A START Preview
by Dave Edwards
DynaCADD is a powerful Computer-Aided Design and Drafting program distributed by ISD Inc., the people who brought VIP Professional and Calamus, the new desktop publishing program, to the Atari ST. The program offers ST users incredible features at a healthy price of $695.
DynaCADD has a vast array of commands and is one of the best Atari CADD programs on the market. The program's icon-driven user-interface uses standard GEM features and helps you create extensive 2D and 3D CADD designs on 1040 STs or Megas. However' because of its size (over 500K), DynaCADD works best with a hard disk.
What You See
The DynaCADD package includes three floppy disks and a three-ring documentation binder. When you boot the program, the main screen prompts you to choose an active Part (a 3D database to use with DynaCADD) and an active Drawing (a 2D file). Activating a Part creates a folder on disk and your active drawing is placed in the folder, which could be a problem, considering the ST's current 40-folder limit. (Editor's note: The new ST ROMS from Atari eliminate this problem.)
This screen also asks for sheet size drawing units and scale. The drawing units include feet, inches, meters, millimeters, etc.; the program also offers architectural dimensioning of feet and inches.
A CADD package should let you draw in real size and only worry about scale when producing the final output. However, DynaCADD makes you choose a sheet size and drawing scale up front. The sheet size might cause a problem if your design grows beyond your original intent.
|DynaCADD is a
Aided Design and
Drafting program by
ISD, Inc. It offers ST
The left side of the main screen consists of four sections containing sets of icons. For example, to place a line, I first select the Element Insert icon in the uppermost section. Beneath that section, another set of icons appears so you can determine what type of line to place. Finally, a set of icons appears beneath that section to help you select your input parameters. This inventive approach deserves a hearty round of applause.
All commands are chosen in a similar manner. If the program requires a number for input, a calculator appears onscreen featuring trigonometry functions and various memory types. The View commands are accessed in icons just above the drawing area, separate from the other icons; since I use these commands often, I wouldn't want them two or three selections deep. There's also an upper row of GEM pop-up menus, file options and toggle switches of program values.
Although icon-based CADD programs are hard to develop because of the number of commands involved, DynaCADD is very easy to work with. When you move the cursor over an icon, a message in the upper right corner tells you what the command does. A very complete set of CADD commands are included, rivaling just about any other CADD program on the market.
The 3D commands are straightforward and the system has an interesting way of choosing the object views. The program defines several planes for you to view from any angle. At present, you cannot shade or remove hidden lines on 3D objects, although ISD plans to release an upgrade to DynaCADD that will allow this. (Editor's note: ISD plans to offer the free upgrade as an option to registered DynaCADD owners; it should be available by January. )
DynaCADD works with dot-matrix or laser printers as well as small pen plotters. It uses a lot of memory when driving a laser printer, however; you may need more than a megabyte to output to a laser.
To me, DynaCADD's biggest drawback is its copy protection scheme. I can understand that ISD wants to protect their considerable investment (after all, the program lists for $695). However, DynaCADD uses a hardware lock that plugs into the cartridge port. Since I'm a big fan of cartridge-based RAMdisks, I'm not fond of cartridge keys; a printer port lock would've been a better idea.
Overall, DynaCADD is an amazing product and one of the best ST CADD programs available. Its number of features is staggering--here I couldn't touch on more than a few highlights. But I will give it a complete review (along with MasterCAD and GFA Draft) in an upcoming issue of START.Dave Edwards runs a CAD consulting service and has written several CAD-related articles. When he is not writing about CAD, you will find him doing VersaCAD training. He is also a MIDI consultant, professional drummer and managing editor of "The MIDI Insider, The MIDI Power User's Newsource."
DynaCADD, $695. ISD Marketing, 2651 John St., Unit 3, Markham Industrial Park, Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 6G4, (416) 479-1880.