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Developer(s) IntelliCAD Technology Consortium
Stable release June 15, 2014. V 8.0[1]
Operating system Windows
Type CAD
License Proprietary software

IntelliCAD is a CAD-software programming toolkit and API published by the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium ("ITC"). IntelliCAD aims (at some levels) to emulate the basic interface and functions of AutoCAD.[2] Unlike typical CAD programs, ITC IntelliCAD is not sold directly to end users. ITC IntelliCAD is exclusively licensed to Consortium members who pay fees[3] in exchange for permission and guidance to include IntelliCAD technology in final OEM "IntelliCAD"[4] (and other) products with their own end user license agreements. The ITC has nearly 50 members.[5]


  • IntelliCAD Technology Consortium 1
  • IntelliCAD Functionality 2
  • History 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

IntelliCAD Technology Consortium

The IntelliCAD Technology Consortium ("ITC") is the non-profit organizational body of developers maintaining all vanilla-stock IntelliCAD source code toolkits and APIs for their CAD interface. The ITC also develops several advanced integrations with third-party technologies. These third-party technologies include the DWGdirect library (now called "Teigha for .dwg files") from the Open Design Alliance,[6] which reads and writes the “.dwg” data format, and the ACIS 3D modeling kernel from Spatial Technology. The ITC office base is in Portland, Oregon, USA.

IntelliCAD Functionality

Modern IntelliCAD toolkits not only provide partial compatibility with .dwg, but also has a set of commands similar to AutoCAD by Autodesk, Inc. Similarly, IntelliCAD provides several calling convention routines, or APIs, such as LISP, COM, Visual Basic, and SDS (IntelliCAD's C/C++ Programming API) that allow users the ability to create complex custom CAD applications.[7]

One focus of ITC development is improving compatibility between IntelliCAD and AutoCAD:[3]

  • Read and write binary .dwg file format using technology from the Open Design Alliance[8]
  • AutoCAD-like command line, menu (.MNU) and script (.SCR) files (AutoLISP macro language), hatches, fonts and true type fonts.
  • new: developing method DRX, comparable to AutoCAD's ARX.

Toolkit features also include support for complex linetypes, multiline text, lightweight polyline, draworder, audit & recover, ADS support in most applications[9] and raster image tools.


"IntelliCADD" began as an independent AM/FM/GIS (Automated Mapping/Facilities Management/Geographic Information System) software firm in La Mesa, CA USA. One of its products, AutoCAD Data Extension, allowed multiple users to access the same AutoCAD drawing, or have a single drawing point to entities stored in other drawings.[10] Softdesk, the then-largest third-party product developer for Autodesk, acquired this company in 1994 and used the know-how to secretly develop an AutoCAD clone.[11] Autodesk had recently entered into direct competition with Cyco Software (another third-party Autodesk partner), and Softdesk was concerned that the same could happen to them. The AutoCAD-clone project was kept semi-secret under the project name "Phoenix".

In December 1996 Autodesk announced that it would instead buy Softdesk outright for $90 million in common stock. A complaint regarding the inclusive sale of IntelliCADD was filed with the US Federal Trade Commission ("FTC"). According to FTC Docket No. C-3756:

In approximately June 1996, Softdesk determined that it no longer had the financial ability to support continued development and marketing of the IntelliCADD product. The head of the team that had developed the product proposed to purchase the technology and formed Boomerang Technology, Inc. ("Boomerang") for the purpose of acquiring the product, completing its development, and bringing the product to market. Boomerang negotiated with Softdesk for the purchase of the IntelliCADD product and exchanged draft purchase agreements with Softdesk. Softdesk, however, terminated those negotiations at around the time that Autodesk agreed to acquire Softdesk. Softdesk representatives previously told Boomerang that Softdesk would sell the IntelliCADD product to Boomerang if Softdesk were purchased by someone other than Autodesk, but would not sell it to Boomerang if Softdesk were purchased by Autodesk...
After being advised by Commission staff that Autodesk's acquisition of Softdesk raised competitive concerns in the market for personal computer-based CAD engines, Softdesk resumed negotiations with Boomerang and divested and sold all of its rights in the IntelliCADD product to Boomerang pursuant to a Technology Transfer Agreement dated February 21, 1997. On that same date, Boomerang assigned and sold all of its rights to the IntelliCADD product to Visio Corporation.

By late 1996 a formal search for new venture capital was underway. Marketing director Robert Drummer was referred to John Forbes at Visio Corporation[12] and "gave him the pitch". Further according to his own first-hand account,[13] "He (John Forbes) called back a few hours later and said that he along with Jeremy Jaech and Ted Johnson would be chartering a plane that day and would be down to take a look at a demo. They arrived in San Diego that evening." A core team of nine Softdesk/IntelliCADD developers soon moved to become employees of Visio. In March 1997 the FTC forbade "Autodesk or Softdesk from re-acquiring the IntelliCADD product or any entity that owns or controls it, without prior notice to the Commission for a 10 year period".[14][15] The FTC granted Visio leave to acquire Boomerang completely for $6.7 million in the same ruling that prevented Autodesk from doing so (above).[16] IntelliCAD's original architect, Mike Bailey, turned and left Visio before the first release. Nevertheless, after several years of background development, "Visio IntelliCAD" (one 'D' for the product, two for name of the original company) was finally released for the first time to the public in 1998[17] with a very low price compared to AutoCAD. Twelve thousand licenses of IntelliCAD were sold in the first three months before new concerns over software stability emerged. Visio's IntelliCAD 98 sold about 30,000 copies—far less than some expected. IntelliCAD development seemed to need more resources than Visio could grant it.[18] At this point, Visio "granted a royalty- free, perpetual license for the IntelliCAD (2000 version) source code to The IntelliCAD Technology Consortium".[19][20]

On September 15, 1999 Microsoft announced that it would acquire Visio Corporation (completed in January 2000)—a deal that evidently included Visio's IntelliCAD 98.[21] A new IntelliCAD 2000 source code branch, however, continued independent development under the new ITC.[22]

IntelliCAD 3 (IntelliCAD 2001) introduced complex linetypes, XREF clipping and IntelliCAD's first display and printing of ACIS 3D solids on May 22, 2001.[23] IntelliCAD 4 followed with full ACIS 3D solid modelling. In October 2004, the ITC announced IntelliCAD 5,[24] which added tabbed workspaces and DWF support. The ITC also announced a new partnership with SolidWorks.[25] On October 29, 2008 the first test release of the new IntelliCAD version 7 was announced at the annual ITC meeting held in Athens, Greece.[26] Among the features is complete replacement of the old ITC internal entity database and old "SDS" API with newer DWGdirect and DRX APIs from the ODA.[27] As of 2009, about 50 ITC members globally shared in IntelliCAD development.

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ Note some end-user products may use the expression "IntelliCAD" within the product name.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Private email sent from Robert Drummer to contributor, 2010 January.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  • "ITC Releases IntelliCAD 6.4", Cadalyst Magazine, August 29, 2007. Accessed June 27, 2008.
  • OutsideLookAtIntelliCAD An Outside look at Intellicad, IntelliCAD World Meeting, Ralph Grabowski, October 2004.
  •, Autodesk, Softdesk Settle FTC Charges, Federal Trade Commission, March 1997
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