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From CAD User Mechanical Magazine Vol 20 no 06 - JUNE/JULY 2007
Cadopia 6 SP3 proves that budget software doesn’t always mean budget features, writes David Chadwick
If you don't need 3D solid modelling, radiosity rendering, and all of the other fancy features that you can now get with high end CAD solutions, or can't afford the hefty price tag that typically comes with the same - but are just looking for a good 2D CAD solution, with some 3D capabilities, at a price that you can afford without breaking the bank, then you need look no further than Cadopia.
Based on IntelliCAD's Open Design technology, Cadopia has just released version 6 SP3 of the software. It comes in three versions - Standard, Premium and Professional - but as we are concentrating here on budget priced software and what it delivers, we shall stick with the Standard version. Budget priced the software may be, but it is not budget featured, a wealth of features being included in even the standard version to cover most designer or architect's needs.
Of most significance though is its compatibility with, and similarities to, AutoCAD, the software that dominates the market that Cadopia aspires to. Cadopia uses the same drawing format as AutoCAD - DWG ( from 2.5 up to AutoCAD 2005 using the DwgDirect technology) the most common format on the market - and, for those used to working in an Autodesk environment, it has the Autodesk Command Line for entering AutoCAD like commands.
What it looks like
The User Interface is pretty straightforward - toolbars at the top, some additional navigation tools down the right hand side, and the Command Line at the bottom, the centre of the display being taken up by the Model and Layout spaces. Tools are subdivided into groups - 2D Edit, 3D Edit, Dimensioning, Entity Snaps, Rendering, etc., and can be switched on or off, depending on your requirements, and how much drawing space you want to work with. The Windows toolbar at the top has extensive pull-down menus, and a lot of the icons on the feature toolbars have additional options on smaller pull-down menus - all in all, quite a large number of different options - supplemented even further by floating menus that pop up, with many functions to provide further choices.
As it is very easy to access toolbars, I found it better to keep them all tucked away to maximise drawing space, and open them up for specific commands -a matter of just a couple of clicks. Don't get too excited about the Rendering toolbar, though - remember we are still in the Standard edition, which will give you hidden line removal and shaded 3D drawings but not full scale radiosity rendering. You'll need the more advanced versions of Cadopia for that.
The software has extensive layer support, and users can draw in 2D or 3D. Switching between each is straightforward, and navigation is also easy, using a combination of Ctrl/Shft and the mouse for zoom and pan. Other views, including an Orbit tool, are available under View and Real Time Motion.
Cadopia allows users to split the screen into different Windows, and to work on either different files or different views of the same model in each Window. This is particularly useful for placing blocks and components in 3D mode, or merely for working on different views of a design simultaneously.
Cadopia supports Adobe Acrobat PDF output, and users can view both MicroStation DGN and ESRI SHP files as images. The software also has extensive customisation tools, and will allow users to download their own LISP or SDS routines to modify the software further. It uses the same AutoLISP programming language as Autodesk, facilitating the use of the software in an Autodesk environment.
Cadopia 6 SP3
The latest version of the software includes some interesting new functions. The first of these is handy for getting your designs of to a flying start - namely the ability to download hundreds of thousands of pre-drawn parts from ThomasNet.com's CADRegister, mainly from US based manufacturer's but covering every industry.
If you are loading drawings from other sources, you can preview a thumbnail of it to make sure it is the correct drawing - a handy tool if the drawing you are importing is large. The Drawing and Text tools themselves have also benefited from a couple of enhancements, especially in the entity snap toolbox, which now includes a new Extended option for the Intersection Snap, which snaps to the logical location where two entities would intersect, if they were of infinite length. Cadopia has even included an Apparent Intersection Snap, which can snap to the intersection of two entities that are not in the same plane, but seem to intersect in the current view.
Text functions have also been improved, especially the text editing in the command line. Users can browse through their Command Histories using either the Ctrl K or L functions, or by selecting the prompt History Window from the View toolbar. This can be used to copy history or re-use recently used commands. Mtext formatting is now available with the latest release, making it easier to insert multilane text annotations.
As more designers want to share their concepts with non-CAD users, it is useful to be able to export CAD models or layouts in PDF format. Just about everybody has some version of Adobe's Acrobat Viewer on their systems. Cadopia allows active layouts - or even all layouts - to be exported as PDF files. The latest version of the software has improved the process, enabling users to organise the export more efficiently.
After selecting which elements to export from the long option menu and hitting Enter, the user can select paper sizes to embed fonts, use Truetype or SHX as geometry, enter the originators details, subjects and keywords etc., and then Export the document. Drawings can also be shared using Autodesk’s DWF format, using the 3D DWF Export function, and, of course, if the recipient has a DWF Viewer installed.
Although Cadopia 6 SP3 has improved its True Colour Support, I suspect that this would only be of real interest to users of the Premium and Professional versions of the software - with 16 million colour gradations rather more preferable to the original 256 standard colours if you are attempting high quality rendering. The software also supports Color Book as well, allowing users to select Pantone and other colour sets. This enables the software to match the colours in a drawing with actual materials.
Cadopia is certainly a credible alternative to AutoCAD LT if you are on a budget - but it also providing a simple to use, but comprehensively featured, basic 2D and minimal 3D design tool for technicians and engineers in any industry. The software is based on IntelliCAD, which provides the core product for each of its OEM vendors. Cadopia has implemented the underlying code, and added those features it feels its particular market needs.
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