Monday, September 20, 2010

DraftSight still free and now available for MAC

Dassault Systemes, makers of CATIA and Solidworks, put out a free 2D drafting program called DraftSight a few months ago.   As soon as I saw this I downloaded DraftSight and gave it to an intern to break.  From time to time I also used it in production.  Now, DraftSight is available for free on a MAC.  If you are running a PC or a MAC you can use DraftSight, for free.  I have a few opinions on DraftSght and I would like to share them with you.

In short, I feel that DraftSight is both good and bad.  My recommendation for it, or against it, will depend on your situation.

First, the reasons to use it.

  • It's free.  This is the best reason to use it.  It's free.  What else can I say.  It is definitely worth the cost.
  • It can read/write DWG files.
  • If you are an AutoCAD User/Veteran, it "feels" like AutoCADr14 or maybe even AutoCAD 2000.
  • It's keyboard commands recognized standard AutoCAD keyboard commands.  "L" is for "line".
  • AutoCAD users can work with DraftSight right away.
Now, my reasons not to use it.
  • It can only draw in two dimensions.
  • Lisp is not yet functional (but we are told it will be soon so I hesitate to bring this up)
  • It lacks powerful design/drafting tools (for example: Dynamic Blocks, Constraints, Sheet Managers)
  • Can not reference PDF files.
DraftSight is great for making 2D line drawings with no intelligence.  If all you and your firm do is make line drawings then you should use DraftSight.  If you are a hobbyist or need a drafting tool at home, please use DraftSight.

If you produce multiple sheet drawing sets, use something else.  If you need aerial images or PDF files in your drawings, use something else.  If you need design tools like Dynamic Blocks, or Parametric Constraints don't use DraftSight.  If you ever need to create a 3D model, even a basic one, use something else.  

DraftSight is a great 2D companion program to run alongside a powerful 3D design package, but it can't do everything.  I'll be the first to admit that I am an AutoCAD Fanboy, but I feel that DraftSight has its place.  It is an easy to use 2D drafting tool.  It's features are similar to AutoCAD r14 or AutoCAD 2000.  But it lacks many of the enhanced features that Autodesk has put into AutoCAD over the last ten years.  If you want a powerhouse CAD program that can do everything from 2D linework to 2D Constrained Design and all the way to 3D free form surface and mesh modeling, then pay for it and get AutoCAD.  AutoCAD isn't cheap, but DraftSight is.  DraftSight is limited in what it can do, but if that's all you need why pay for more?

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