Software Review: Intergraph Imagineer

Software Review

Imagine Something Better

by J.A. Hitchcock
Intergraph did fine by me when I got to review version 1 of their Imagineer 2D design software. I was very impressed and had a lot of fun designing things with it. Then I got a package in the mail recently from Intergraph version 2.0 of Imagineer. How in the world, I thought, could they improve an already great product?

Improve it they did. Now not only does Imagineer work smarter and faster, it incorporates the web browser you use into the program so that you can access the tutorials, symbols and HTML pages while in Imagineer (it does have a complimentary copy of Microsoft's Internet Explorer on the CD in case you don't have a web browser). Amazing stuff, folks!

Intergraph touts Imagineer as "the Next Generation of CAD" and they aren't fooling. I am pretty computer literate, but when it comes to CAD software I am a lost soul. I can't figure out what to put where, how to move an object so that I like it and how to draw something that looks like what I'm imagining in my head. Imagineer makes CAD easier not only to understand, but to use, too.

You don't have to have a Pentium 200 or higher to run Imagineer (although I'm sure it runs like gangbusters if you do). I have a Pentium 90 with 24 megabytes of RAM and had no problems installing or running the program. I followed the instructions in the "Quick Start" insert, read through the beginning of the manual and even watched a nifty video before actually using the program. I felt like I'd been in a class to learn how to use it after all this!

Once loaded and running, I decided to check out some of the sample designs in the architectural section of the CD ROM. I looked at some floor plans, some building plans and was itching to go. I will be using the program to design ship model parts for my husband (he'll be making them full-time beginning late 1998), so I decided to take a stab at designing a brass fitting from scratch. I had an actual brass fitting sitting on my desk to use as a model for the design. I set about drawing the lines and if a line was too squiggly, Imagineer straightened it out for me, courtesy of their FreeSketch function, which takes freehand drawing like what I was doing and makes it look good. Even the circles and arcs I drew were automatically modified if there was a minor error. The end result was a pretty decent-looking brass fitting design. My husband was impressed, so much so, he is thinking about putting Imagineer on his computer, too.

Another thing I like about version 2.0 of Imagineer is its compatibility with Microsoft's Office97. Although I don't have that yet (maybe Bill Gates will be nice enough to send me a review copy -- hint, hint), when I do get it I'll be able to integrate any work I do in Imagineer with MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the other Office97 applications. Since many businesses do use Office97, this is definitely a plus.

Other new features for version 2.0 are that it has IntelliMouse, an interactive zoom and pan function, a viewer so that others can view Imagineer files without loading the entire program and runs faster than AutoCAD LT on a 16MB 486 computer, among others.

Although Intergraph offers online and telephone support (telephone support is a toll-free number for 90 days with product registration), I didn't have to use it because Imagineer was so easy to set up and use. Although targeted for architects, engineers and the like, anyone with a heavy design or CAD background would be very interested in using Imagineer for their next project.

Since an upgrade from version 1.0 to version 2.0 is only $99 retail, it's a drop in the bucket for all the new features, the ease of use and the increased speed. Imagineer Technical 2.0 is another feather in Intergraph's cap. If a non-CAD person like me can use Imagineer with ease, imagine what people who do know CAD can do?

PRODUCT: Intergraph Imagineer Technical, Version 2.0, 2D precision design software
PRICE: $99 upgrade/educational, $495 single-user (multi-user packs available), available through Intergraph by calling 800-292-9761
SPECS: Intuitive SmartSketch technology for fast, easy drawing; "remembered" geometric relationships for easy changs, parametric design; Web-charged for easy use with web browser, web publishing and Internet Community for local and online access to support, tutorials, samples and more; OLE compliance to combine drawings with spreadsheets, text, etc; customize using VisualBasic or other Active X Automation tools; database integration; raster support including editing capabilities, more.
MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: 486/66 or higher PC; Windows 95 or Windows NT 4.0; 16MB RAM for Win95, 32MB RAM for Windows NT; 25MB hard disk space for setup, 50MB needed for typical setup; 800x600 video resolution; CD-ROM drive; Microsoft mouse or compatible.
RECOMMENDED: Pentium processor, soundcard and 4x or higher CD-ROM drive.
FOR MORE INFO: Visit Intergraph's Imagineer Technical website at or contact them at 1-800-292-9761.

J.A. Hitchcock is a regular contributor to Compute Me. Visit her web site at

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