PowerCADD 8: Overview of what's new or changed

What's New in PowerCADD™ version 8 (PCD8)

Release date: March 2008
Operating System: Mac OS? X (OS X Leopard v10.5.2 or newer recommended)
Hardware: Apple Computer Intel based Mac Hardware

While an extensive list of changes for PowerCADD v8 with detailed descriptions would be helpful to many it would simply be too time consuming to write all in one go. So, we decided a general list might be helpful as a quick overview for many of our visitors. We have related articles in our PowerCADD User: PowerCADD 8 section of our website and as time permits we'll be adding additional content there addressing new features, techniques, known issues, and feature requests for PowerCADD 9. We haven't described everything in detail here but, for now, here's our take on things to get the ball rolling.


Intel Only:

Bill Stanley, President of Engineered Software (EngSW), posted an open letter to customers on December 21, 2007 XTNL URL , giving everyone a heads up that PowerCADD v8 was going to run on Intel only Macs. We applaud that decision both for it's intent to keep customers informed so they could plan for hardware changes, and to keep their development cycle efficient and predictable. After all, Apple made it clear Intel was their engine of choice and trying to serve two masters (PowerPC and Intel) serves neither the developer nor the end user. Going Intel only with PowerCADD v8 made it possible to get some massive performance improvements today, and lays the ground work to take advantage of things Apple might do with further hardware and software enhancements in the future. Overall it's a win - win for both the customer and developer.

Given the Intel only decision for PowerCADD v8, EngSW did their customers another service by realizing there will be offices running on a mix of PowerPC and Intel based Mac hardware. With that in mind they have kept the file format the same between PowerCADD v7 and v8. Simply put, you don't have to perform a translation or Save As... operation to work with a PowerCADD v8 file in v7, or vice versa. When considering many offices still run mixed hardware we tip our hat to EngSW for their customer service consideration. The only minor hiccup occurs with the new Advanced Text feature of PowerCADD 8; Advanced Text from PowerCADD 8 is rendered as a PDF? image when opened in PowerCADD 7. The content looks correct but you can't edit it which doesn't seem unreasonable when considering the significant change that Advanced Text brings to the table.


PowerCADD v8 is fast -- really fast! There's no question EngSW dedicated a lot of resources (read: time and money) to give PowerCADD v8 major performance enhancements by tapping into OpenGL XTNL URL and other advanced features of Apple's 64 bit Mac OS X Leopard XTNL URL operating system. In fact, EngSW has provided two methods of rendering your content to screen to help you go from fast to turbo fast in a single click (we'll cover the details of those two viewing modes in detail later).

The degree of performance increase will depend on a few different factors including the speed and number of processors you chose when purchasing hardware. The amount of RAM? installed continues to be important to helping overall system performance and our old rule of thumb still applies; take whatever Apple ships standard with a system and double it (that doubling rule may not be applicable for some models of laptops in which case max. it out). The speed of the graphics processor (video card) and amount of VRAM? it has will also have a direct impact on the degree of performance increase you'll see in PowerCADD 8. With Apple moving more tasks to the video boards your choice is becoming more important when trying to maximize performance with PowerCADD 8 and many of Apple's Pro Applications including Aperture or Final Cut Pro. Point being you get what you pay for so take the time to plan your hardware purchases accordingly.


When we examine the new features and general improvements to old features there some that just don't fit nicely into the Tools or Menu categories we'll list later. Here are some thoughts on those changes, and what we think is a reasonably comprehensive list, in no particular order:

Improved Items:

Global Attributes: While the basic method of using Global Attributes hasn't changed, there have been improvements to how items are added to menus to try and prevent their lists from becoming too long. If you were having problem or frustrations with Global Attributes in the past you may want to take another at them in PCD8.

Stationery: This likely is a big change that will affect long time users, and it's a change that is for the better (see our related article here for details). In previous versions of PowerCADD you created a new drawing, added any elements, styles, or attributes, then performed a Save As... → Stationery. That worked for a lot of years as EngSW was actually ahead of Apple in that context. However, with the introduction of Mac OS X Apple changed the rules a bit and the old PowerCADD Stationery model was looking long in the tooth. The new Stationery model is elegantly simple; put any drawing into the PowerCADD Application folder → Stationery folder which contains those items you'd like to use for every drawing. Remember, stationery (or templates if you prefer) drawings can include attributes, styles, objects like title blocks, drawing scale and layers. The next time you choose File? menu → New, you'll see a new dialog presenting your list of stationery files to choose from. If you prefer to keep your stationery (template) files on a remote server or someplace else on your hard drive, no problem -- simply make an Alias of the file in the aforementioned Stationery Folder. We see this new Stationery model as a leap forward and is very consistent with other applications such as Apple's Pages, Keynote, and Numbers which provide a list of templates to choose from when starting a new drawing. Overall it appears to be an excellent change and we look forward to seeing how it might progress.

The number of changes, general and otherwise, is extensive so here's a basic running list of items. Don't forget you can check the PowerCADD PDF or Printed manual and look for the 'new' icon which flags these items (and possibly more).

List of General changes:

  1. Change Export Data external has been deleted.
  2. Change Status Window has been deleted, it's basic features described here have been deleted or moved to new locations. Nudge and Selected Number of Objects Display Field has moved to the new drawing window Toolbar. Layer Name of selected object has been moved to the Edit Window. Go To Layer is available as a contextual menu now and in PCD7. Zoom Percentage Field and it's Zoom Icons are deleted and not replaced but all oyher methods of zooming are still available. Scale Field and Pop-up is deleted and not replaced; scale is still adjusted from the Layout menu → Drawing Setup → Units dialog.
  3. Behavior change: A contextual menu no longer appears when you Control + Clicking on a bitmap.
  4. New Edit Window: Number of fields it displays can be changed. Displays the layer name a selected object is on.
  5. New Toolbar in main drawing window.
  6. New Overview Window with integrated Toolbar and significantly improved performance including support for mouse wheel zooming.
  7. Improved dwg drawing translator. Improved X-ref? imports, fonts, one click translation of all paper space layout content, improved preview and navigation interface. All translated drawings open in users specified custom stationery (when custom stationery has been added to Stationery folder) as described earlier.
  8. Improved interface in Layers Window for creating and renaming sheet setups.
  9. Improved behavior in Layers Window when assigning Layer Color Attributes (related link).
  10. Improved method of handling Layer Color Attributes. Color attribute settings are now saved with the object. Assigning a Layer Color Attribute will temporarily over ride the object color attribute for as long as the Layer Color Attribute box is checked. Turning off Layer Color Attributes will revert the object to it's original color.
  11. Change in drawing translator external: The old feature to Map Line Weights to Color when writing a dwg or dxf file has been removed. The old feature to Map Colors to Line Weights when reading a dwg or dxf file has been removed.
  12. Change in drawing translator external: The old feature to Save Visible Layers Only when writing a dwg or dxf file has been removed.
  13. New drawing translator external: You can now specify your own custom stationery pad when reading a dxf or dwg file.

List of Tool changes:

  1. Improved Fence Cut: now supports Layers when used in conjunction with the Paste Special menu item
  2. New Advanced Text: OS Level spelling and grammar checker. Multiple text options including kerning, ligatures, superscript, and subscript. Now supports Tables (replaced old Table Tool)
  3. Changed Table Tool: Deleted and replaced with Advanced Text Tool. Formatted tables can be copied/pasted from Excel.
  4. Improved Parallel Line: Can save multiple offsets.
  5. Improved Parallel Offset: Can save multiple offsets.
  6. Improved Eye Droopper: Optional settings for which attributes it should pickup and apply.
  7. New Sticky Notes: Leave non-printing yellow sticky type post-it notes in a drawing.
  8. New Move Points: New tool to dynamically move selected vertices in a drawing by dragging or press Tab to specify an offset distance and/or direction.
  9. New Single and Multi Trim: Both tools allow Guidelines to be a specified trim or extend target.
  10. New Move Tool: Automatically selects objects you click on for a move by drag operation. Hovering the tool over a default snap location will automatically select that snap point as the handle to start the move from. Old method from all previous versions of PowerDraw and PowerCADD still exist to perform a move by drag operation.
  11. New Objects On Line: Distribute objects in the Clipboard? or from a Symbol Library along a linear path. User definable optional settings for points and offset behavior.
  12. New Objects On Path: Distribute objects in the Clipboard or from a Symbol Library along any contiguous path defined by a single object. User definable optional settings for points and offset behavior.
  13. New Magic Wand: Optional setting to specify object attributes to be used to discriminate which objects in the drawing are selected. Click on an object in the drawing and all objects with the specified attributes are selected.
  14. Changed Arc Trim: Now a stand alone tool for trimming and extending arcs. This feature was integrated with the Trim/Extend tool in PCD7. Logic/behavior of the tool is improved.
  15. Changed Trim/Extend: Now works on lines only. Improved logic/behavior for finding intersections to trim/extend. Improved interface in optional settings dialog.
  16. New Attach: Optional settings to specify what type of object is created when the tool is applied. Click and drag between objects in the drawing to attach them.
  17. Improved Leader Line: Improved behavior to change justification of text when reshaping a leader line left or right.

List of Menu item changes:

  1. Change File Menu → Save As... → Symbol Report: Now moved to File menu → Export...
  2. Change File Menu → Save As... → Data Report: Now moved to File menu → Export...
  3. Change File Menu → Save As... → Objects Notes Report: Now moved to File menu → Export...
  4. Change File Menu → Save As... → Stationery: Deleted and replaced with new Stationery folder as described earlier in this article. See our related article here for details.
  5. New Print Dialog: New options for flatting files with Layer Attributes > Transparency? settings applied. This was also added in a free update to PCD7.0.6, please see this related article for details.
  6. Improved Lock/Unlock: Warning dialog appears when the selected objects contain locked items. Now you can choose to permanently unlock, or temporarily unlock items. If you choose to temporarily unlock objects, affected objects are automatically locked again when the operation is complete.
  7. New Edit Menu → Scale...: Now supports scaling line weights
  8. New Edit Menu → Paste Special...: Now supports scaling line weights and supports layers when using the Fence Cut tool.
  9. Improved Help menu: Ability to search for menu items by name in OS X Leopard only.
  10. New Help menu → Safe Mode Instructions: Steps on how to restart PowerCADD in safe mode to assist in troubleshooting problems.
  11. New Help menu → Reset PowerCADD: Resets PowerCADD settings to assist in troubleshooting problems.
  12. New Help menu → Submit Troubleshooting Report: Submits an email and drawing report to Engineered Software to assist technical support in troubleshooting problems.
  13. Change View Menu → Hide Text: Now reads Greek text. Text that is greeked now displays as a grey box, in previous versions choosing Hide Text would physically shut off all text in the drawing which was confusing.
  14. New View Menu → High Performance/Print Preview: Allows you to change the display modes of PowerCADD. This feature is also an icon in the new drawing window Toolbar.
  15. Change Preferences: Attach convert to polygons: This preferences is deleted and replaced with optional settings for the Attach menu item
  16. New Tool menu → Attach...: Allows you to specify the type of object created (Group, Bezier, Polygon) and to specify the distance between objects the command should automatically bridge.
  17. Change View menu → Hide Hatches: If hatches are hidden, assigning a hatch to a new object will now automatically toggle the display to show all hatches. Previously, assigning a new hatch would then automatically hide it which was confusing.
  18. New Preferences → View → Adjust Handle Size: Slider to adjust the size of edit handle bars displayed when objects are selected or in reshape mode.
  19. New Preferences → Commands → Multiple Commands: You can now assign multiple steps to a single command key.
  20. New Preferences → Loader → PowerCADD: There is now a default set of externals for the default set of PowerCADD features.
  21. New Preferences → Tools → Mouse Wheel Options: Settings to customize the acceleration of the scroll wheel and whether it should be used for zooming in/out or scrolling left/right.
  22. Changed and New Tool menu → Polygon → multiple submenu items: When reshaping or editing polygons, menu items previously located in Edit menu > Reshape have been moved. You can now perform a Fillet, Open, or Close simply by selecting the polygon (in previous versions you had to be in polygon / reshape mode to perform those operations).
  23. New Arrange menu → Rotate by Centers: Allows multiple selected objects to be rotated a specified amount about their individual center points. The Arrange menu → Rotoate... menu item will rotate all selected objects about a common center point.
  24. New Print Dialog → Save Settings for Standard: Check the box to have all your PowerCADD custom print settings such Fit to Page and other items remembered between printing sessions.
  25. New Arrange menu → Hatch Settings → Rotate Hatch: After applying a linear hatch pattern to an object you can adjust the patterns rotation angle assigned to that object. Subsequently, a new custom hatch pattern can be made from the custom rotated hatch.
  26. New File menu → Recent Items → Clear Selected...: Choose that new menu item to manually select items to be deleted from the Open Recent Items submenu.
  27. New Text menu → Replace Font...: This was also added to PowerCADD 7.0.5 and is described in detail in this article on our site.

Well, that's about all we can think of for now. It's a pretty substantial list of changes. In many cases, what appears to be a simple item in the list above is often a major step forward when you consider the implications to the drawing and design work flow! Have fun!

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Write DWG or DXF to Save Visible Layers Only

In the article above we said:

Change in drawing translator external: The old feature to Save Visible Layers Only when writing a dwg or dxf file has been removed.

In a rolling update to PCD8, version 8.0.2 added this feature set back in. Read our related articles (here and here) for additional information.

DWG Translator mapping of Line Weights and COlors

In the article above we said:

Change in drawing translator external: The old feature to Map Line Weights to Color when writing a dwg or dxfi file has been removed. The old feature to Map Colors to Line Weights when reading a dwg or dxf file has been removed.

In a rolling update to PCD8, the feature noted above has been added back in. While the new implementation isn't a full featured as the previous implementation in PCD7 and earlier, it's step in the right direction.

When saving (writing) a PCD8 file as DWG?, press Options... in the Save As dialog to see this dialog:

PowerCADD 8 Line Weights to Colors Options

If you press Settings... you'll see the dialog pictured below. Create a new entry for each line weight in your file and select a corresponding color.

PowerCADD 8 Line Weights to Colors Options

Toolbar Drawing Scale Display

We said this above:

Scale Field and Pop-up is deleted and not replaced; scale is still adjusted from the Layout menu → Drawing Setup → Units dialog.

In a rolling update to PCD8, the current drawing scale is displayed in the drawing toolbar as pictured below. It will display either the current drawing scale (as defined in the Drawing Setup dialog) or the current layer scale (if you have assigned Layer Scales).

PowerCADD 8 Drawing Scale Displayed in Toolbar

For example, if you have a multi drawing layer, and the document has a drawing setup scale of 1/4"=1'=-0", the Toolbar will display 1:48 when you are on any layer which does not have a layer scale assigned. If you switch to a layer which has a Layer Scale assigned (e.g. 6"= 1'-0") then the Toolbar will display 1:2. This is intended to give you the current scale status of your active drawing layer at a glance.

changes in the translator

We've added two items, 11 and 12, to the General Changes list above.

Those items related to the translator external that ships with PowerCADD 8. While the new translator has been improved there were two features from old translators that were removed.

Item 13 notes a change to the translator that is also worth flagging. If you have more than one custom stationery pad file installed, you get to choose which one is used when you open a DWG? file. Think about that for a moment - you can specify which stationery pad to use and the dwg file is imported into that file. All your user settings are there for attributes, layers, and standard objects like title blocks. The only ignored in the stationery pad when importing the dwg file is scale which makes perfect sense given the scale of the translation supersedes what the stationery scale might be.

Replace Font

Another item I forgot to add in my original list above: new feature to replace fonts now appears as item 27 in the menus section of the above list. We wrote about the details of that new feature in this article of the PowerCADD v7 section of our website.

Clear Recent Items

I missed another one -- sorry Sad
Clear Selected Items has been added to the File? menu -- item 26 in menus noted above

Rotating hatches

we missed a new Menu item in our original list, it is now item 25 above: New menu item to rotate hatch patterns

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