" full AutoCAD on the iPad. (While Parallels Mobile is free, you still need to buy Parallels for your desktop computer, about $80.) Read more and view a video at Venture Beat.
Now that Bricsad for Linux is official, and not just beta, I thought I would try it out again.
As I noted in yesterday's post, the software is officially supported for specific dialects of Linux. That's because there is a different installer for each:
This does not mean you are limited to these brand names of Linux. For instance, Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu (which in turn is based on Debian Linux), and so uses the same installer. Just download the one whose installer matches the one(s) on your system.
Each download is 60MB. Note that this is the Classic version of Bricscad V10 you are getting, which is the cheaper one that loses some features found in the Pro version. (This was probably done to help speed the Linux version to market.) For instance, you can view 3D solid models in drawings, but cannot create or edit them.
I use Linux Mint, and so the install procedure followed these steps:
1. Using FireFox, I went to www.bricsys.com to register and access the download.
2. I choose the Ubuntu version to download.
3. Once the download was finished, I right-clicked its name in FireFox's Downloads window, and then chose Open.
4. This action launches the package installer. I clicked the Install Package button.
5. I provided my system password to permit installation to begin.
6. After some minutes, installation was finished. I clicked the Close button to close the installer.
7. In Linux Mint's application launcher, I found the new bricscadv10 item, and then clicked it to start the program.
Bricscad V10 for Linux looks like the Windows version but with the Mint skin applied. Everything else was the same: menus, command names and options, system variables, customization (albeit with some features missing due to this being the Classic version).
It installs and runs on my netbook computer effortlessly.
(What is this, Labour Day? CAD vendors are making me labour at blogging their new releases.)
Graebert may have been the first to release an OS X version of an AutoCAD workalike, but Bricsys is the first for Linux, with support for Fedora 12+, OpenSuse 11.1+, and Ubuntu 9.10+.
The company writes:
The Linux community so far had no access to .dwg based CAD, commonly accepted as the standard CAD file format. With Bricscad V10 for Linux that problem is solved and people don’t have to stick with the Windows OS just because they need .dwg based CAD.
The included APIs are: all of LISP, protected LISP, DCL, and Diesel; others will be added as demanded by third-party developers, of which Bricsys now has 500.
The English version of Bricscad Classic for Linux is available now at a promotional price of $275 (regular $395). "Classic" means it is missing some features, like BRX, eBridge, ACIS editing, and ActiveX. See comparison chart here.
Download the free English 30-day trial version from www.bricsys.com. Some 15 other languages available in two weeks.
Miguel Helft of The New York Times is reporting this evening what was pretty much an open secret. It was just the timing we weren't sure about.
Tuesday Autodesk has all kinds of media events planned for announcing AutoCAD's return to the Macintosh, this time on the OS X operating system.
Mr Helft quotes Amar Hanspal, senior vp of platform solutions at Autodesk:
This is an endorsement from our side that design and engineering customers are taking the Macintosh seriously again.
Heh. Try telling that to companies like Nemetschek Vectorworks, Graphisoft, and Siemens PLM Systems, whose CAD software has been running on the Mac for years, in some cases originally developed on the Mac back when Autodesk gave up on it.
The New York Times says the OS X version will cost as much as the Windows version, $3,995 (subscription is $450/year). Shipping date for North America and Europe is October, my guess being closer to the end than the beginning of the month. www.autodesk.com/autocadformac
AutoCAD for Mac will be free to students and educators through the Autodesk Education Community site.
A free viewer-markup version -- named AutoCAD WS (short for "WorkSpace") -- will run on iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches; available "soon" through the Apple App Store. butterfly.autodesk.com/mobile
Mr. Hanspal said AutoDesk was considering making mobile versions of the design software for other tablets on the market.
Users can pre-order the app starting Wednesday, September 1. AutoCAD 2011 for Mac works on Intel machines running OS X 10.5 or OS X 10.6.
Venture Beat adds:
The version for mobile devices was built with the help of Visual Tao, an Israeli firm that Autodesk bought in December.
Love it when non-CAD writers get confused. AppleInsider writes:
13 releases have followed since [Acad was last available on the Mac], including the current Windows-only Release 25, which was released in March
Best line from the Autodesk press release:
User experience design patterns, such as the visual approach to drawing and layout management, have also been incorporated into AutoCAD for Mac.
upFront.eZine Publishing adds:
Our "What's Inside? AutoCAD for Macintosh" ebook will ship once we get the go-ahead.
Just checked The Drudge Report... no coverage yet. But it's on Tech-meme.
NYT Scoops Us All
In a sign of the times, it is significant that The New York Times broke the story first, instead of industry writers and bloggers. I suspect Autodesk wants corporate America to know about the OS X version, more so than its own user base. After all, Windows AutoCAD users are not customers for the Mac version.
(Images of the beta version leaked earlier this year by an Italian Mac blogger were accurate, after all.)
CAD journalists and bloggers were under a verbal embargo to learn about "the announcement" Tuesday morning -- for public release Tuesday afternoon.
John Walker writes about the original port of AutoCAD to the Macintosh II in 1987: www.fourmilab.ch/autofile/www/subsectionstar2_68_0_2.html
For Linux and Windows users, the QWERTY part of the MacBook is the same; your fingers, however, need to think different around the edges. Some keys have different meanings or are outright missing.
Here's what the MacBook keyboard looks like. Take particular notice of the quartet of keys in the lower left corner (fn, control, options, and command.)
Command is the Macintosh equivalent to Control (Ctrl) in Windows. To save a file in ARES (and any other Mac software), you press Command+S -- instead of Ctrl+S.
Another change is that the Command key is located next to the spacebar, instead of at the end of the keyboard. Your fingers will have to re-memorize the location -- at least until you switch back to a standard keyboard.
Options is the Mac equivalent of the Windows Alt key.
Control is a third "alternate" key; it gets used in conjunction with shortcut keystrokes, such as the infamous five-finger Command+Control+Shift+4+Spacebar sequence needed to capture a dialog box to the Clipboard.
fn is used to access alternate actions on the function keys, just as in Windows. (Except that this key is located where our fingers expect Ctrl.) And functions keys are the same as in Windows. For instance, press F5 to switch between isometric planes in ARES.
Elsewhere on the keyboard...
Delete really is Backspace, since it erases characters moving backwards. There is no Backspace key to perform the delete function (erasing characters moving forward) except in combination with the fn key (fn+delete).
Symbols are used extensively in documentation and pulldown menus of software written for the Mac. You can expect to see the following hieroglyphics, and be expected to know their meaning (from the Edit menu in ARES):
There are a few solutions to the problems created by Apple's redesign of the computer keyboard:
Windows has a messy variety of ways to install software. Linux has its rigorous method. And OS X has yet another method, one that initially will seem quite foreign to Windows and Linux users.
Here is now to install ARES for Macintosh:
1. Download the 30-day demo software from the Graebert Web site: here. Notice that what you are downloading is an 84MB DMG file, short for "Disk iMaGe." (To OS X, DMG files look like virtual disks.)
2. When the download is done, open the downloaded file. OS X spends a few seconds checking the file. (Notice that a new "drive" appears on the desktop: this is the downloaded DMG file. Ignore it.)
3. A new dialog box appears, prompting you to drag the ARES icon over into the Applications folder. Do so. (This dialog box is actually a disguised version of Finder, the OS X version of Windows Explorer. Click the gray button at the right end of the title bar to see the folders pane. The blue slider does zooming.)
OS X copies the APP file to the Applications folder. (Application programs in OS X use the .app file extension, instead of .exe.)
When done, you can close the dialog box. (Click the red button at the left end of the title bar. Green button = maximize; yellow = change size.)
4. Now you need to open the Applications folder. (This folder is always in the dock, near the right end)...
... hunt down the ARES Command Edition icon...
a. Right-click the ARES icon.
6. You no longer need the virtual "ARES" disc on the desktop. Right-click it, and then choose Eject from the menu.
Uninstalling Software on the Mac
Uninstalling is easier than installing software:
1. Go to the Applications folder, and then erase the .app file associated with the application. Done.
In my previous post, I mentioned that the plot dialog box in ARES for Mac is quite different from the Windows version. At first, I had no idea what was going on, but then figured it out. I'd like to share my findings with you:
1. Enter the Print command, and you get this barebones interface.
If you want to output the drawing as a PDF file (instead of printing it), click the PDF button and then choose an option:
3. To switch between options, choose among them from the droplist.
4. To save a set of printing options, click the droplist next to Settings and then choose Save As.
Bricsys of Belgium, Graebert of Germany, and a third, unnamed CAD vendor (of another country) were in a multi-year race to see who would ship the Mac version of their AutoCAD-compatible software first. Today, Graebert won.
ARES for Macintosh is available for download from here. 30-day demo is free, naturally. Price is US$995 in North America and e995 in Europe; half-price until 1 October.
I have been beta testing ARES for Mac, and found that it is identical to the Windows versions, except in these areas:
- Installation is Mac-style (drag the DMG file to the Apps folder.)
- Macintosh-style "disjointed" user interface; no ribbon (yah!)
- Plot dialog box is quite different.
- Windows-specific commands missing, such as those related to OLE.
- Windows-specific APIs missing, such as ActiveX and VSTA.
Here is a screen grab of the Mac beta. (The new Tool Matrix palette is also new to the Windows version.)
As Deelip Menezes noted on his blog, we can now expect the Mac version of DraftSight soon. (Dassault Systemes rebranded ARES as DraftSight.) I expect to see Linux versions for both CAD packages later this year.
Not only did Apple fail to convince new buyers, it may have lost many potential buyers.
You can read the study here and the results to these statements: