By William Fellows
PC design software king Autodesk Inc is about to unveil its much- anticipated AutoCAD 2000 application claiming that anyone who uses Windows will be able to use its new software. In short, Autodesk is making the experience of using AutoCAD as near to using Windows as it can. In giving AutoCAD 2000 a more Windows look and feel, the company is also integrating CAD techniques learned from the high-end Unix market, such as being able to open multiple design windows, even though it gave up selling a Unix version of its software a couple of releases ago. It says it’s only getting around to bringing its application in line with Windows now because its users are traditionally conservative and are generally some way behind the technology crowd. It claims to have made 400 enhancements to the product while it was in development, when it was codenamed Tahoe. Also new is an AutoCAD design center repository enabling users to browse existing designs and mine ideas and content from other drawings. An object property manager give users access to objects and drawing attributes. New AutoTracking features eliminate the need to manually create construction lines to link design components. The ability to access files on the web is built in. A new Volo View viewer enables users to see, annotate and print and AutoCAD documents on the network. It replaces an existing Autodesk View product which the company acquired from Sirlin but admits was never very popular with users. So we went back to the drawing board, it admits. Volo View costs $200. Volo Explorer is a drawing management tool that extends Windows Explorer and enables development teams to keep designs synchronized. At $300 per developer it also includes Volo View. Because it is going to use AutoCAD 2000 as the basis for a number of vertical industry implementations it will release over the next few months for mapping, mechanical, architectural, civil/survey/land and entry- level design markets, the company touts the new release as design software for anyone, not just designers. Although it dominates the PC design space with 2.3 million users, the company claims it has only 8% of the total CAD/CAM software market. AutoCAD 2000 upgrades from the previous release 14 cost $500. It claims to provide 80% of the functions of Unix CAD packages at 20% of the cost.