Compatible CAD works in 2D and 3D

April 14, 2005
IntelliCAD 5 (IC5) is a capable 2D drawing program in its Standard version as well as a 3D modeler in the Professional version.

Users can control the display of line weights with Settings command.

The plot sheet lets users combine different layers of a drawing along with 2D and 3D elements of the design.

More complete rendering features produce shadows, shading, and multiple light sources.

The programs are similar but the Professional version comes with more features. For example, the 3D version includes all features in the Standard part along with raster image support, solid modeling, and rendering.

The Standard version includes DWGdirect libraries, making it compatible with every release of AutoCAD from V2005 back to V2.5. DWGdirect libraries ensure compatibility with present and future versions of AutoCAD while freeing development staff to work on IntelliCAD rather than translation updates. The software also displays so-called proxy objects, such as AutoCAD 2005 Tables, and it supports drawing recovery in functions called Audit and Recover. A few other notable features include line weights, model space/paper space, toolbar controls, and a new status bar.

Line weights help differentiate the purposes of lines. Line weight can be assigned by layer, block, or object. What's more, users can decide at print time if they wish to use line types, and if they are to be scaled (and behave like polylines) or unscaled (and plot their specified sizes). For those who want thick lines, line weights is a welcome addition.

Model space/paper space lets users separate the design of the model from that of the plot sheet. Tabbed Layouts lets users create multiple plot sheets from a single, complex model and view and work with different layer sets, thanks to freeze layers in paper space. Tabs let users move quickly from one layout to another.

New Toolbar controls let users control and display the current settings, Layer, and Color. The new Linetype toolbar control lets users edit settings of selected objects. The same is true for Line weight and Dimension Styles controls. For example, if it's necessary to make brown lines blue, just click on them and change it with the Color control. Other CAD systems have had this capability, so it's a welcome addition to IC5.

Linetype control has been added to the convenient and useful Explore Linetypes selection. Unfortunately there's no corresponding Explore Dimension Styles selection on the Dimensions Styles control.

Status Bar controls have been added for Lineweights, and the Tilemode control has been replaced with one that switches between model space and paper space. This is a positive change. However, deciding how to switch should have been left to users because there are several ways to do so.

The Professional version builds on the above and lets users attach and manage external bitmaps in a manner similar to that of attaching external references. The dialog box for Open Image File simplifies adding images to a drawing. It all works the way you would expect.

The ACIS 3D-modeling kernel is standard. It's used worldwide by the design industry. V5 Professional supports ACIS solid models (as does AutoCAD). V5 Standard still displays and maintains ACIS data in AutoCAD files.

Two rendering options come with the Professional version: The Render command shades the model as if illuminated by multiple light sources. It's more realistic than the Shade command, but doesn't offer quite the realism of the Full Render command. It creates photorealistic images using ray tracing, shadows, surface materials, transparency, and multiple light sources of different kinds. Both commands let users add a base (a floor or table top) so objects aren't floating in space. And studio lighting assures decent images the first time.

The software now supports Drawing Template (.dwt) files. This is a welcome addition, especially for those working in a mixed shop, or have received .dwt files from a client. IC5 also supports the display and "round tripping" of tables from AutoCAD 2005, although it does not allow modifications.

If you've been thinking of upgrading to a new CAD program, consider this: IntelliCAD is more compatible with old drawing files and .dxf files than other programs. The software maintains command names, alias, and keyboard shortcuts compatible with Auto-CAD, and is also compatible with AutoCAD menus and AutoLISP.

The program costs about $445 on CD (and a manual), and is available from several sources such as CMS Inc. (, CADopia LLC (, and the Intelli-CAD Technology Consortium (

What is the Open Design Alliance?
The Alliance is an association of software developers and users committed to promoting open, industrystandard formats for exchanging of CAD data. The IntelliCAD Technology Consortium, a section of the Alliance, produces IntelliCAD 5 and licenses the software to its members for resale to end users. The Consortium sponsors and contributes to the development of a standard CAD engine, which includes support for the DWG format, and application programming interfaces such as LISP, C++ based software, and Visual Basic. Worldwide vendors who offer IntelliCAD and products based on it can be found at

Sean Short is a technical writer and provides technical support for Open Design Alliance, (602) 263-7666.

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