|Initial release||December 1982|
|Stable release||2014 / March 26, 2013|
|Preview release||2012 / 2012|
|Operating system||MS Windows, Mac OS X & iOS, Android|
AutoCAD is a software application for computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting. The software supports both 2D and 3D formats. The software is developed and sold by Autodesk, Inc., first released in December 1982 by Autodesk in the year following the purchase of the first form of the software by Autodesk founder John Walker. AutoCAD is Autodesk's flagship product and by March 1986 had become the most ubiquitous microcomputer design program in the world, utilizing functions such as "polylines" and "curve fitting". Prior to the introduction of AutoCAD, most other CAD programs ran on mainframe computers or minicomputers, with each CAD operator (user) working at a graphical terminal or workstation.
According to Autodesk company information, the AutoCAD software is now used in a range of industries, employed by architects, project managers and engineers, amongst other professions, and as of 1994 there had been 750 training centers established across the world to educate users about the company's primary products.
AutoCAD was derived from a 1977 program called Interact CAD, which was written in a proprietary language (SPL) by inventor Michael Riddle who later co-founded Autodesk to market AutoCAD. This early version ran on the Marinchip Systems 9900 computer (Marinchip Systems was owned by Autodesk co-founders John Walker and Dan Drake). While initially Walker and Riddle had a profits-sharing agreement for any product derived from Interact, in the end Walker paid Riddle US$10 million for all the rights.
When Marinchip Software Partners (later known as Autodesk) formed, the founders decided to re-code Interact in C and PL/1. They chose C because it seemed to be the biggest upcoming language. In the end, the PL/1 version was unsuccessful. The C version was, at the time, one of the most complex programs in that language. Autodesk had to work with a compiler developer, Lattice, to update C, enabling AutoCAD to run. Early releases of AutoCAD used primitive entities — lines, polylines, circles, arcs, and text — to construct more complex objects. Since the mid-1990s, AutoCAD supported custom objects through its C++ Application Programming Interface (API).
The modern AutoCAD includes a full set of basic solid modeling and 3D tools. The release of AutoCAD 2007 included the improved 3D modeling that provided better navigation when working in 3D. Moreover, it became easier to edit 3D models. The mental ray engine was included in rendering and therefore it is possible to do quality renderings. AutoCAD 2010 introduced parametric functionality and mesh modeling.
The latest AutoCAD releases are AutoCAD 2014 and AutoCAD 2013 for Mac. The 2014 release marked the 28th major release for the AutoCAD for Windows. The 2013 release marked the third consecutive year for AutoCAD for Mac.
File formats and versions
The native file format of AutoCAD is .dwg. This and, to a lesser extent, its interchange file format DXF, have become de facto, if proprietary, standards for CAD data interoperability. AutoCAD has included support for .dwg, a format developed and promoted by Autodesk, for publishing CAD data.
|Official Name||Version||Release||Date of release||Comments|
|AutoCAD Version 1.0||1.0||1||1982, December||DWG R1.0 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 1.2||1.2||2||1983, April||DWG R1.2 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 1.3||1.3||3||1983, August||DWG R1.3 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 1.4||1.4||4||1983, October||DWG R1.4 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 2.0||2.0||5||1984, October||DWG R2.05 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 2.1||2.1||6||1985, May||DWG R2.1 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 2.5||2.5||7||1986, June||DWG R2.5 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Version 2.6||2.6||8||1987, April||DWG R2.6 file format introduced. Last version to run without a math co-processor.|
|AutoCAD Release 9||9.0||9||1987, September||DWG R9 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Release 10||10.0||10||1988, October||DWG R10 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Release 11||11.0||11||1990, October||DWG R11 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD Release 12||12.0||12||1992, June||DWG R11/R12 file format introduced. Last release for Apple Macintosh til 2010.|
|AutoCAD Release 13||13.0||13||1994, November||DWG R13 file format introduced. Last release for Unix, MS-DOS and Windows 3.11.|
|AutoCAD Release 14||14.0||14||1997, February||DWG R14 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD 2000||15.0||15||1999, March||DWG 2000 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD 2000i||15.1||16||2000, July|
|AutoCAD 2002||15.6||17||2001, June|
|AutoCAD 2004||16.0||18||2003, March||DWG 2004 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD 2005||16.1||19||2004, March|
|AutoCAD 2006||16.2||20||2005, March||Dynamic Block introduced.|
|AutoCAD 2007||17.0||21||2006, March||DWG 2007 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD 2008||17.1||22||2007, March||Annotative Objects introduced. AutoCAD 2008 and higher (including AutoCAD LT) can directly import and underlay DGN V8 files.|
|AutoCAD 2009||17.2||23||2008, March||Revisions to the user interface including the option of a Microsoft Office 2007-like tabbed ribbon.|
|AutoCAD 2010||18.0||24||2009, March 24||DWG 2010 file format introduced. Parametrics introduced. Mesh 3D solid modeling introduced. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of AutoCAD 2010 and AutoCAD LT 2010 are compatible with and supported under Microsoft Windows 7.|
|AutoCAD 2011||18.1||25||2010, March 25||Surface Modeling, Surface Analysis and Object Transparency introduced. October 15, 2010 AutoCAD 2011 for Mac was released. Are compatible with and supported under Microsoft Windows 7|
|AutoCAD 2012||18.2||26||2011, March 22||Associative Array, Model Documentation. Support for complex linetypes in DGN files is improved in AutoCAD 2012. DGN editing.|
|AutoCAD 2013||19.0||27||2012, March 27||DWG 2013 file format introduced.|
|AutoCAD 2014||19.1||28||2013, March 26||File Tabs, Design Feed, Reality Capture, Autodesk Live Maps|
Compatibility with other software
ESRI ArcMap 10 permits export as AutoCAD drawing files. Civil 3D permits export as AutoCAD objects and as LandXML. Third-party file converters exist for specific formats such as Bentley MX GENIO Extension, PISTE Extension (France), ISYBAU (Germany), OKSTRA and Microdrainage (UK).
AutoCAD 2014 and AutoCAD LT 2014 are available for English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional and Brazilian Portuguese. Russian, Czech, Polish, Hungarian will be available later on. The extent of localization varies from full translation of the product to documentation only. The AutoCAD command set is localized as a part of the software localization.
AutoCAD supports a number of APIs for customization and automation. These include AutoLISP, Visual LISP, VBA, .NET and ObjectARX. ObjectARX is a C++ class library, which was also the base for: (a) products extending AutoCAD functionality to specific fields; (b) creating products such as AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Civil 3D; or (c) third-party AutoCAD-based application.
Autodesk has also developed a few vertical programs (AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Civil 3D, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD MEP, AutoCAD Structural Detailing, AutoCAD P&ID and AutoCAD Plant 3D) for discipline-specific enhancements. For example, AutoCAD Architecture (formerly Architectural Desktop) permits architectural designers to draw 3D objects, such as walls, doors and windows, with more intelligent data associated with them rather than simple objects, such as lines and circles. The data can be programmed to represent specific architectural products sold in the construction industry, or extracted into a data file for pricing, materials estimation, and other values related to the objects represented. Additional tools generate standard 2D drawings, such as elevations and sections, from a 3D architectural model. Similarly, Civil Design, Civil Design 3D, and Civil Design Professional support data-specific objects, facilitating easy standard civil engineering calculations and representations. Civil 3D was originally developed as an Autocad add-on by a company in New Hampshire called Softdesk (originally DCA). Softdesk was acquired by Autodesk, and Civil 3D was further evolved.
AutoCAD LT is the lower cost version of AutoCAD, with reduced capabilities, first released in November 1993. Autodesk developed AutoCAD LT to have an entry-level CAD package to compete in the lower price level. AutoCAD LT, priced at $495, became the first AutoCAD product priced below $1000. It is sold directly by Autodesk and can also be purchased at computer stores (unlike the full version of AutoCAD, which must be purchased from official Autodesk dealers).
As of the 2011 release the AutoCAD LT MSRP has risen to $1200. While there are hundreds of small differences between the full AutoCAD package and AutoCAD LT, currently there are a few recognized major differences in the software's features:
- 3D Capabilities: AutoCAD LT lacks the ability to create, visualize and render 3D models as well as 3D printing.
- Network Licensing: AutoCAD LT cannot be used on multiple machines over a network.
- Customization: AutoCAD LT does not support customization with LISP, ARX, and VBA.
- Management and automation capabilities with Sheet Set Manager and Action Recorder.
- CAD standards management tools.
Formerly marketed as AutoCAD WS, Autocad 360 is an account-based mobile and web application enabling registered users to view, edit, and share Autocad files via mobile device and web using a limited Autocad feature set — and using cloud-stored drawing files. The program, which is an evolution and combination of previous products, uses a freemium business model with a free plan and two paid levels — marketed as Pro ($4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly) and Pro Plus ($99.99 yearly) — including various amounts of storage, tools, and online access to drawings. 360 includes new features such as a "Smart Pen" mode and linking to third-party cloud-based storage such as Dropbox. Having evolved from Flash-based software, Autocad 360 uses browser technology available in newer browsers including Firefox and Google Chrome.
Autocad WS began with a Flash-based version for the iPhone and subsequently expanded to include version for the iPod Touch, iPad, Android phones, and Android tablets. Autodesk released the iOS version in September 2010, following with the Android version on April 20, 2011. The program is available via download at no cost from the App Store (iOS), Google Play (Android) and Amazon Appstore (Android).
In its initial iOS version, Autocad WS supported drawing of lines, circles, and other shapes; creation of text and comment boxes; and management of color, layer, and measurements — in both landscape and portrait modes. Version 1.3, released August 17, 2011, added support of unit typing, layer visibility, area measurement and file management. The Android variant includes the iOS feature set along with such unique features as the ability to insert text or captions by voice command as well as manually. Both Android and iOS versions allow the user to save files on-line — or off-line in the absence of an Internet connection.
According to a 2013 interview with Ilai Rotbaein, an AutoCAD WS Product Manager for Autodesk, the name Autocad WS had no definitive meaning, and was interpreted variously as Autodesk Web Service, White Sheet or Work Space.
AutoCAD is licensed at a significant discount over commercial retail pricing to qualifying students and teachers, with a 36-month license available. The student version of AutoCAD is functionally identical to the full commercial version, with one exception: DWG files created or edited by a student version have an internal bit-flag set (the "educational flag"). When such a DWG file is printed by any version of AutoCAD (commercial or student), the output includes a plot stamp / banner on all four sides. Objects created in the Student Version cannot be used for commercial use. Student Version objects "infect" a commercial version DWG file if it is imported.
The Autodesk Education Community provides registered students and faculty with free access to different Autodesk applications.
While the latest release of AutoCAD did not come with a major overhaul, the 2012 version did receive minor improvements. Several small changes were made to improve the 3D capabilities, and some new features were added to enhance the productivity of the program. These changes and features included: increased canvas control, associated arrays, improved 3D model manipulation, and other less noticeable additions. After the release of AutoCAD 2011 for Mac, the Windows version lacked several features found in the Mac version. Several of the Mac version canvas controls have now been added to the 2012 release. To accomplish the goal for better 3D model manipulation, Autodesk did away with the old saved history method and introduced a new plug-in that will automatically be installed, Autodesk Inventor Fusion. This plug-in allows users to directly open and edit 3D models without having to save and export their work manually. When the user is finished editing the plug-in automatically opens the updated version back in AutoCAD. Autodesk also replaced the older array feature with new associated arrays features. This now allows users to duplicate things using three different commands: polar arrays, rectangular arrays, and placing objects along a predetermined path. The new redesigned array feature will also work with both 2D and 3D objects. Autodesk has also chosen to allow users to purchase companion applications directly within the AutoCAD 2012 program. The newest release of AutoCAD also came with new system requirements and recommendations in order to run AutoCAD 2012.
Autodesk stopped supporting Apple's computers in 1994. Over the next several years, no compatible versions for Macintosh computers were released. In 2010 Autodesk announced that it would once again support Apple's Mac OS X software in the future. Most of the features found in the 2012 Windows version can be found in the 2012 Mac version. The main difference is the user interface and layout of the program. The interface is designed so that users who are already familiar with Apple's OS X software will find it similar to other Apple applications. Autodesk has also built in various features in order to take full advantage of Apple's Trackpad capabilities as well as the full-screen mode in Apple's OS X Lion. AutoCAD 2012 for Mac supports both the editing and saving of files in DWG formatting that will allow the file to be compatible with other platforms besides the OS X. AutoCAD 2012 currently supports Mac OS 10.6.4 upwards.
AutoCAD LT 2013 is now available through the Mac App Store for $899.99. The full featured version of AutoCAD 2013 for Mac, however, is not currently available through the Mac App Store due to the price limit of $999 set by Apple. AutoCAD 2013 for Mac is currently available for purchase from Autodesk's Web site for $4,195, or from an Autodesk Authorized Reseller.
- 3ds Max
- AutoCAD Architecture
- Autodesk Maya
- Autodesk Revit
- Comparison of CAD editors for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC)
- Design Web Format
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on Michael Riddle and Interact: