There are plenty of 2D CAD packages out there and determining which one is right for you can sometimes be tricky. Maybe you are exploring switching your 2D CAD platform or are purchasing one for the first time. There are several factors to consider before deciding. Let’s dive in and look at some of the key features when comparing 2D CAD options.
Do You Primarily Design in 2D?
If you’re switching, then this is a key point to address. If all you need to do is simple changes to legacy drawings or just view them in general, then a platform like AutoCAD or SOLIDWORKS might be overkill. Just viewing drawings can be achieved with a free reader like eDrawings and a 2D CAD program like DraftSight can handle most editing tasks.
What you are designing or editing is also something to consider. DraftSight is great for mechanical designs and with DraftSight Professional designers have the ability to print multiple files without opening each file. Additionally, some of the productivity tools like the toolbox for standard hardware and batch printing make designing more efficient. On the other hand, if you are using a 2D CAD platform for electrical schematics you may want to look into AutoCAD Electrical or SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematic software packages that include more tools and features for greater efficacy and time savings. Similar considerations can come into play if you are designing floor plans, subdivisions, maps, etc.
Can The Software Interface With Other Packages or Add-Ons?
“Keep it all in the family” is a great general rule here. While there is a plethora of third party add-ons that may support communication between your 2D package and other systems, you will find the best results using tools from the same company. If you are a user of Architectural Desktop then it would be best supported by AutoCAD, both of which are Autodesk products. DraftSight, being a Dassault Systemes product will more easily integrate with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, SOLIDWORKS CAD, SOLIDWORKS PDM, SOLIDWORKS Electrical, etc.
Can it Handle Existing Files and Data?
Is there legacy data (like .dxf, or .dwg files) you need ot work with and are those files being stored in an existing data management system that is compatible with your desired 2D CAD platform? For DraftSight this would be SOLIDWORKS PDM or other Dassault Systemes products like Delmia. DraftSight easily handles either .DWG or .DXF files giving it some flexibility in dealing with legacy designs. If legacy designs relied heavily on advanced features like “dynamic blocks” from AutoCAD then it may be best to stick with it, unless you switch to DraftSight Professional or above, which comes with a new feature called the block attribute manager that allows you to edit the attributes of blocks within the platform. Some users only need to make minor revisions to legacy designs which any decent 2D CAD system should be able to handle without issue.
What Is The Learning Curve?
Typically, the more complex a system, the steeper the learning curve. Products like AutoCAD that have a long history can have a lot of complex and advanced functionalities, which is good but the trade-off is that it can suffer from a lot of feature bloat that is often very industry specific. This results in a steeper learning curve than there would be for a platform like DraftSight which was built from the ground up to be simple. If new users need to be trained in 2D CAD they may find the simpler interface of DraftSight more appealing.
Speaking of learning, the availability to get professional training is another question you may want answered before going with a 2D solution. Videos and user communities are a great resource, but they do not compare to a course specifically made to train you on that software.
What will it Cost?
Budget. It can be the ultimate deciding factor. Whichever 2D platform you choose that has the features you need, you’ll need to factor in how long you will intend to use the product, whether it makes sense to get a perpetual license or pay yearly for a term license. DraftSight for example, offers both options and with that we find that usually around the 5-year mark is when it makes sense to buy a perpetual license as opposed to a term.
Hopefully this has provided some insight into what needs to be considered for a 2D CAD platform. If you have made it this far then you are well on your way to making an informed decision. You may have more questions, so I encourage you to reach out to us or the online communities as there is no shortage of advice to help you on your way.
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