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AutoCAD 2009.
Developed by Autodesk
Initial release December 1982
Latest release 2010 / March 24, 2009
Operating system Windows
Type CAD
License Proprietary
AutoCAD 2009 with the Classic User Interface

AutoCAD is a CAD (Computer Aided Design) software application for 2D and 3D design and drafting, developed and sold by Autodesk, Inc. Initially released in late 1982, AutoCAD was one of the first CAD programs to run on personal computers, and notably the IBM PC. Most CAD software at the time ran on graphics terminals connected to mainframe computers or mini-computers.

In earlier releases, AutoCAD used primitive entities — such as lines, polylines, circles, arcs, and text — as the foundation for more complex objects. Since the mid-1990s, AutoCAD has supported custom objects through its C++ API. Modern AutoCAD includes a full set of basic solid modeling and 3D tools. With the release of AutoCAD 2007 came improved 3D modeling functionality, which meant better navigation when working in 3D. Moreover, it became easier to edit 3D models. The mental ray engine was included in rendering, it was now possible to do quality renderings. AutoCAD 2010 introduced parametric functionality and mesh modeling.

AutoCAD supports a number of application programming interfaces (APIs) for customization and automation. These include AutoLISP, Visual LISP, VBA, .NET and ObjectARX. ObjectARX is a C++ class library, which was also the base for products extending AutoCAD functionality to specific fields, to create products such as AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Civil 3D, or third-party AutoCAD-based applications.

AutoCAD's native file format, DWG, and to a lesser extent, its interchange file format, DXF, have become de facto standards for CAD data interoperability. AutoCAD in recent years has included support for DWF, a format developed and promoted by Autodesk for publishing CAD data. In 2006, Autodesk estimated the number of active DWG files to be in excess of one billion. In the past, Autodesk has estimated the total number of DWG files in existence to be more than three billion.

AutoCAD currently runs exclusively on Microsoft Windows desktop operating systems. Versions for Unix and Mac OS were released in the 1980s and 1990s, but these were later dropped. AutoCAD can run on an emulator or compatibility layer like VMware Workstation or Wine, albeit subject to various performance issues that can often arise when working with 3D objects or large drawings.

AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT are available for German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese Simplified (No LT), Chinese Traditional, Russian, Czech, Polish, Hungarian (No LT), Brazilian Portuguese (No LT), Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and Vietnamese. The extent of localization varies from full translation of the product to documentation only.


[edit] AutoCAD LT

AutoCAD LT is a version of AutoCAD with more limited capabilities. It costs less (approx. US$1200 versus around US$4,000 for the full AutoCAD). Besides being sold directly by Autodesk, it is also available for purchase at computer stores, unlike full AutoCAD which has to be purchased from an official Autodesk dealer. It was developed so Autodesk could have an entry-level CAD package available to compete in that price class. AutoCAD LT is marketed as a CAD package for those who only need 2D functionality.

Compared to the full edition of AutoCAD, AutoCAD LT lacks several features: most notably, it has no 3D modeling capabilities (although it has a full suite of 3D viewing functions for looking at 3D models created in other CAD packages) and does not include any programming interfaces, such as support for most third party programs and does not support AutoLISP programs. A full listing of differences is on the Autodesk website.[citation needed] AutoCAD LT originated by taking the codebase of AutoCAD and commenting out substantial portions,[citation needed] which allowed AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT to be developed simultaneously.

[edit] AutoCAD Student Versions

AutoCAD is licensed at a significant discount over commercial retail pricing to qualifying students and teachers, with both a 14 month and perpetual license available. The student version of AutoCAD is functionally identical to the full commercial version, with one exception: DWG files created or edited by a student version have an internal bit-flag set (the "educational flag"). When such a DWG file is printed by any version of AutoCAD (commercial or student), the output will include a plot stamp / banner on all four sides. Objects created in the Student Version cannot be used for commercial use. These Student Version objects can and will 'infect' a commercial version DWG file if imported[citation needed].

The Autodesk student community provides registered students with free access to different Autodesk applications. While AutoCAD is not available as standalone downloadable application, students have access to some other applications, which include AutoCAD, such as Civil3D or AutoCAD Architecture.

[edit] Vertical programs

Autodesk has also developed a few vertical programs, for discipline-specific enhancements. AutoCAD Architecture (formerly Architectural Desktop), for example, permits architectural designers to draw 3D objects such as walls, doors and windows, with more intelligent data associated with them, rather than simple objects such as lines and circles. The data can be programmed to represent specific architectural products sold in the construction industry, or extracted into a data file for pricing, materials estimation, and other values related to the objects represented. Additional tools allow designers to generate standard 2D drawings, such as elevations and sections, from a 3D architectural model. Similarly, Civil Design, Civil Design 3D, and Civil Design Professional allow data-specific objects to be used, allowing standard civil engineering calculations to be made and represented easily. AutoCAD Electrical, AutoCAD Civil 3D, AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD MEP, AutoCAD P&ID and AutoCAD Structural Detailing are other examples of industry-specific CAD applications built on the AutoCAD platform.

[edit] Version history

Official name version release date of release comments
AutoCAD Version 1.0 1.0 1 1982, December
AutoCAD Version 1.2 1.2 2 1983, April
AutoCAD Version 1.3 1.3 3 1983, August
AutoCAD Version 1.4 1.4 4 1983, October
AutoCAD Version 2.0 2.0 5 1984, October
AutoCAD Version 2.1 2.1 6 1985, May
AutoCAD Version 2.5 2.5 7 1986, June
AutoCAD Version 2.6 2.6 8 1987, April Last version to run without a math co-processor
AutoCAD Release 9 N/A 9 1987, September
AutoCAD Release 10 N/A 10 1988, October
AutoCAD Release 11 N/A 11 1990, October
AutoCAD Release 12 N/A 12 1992, June last release for Apple Macintosh
AutoCAD Release 13 N/A 13 1994, November last release for Unix, MS-DOS and Windows 3.11
AutoCAD Release 14 N/A 14 1997, February
AutoCAD 2000 15.0 15 1999, March
AutoCAD 2000i 15.1 16 2000, July
AutoCAD 2002 15.6 17 2001, June
AutoCAD 2004 16.0 18 2003, March
AutoCAD 2005 16.1 19 2004, March
AutoCAD 2006 16.2 20 2005, March
AutoCAD 2007 17.0 21 2006, March
AutoCAD 2008 17.1 22 2007, March first release available for the x86-64 windows version of XP and Vista.
AutoCAD 2009 17.2 23 2008, March
AutoCAD 2010 18.0 24 TBA[1] (March 24, 2009)

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