At a Glance
Drawing-Friendly Program Makes CAD Fun and Easy
By Charles Seiter
PowerCADD has long been a favorite of newcomers to computer-aided design. It's probably the only serious CAD program you can teach yourself in an afternoon, without a manual. It's actually fun to use, because it gets your drawing right the first time without requiring dozens of annoying little fix-ups. It supports graphic elements that will probably remind you more of Adobe Illustrator than of a CAD program; although it's 2-D only, it's not just for making blueprints.
Two new features in the latest version, PowerCADD 2000, are real improvements: the Tool palette now expands so you can see all the drafting tools at once, and you can view a thumbnail preview of each drawing before you open it via the File menu.
|Show and Tell With PowerCADD 2000, you can expand the Tool palette to display the entire set of drafting tools with a single click.|
Another plus in this version is a Table tool, which lets you add tables and parts lists to drawings. There's also a flashy new Gradient Fill tool that allows you to add a gradient fill to any closed shape -- an impressive effect, although it's not clear how drawings with gradient fills translate to clunky old AutoCAD.Thin on Trappings
What's a bit objectionable is the number of goodies Engineered Software has left out of PowerCADD 2000, making them available as extra-cost plug-ins. Two libraries for mechanical engineering are $79 each, and some very nice architectural engineering libraries go for up to $129 each. The versatile WildTools drafting plug-in -- which features great tools for filleting, drawing Bézier-type curves, and creating instant architectural drawing elements -- costs $189. One could argue that these goodies should be extra, but making that case for the $150 DXG file (AutoCAD) translator is harder. Imagine buying a word processor that required you to purchase an add-on translator for Microsoft Word. A little generosity on Engineered Software's part would be welcome.
Compared with Nemetschek's VectorWorks ( ; Reviews , June 1999), PowerCADD is more intuitive, and it can produce fancier 2-D drawings with less effort. On the other hand, it can't match VectorWorks' 3-D features, DXG translation, scripting language, and group/collaboration support. VectorWorks is a better choice for bigger shops; PowerCADD 2000 is ideal if you're drafting on your own.
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