(For those new to the column, Forward Migration is our term for companies moving from Wintel machines to Macs — or at least adding or increasing the number of Macs they use. A Forward Migration Kit is an overview of Mac OS products for a particular occupation, such as photography, optometry, etc.)
This week we’re serving up the last in our three-part series on Mac software for architects. This week we’re serving up part two of our three-part series on Mac software for architects. The
first part ran June 1 and the second part
Art•lantis Render from
Abvent is a photo-realistic rendering and animation tool used by lots of CAD editors. It’s independent of the modeler used, on any Mac; or PC configuration. Art•lantis communicates with the world’s leading CAD Software (ArchiCAD, VectorWorks, AutoCAD, form•Z, CadSoft, ChiefArchitect, ARC+, Amapi ZOOM, etc.). Plus, it can import most of the standard file formats (DXF, DWG, 3D Studio, IGES, VRML, Electric Image, RIB). A demo version is available Abvent
HotDoor is a plug-in for Adobe Illustrator. The US$199 tool merges graphic and technical power with a complete set of 38 drawing and dimensioning tools for Illustrator 7, 8, 9 or 10. You can draw in any scale dimension artwork with a mouse click, and numerically control object. CADtools 2 boasts: custom, multiple scales per document; scaled rulers and grids; optional linked dimensions which respond to artwork changes; scaled move, transform and repeat ; dimension and label styles; and more. Version 2.1.4 is the latest version. It’s a version for Illustrator 10, which is Carbonized for Mac OS X.
Microspot offers Mac Chooser-level driver supporting large format pen plotters and vinyl cutters. The utility takes drawing information from your Mac application and outputs it to a directly connected large format pen plotter. MacPlot supports large format pen plotters up to A0-size and works from within your application. It’s compatible with “most non-pixel based Mac applications.” MacPlot works with System 6.0.5 or higher (but doesn’t run natively under Mac OS X). International pricing info
Engineered Software is the “CAD program with a one-day learning curve.” It looks like a simple illustration program, and you can use any font you want in your drawing. You can include photographs or scanned images for tracing maps. Your illustration can have several layers and you can publish and subscribe to import formated tables from Word or Excel. PowerCADD has reference files to allow multiple designers to work on a single project.
With PowerCADD you can add plug-in tools and commands called Externals. These include the PowerDWG translator for direct translation to and from AutoCAD DWG format, as well as translators for Autodesk’s DXF, JPEG, Encapsulated PostScript, ClarisCAD, and others. You can choose between two main tool palettes.
It runs on Mac OS 8.5 and later, as well as in the Classic mode under Mac OS X. However, the international versions that require a hardware key aren’t compatible with the new operating system due to lack of key driver support. The folks at Engineered Software say they’re working toward compatibility with Mac OS X, “but do not have a defined time frame for completion at this time.” For pricing info, you’ll have to call (336) 299-4843 or
RealCADD is true 2D cad software available for Mac OS, Mac OS X and Windows. It works like “MacDraw” with more possibilities. For example, the tools pallet of RealCADD let you choose your drawing tool.It also supports layers, which can be named, have default scale and color, and be hidden or visible. You can choose objects on the active layer only or on all layers. It costs $75.
Zygote Media Group
Zygote Media Group offers a variety of modeling, texture mapping, character rigging/animation, and presentation/animatics development. The company was established in 1994 as a full service 3D content provider.
Dave Nordquist notes that, though it doesn’t actually fits into the category of true architect software.
Abracadata Software has a current offering that lets people create models of their house and walk around.
“Their new OS X offering looks to really be good,” he said. They are releasing their newest package as Mac first.”
Other software that architecture companies have in their arsenal include: AccountEdge from MYOB, PrintLogger from Working Software, MacLaser Biller, FileMaker Pro, Microsoft Office, Virtual PC, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, and Canvas from Deneba.
There is a bookkeeping system which runs on FileMaker called Genesis Accounting from
“A number of FileMaker developers create custom solutions for the market and some even include financial tools dedicated for the field,” Anthony Frausto-Robledo, B.Arch., founder and editor of
Architosh, said. “While no dedicated financial tools specifically for architects run on the Mac, most firms can do well with programs like MYOB’s AccountEdge in combination with time-card reporting done with FileMaker Pro. Generally this is the one spot where Mac firms will use a PC, letting the accounting person use the software of their choice. However, these days a great new program worth any Mac architecture office’s consideration comes from Oracle in the form of their new Oracle Small Business Suite. Intacct Online Professional Accounting is a similar
all Web offering.”
Architects often need to track their hours intensely on a per project basis and many deploy time tracking solutions right on the desktop, he added. One such solution is Time Sheet Manager by
DesignSoft. Frausto-Robledo also recommends the following:
In the area of technical support software for architecture firms, the US Department of Energy makes
MECcheck, an energy analysis application used to determine energy loss in homes. The lastest version runs on classic and Mac OS X.
Architectronica of California makes 254Forms, a program that handles the submission of these standard government forms used by architects doing public work. For project scheduling FastTrack Schedule by
AEC Software runs on both Mac and Windows.
For beam and structural analysis Dr. Beam Pro and Dr. Frame by
Dr. Software LLC, are great tools, although more titled toward engineering college than practice.
SAP One is a new engineering product from Italy and is Mac OS X capable. And there is much more.
For A/E marketing purposes, Beth Bennett recommends
Market Edge, which has a FileMaker based system that produces the standard 254/255 federal forms and holds project and employee info. Or, like her, you can create your own custom system in FileMaker to spit out the standard forms.
“This is good because many states have their own forms for state work,” Bennett said.
Small Business Tracker Deluxe helps self-employed professionals, or small businesses, to keep track of their time, expenses, contacts, schedules, invoices and even inventory. You can download a free 10-day trial version.
And now some miscellaneous thoughts and comments from MacCentral readers.
Tilman (Trey) Wheeler, VP of TWH Architects in Chattanooga, TN, works in an office that supports both Macs and PCs for architectural work, but said he’d choose the Mac platform with any of the software packages listed above over a PC any day. He pointed out that almost all the software packages mentioned in this series are cross-platform and “do a nice job of importing and exporting the .DWG file format (the AutoCAD standard)”.
Omni Architects is an 18-person architectural firm that’s almost all Mac. In fact, they’re mostly Mac OS X with a few OS 9 “hold-outs.”
“We are very happy with the platform and our software,” Eric Zabilka of the firm said. “VectorWorks is an incredible program, inexpensive and full of features. We have very few problems swapping files with consultants who are AutoCad-based. (Most of the time the problems are on their end.)”
Ray Strang of Raymond Strang & Associates is an architect near Annapolis, Maryland. There are 2-5 people working there, depending on the project.
“We are still on Mac OS 9.2, but will migrate soon to Mac OS X ready,” We use Sketchup, FormZ, and Design Workshop for Modeling, all of which will probably go Mac OS X by the end of the year. Our engineering software is Multiframe, and we don’t yet know what they are going to do … Our financial software is Quickbooks Pro 4. We hate it, but there is nothing else available in the price range for Mac OS X. MYOB AccountEdge stupidly only allows you to access two years worth of data, and our jobs commonly run longer than that.”
John Tellaisha of the
Oliver Design Group is a member of a 12 person architectural firm in Cleveland, Ohio. They had initially begun computer use on Wintel systems years ago, but have ended up almost entirely Mac.
“Only our accounting/billing software (Wind2) runs on a PC, although we did attempt running that under Virtual PC for a while,” he said. “Although my primary role here is architecture, I am also the primary IT support person. The simplicity and reliability of the Macintosh platform has made it possible for us to support our 14 Mac systems in-house. We have utilized FileMaker Pro to develop a number of customized forms and solutions for practice specific needs. Additionally we use Word, PowerPoint, Excel, FastTrack Schedule, Pagemaker and Photoshop.”
Finally, John Eidinger said it would be nice if Autodesk (Autocad) or Bentley (Microstation) re-introduced their offerings under Mac OS X.
“Since OS X is so much like Unix, perhaps the port of the code could be modest,” he said. “If Autodesk and Bentley have left the Mac market for good, then any Mac developer (like Deneba) would do itself proud if they would provide robust and up-to-date .dgn and .dwg file converters (two-way, please), at least for 2D drafting.”