Styles&Wood. Smoother, smarter spaces with AutoCAD for Mac.

Styles&Wood is the UK's leading provider of property services to major retailers, banks and commercial organisations. Its design and architecture division provides outsourced store design services to well-known names, such as Barclays, Lloyds TSB and Nationwide in the finance sector, Selfridges and B&Q in the retail sector, and Makro and Lidl in food retailing.

The company's goal is to provide "smoother, smarter spaces" for its customers, and AutoCAD is at the heart of delivering on that aim. Around 40 staff in Styles&Wood's design and architecture division, working across the company's three offices in London, Nottingham and Manchester, use AutoCAD. It’s used to put together mainly 2D drawings, creating plans, sections and elevations that are utilised at every stage, from feasibility and technical surveys to construction and refit.

"Our key differentiator from a lot of architectural practices is the volume of projects we do", explains Nick Openshaw, business unit director for the design and architecture division at Styles&Wood. "Rather than doing a few very large projects, we handle many smaller ones, typically working on 20 projects a week for each of our clients. Our business is driven by quality of delivery and meeting demanding timescales, with many projects needing fast turnaround".

With the current AutoCAD environment providing effective support for Styles&Wood's operations, why did the company leap at the chance to become involved in the beta programme for AutoCAD for Mac? "Styles&Wood has been waiting a long time for AutoCAD to come back to the Apple Mac", says Andrew Handley, CAD development manager at Styles&Wood. "There's been growing interest in having Apple Macs in the business to allow us to further diversify the wide range of tools that we already use for design work. However, as AutoCAD is such an important tool within the business, having AutoCAD for Mac really was the clincher for us to make that move".

Openshaw adds: "There's real business benefit for Styles&Wood in working more closely with Autodesk and Apple. We can have all the advantages of ease-of-use of the Apple interface, but with PC software on the same machine. Having worked on both Apple and PC-based systems, I also know the Mac is inherently a more stable product and the hardware is leading-edge in terms of performance".

Openshaw admits that "there's also a bit of a reflected glow from being associated with a brand as strong as Apple. Immediately, when customers understand that you’re using Apple hardware, they take more interest than if you're just another business on Windows-based PCs; people associate quality and innovation with working on the Mac. Working with Autodesk and Apple on the beta programme for AutoCAD for Mac very clearly allows us to demonstrate that we're always looking for opportunities to improve and deliver best value for our customers, and ultimately deliver smoother, smarter spaces for them. This will give us a competitive edge, which is really important for us in the current market. It's also a chance to enhance the way that we work, bringing new opportunities, and driving innovation and review of our existing workflows with the Windows PC version of AutoCAD".

While it's still early days, Handley has been very impressed by what he's seen so far of AutoCAD for Mac during the beta programme. "We're confident it's going to be a very reliable product and that all the functionality we need will be there in the final release. Although Autodesk has made AutoCAD for Mac a native Mac application, it's still similar enough to the PC version that even long-term users who rely on the command line will be able to make the transition easily from one to the other. At the same time, features in AutoCAD for Mac - such as the workflow palette, which puts tools very directly at users' fingertips - present us with opportunities to create new workflows that haven't been possible in the PC version of AutoCAD. It also encourages us to revisit the way we design customised workflows for AutoCAD on the PC".

On top of that, Handley points out that one of the big advantages of AutoCAD for Mac is that Autodesk has been able to go back to basics and re-write the User Interface from the ground up, which is delivering substantial speed benefits. "One good example of speed difference is, batch processing of large collections of drawings for multiple stores in our customers' portfolios", he explains. "In tests, we found the batch process ran around three times faster than we'd expect on the PC, which will save us days of staff time over the course of the year. At the same time, we still get the history and the legacy of everything Autodesk learned in developing AutoCAD on the PC".