Saturday, August 28, 2010

Other CAD programs

The above is a screen shot of DoubleCAD-XT.

Way back in 1986, I took a job that promised that CAD was on their radar and had every intention of introducing it. By 1988, they had bought a "CAD" system. It's specs and prices seem laughable today, but in those days it was a fairly average setup.

The computer was a 80386 with about 1 meg of ram, a 19" monitor running about 320 x 200 pixels if I remember rightly. (This was 22 years ago!). The program was an English one called "Supervisions". It proved an easy one to learn, and had a very clever 2 word command system.

For instance you had to pick "Add" then "Line". You could do all sorts of tricks: for instance "select all circles 200mm in diameter" was a piece of cake.

I remember that the whole lot cost about $45,000. This was for computer, software, an A1 pen plotter, and an A4 laser printer. The laser printer was super duper new technology then and was about $5000 worth. I can buy one today for $130.....

At some stage, I had a holiday. When the big boss found out I was the only person in New Zealand that could get a print out of this setup, he arranged for Autocad to be bought.

In true NZ management style, my immediate boss said:"We've got Autocad...training....your problem."

Fortunately for me, I had dabbled previously on an old AT that had no mouse, finding out how Autocad worked. I was not impressed with Autocad. It felt like a giant step backwards. Anyway, I went in, and over a weekend got to a stage where I could sort of draw.

Learning Autocad was a fairly steep hill for the next few months, and I gradually became comfortable with it's funny ways. That is, until I ended up in a consulting engineering place where the engineer said:"Paperspace...I want it done with paperspace!" Very stressful, especially as the permanent staff were not that helpful!

We have yet another new engineer that started recently. He obviously likes drawing because he is one of those ones that seem to like getting out graph paper and bits of plastic with holes in and doing a bit of old fashioned sketching. I've noticed that engineers that do this are usually quite good at their job. At which point I suggested he might like to use a CAD program seeing as he has a computer. What to use and how much might it cost though?

I had heard of Autodesk Freestyle, which is about $US49, so I did downloaded the trial copy.
It seems very much slanted to drawing things architectural, and did not feel very Autocaddish.

Cruising google, I found another one called DoubleCAD-XT. This is very similar to Autodesk's LT. This one is free, and I found it appears to do the 2D job OK, although I did not try to do a proper drawing from start to finish. If you are used to Autocad, this one might be a little irritating, as some commands are similar and others not. His battle now will be to convince the IT department that this is a good idea......

1 comment:

Michael said...

We have tried it but found that Doublecad's command structure is just a little too different from Autocad to be able to swap between the two programs easily. It also seems to cause problems to layouts when swapping back to Autocad.
We are quite pleased with Draftcad (also free) which is in Beta Release - though it still needs work done on its page set-up and printing. At present it is virtually impossible to print from the program. It also has a couple of neat improvements to Autocad too.