Can DRAFTSIGHT replace your friendly AutoCAD?

Not many people in the world know more about AutoCAD® than Lynn Allen, the famous tech evangelist, who spent more than 20 years promoting annual releases, producing hundreds of tips videos, writing three books books about AutoCAD, etc. She recently shared her thoughts on DraftSight in an article for (Autodesk User Group International) and whether it really is a viable alternative to AutoCAD.

I have spent my career using, teaching and promoting AutoCAD. Not many people in the world know the product better than me because I built my knowledge on the product Release 1.4, adding new features every release along the way ... Spend more than 20 years with Autodesk promoting “AutoCAD Best Release” every year and I definitely feel at home in product, like many of you. I have written three AutoCAD books, 20 years worth of AutoCAD articles for Cadalyst Magazine and produced hundreds of AutoCAD tips videos.

But the world around me changed and I was finally leaving my comfortable AutoCAD / Autodesk days. I no longer get confused by everything Autodesk is and I realize that there are many other CAD options out there, especially for those who don't want to pay the hefty price tag for AutoCAD. But were they good enough? Are they compatible with DWG files? Are these "CAD replicas" like low-cost Louis Vuitton knockoffs or are they robust, quality CAD solutions? And most importantly (for someone who loves her AutoCAD) will I be able to feel comfortable in a new CAD environment?

Since joining Dassault Systèmes and contacted DraftSight, I am happy to say the answer is "Yes!" Very big. DraftSight not only generates 100% compatible DWG files (complete with blocks, size styles, layers, etc.) for a fraction of the cost, but you'll feel right at home right away with DraftSight. User Interface has a cozy, comfortable AutoCAD-like interface, and the naming convention for most commands is virtually the same. The best part? Even if the commands are slightly different - you can enter the AutoCAD command name and it will know exactly which command to execute in DraftSight. OK you now have my attention!

If you're like me, you don't want to have to re-learn all of your favorite command names. For example, you want to your drawing file. In AutoCAD we will do the PURGE command - in DraftSight - it is the CLEAN (or CL) command. But you don't have to worry about your pretty little head - just press the PURGE key (or PU) or the tool the toolbar or ribbon and you're ready to go!

This brings me to another point - Autodesk has essentially pushed its users to embrace the ribbon ... even to the point of hiding Classic workspaces in recent releases. Do you want to work with pull-down bars and toolbars in AutoCAD? It's okay ... the choice is yours - DraftSight is much less "bossy" and much easier to choose from. The function keys are set the same, you can double-click on the objects to edit, and of course - the beloved command line is in the lower corner where the CAD gods have been intended (although you can And they don't force that creepy gray on you either (does anyone really like that gray?) It has been shown that black on white is easy for our eyes to tell, fish By the way, the blue over gray icon is always very complicated.

Sadly, DraftSight doesn't have the ability to change status bar icons back to text, an issue that AutoCAD users have been asking for for years. They are at least more distinguishable in DraftSight (and thankfully, not too many things get stuck together).

One of the most powerful (top secret) tools in AutoCAD, Constraints, is front and center in DraftSight. Constraints are an entry point for the parameters, and users of the constraints have an easier time moving to the next CAD level (such as SOLIDWORKS or BIM). Hence, I welcome DraftSight to give Constraints its very own tab on the Ribbon.

And as you can recall, even when I was still at Autodesk, I was very envious of the PowerTrim command. TRIM and EXTEND are two of the most frequently used commands in AutoCAD and DraftSight take these commands to the next level as shown in Figure 3. No need to waste time selecting cutting edges and boundaries - just jump now Enter and start cutting (or expanding! )

One of the tools DraftSight supports that most other non-AutoCAD products don't have is Dynamic Blocks. After you've created a library of powerful Dynamic Blocks in AutoCAD, you'll find it difficult to live without them and - thankfully that's not the problem with DraftSight as shown in Figure 4.

Can you customize it? Sure! You can modify toolbars, ribbons, shortcuts, and more. In fact, I think the CUI version of DraftSight is easier to use than AutoCAD. Can you run LISP processes? You bet! Your AutoLISP processes and Script file should work like a charm in DraftSight.

DraftSight was originally designed to help SOLIDWORKS users solve the DWG file compatibility issues they encountered with AutoCAD. Everyone was amazed because this resulted in millions of downloads. Initially it also focuses on the Mechanical market and you will see many powerful features (including ToolBox) for Mechanical Designers. As time passed, however, the rest of Design World learned about DraftSight and the user base that has grown to include a remarkable proportion of the AEC. Consequently, the DraftSight team has been very interested in product development with commands for all industries (including the path to BIM!).

You will also find that DraftSight can save ALL ways back to the AutoCAD Release 12 DWG file. Not 2012 ... but literally AutoCAD Release 12 (we're talking in the early 90s!) I know companies that have switched to DraftSight just because of the robust file saving capabilities shown in Figure 5.

Since DraftSight doesn't have to carry the luggage of a nearly 40-year-old CAD product, you'll find that it's also much lighter. The hardware requirements and processing power are much less than that of AutoCAD (which also saves you money on hardware). Does it have all the commands that AutoCAD has? Absolutely not - but why? Do you need an order for 38 years? You need the best commands, the latest commands, the commands that will help you get your job done. The most frequently requested and used commands are included in DraftSight. Orders needed over 30 years ago that didn't make sense are simply not included now.

There are several DraftSight packages to choose based on your budget and needs. DraftSight Standard is only $ 99 per year but won't let you run any AutoLISP processes and lacks some of the advanced features like Formulas in Tables. Compare this to AutoCAD LT at $ 420 a year.

I am part of DraftSight Professional, closer to official AutoCAD without 3D. You get advanced AutoCAD features and have access to the API. At $ 199 a year, it's a bargain and worth $ 100 more than the Standard version in my eyes.

If you really need 3D - then you should check out DraftSight Premium. For $ 499 per year, you have the ability to model solid and surface surfaces for just $ 1,690 a year for AutoCAD. You also get great Constraints that take you on the way to smarter parameter objects. I've never been a fan of AutoCAD 3D and prefer to use parametric solid modeling like SolidWorks or Autodesk Revit but of course the choice is yours.

Also, unlike AutoCAD, you can purchase a perpetual version of a product (DraftSight Enterprise) for those of you who like the comfort of actually owning a product. During these enrollment days, I increasingly prefer lower annual fees and automatic updates, especially because DraftSight is constantly adding great new features, but the choice is yours.

Don't listen to me - download DraftSight's free trial and see for yourself. Only then will you know if you can adjust for small differences that a large change in price makes. I want to believe that if I can do it - anyone can!

Author: Lynn.Allen

In his over 20-year career as an Evangelist, first for Autodesk and now at Dassault Systèmes, Lynn Allen has spoken to over half a million professionals at events in more than 50 countries. family. Her online presentations and videos have easily reached more than five million people. Her passion and power are to connect with users, embrace change, and illuminate new technology. For more than 20 years, she has written an AutoCAD column for Cadalyst magazine and is the voice of the very popular videos - "AutoCAD Tips and Tricks with Lynn Allen". Author of three AutoCAD books - Lynn has more than 21,000 followers on Twitter (Lynn_Allen) with more than a quarter of a million impressions per month.

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