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Jan 17, 2012


Jeffrey Ouellette

That's like saying, "The serious problem with the iPod is that it is not engineering-oriented".

Why do so many people (esp. software engineers, critics/pundits, so-called experts) insist on denigrating perfectly good products just because they don't fit their expert idea of what it should do?

Get over it. The iPad (and iOS) is a great product. It does some things very well. It doesn't do EVERYTHING! I don't believe it was ever meant to. Why insist that it "does CAD"? Not every CPU-based electronic device can "do CAD". Why should they?

Apple has a perfectly good platform for heavy-duty CAD authoring with OSX on their variety of mobile and desktop machines. These, coupled with the right software, are great CAD platforms.

The iOS and its devices provide an opportunity to interact with the CAD world via different, but integrated, workflows (e.g. simple model viewing, markup, sketching). But to insist iOS become another platform for heavy-duty authoring capability is folly.

But, I also believe that the situation is the same, or at least not that much different, for Android. Why think that Android is a viable CAD platform, comparable with OSX, Windows, or Linux? Mobile platforms are tuned as, and best served to be left alone as, lightweight, nimble consumption and communication enablers, not just another big OS to do everything under the sun, just because a few geeks want them to.

Yet again, I think you just don't "get it".

Kevin E.

I'm not sure the tablet will ever be a good primary cad tool. Windows 8 tablets in reality probably have the best chance there.

I'm not sure your list of concerns is valid or correct. I suppose it depends on how serious of a CAD tool you expect tablets to become.

As far as Android goes, show me an Android tablet that beats the iPad on specs or performance?

Ralph Grabowski

The technology in the iPad 2 is sufficient for now, but as someone who sees betas of upcoming mobile products and talks with CAD vendors, I know where mobile CAD products are headed -- and I hear their frustration with Apple and its hardware, which they cannot express publicly for fear of being blacklisted by the company.

Apple is so convinced it knows what is best for end-users that it will not connect with ISVs who know better.

The same is true for OS X hardware. Apple has no understanding of the needs of CAD vendors and users.

Android is being adapted to all kinds of hardware, and eventually someone will make it sufficiently friendly to the mobile CAD products in the pipeline.

Android already leads iOS by...
... providing twice has much RAM for apps to work in -- 1GB vs 512MB.
... adapting more quickly to multi-core CPUs than iOS
... accessing more kinds of GPUs than iOS

The last year has shown that one company (Apple) cannot innovate as quickly as dozens can.


I for one don't see my iPad as a primary development tool for BIM, but rather a supplement to the process of design, namely sketching and ideation, data portability, construction administration, etc... I would never want to run Revit (or AutoCAD if I had to) on that form factor, but if I need to, I can via Citrix. My current concern is getting DWF's to consistently show up in Design Review, which to some degree is a hardware problem, but also a file format issue, which will be resolved soon I'm told.
The Android hardware I've held and used, while having marginally better hardware specs, are nearly unusable for the tasks outlined above, as they are generally poorly designed and constructed, and run a crazy variety of OS versions. Fragmentation is a real problem there, and they can't keep being sold at a loss forever either.
My hope is that interested parties such as ourselves will continue to push both sides of the equation (Apple, Autodesk, etc…) towards a truly meaningful platform that augments and extends the traditional processes we employ.

Kevin Quigley

"The last year has shown that one company (Apple) cannot innovate as quickly as dozens can". Really? Since when does innovation relate to speed? Is it not better to get an innovative product out that works well for most users than to rush through with the latest components into a poor quality product aimed at only a few IT geeks, requires constant tinkering to get to work and fails after 18 months? I'm curious to know the world beating companies that bring Apple quality products to market - do share - especially in the phone, laptop and tablet markets. I've not found a phone yet that has the same build quality as any iPhone - the new Nokia Lumens are plasticky and feel cheap - same for Samsungs and HTCs.Ditto for tablets. Like thousands of others I have used Apple hardware anmd native Mac software for REAL 3D CAD since 1990 Ralph. I was getting rapid prototypes made from Mac CAD software in 1991...and laser cutting, CNC etc. Our first all digital data transfer of tooling data was delivered- from a Mac - in 1993. I suggest you revise your opinions on the suitability for the desktop Mac for heavy duty CAD work. Mac OSX ships as a single 64 bit platform - unlike Windows. Here is our little business we have a 27" imac churning away using Keyshot, Modo, VectorWorks, Maxwell, Shark FX and Draftsight. My 17" MacBook Pro runs all that and SolidWorks 2012 with Windows 7. But I also run Windows workstations as well (HP, Dell and bespoke). Let me tell you a story Ralph - in 1998 I visited a customer, whipped out my Mac laptop (not a top of the range model) and showed the products we were developing in 3D in Ashlar-Vellum Solids (later Cobalt). At the time this company had just spent 50k on new workstations and CAD software (Autocad and Mechanical Desktop) yet we could do more on a laptop, faster and better. Many of the innovations in CAD were developed on a Mac first - it was only the stupidity of the then Apple board that led to its decline during the early to mid 90s as a professional CAD platform, and the rise of Windows NT based systems like SolidWorks booting out Unix based systems.

Kevin Quigley

As a follow up to my comment - the one thing Apple cannot deliver for the CAD user is a decent mouse! Probably why they are pushing the touch interface so much. When we buy an Apple computer now we don't even open the mouse box...go straight to Microsoft for the mouse...wired. Jonathan Ives and team might be great at everything else but mice are not good - from the soap bar original iMac to the latest touch mouse - useless for CAD. We have a nice collection if anyone wants one - right back to the 90s!


"and eventually someone will make it sufficiently friendly"

Yeah. So, tell, us, how did 'eventually' work out for Flash on Android then Ralph? I've yet to see that update here.

This Android ultra-fanboi act is getting out of control. Every interview you do on the newsletter seems to include an obligatory Grabowski badgering of Serious CAD Companies to port to Google's hobby platform from iOS - how come they can see it, then, and not you?


"To their credit, generic computer suppliers like Microsoft, Intel, HP, nVidia, and AMD/ATI made the effort to understand our market, and then populated their products with features we require."

And this bears questioning as well. So, you're complaining that the hardware and software specs of tablets don't yet match those of desktops?

I'd like to see you produce an Android shipping right now that meets what you declare to be the needs of engineers. As is clear from the sales figures, not a single Android tablet comes anywhere near the iPad, much as you may hate to admit it.


@ Kevin Quigley

If you're willing to prove this statement, then I'll even pay postage to have your unwanted multitouch-enabled Apple mice.


"Apple is so convinced it knows what is best for end-users that it will not connect with ISVs who know better."

End-user != ISV

Apple and Microsoft both understand this, but react to it in diametrically-opposed ways.

Tim Olson

I've had the opportunity to develop a few Mac and PC CAD applications over the years. I've developed boxed products carried in Apple Retail Stores and currently support two full featured CAD products in the Mac OS App store.

As a Mac OS developer, I've found Apple supportive of our efforts to create CAD on Mac. In fact, when I first started they seeded me with equipment and provided me with free space at some major trade shows. I have no fear of being being blacklisted for being critical (OS-9 stunk as a CAD platform, give me faster OpenGL, take that mouse that comes with the IMac and use it for a hockey puck, and play frisbee with the keyboard).

I do find Apple more controlling regarding their software and hardware. It took me a month of tweaks to meet the various App Store requirements they threw at me. But it was worth it considering how well it is now selling in the App Store. Interestingly, our tech support team likes Mac as well. Less platform issues such as out of date or incompatible display drivers.

Typically my biggest challenge is getting 3rd party components ported to the Mac. I once flew to England to help port a constraint solver to Mac. Except for viewers, our user community has not been asking for full featured CAD on iOS. If the need arises, I suspect the biggest obstacle will be getting 3rd party components converted to the iOS platform.


I think it is critical that the iPad support WebGL. I haven't been able to find out whether Apple is definitively going to do this. If someone from Apple is reading this, can you please clarify the direction? Thanks.

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