Mac User 4 out of 5

MacDraft 6.1 Review - MacUser

Macuser Magazine • October 2014 • Written By: Ken McMahon

MacDraft Pro is a 2D drawing app tailored for floor plan production, and is aimed at architects, kitchen designers, self-builders and the like. Created by UK-based Microspot nearly 30 years ago, it's a mature product that retains a distinctly retro look and feel.

This is the first major upgrade since we last reviewed MacDraft Pro in 2010. Additions include gradient fills and strokes, swatch libraries, a new star tool, drag and draw feedback, and one-key shortcuts. This version is compatible with OS X 10.9 Mavericks and has improved DWG/DXF file support.

What hasn't changed is the way it looks and works. If you're old enough to remember MacDraw, you'll be right at home with the bitmapped tool icons, simple rulers and rudimentary palettes. If you're accustomed to the likes of Adobe CC, the lack of polish could feel a bit tedious. Still, MacDraft lets you get the job done without gilding the lily.

Where the user interface really shows its age is in the absence of mod cons such as docking palettes and right-click contextual menus. The workspace can quickly get quite cluttered, and it can take more steps to produce a relatively simple element than it should.

In other respects, MacDraft cleverly reflects its target users' examples is its use of scales. Based on the units you choose, layers are displayed at a given scale, such as 1:50, and you can draw elements using real-world dimensions. Scale can be set at the layer level, so you can duplicate a layer and change its scale to produce a detailed view.

Beyond Mavericks compatibility, the improvements in this version are nice to have rather than justifying an upgrade in themselves. But new users looking for affordable floor plan software will find MacDraft Pro fills a niche few others seem interested in. Adobe illustrator offers a number of features relevant to this kind of work, but a lot of clutter that isn't, on subscription only; while AutoCAD presents a steeper learning curve at a higher price. Direct competition comes from TurboCAD Mac Designer, which is much cheaper and the more versatile SketchUp, which costs more for professional users, but is free for personal use.

Its narrow focus however could actually be MacDraft's biggest strength. If floor plans are what you want, this straight forward old-timer still has a lot to offer.

MacUser 4 out of 5 rating
Rating - 4 out of 5
Reviewed by: Ken McMahon
On behalf of MacUser Magazine
October 2014

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