Hot Door, Inc. is a software development company based in Portland, Oregon. The company was started in 1995 by designers Brendon and Shari Cheves and continues to be driven by their vision and tenacity. Products include commercial plug-ins, like CADtools and MultiPage, as well as online applications and projects like this custom web site and online store. In the last 25 years, the business has grown steadily with the same focus: user-friendly software tools for design professionals. We always enjoy giving our customers personal attention with free, friendly phone support!
The first product, CADtools, was conceptualized in a university classroom in 1996. Brendon Cheves had recently graduated with a degree in computer interface design and was teaching part-time in computer-aided design. His students were using Adobe Illustrator to modify and enhance CAD files for presentation. They were burdened by the time and effort required to move back and forth between programs to merge graphics and dimensions. Brendon learned that Adobe Illustrator contained a plug-in infrastructure that allowed programming of additional features. The first version of CADtools was released for the new Adobe Illustrator 7 in May 1997.
Almost immediately, Hot Door received interest from Japan in localization and distribution. Applicraft was selected to handle this important commitment and has continued to be an invaluable partner. CADtools was hugely popular with Adobe Illustrator users, appealing to many different types of professions including environmental design, sign design, architecture, manufacturing, engineering, technical illustration, etc. Hot Door continued to develop more plug-ins for Illustrator and Photoshop to meet specific design needs not met with the applications. Hot Door Harmony was released in 1998 for Photoshop -- a color selection tool based on extensive color theory research. By the end of 1998, Hot Door Transparency was released to offer new transparent effects in Illustrator. Transparency quickly expired once Adobe added transparency effects to Illustrator in 1999.
Hot Door released both CADtools 2 and MultiPage in 2000. MultiPage offered a clever solution to bring publishing power to Illustrator with multiple page organization, printing, and PDF export. CADtools 2 was a major upgrade based entirely on user requests, offering new live dimensioning, multiple scales, and dozens of other features. The new Hot Door online store allowed for instant purchase and download, as well as the sale of third-party plug-ins. The Hot Door staff increased to include technical support and distribution specialists. 2000 was an accelerated year with products and people!
In 2002, Hot Door released Perspective to provide realistic perspective drawing features for Adobe Illustrator. Perspective proved to be the biggest development challenge to date, requiring extensive calculations to create special grids and views. As with every product, the customer feedback was wonderful, motivating more product ideas. The long-awaited CADtools 3 upgrade was released in October 2003 in response to the growing need for both 2D and isometric drawing/dimensioning features inside Adobe Illustrator. MultiPage 2 followed in 2004 for Illustrator CS with dramatic improvements to PDF file size and color page previews.
CADtools 4 was released in 2005 with improved wall tools, path division, auto-dimensioning, and necessary compatibility with Illustrator CS2. Each version of Illustrator introduced new features and code changes which result in new challenges in plug-in development. We were also proud of our own custom online store which debuted with CADtools 4, providing a user-friendly method of purchasing software with frame-based product configuration. In 2006 we completed compatibility upgrades for CS2, including MultiPage 3, CADpatterns, and Perspective for CS2. AppliCraft also updated CADgate for CS2 on Windows which added new DXF/DWG import and scaled export with Illustrator.
After another year of development, CADtools 5 was launched in 2007 for Illustrator CS3 on Power PC/Intel Macs and Windows XP/Vista, improving project workflow with CADtools presets, label options, full screen cursors, and additional custom scale support. New tools include perpendicular and tangent drawing, fillet radius and offset tools by popular demand. MultiPage 4 and Perspective compatibility for CS3 followed. We continued our support of Adobe Illustrator with CADtools 6 in early 2009. New features include an innovative Scale Calculator and tools for adjusting proportion and measuring distance. The simultaneous upgrade of our online store supports new, easy retrieval of serial numbers and multiple license discounts. CADtools 7 quickly followed for CS5 compatibility, adding new art generation tools for tables, title blocks and door/window insertion.
CADtools 8 required complete reconstruction after Adobe removed Adobe Dialog Manager from Adobe Illustrator. This unprecedented effort required years of programming perseverance and resulted in a six-month delay in release. Once the overhaul was complete in late 2012, CADtools 8 sparkled with much greater performance and interface organization. Most importantly, the new underlying Hot Door CORE™ technology promised faster, flexible, and more powerful upgrades in the future.
CADtools 9 and 10 were developed with much greater confidence using Hot Door CORE™ with its ability to facilitate rapid improvements. The technology allowed a fresh focus on productivity tools, shortcuts, and CAD education. In version 9, the innovative Universal Dimension tool condensed many dimensioning tools into one. In 2015, an experimental, more sophisticated productivity tool was created and released called ControlFreak. This product was later segmented into tool groups and re-released as the Control Plug-In suite – purchasable by tool group or as one complete set. By 2016, CADtools 10 unveiled new directions in ease-of-use and accessibility. This release completely reconstructed the user guide as a context-sensitive, in-app reference with quick video tutorials. Live CADtools symbols also offered hundreds of objects in architecture, people, and landscape libraries with automatic adjustment for scale.
CADtools 11 added new dimensioning styles for UX and web design while integrating live chat for convenient technical support. Later updates to version 11 included the first subscription version of CADtools. To keep in line with our customer-friendly focus, we maintained our traditional full and upgrade licenses for customers that were not yet ready to make the leap to annual subscriptions.
CADtools 12 in 2019 added six construction and engineering calculators that proved so useful that many users wondered why they weren't added a long time ago! Also in 2019, Adobe ramped up their production schedule to release bug fixes and minor feature improvements to Illustrator every couple months. Hot Door kept up with Adobe's pace with nineteen fast and free updates to CADtools 12.
CADtools 13 brought fully native Apple Silicon support to the plug-in as well as expanded CADguides, in-place dimensions, automatic scale on paste and ten more axonometric drawing and dimensioning tools. Many of these new features would have never been possible when we started CADtools back in the 90s!
We are continually amazed by the work of our customers who use our products for thousands of different design tasks every day. We are so fortunate to have a passionate team that helps designers transform tedious, complicated tasks into graceful and beautiful experiences. Thank you all for your support, and keep up the great work!