IntelliCAD is a cooperative CAD development platform that is becoming more and more accepted as an alternative to AutoCAD.

IntelliCAD – An IntroductionThe development of IntelliCAD is overseen by the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium, “an organization of CAD software developers, who develop applications for IntelliCAD, a Computer-aided design engine. The IntelliCAD engine, which is based on the DWGdirect library from the Open Design Alliance reads and writes the ‘.dwg’ data format – a widely used file format for storing both graphic and textual information of CAD-related software applications.”

The primary goals of the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium are to “research and develop CAD technology, the IntelliCAD platform, and to deliver CAD solutions to customers worldwide.” In other words, to provide the personal and commercial CAD markets with a cost-effective solution that is capable of reading and writing the common drawing (DWG) file.

The ITC is a non-profit, independent organization of commercial software developers (members). The ITC has an elected, volunteer, member based Board of Directors which guide its strategic vision. An independent (non-member) President manages the tactical business operations. Members pay annual dues that fund the ITC. Today the ITC has over 50 members who support 13 languages and ship product in more than 35 countries.

IntelliCAD – A Trip through Time

Except where noted, each of the following items were obtained from An Outside Look in at IntelliCAD (used by permission) which requires the free Adobe Reader.

“Where did the name come from? The name of the software ‘IntelliCAD’ comes from a programming company that was formed in the early 1990s in San Diego, CA, USA. Their main claim to fame was ADE (AutoCAD Data Extension), which they sold to Autodesk, and which eventually became part of Autodesk Map.”

“IntelliCAD the software has a complex and fascinating history that winds its way through Softdesk, Autodesk, Boomerang, Visio, just missing Microsoft, then onto the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium, and now [includes] a variety of brand names, such as CADopia, Bricscad, and DWGEditor.”

1994, August: “IntelliCAD is purchased by Softdesk of Henniker, NH.”
1996, December: “Autodesk acquires Softdesk… Softdesk apparently did not tell Autodesk about its AutoCAD clone.”
1997, March: “Autodesk investigated by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) over the alleged monopoly status of AutoCAD… The FTC allowed Autodesk to purchase Softdesk after Autodesk agreed to: (1) spin off IntelliCAD; (2) not attempt re-acquire the technology; (3) not attempt to acquire any company that owns or controls IntelliCAD; and (4) not interfere with employees who leave Autodesk to work with IntelliCAD… IntelliCAD was spun off as Boomerang Technology in San Jose, CA.”
1997, March: “Visio bought Boomerang.”
1998, March: “IntelliCAD 98 ships. The price was originally pegged at US$495; upon release, the price dropped to $349 as a ‘special introductory price’; the price drops further to $149 at computer superstores, such as CompUSA. Through to the end of June, the first three months of sales for IntelliCAD were nearly 12,000 licenses, producing $3 million in gross revenue — an average of $250 per license.”
1998, May: “IntelliCAD is suddenly incompatible with AutoCAD! Autodesk releases a maintenance release for AutoCAD R14.01 that makes a change to the .dwg format, and preventing IntelliCAD from reading drawing files… Visio updated IntelliCAD 98 to work with 14.01 files.”
1999, July 27: “Visio cuts IntelliCAD loose by granting the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium a royalty-free, perpetual license for the source code of the IntelliCAD 2000 technology. The ITC was set up by Visio, but run by an independent board of directors.
1999, September: “IntelliCAD Technical Consortium opens its Web site at”
Subsequent releases of IntelliCAD through the ITC occur every year since its initial release (see the IntelliCAD version history link under the Press section of the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium web site).

IntelliCAD Release History

IntelliCAD 6.4 July 27, 2007
IntelliCAD 6.3 February 28, 2007
IntelliCAD 6.2 May 27, 2006
IntelliCAD 6.1 September 5, 2005
IntelliCAD 6.0 May 3, 2005
IntelliCAD 5.1 January 12, 2005
IntelliCAD 5.0 October 24, 2004
IntelliCAD 4.0 March 14, 2003
IntelliCAD 2001 version 3.3 July 19, 2002
IntelliCAD 2001 May 22, 2001
IntelliCAD 2000 March 6, 2000
IntelliCAD 98 May 1, 1998
Carlson Support for IntelliCAD

The Carlson 2009 installation comes with IntelliCAD 6.4 built-in. When you choose IntelliCAD as the CAD platform during installation, the IntelliCAD engine is installed along with the Carlson program files. Carlson 2009 only works with this built-in version of IntelliCAD and not on any other version of IntelliCAD or other IntelliCAD based products like Bricscad.

Running Carlson 2009 on IntelliCAD is largely the same as running on AutoCAD. IntelliCAD supports a development environment with a similar interface as AutoCAD which allows Carlson Software to use the same code base on both CAD platforms. Of the over 1700 Carlson commands across the Carlson 2009 products, there are 11 commands that are not supported with IntelliCAD for the Carlson 2009 release. These are:

Editor Reactors (ie Link Points To Coordinate File)
Point Object Snap (node snap does work)
Text Explode To Polylines
Edit Centerline On-Screen
Extract Centroid Data
Label Object Data Areas
Drape Image On Surface
Retaining Wall Placement
Pillar Cut
Calculate Variogram
Production By Block Model
IntelliCAD – AutoCAD Comparison

IntelliCAD has a very similar user interface as AutoCAD, supports the core AutoCAD commands and uses the DWG drawing formats 2009 to R14. For some Carlson commands, creating entities in AutoCAD is twice as fast as IntelliCAD which makes a significant difference in routines that create lots of entities.

The upcoming IntelliCAD 7 will be built on DWGdirect from the Open Design Alliance and will add a “DRX development environment” similar to ObjectARX with AutoCAD. Using DRX should greatly improve the speed of entity creation within IntelliCAD.

While most of the AutoCAD commands Carlson clients use in AutoCAD can also be found in IntelliCAD 6.4, there are many features in AutoCAD that are not in IntelliCAD. Among these features are ones for architectural and mechanical applications that don’t apply to Carlson customers. For this initial release of Carlson 2009 on IntelliCAD 6.4, here are AutoCAD commands that Carlson customers might miss:

Spell Check
DGN import/export
Orbit command
Find command
Express Tools
Tool Palettes
Annotative Text
Sheet Set Manager
Page Setup Manager
Import .PC3 Files
Irregular viewports
Clipboard commands for copybase and paste to original
VBA not supported for custom applications; VB with COM is supported
Object Enablers for LDT points and contours
User-interface for menu customizaiton (no CUI, old MNU method)
Ctrl-pick cycle for object selection
Dialog user interface for WBlock
Dialog user interface for Purge command
Dialog user interface for Filter command
Right-Click menus
Entity Properties as docked-dialog
Grip snapping to other grips
Highlighting of entities when dragging cursor over them
Mudst hatch pattern
If you identify any other AutoCAD feature that you miss when running Carlson with IntelliCAD, please email us at [email protected] and we willl add to this list which helps guide future developments.


“IntelliCAD Technology Consortium – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”
Available at: 09 April 2008

“IntelliCAD® Technology Consortium: The intelligent alternative for CAD developers.”
Available at: 09 April 2008

“Natural monopoly – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.”
Available at: 09 April 2008

“An Outside Look in at IntelliCAD.”
Available at: 09 April 2008

Information in this document is subject to change without notice and does not represent a commitment on the part of the vendor.

IntelliCAD® is a registered trademark of the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium, Inc. and is used under permission.

AutoCAD® is a registered trademark of Autodesk, Inc.

Windows® and Visio® are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.

All other registered or unregistered trademarks are the property of their respective holders.

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