It is no hidden secret that Apple is a little behind when it comes to engineering programs and structural analysis software. Most structural analysis and civil engineering software have been originally developed for Windows which is why any upgrades or additions are more easily added onto the same platform that they are initially built on.
In addition, FEA and other analysis programs require very high computing power, which Macs could not always provide. This is one of the reasons why PC has dominated the business sector for more than two decades. However, now that the computing performance of Mac has caught up, it now makes it a real consideration for any engineer or professional to use.
However, the acceptance of Mac in the Civil Engineering world has been slow, and this can be a frustrating and costly issue for Mac users - who have just forked out thousands on new hardware and wish to get started on their flashy new laptops! Below is a list of ways that Civil Engineers and Architects can use structural analysis software on their macs. The list is compiled for users of Apple Mac, iPad, Macbook or desktop Macintosh.
1. Parallels for Mac
Parallels is a program that makes it possible to run Windows on your Mac. This is convenient as you can just reinstall the structural analysis program using the Windows on your Mac. Simply purchase Parallels from apple.com and a copy of Windows from windows.com. You can then install any civil engineering software on the Windows part of your Mac. The software is extremely light weight and doesn't need to be running at all times - so you can switch over to Windows mode as you need it. This allows engineers to continue using Mac, then quickly switch over to Windows to use the engineering software. Click here from more information about Parallels or to purchase online. If you're a student, don't forget you can apply for the student discount and save on your purchases!
An alternative to using Parallels is by installing Windows on your Mac using Boot Camp. There is a great guide on how to install Window's 10 on a Mac using Boot Camp.
Pros: Can use more PC-compatible software
Cons: Clutters and slows down computer, significant setup time, additional cost, clunky
2. Obtain a copy of the Mac version of your program
At this time there are no other structural analysis software available on Mac, but there are some general structural engineering software available. So another option would be to purchase these versions and install them straight onto your Mac. If you already own the software on Windows, try calling the company who supplies the software and asking them whether they have a Mac version. This may involve purchasing another copy of the software, or in some instances the company may be willing to supply the software under your current license. It is important to note that many of the industry leaders for Structural Analysis software do not have Mac versions.
Pros: Native OSX software
Cons: Not many options, not very powerful, no structural analysis
3. Use SkyCiv (Cloud Software)
Cloud Software is simply a program that requires no installation and is directly accessible through your web browser. You simply visit a website, sign in and use the program - no matter what computer you are using. SkyCiv Structural 3D is one such software and offers a powerful structural analysis software on mac including structural analysis and design of steel, concrete, connections and foundations. It's basically a RISA or SAP2000 for Mac. This means anybody can access the software from any browser - no matter if it is Mac or PC. Personally, I use a Mac (I prefer its speed and easy functionality) and have found that SkyCiv software works really well with all versions of Apple Mac or Macintosh. If you're on a Mac right now register for a free account and try it for yourself!
The software is lightweight and easy to use, but still has the power you would expect to see from your structural analysis software; including buckling, cable, plate analysis with linear and non-linear analysis. It also has integrated design software for AISC, NDS, ACI, Eurocode, Australian Standards and CSA.
Pros: Powerful, no clutter on PC, no complex installation or setup
Cons: Not your usual software
CEO and Co-Founder of SkyCiv BEng (Civil), BCom LinkedIn