Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hidden, free drawing software by Autodesk

Do you draw your schemes and designs in the secret free "CAD" application by Autodesk?

This was inspired by the Autodesk's secret free design application blog post on the RobiNZ CAD Blog.

The review and markup tools in Autodesk Design Review are quite powerful. Powerful enough to be used as a standalone drawing application for simple schemes. As the Autodesk Design Review application is free, you can easily use these "CAD-like" tools anywhere you want. Just download it from

In Design Review, you get a toolset of simple shapes, texts, polylines, freehand drawing, dimensioning tools (length, area, angle), color selection (line+fill), transparency settings, grip editing, symbol libraries, advanced plotting tools and more. The file format for this "CAD" software is of course DWF and DWFx. With DWFx you can view your drawings natively, without any viewer in Windows Vista, or Windows XP with MSIE7.

Some of the CAD functions in Design Review are not available even in the big AutoCAD. E.g. you have access to the history of the individual entities - you can see who and when has created each line.

To start quickly with a blank canvas (which is not a native option in this markup application), you can use the Empty-sheet DWFx file from the CAD Block Catalog. Just open it in Design Review 2009 and start to draw...

Drawing in Design Review 2009
Drawing in Design Review 2010
MyDrawing2009.dwfx (sample)

The user interface for drawing is much nicer in the upcoming Design Review 2010, currently in beta

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

AutoCAD for Linux?

One of the most frequented questions on CAD discussion web sites is the theme of AutoCAD version for Linux. Well, to put it short - there is no such AutoCAD and I doubt Autodesk will make one in a foreseeable future.

What is interesting is the disproportion of the frequency of Linux citations on the web (not only in web discussions) and the number of real day-to-day users of Linux. For several years, even reputable institutions make us believe that Linux will take over the market of operating systems, or at least that it will capture a substantial part of it (e.g. Siemens Business Systems, 2003: Linux will have 20% market share in 2008). But the fact is that Linux, in 2009, has still only negligible 1% of this market. And it does not increase. Some statistics (web portals) even show a decrease of this figure. The reason is simple - the Windows ecosystem is (and was) much broader and networking of users (world wide web, world wide marketing) help to strengthen this position. Academic sphere and computer gurus cannot change this.

This real-world situation of course influences also the software vendors. It makes little economical sense to put much effort into development of software versions for such small market (and a market that is not much used to pay for software). And for a software vendor, porting and maintaining a CAD application like AutoCAD, Inventor or Revit is much more complicated than just recompiling.

I don't say that Linux has no sense - it has a strong a respectable position on some niche markets and communities. But it is simply not there on a plain user's desktop.

A slightly different situation is with the Apple operation system - Mac OS. Its market share is on similar numbers but it has a stronger position on designers' desktops, especially in the US. Autodesk has always offered Mac versions of its "Media & Entertainment" applications (animation, video, film FX) and it seems that Autodesk keeps broadening this Mac portfolio. Today, Autodesk has announced MacOS X versions of its 3D design software Toxik, Mudbox and Stitcher (previously only for Windows).

Autodesk Toxik - MacOS

Update: despite the Linux marketshare still decreases, AutoCAD for Linux finally comes - in a surprising form - see: AutoCAD WS for Android