The precondition for using AutoCAD is either a Microsoft or a Unix operating system. These operation systems are distributed evenly among CAD companies, whose managers weigh these systems' pros and cons prior to purchasing one or the other. Generally, companies regard Microsoft as more user-friendly than Unix but also more prone to system malfunctions. These malfunctions and need for continual upgrades also make Microsoft more expensive, though this may not affect large corporations.
On its own AutoCAD is a fairly expensive application due to many sophisticated features. Its full edition currently sells for about $4,000. Moreover, there are modified AutoCAD versions that are tailored to specific industries. For instance, AutoCAD Architecture contains drafting tools and graphic manipulation for architects. Autodesk NavisWorks is geared to construction contractors, since it contains graphical building-planning tools that automatically formulate structural soundness throughout a building's design. Furthermore, there are Autodesk programs for civil engineers, plumbing-systems managers, electrical engineering planners, and other designers of large-scale projects. Many AutoCAD versions also have collaborative project-management software that enables users to simultaneously work on the same digital files.
Each AutoCAD version maintains its own industry lingo and toolsets, though they also share many basic features. AutoCAD has a database of geometrical shapes—such as lines, circles, and polygrams—that allow the user to manipulate them to size specifications. Each shape is made from vectors, which are mathematical equations that remain constant as a shape is resized. These vectors permit each structure to retain its mathematical soundness no matter if it is rotated, stretched, compressed, and so forth. Furthermore, this instilling of mathematical equations indicates optimum structural soundness for architects and builders. In addition, designers can specify the building materials of each structure, which AutoCAD incorporates into the design.
These automated design operations are beneficial to designers, managers, and clients alike. Firstly, these vectors' application means that those who work CAD jobs can eschew time-consuming blueprints that strive for this same mathematical unity. Moreover, CAD vector-automation denotes instant mathematical regularity while material blueprints are far more subject to error. Thanks to AutoCAD, architects can focus more on their creative process rather than toil over technical drawings.
AutoCAD also shortens the revision stages of building design. Whereas architects and other designers once re-drafted blueprints several times—a hugely time-consuming and expensive process—they can now save versions of their designs on the computer with one click of the mouse. Their clients are also happy with this development because it allows designers to more quickly jump to the construction process rather than linger over blueprints. Company managers are likewise satisfied because the AutoCAD cuts overhead costs, such as blueprint paper and drafting tools.
AutoCAD also enables designers to more concretely present, their designs to clients. The designer can use animation and simulation software to show building stages to their clients in a way that is readily understandable to them. Heretofore, architects had difficulty explaining their blueprints to clients, with its specialized lines and notations. Since clients often grow more excited following the computer simulation, they are that much more willing to do business with CAD designers.
Last, but not least, AutoCAD has administrative features for business purposes. These features include schedules, spreadsheets, and client information. AutoCAD project-collaboration versions enable multiple users to enter this information for their co-workers' reference.
Though AutoCAD is relatively easy to learn, it is not without training requirements. Thankfully, many future designers work with AutoCAD throughout their college years. In fact, AutoCAD has student versions that are available at discounted prices to teachers and students. These versions have identical features to their commercial counterparts, which stands students in good stead as they seek entry-level jobs.
In addition, students can round out their AutoCAD knowledge by obtaining internships with architectural and construction firms. They will likely have mentors who permit them to observe their use of the software, and also let them try it for themselves. In these situations, interns can observe how professionals incorporate AutoCAD into each aspect of their work, such as design, scheduling, and budgetary matters.
Furthermore, many students can obtain AutoCAD certification through their colleges, design schools, and online programs. Recruiters often like to see this demonstrated AutoCAD experience before they interview applicants for positions. Today, familiarity with AutoCAD software is no longer an added bonus on a job application, but a practical necessity for on-the-job work.