AutoCAD for Mac – what’s missing?

AutoCAD for Mac – what’s missing?

According to Autodesk, the forthcoming OS X version of AutoCAD has “many of the powerful AutoCAD features and functionality.” So what doesn’t it have? What are the holes? Autodesk hasn’t bothered to let me know a single thing about this software, so I guess I’ll just indulge in some irresponsible and uninformed speculation, based on what I can glean from marketing materials and various better-informed sources. I could have just asked, but who knows if I would have ever got any real answers? Besides, this way is more fun.

First, here’s a quick list of some things that don’t appear to be missing, but which might have been lost in translation:

  • Command line (in fact, the Mac one appears to be better than the Windows one).
  • Xrefs.
  • 3D, including visual styles and rendering.
  • Some kind of Quick View Layouts and/or Drawings feature.
  • Navcube.
  • Constraints.
  • Dynamic Input.
  • Selection highlighting.
  • LISP (at least some form of it).

Now for speculation on things that are possibly missing or not fully functional (based largely on screenshots, which is not a reliable indicator):

  • I don’t see a Communications Center, but I do see an Online Contact pull-down. Maybe that gives access to the same functionality, maybe it doesn’t.
  • Navbar.
  • Coordinate display in status bar.
  • Layout tabs (there’s a control instead)
  • The layer palette, in its docked form as shown in screenshots, looks very cut-down and would be tricky to use productively in complex drawings. It’s not clear if the old layer dialogue box is supported, but it needs to be.
  • Action Recorder? As this is a “brochure feature”, it’s no great loss if it’s absent.
  • Visual LISP? It’s not mentioned, so maybe it’s missing, or lacking the ActiveX bits. That would be a big problem for many organisations. Edit: I have since seen it confirmed that the Visual LISP environment is missing, as are the COM APIs.
  • Other APIs? DCL? ActiveARX? Deelip’s developing stuff using something, but the blurb just mentions a “flexible development platform” without giving any indication of what that means. Which leads to…
  • Add-ons, large and small. Many of us use various third-party utilities for making our AutoCAD lives more productive. Will they work? Probably not. Can the developer make them work? Maybe. But only if they want to, and feel the need to make the investments required. For small developers, that may not be the case.
  • Will your tablet, image and screen menus work in this environment? I don’t know, but here’s a guess: no.
  • Profiles? I couldn’t possibly work without being able to store and switch between profiles.
  • Object enablers. Has it got a full set? Or any at all? Dunno, but Autodesk’s object support for DWGs from its own AutoCAD verticals has been patchy, even on Windows.
  • Performance. Has it got any? Dunno.
  • Reliability. Has it got any? Dunno.
  • Longevity. Has it got any? Dunno. I think we can confidently expect an AutoCAD for Mac 2012, and probably 2013 too. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. Maybe I should run a book on it?

Finally, things that do appear to missing:

  • Ribbon, QAT and The Big Red A. What, no Next Big Thing in UI Design, embraced wholeheartedly by Autodesk from AutoCAD 2009 onwards and still spreading out to the outer reaches of the product range? How will Mac users be able to live with the terrible loss of productivity when compared with their Windows-using colleagues?
  • CUI. There is a screenshot of a very cut-down interface customisation thing, but it’s not the CUI interface you’ve grown to love. Seriously, it looks extremely limited.
  • Express Tools. Last time Autodesk tried to sell an AutoCAD without these was 2000i. Remember that? Maybe not, because the i apparently stood for ignore and upgraders avoided it in droves.
  • AutoCAD verticals. Civil 3D for Mac, anyone? Mechanical? Architecture? Not yet. Verticals, if they ever arrive, are likely to be years away.
  • Network licensing. All of your Macs will need individial licenses.

It will be amusing to see how the various omissions are spun or glossed over. My guess is that they will be ignored altogether, or some vague indication being given to them being investigated for possible inclusion in a future release. But maybe you can think of more interesting ways of handling it. How about something like this for the missing Ribbon?

Mac, Windows. Chalk, Cheese. Ribbon, no Ribbon. Oil, Water. Creative, Productive. Cat, Dog. Trendy, Nerdy. Choose one. Be whatever you want to be. Because with AutoCAD®, it’s your choice™.

Have a go with your own Spin Segment. Who knows? Autodesk may even use your ideas.


  1. Jimbo, you make a valid point. There will be pros as well as cons. It’s a matter of considering the importance of the various pros and cons before making a leap to a different platform. 64-bit isn’t a Mac pro, though. You can run 64-bit AutoCAD on the 64-bit versions of any of the last 3 Windows releases.

    Are GCD and OpenCL more efficient in the real world than the Windows equivalents? Dunno. It would be good to have an independent observer run proper side-by-side comparative studies on two equivalent-cost systems (and, for purely academic reasons, two equivalent-spec systems).

  2. Emmanuel Garcia

    I thought the verticals would follow right along in the same fashion that Windows versions are released. It will be a pity not to have Architecture, MEP or Civil versions available. I have not use classic AutoCAD in production since last century.

  3. Augustine Justin

    hey guys, i am using a 64 bit 17″ macbook pro and using the autocad 2011. but i am facing this problem as the program run for abt 10 mins, it will shut down by itself and ask me to report error. How can i over come this issue. Wrote to Autodesk but no reply from them .

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