MacDraft 5.5.7 Professional is the latest version of the
company's flagship 2D CAD program. And the point 7 release
adds the important Apple OS X (10.4) "Tiger" compatibility
with Spotlight search functionality (more on that later).
This edition has been variously called the "Quartz Edition"
since September of 2003 when version 5.5 was announced.
The first thing we noticed since our last review
of this software -- which was version 5 under Mac OS 9 --
is that the Mac OS X version takes advantage of Apple's Quartz
graphics technology built into the operating system. In short
this means the line qualities of this CAD program are superb.
Fills look absolutely beautiful and the whole interface is
also quite snappy and polished.
MacDraft has always been a 2D CAD program and
that still remains true today. The program features a very
nice set of technical drawing tools (Tools Palette) including
lines, double-lines, arcs, circles, polygons, and of course
rectangles. Joining and manipulating drawn objects in MacDraft
is quite facile with a full complement of accessory tools;
and the dimension tools allow for both cartesian, angular,
circular and arc dimensions. We'll cover some of these tools
below in more detail. In short MacDraft has all the tools
you would ever need to draft just about anything in 2D.
One of the features of MacDraft that is more
commonly found in much more expensive computer-aided design
(CAD) applications is a built-in database and reports generator.
With this latest version, Apple's Spotlight search engine
technology can tap into this data. We'll look at Tiger compatibility
in some depth below.
MacDraft actually comes in two versions, Professional
and Personal Edition (PE). We are herein reviewing Professional.
The differences between the two are minimal but important.
MacDraft professional provides such features as the Accessory
Palette for more advanced drawn object manipulation, a custom
dimension palette, a printed manual, the database and report
functions, support for layers, and lastly Autocad DWG/DXF
import and export. MacDraft PE also has a limited paper size
of A3, whereas Professional is only limited by your large
Since our last review of MacDraft (version 5.0)
the program now includes some excellent new features, some
of which I'll demonstrate in screenshots. MacDraft opens to
a new drawing file automatically upon launch, but a preference
can change that. I'll quickly create a file to start the demonstration.
The first thing you want to do is set up the page size by
visiting the File > Page Setup menu. If you have a plotter
setup to your computer you will have options for large CAD
sheets. I chose US Arch. C. You can tile smaller sheets on
a plotter via the Layout > Drawing Size menu palette and determine
their print order (see image 101).
- drawing size setup palette
The big new change since our last review of
this software is the native support for Apple's Quartz Graphics,
the native graphics engine for OS X. Because of Quartz the
program gains percentage-based transparency of objects as
well as beautiful rendering of text, lines and fills. In
the image here I've drawing several objects, some on different
layers with color fills. As you can observe you can see through
some of them, partially (image 102).
Transparency can also be added to text objects as well
MacDraft 5.5 added comprehensive picture support,
allowing you to import PICT, TIFF, GIF, JPEG and Windows
format images. The pictures can then be resized, rotated
and made transparent just like any other drawing object.
the example images shown below (image
103) you can see that layered and transparent images
(photos) can be of useful purpose when combined with text
and drafted elements.
- object transparency
- image object transparency
The Resize Palette also now works with pictures
and text blocks, in addition to shapes. The program now features
100 levels of undo so you can go back and correct your mistakes.
Some users may choose to use MacDraft as their technical illustration
tool of choice. After all, it is a CAD program. This latest
version of MacDraft supports the ability to convert files
to Adobe PDF by using the
Print to PDF command. The PDF files can then be edited in
Page: Grid-based CAD and Sample Mechanical Drawing
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