Ready for Primetime

INTELLICAD – The Intelligent Alternative for CAD Developers
by: Jerry Liao

When OpenOffice was introduced to the market, nobody gave it a chance to survive except for the open source advocates. No way can OpenOffice reach half the success of what Microsoft Office has reach they say. They don’t have the marketing machinery like Microsoft even if StarOffice or OpenOffice are backed by SUnMicrosystems Inc.

Where is OpenOffice now? Everywhere. Companies like Google and IBM are now supporting OpenOffice and even helping develop the free office productivity suite.

In terms of usage popularity, undoubtly office productivity suites are the most popular, then web development, then imaging tools and then Computer Aided Design (CAD) software application. CAD applications don’t normally make it to the news because it’s a very specialized application – mostly for architects, engineers and others involved in designs. And when in comes to CAD applications, the first thing that comes into mind is AUTOCAD.

AutoCAD is a suite of CAD software products for 2 (AUTOCAD LT) and 3-dimensional design and drafting, developed and sold by Autodesk. Now I have no problems with AUTOCAD, it’s a good software and it delivers – except it is expensive. And since I have been writing about OpenOffice, I have been receiving emails from my readers to feature an alternative for AUTOCAD LT (2-dimensional). It took me awhile to find one that I can say is a worthy contender to the AUTOCAD LT throne. The good news is I found one – INTELLICAD.

IntelliCAD ( is a full-featured, Computer Aided Design (CAD) software application, commonly used as a low-cost replacement for the considerably more expensive AutoCAD. It is (like AutoCAD) a general purpose CAD tool, used to produce a variety of drawings, from basic non-technical drawings, to architectural plans, civil and mechanical engineering designs and even 3D models, ready for sophisticated rendering by other software.

Features and Benefits
DWG file compatibility
IntelliCAD’s native file format is DWG. IntelliCAD opens, edits, and saves any existing DWG files saved in numerous versions, including DWG Version 2.5 through 2007, without conversion or data loss. IntelliCAD provides industry-standard compatibility with the Autodesk® AutoCAD® command set, as well as programming APIs, such as LISP and SDS (IntelliCAD’s C programming API). That means you can get to work immediately using the DWG files, commands, and applications you rely on.

Drawing productivity
IntelliCAD offers many productivity features to help you get the most from the time you spend creating drawings. You can organize items on layers, snap to items for precise positioning, work in model space and paper space depending on whether you’re drawing or printing, and create 2D or 3D models. Additionally, the IntelliCAD Explorer provides the unique ability to review and exchange layers, blocks, linetypes, dimension styles, and text styles between drawings with drag-and-drop ease. And thanks to IntelliCAD’s ActiveX integration, you can insert IntelliCAD drawings (or just parts of them) into Microsoft Office application files for many cross-application uses.

Building applications
If you have existing applications that were built using the ADS or AutoLISP libraries, you can quickly use them in IntelliCAD using the same languages and functions you are used to. IntelliCAD also includes a VBA object model to implement quick solutions or to create prototypes for SDS applications within your organization.

For the first time ever you can buy a heavy-duty CAD program that’s compatible with the DWG file format and industry-standard applications without the high price of other industry-standard applications. IntelliCAD’s low price makes it affordable to anyone who creates and uses DWG files.

Other features:
– Commands (instructions) used to create drawings are very similar to those used in the AutoCAD environment. An alias file is used to translate AutoCAD commands so you can for instance simply type O; the AutoCAD shortcut for the OFFSET command.
– The AutoCAD command line is supported although you can dispense with it if required.
– IntelliCAD creates (and reads) and saves files in AutoCAD’s .DWG format. IntelliCAD writes files back to version 2.5 AutoCAD [1980s file format], a capability long lost to AutoCAD!
– Users transferring from AutoCAD need spend very little time learning to use IntelliCAD, because the command environment is so familiar. Their store of CAD drawings can be opened directly in IntelliCAD. We offer special deals on bundling IntelliCAD with distance training materials.
– AutoCAD menu and script files are supported. Our version of IntelliCAD has a special bonus tools including hold clouds and layer manager.
– Multiple paper space layouts are supported.
– The IntelliCAD user interface is more intuitive than AutoCAD’s and the layout and toolbar icons makes it very straightforward for beginners to use.
– IntelliCAD runs AutoLISP applications with little need for conversion along with DCL, and the ADS system.
– Raster image display is supported. It is possible to import a wide variety of image files into the IntelliCAD environment.
– AutoCAD blocks and XREFs are supported.
– AutoCAD 3D surface commands are supported.
– True type fonts are allowed.
– Single line and paragraph text are available.
– An innovative Drawing Explorer has been developed which enables efficient management of text and dimension styles, layer control, blocks (a graphical preview is available) and external references.
– IntelliCAD allows multiple drawings to be opened in a single session. Entities can be copied (cut and pasted) accurately between drawings.
– Those new to CAD will find a rich set of resources available to help them learn CAD – books on AutoCAD, local technical college courses etc. which can be directly applied to learning to use IntelliCAD.

So to our readers, mission accomplished for me. There’a free-trial that you can use so that you can try if it can really deliver your requirements. And before I forget, the greatest benefit of INTELLICAD over AUTOCAD LT is price. For the cost of a single AutoCAD LT license, you can get more or less 10 IntelliCAD licenses.

And if INTELLICAD can deliver your needs for a much lesser cost, then it’s called SAVINGS.


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