The Platform Debate for Construction

August 19, 2011

At the AGC IT Forum last week, quite a bit of discussion ensued surrounding the topic of mobility in construction. Many contractors expressed interest in being able to bring data to the field—in particular bring CAD (computer-aided design) and BIM (building information modeling) files to the jobsite.

While no particular device stood out in the discussion—some wanted compatibility with the Android platform while others wanted accessibility on the iPad—the consensus was contractors wanted access to data in the field, which means software providers now need to offer technology on multiple platforms.

Autodesk, www.autodesk.com, San Rafael, Calif., offers its products in both a PC and Mac environment. While this is not a specific mobile product, the company is expanding its line of AutoCAD products for Mac. This week, the company announced the release of AutoCAD 2012 for Mac, AutoCAD 2012 WS for Mac, and AutoCAD LT for Mac.

Last year, Autodesk first announced the release of AutoCAD for Mac. This year’s announcement will bring more AutoCAD features to the Mac OS X Lion platform while also allowing for a mixed networking license option for PCs and Macs. In particular, this is the first time Autodesk is offering AutoCAD WS for Mac and AutoCAD LT for Mac.

The AutoCAD WS mobile app was released last September for the Android platform. Now, Autodesk offers AutoCAD WS for Mac—which is a free app providing basic tools for viewing, editing, and sharing designs, allowing users to collaborate across multiple platforms including desktop, mobile, and Web.

AutoCAD LT 2012 for Mac and AutoCAD WS for Mac are exclusively available in the Mac App Store—which is an interesting change in the software game considering AutoCAD has traditionally been sold through a network of resellers.

While this is a good step toward offering CAD software on multiple platforms and devices, the question remains when will Autodesk offer Revit for Mac? For now, Autodesk provides full support for Revit when used through Parallels Desktop for Mac—virtualization software to run Windows on Mac.

The construction industry is just beginning to ask software providers to offer their products on more platforms and devices—and the providers are starting to answer these requests. However, the industry still has a long way to go before every construction process can be pushed to the field through various platforms and devices. It will be interesting to watch as this trend takes hold in the years to come.