In the latest version of CADKEY, now on Windows, I think the company has done a nice job of blending all of its tools into an industry standard user interface. The installation is much more streamlined and simpler than with the DOS version. However, it does give the user less control over configuring locations for directories; and customized mouse button mapping is not offered in the Windows version.
User interface. CADKEY has kept the main components and techniques of their existing user interface intact, but placed them into the Windows world. The history of last commands, conversation line, settings area, and status area are all present.
New for CADKEY users is a menu bar and icon bar, where pull-down menus for many settings and view controls can be found. Overall, the new U.I. takes some getting used to for existing CADKEY users. But all of the things CADKEY users are accustomed to are included in one form or another.
Sacrifices. While CADKEY has migrated their traditional DOS product to Windows in a very easy-to-use fashion, they have had to give up some user interface techniques in the process. Mouse buttons no longer perform the main controls of accept, backup, and escape of commands. These controls are now provided as buttons on the top of the menu. There is also no ability to map other functions with the mouse buttons. However, the Windows version does allow for an Accelerator Key that maps almost any command or function to keyboard keys for quick access to their operation.
3-D functions. CADKEY offers a full set of 3-D wireframe and surface construction tools. It supports multiple viewports, as well as a Layout function for extracting 2-D drawings from the 3-D model. A dynamic part rotation command that was buried in the menu structure in the DOS version is now conveniently accessible with its own icon. Shaded image and hidden line removal are provided in the Picture It utility, which is now one of the menu picks.
CADKEY 7 for Windows
The program needs an Intel 386, 486, or Pentium, and a math co-processor. It runs under Windows 3.1 or higher, Windows NT 3.5 or greater, or DOS 5.0 or higher. 8M bytes of RAM and 30M bytes of free disk space are required.
List Price: $795
CADKEY Inc., 4 Griffin Rd. N., Windsor, CT 06095; ph. (203) 298-8888; fax (203) 298-6590.
Since this is a Windows edition of a previous version, I did not see any new functions. In fact, several extra modules that were provided with the DOS version are not in this one. Fastsurf, which provided advanced surfacing tools, is not present. An Advanced Drafting Module that gave geometric tolerencing abilities and a complete set of pre-drawn symbols for mechanical and electrical design is missing. And QuickSnap, which offered quick visual feedback for snapping to locations and aligning entities when creating geometry, has also been left out.
Sharing data. Support for reading DWG or DXF files is included. Exporting to DWG and DXF formats, along with IGES read/write with level mapping, is also provided. Stereolithography output, conversion of files to CADKEY's Advanced Modeler, and mass property analysis are available through the Picture It module.
I imported several complex solid models from AutoCAD to CADKEY. The models came across intact with converting times of only a few minutes each. The models are converted to 3-D wireframe geometry in CADKEY. Although no longer solids, I was still glad that I could reuse the geometry in CADKEY.
Though CADKEY 7 for Windows has left out several extra items available to the DOS purchaser, it has successfully carried the basic CADKEY functions over to the Windows world. Existing CADKEY users will find the product is very easy to use, since it retains most of the quick-action tools and functions of the DOS interface. The only difference is the use of pull-down menus and buttons verses a text hiearchical menu.
A similar product:
AutoCAD 13 for Windows - Autodesk Inc., 111 McInnis Pkwy., San Rafael, CA 94903; ph.: (800) 964-6432; fax: (415) 507-5100.