FastCAD, an AutoCAD Shadow

If they had never heard of FastCAD ... they should.

I know, it is possible that for the first time they know that this program exists, but I want to take some time from this ice cream night with Oreo cookies to show a tool that we have something to learn even in the last paragraph.

Why FastCAD is Important

Well, the creator of FastCAD is the one who developed INTERACT, that program that was the prototype bought by the founders of AutoDesk to launch AutoCAD.

However, beyond the heavy humor of my North American friend, this program gained some important merits in the early nineties; Also Riddle was nominated by Design News as Engineer of the Year in 1992 and in 1999 Engeneering News-record included him in the Top125 of the most influential people in the construction industry of the last 125 years.

Then founded Evolution Computing Which 1985 launches its first version of FastCAD, of course for DOS.

  • At 1987 the version included "tight" buttons, icons and dialog boxes before it did -Windows.
  • Also at that time I already had Plot essambly With layout management, a predecessor of what became AutoCAD in the Paperspace.
  • Currently the latest version of FastCAD is the 7.56, whose last changes began in the year 2007 and that involved the change to format of 32 bits.

The good thing about FastCAD. First of all, my respects for Riddle in regards to innovation based on what users ask for. I was testing a good time of the weekend and although it is a software that was launched 10 years ago it surprises in some aspects of practicality that are hidden there; although I must warn that learning to use many of its functionalities implies changing the way of doing some things in programs that we have used. And although I think that this program already gave what it should, in the current platform, it is worthwhile to recognize what has made a good impression on me; who knows if some competing programs should keep an eye on it.

  • Reads dwg formats up to the most recent version (2010 which uses AutoCAD 2012). The FastCAD format is fcw, but it can be opened and saved as dwg formats from R12 to 2010).
  • Read Microstation DGN V8 formats, in this and the above have their limitations Many programs Paid and open source (we understand why, but we respect investigate how Riddle did.
  • Fastcad autocad You have the option to insert a dynamic view within the same model (the Newness of AutocAD 2012 and Bentley V8i), with buttons much more practical than configuring view options in Microstation. The tricks to operate the zoom between windows is very good, because the scroll of the mouse depending on the key that we press can zoom normal, dynamic, rotate on different axis or in isometric; This handling of keyboard shortcuts is very creative in different FastCAD tools.
  • Of the best, the interactive work with files. Apart from saved views it includes shortcuts to files and has an option called references Overlay files, Similar work xref, but with the option to edit them on the fly (the xref are read only) and even with a functionality called Part in which it is possible to create associations of objects and arrays even though they are in different files, these can be partially loaded from the outside. Impressive.
  • The functionality of the tables is a luxury, because they are dynamic. An autonomous column can be created, including importing data from an excel (csv) or txt file. Once the file becomes dwg it loses the dynamic because it is exploited.

Fastcad autocad

  • There is a tool path Which, among other things, creates walls, similar to Multiline, With the variant which is a dynamic object, in which, when joining the walls, it automatically creates associations (Without having to use break, trim and other malavares), you can go drawing and varying the width of walls without losing the command, in addition you can insert cuts for gaps of doors and ends for the end of a wall. Luxury with a practical Popmenu, Passing it to 3D is a matter of saying it, it seems very simple.

Fastcad autocad

  • There are also several practical things at the interface level, such as the color bar on the left, CorelDraw style, just click, the combobox above to see what conditions we are working on: line type, coordinates, thickness, layer, etc. I find the user interface very convenient, very well distributed, without many toolbars and at the ends new panels appear to handle the block libraries (cells).
  • It has some simple things that the competition has been slow to take, such as a Zoom to a search text (in a click), zoom to the saved view, the dimensioning is very practical and includes a tolerance factor that solves many problems.
  • He does not have everything, but he was smoked to include what he is most occupied with. Looks like me AutoCAD course When teaching 25 commands; The basic building tools are all (although some with logic change) and in editing focus on 8 commands but with necessary variants such as Copy includes drag, dynamic scale, rotated and symmetric options.
  • Holds scripting, macros and digitizing table. The 3D seems so easy and the rendering does not look bad even though it is that way 10 years ago; but it has its flats when importing ACIS objects from outside.
  • There is a version called EasyCAD for US $ 300 and FastCAD walks US $ 600 makes it an economic alternative rather than pirate, although in my opinion at this point I would opt for an IntelliCAD type BitCAD o ProgeCAD Or inclusive GstarCAD Which up to the Ribbon included.

Fastcad autocad

The bad thing about FastCAD

Well, at the beginning it's a version that has been updated in recent years, its graphics engine is the same as 10 years ago, I suppose it was the best when Riddle developed FastCAD 7. That creates a tremendous limitation compared to tools of recent competition that have accustomed users that by hovering over objects or looking for a snap find interaction. That part of snaps and handling of transparencies is like AutoCAD R13 or Microstation J, so that they form an idea.

This previous weakness makes much of what we have mentioned before as advantages is unfavorable, little effective and anyone without much discretion could belittle their potential. In Windows 7 there are serious difficulties with some graphics cards, especially in Windows 7 installations in old machines, as in Windows Vista with the sources based on bitmaps. All for being an outdated graphic engine.

Then it has some kind of ambiguity with the handling of continuous commands, especially between the command line and the right button and some routines that open in a blue console, I think there is a skill that takes time to understand. Also at the level of usability, layer management is not very practical, in these times we have many layers and we occupy in a click to be turning off, turning on or freezing not only the file in use but also those that are in reference.

It is clear that the program has problems of interoperability, because it does not natively read the files dgn, dxf, dwg but imports it to a file fcw, which brings disadvantages to him when exporting it again, especially in the quality of visualization in The sizing, so it has an option that exploits them -What seems fatal to me- In the same way it happens in some cases with the text width factor. I looked for it and did not find a way to load raster files, just embedded bitmap, nor does it handle georeferencing systems.

While they were innovative in handling print layouts, I think it falls short on multi-sheet control and the pdf generation seems bizarre to me.

It's understandable, FastCAD is for 2D and 3D CAD design, and it does it well. But nothing more; There are no complementary programs for Engineering, Architecture, GIS or any other with which to interact. That's not bad, that's the way it is and as long as you say "this is FastCAD" there is no sin, but it takes away the advantage because now almost nobody makes pure CAD but uses that to edit data of a specific discipline.

And finally, there are no signs of a new version; not this one If the company is thinking about doing a FastCAD 8, sure it is a new development (the current one seems to have been worked in Visual Basic and in C ++ language). Wanting to go to a more recent graphic engine would involve working in .NET compatibility and ... I'm not sure if Riddle will be thinking about that.


Finally, the lesson does not stop learning unless we read Riddle's Thoughts, that in a blog with few entries releases some confessions between lines. Reading we can not avoid a halo of nostalgia, some helplessness for the injustices of good software that perishes before the popular and, we also understand that Mike, more than being a technology entrepreneur, is an innovator thrown into a technological poet of what is needed today. day in the indicated place.

We also know that it is behind a new software, more or less we understand of what type, who knows if a rebuilt version of FastCAD, with a more inclusive strategy of alliances that now are very necessary for Survive more than 10 years.

My respect for the man who set guidelines for the way in which CAD does many programs today, materializing ideas about assumptions that did not exist. It is likely that if Riddle had visualized what he was selling, he would have insisted on being an AutoDesk partner (Although he was one of the 18 co founders) Instead of selling your product and staying out of what is now that emporium that is difficult to shade you.

An American friend -Heavy grouper for jokes- I was told one afternoon by Café Colombiano that Riddle was left out because at the moment Walker founded AutoDesk he was buying a razor, and not just to cut his beard ...

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