AutoCAD is the most
widely used CAD software, but it is expensive, even in the LT version.
And if you are contemplating learning CAD there is a steep learning
curve. So what is the alternative? I have tried a number of these.
used to have a copy of IntelliCAD Professional.The IntelliCAD
Technology Consortium (ITC) is a cooperative consisting of a number of
member companies producing general and specialised software using the IntelliCAD engine.
There are currently three
retail CAD programs employing the Graebert ARES CAD
engine; Graebert's own retail package ARES Commander,
Draftsight, and CorelCAD. ARES has most of the functions of
full-blown AutoCAD and nearly the same commands and
synax, but not the same code base. AutoCAD add-ins will
not necessarily work in basic versions, but some functionality is
available in retail paid-for versions, such as LISP routines and
VSTA (Microsoft® Visual Studio Tools for Applications). There are a few
add-ins. ARES Commander is also available for MacOS.
have used all of the above at different times, and all are of industry
standard quality. There are no longer any free versions apart
from NanoCAD, a Russian CAD package with substantially the same
commands as AutoCAD, that used to have a free version, and may still be
reasonably priced. QCAD is available for both Windows and Linux, but
does not use the same commands, and I have not been able to create a
workable "alias" command list. LibreCAD
is being developed, and is cross-platform eg runs on Windows, MacOS and
Linux. This is making progress. It will load DWG format files up to
version AC1015, and can save in DXF format. Commands are closer to
AutoCAD commands and there is an alias file that can be edited.
There are other CAD packages, but
in my view, anyone likely to be involved in construction work will need
to have something that is at least AutoCAD compliant.
have tired of being dependent on Windows, and am gradually transferring
everything over to Linux. I purchased the "for life" version of ARES
which costs a lot (for me) at ~$1700 aud, but provides industry standard CAD for both Windows
and Linux, and one purchase provides the program for 2 devices. So I
have ARES on Windows, a Linux desktop and a Linux laptop, with swappable licensing.
"Dedicated CAD workstations" are expensive - because they are supposed
to be expensive?
My Linux desktop is a
Dell Optiplex 9020, 12GB RAM, purchased from a local pc recycler
for $80, and the $200 Lenovo laptop has 8GB RAM. Both run ARES
Commander 2023 fast on Linux Mint 21 Xfce. If the Windows desktop becomes a liability I will convert it to Linux.