AutoCAD for Mac

There have been rumblings and rumors for a while now about a native Mac OS X port of AutoCAD. The ObjectARX 2011 SDK header files contain clear evidence of a native Mac port in the works. The evidence comes in the form of code comments and changes made to the files so that they work with the GCC compiler and the Mac OS X libraries.

For example, acedads.h conditionally declares a global function to return the main window handle as follows:

#if defined(_WINDEF_) || defined(_ADESK_MAC_)
/* AutoCAD graphics window handle */
HWND adsw_acadMainWnd();
#ifndef adsw_hwndAcad
#define adsw_hwndAcad adsw_acadMainWnd()

And in acedinpt.h there’s a telling comment:

#ifndef _ADESK_MAC_
#ifndef ACAD_PORT
#ifdef ACAD_API
#define ACAD_PORT _declspec(dllexport)
#define ACAD_PORT
// On OS X, we will export all symbols by default and will use GCC
// attributes to exclude symbols we don’t want to export.
// In this case, we do want to export the AcEdInputPoint symbol
#define ACAD_PORT
#endif // _ADESK_MAC_

It’s clear from the type, quantity, and quality of changes that Autodesk has successfully built at least a limited AutoCAD executable for OS X (both 32 and 64 bit). It’s also clear that the Mac build still has limitations, and some of these limitations might require significant changes (i.e. changes of the sort that would break binary compatibility for ObjectARX applications), therefore one could reasonably conclude that no full-blown Mac port is imminent.

18 thoughts on “AutoCAD for Mac”

  1. Unfortunately, Autodesk will never produce a decent version of AutoCAD for the Mac as long as they remain wrapped up so tightly with Microsoft. VBA? .Net? C’mon.

    1. My first job out of college was writing ads/ObjectARX applications. The company I worked for supported R12 & R13 on Win9x, WinNT, HPUX and Solaris. Yes, AutoCAD R13 ran on UNIX systems. Under the hood Max OSX is very much a UNIX system. If they do a Mac port it will be a return to AutoCAD’s roots.

      Autodesk as adopted some windows specific tech since then (VBA, COM, .NET). VBA is not available on Mac, but AutoDesk is phasing that out anyway. .Net is already on the Mac ( How COM is done will be interesting. I have not yet had time to really read through the 2011 headers. Owen, does the Mac specific stuff appear around the COM based tech? (tool palettes, context menus, etc.)

  2. Interesting discovery. Not totally unexpected and probably welcomed by Mac users. That said, to me, AutoCAD is not my CAD software anymore. For architecture I prefer a BIM application (ArchiCAD) and for generic modeling, SketchUp is fast and quick for most of what I do. I still help teaching AutoCAD to our students, though.

    But if it gets released on Mac, I will sure evaluate it.

  3. Obviously VBA is all but nixed from AutoCAD, VSTA may never make it in, I would think a more dynamic scripting engine is what we can from the factory in the not to distant future.

    1. Jose, I am also curious about future support for VSTA. I expect that the first OS X versions of AutoCAD will be bare bones, with none of the trappings that can’t be easily ported. Ironically, the old workhorse AutoLISP should port fairly easily to both OS X and Linux (which I expect is also in the works).

  4. even if acad 2012 is also released on the mac…acad users are windows users and hate mac don’t they? why you you move to mac, change acad (which will be a different UI no matter what adsk would aim for) and buy more expensive hardware?

    you wouldn’t

    1. no one is asking for anyone to jump ship. pc’s are here for good, and those who prefer shouldn’t switch. there is an often dismissed group of users that are able to get every other piece of software on the mac EXEpt Autodesk. don’t make the mistake of underestimating how many designers [or otherwise] use macs. we want autocad, revit and max [not maya] too.

      it’s easy to say 12% of computers are macs … “what about the rest of us 88% windows users aren’t we more important?” this isn’t a measuring contest, but if it were wouldn’t the more accurate comparison be __% Dell __% HP __% Acer __% Apple. just because apple makes a custom OS tailored to work flawlessly on their hardware [and it does] doesn’t mean dell and hp and acer and … should get to be lumped together in comparison.

      the assumption that macs are more expensive is arrogant and ignorant. your computer’s not better because it was cheaper. over the last year building SIMILAR HARDWARE CONFIGS at hp, dell and apple has yielded pricing within 100$ of each other. On 2 occasions apple was CHEAPER by over 400$ [early 2009 imacs].

      the reality is people will move on. autodesk will do whatever they please, because they are in complete control of anyone choosing to use their products [and man there are a lot of us]. if they choose to ignore the mac family now in this time of profound growth, their arrogance may cost them the crown they have gotten so used to wearing. alternatives will be embraced…

  5. More important than AutoCAD for the Mac, would be Revit for the Mac. Even smaller firms are transitioning to Revit, albeit slowly. If you have a Mac office, you probably run ArchiCAD or Vectorworks. Why buy a piece of software AutoCAD) that is more expensive or even double the costof the one you have, pay to train on it and then find that in a couple of years, it is no longer the industry standard, having been supplanted by Revit.

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