Technical Communication

Getting Started With DraftSight

By Mike Walloch on February 16, 2021

If you’re new to DraftSight and could use help getting started, you’re in the right place. Whether just getting started with CAD, or a veteran AutoCAD user making the switch like so many others, you’ll be happy to know you don’t have a large learning curve in front of you.

What is DraftSight?

You may be wondering what DraftSight is, exactly? It’s a professional quality CAD tool used primarily for 2D drafting, and in some cases for 3D modeling. Its native file format is DWG, same as the venerable AutoCAD, so file conversion is not necessary if you are one of the many users switching to DraftSight. It’s an easy, inexpensive solution for creating DWG or DXF files, or maintaining legacy CAD files.

Like SOLIDWORKS, DraftSight is part of the Dassault Systemes family of products. It’s available in three different performance tiers with a variety of licensing options. Currently there are six versions of DraftSight and here's how the licenses break down:

User Interface

DraftSight’s user interface centers around the graphics area, where you view the drawing or model you’re currently working on. Various palettes for managing drawing entities, properties, etc. are located to the right of the graphics area. Menus appear above the graphics area. A drop-down selection box at the top-left of the screen lets you easily switch between a ‘Drafting and Annotation’ ribbon-style menu, a ‘Classic’ interface with pull-down menus and toolbars, and a ‘3D Modeling’ menu when applicable.

DraftSight Ribbon Menu

The command window and command line are located below the graphics area. The command line is the primary place where commands are issued and options are selected. Menu selections, toolbars, and various other shortcuts simply enter commands at the command line for you. Your last several lines are displayed for easy reference. The F2 key will give you a full pop-up of the command window where you can see every command you’ve issued back to the beginning of the current session.

A major advantage of this interface is you don’t have to know the exact name of a command or where to find it in a menu. As you type, DraftSight presents you with a list of matching commands you can pick from! You can easily create command aliases so you don’t have to type much to issue a command. For all the commands I use frequently, I make sure the aliases are only 1 or 2 characters long, so it’s often faster for me to type a command than to pick it from a menu with the mouse.

DraftSight Command Window

AutoCAD users switching to DraftSight will be happy to know many aliases are already set up with you in mind. You can type familiar command names and the system will automatically issue the equivalent DraftSight command name. Model and sheet working spaces, layers, file templates, and many other features will also help make you feel right at home.

>> Should You Change from AutoCAD to DraftSight?

Settings & Options

Below the command line is the status bar, which displays tooltips, settings, and coordinates. This isn’t just a static display, but includes toggles for settings, a quick input tool, and annotative scale selection. It also displays what version of DraftSight you’re using.
The entire interface is customizable. You can:

  • Move Menus and Toolbars Around
  • Change Their Contents
  • Alter Colors
  • Choose Between a Cursor or a Crosshair to Indicate Mouse Position
  • Change the Size and Appearance of Your Crosshair if You Go That Route
  • And More!

Settings are easy to find through the ‘Options’ dialog box, broken up into logical sections based on subject matter. There’s also a ‘Find’ bar at the bottom where you can quickly locate the setting you’re looking for if you have some idea of what it’s called.

DraftSight System Options

You can save your personal settings and preferences to a named profile. You can quickly toggle between your profile and others, so you can share DraftSight with a colleague with minimal frustration. Or you could create different profiles based on the type of work being done. For example, you might want different profiles for architectural, electrical, or mechanical work.

DraftSight Training

TriMech offers an instructor-led DraftSight Essentials training class by request. After just 10 lessons you’ll be off and drafting! The DraftSight Essentials manual is an excellent reference to keep on hand long after your training, and you can get a free electronic copy to go with it. Contact us for more information or to schedule a class.

For some of the more advanced capabilities of DraftSight, such as 3D modeling and 2D constraints, free training videos have been provided. Just log in to my.solidworks.com, go to the ‘Training’ section, and search for DraftSight. There is also a sizable DraftSight YouTube channel with nearly 200 short, helpful videos on many topics. A large user base ensures DraftSight is well represented on other channels and websites as well.

Give DraftSight a Try!

If you’re a hobbyist who needs a simple CAD solution to sketch out some ideas, or maybe draw some floorplans, DraftSight has you covered. If you’re a professional drafter, designer, architect, engineer, or machinist who needs a robust CAD solution, DraftSight can help. Whatever your needs may be, the combination of a simple user interface, clear help files, training options, and a large community of users are ready to help you get started now.

If you have questions about DraftSight or are ready to upgrade to a more robust 3D CAD system, contact our sales team with your questions.

Contact TriMech