Free CAD software

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It’s almost impossible to work in architectural practice without using CAD software. Drawings are in DWG format mostly, and DWG format is guarantee that your drawing would be possible to open on another  computer. The most known CAD software is AutoCAD, but it is also quite expensive. Many people seek cheaper or free alternative. If you are student or teacher, you can use Educational Versions of ArchiCAD, progeCAD and Autodesk family software (including AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture and Revit). There is a short review of good free alternatives to retail CAD software.

DoubleCAD XT
2D CAD program. You first install 30 days trial of Pro version, then continue to use standard version with free features. DoubleCAD XT is high compatible with Google SketchUp and AutoCAD LT. DoubleCAD XT is multi-format drawings viewer, that you can use for viewing, editing and markup. Also you can use it as file convertor. Size: 191 MB.

DoubleCAD XT

Solid Edge Free 2D
2D CAD program, supports DWG/DXF drawing formats. This software has all basic features, but it takes more time to get the hang of it if you are AutoCAD user. There is comprehensive Help for AutoCAD users inside software. Size: 362 MB.

Solid Edge Free 2D

A9CAD
2D CAD program, supports DWG/DXF drawing formats. You can draw line, rectangle, circle, poly-line, text and dimension. Also supports drawing modifications (move, scale, rotate, explode, trim, fillet and mirror). Hatch option isn’t included. Size: 15.5 MB.

A9CAD

DraftSight
2D CAD program, supports DWG/DXF drawing formats. On solidworks website you can download comprehensive Getting Started Guide. Interface is very rich in options. DraftSight is very similar to AutoCAD. E-mail activation is required. Size: 100 MB.

DraftSight

nanoCAD
2D/3D CAD program, supports DWG/DXF drawing formats. You need to activate licence during the installation. Like DraftSight, nanoCAD is very similar to AutoCAD, visually and functionally. Size: 274 MB.

nanoCAD

Draft IT
2D CAD program. During the trial period on startup, you choose which version of software you want to use: free version or any of low cost enhanced versions (Plus, Pro or Architectural). Free version doesn’t have too many options. Interface is simple, intuitive and easy to use. Size: 155 MB.

Draft IT

CadStd Lite
2D CAD program. Interface is old-fashioned, and unintuitive for AutoCAD users. Software don’t support DWG files, but only DXF files. CadStd is somewhat different from previous reviewed software and can be tricky for AutoCAD users. Size: 0.76 MB.

CadStd Lite

There are other free CAD software that has limited functionality and less options (also some of them aren’t updated a long time). Some of them are:
Free Easy CAD, Alibre Design Xpress, CYCAS, BabaCAD, eMachineShop.

CYCAS CYCAS Screenshot

eMachineShop eMachineShop Screenshot

Conclusion
If software is free, it doesn’t mean that it is worthless. There are some very good replacements for big name retail CAD programs. If you are AutoCAD user, you will use nanoCAD and DraftSight as alternative. This two programs have all options you need and you can’t expect more from free software. Also, they supported our complex DWG file created in AutoCAD. Solid Edge Free 2D and DoubleCAD XT also belongs to category of good alternatives, but they are slightly weaker than first two. They don’t support our test complex DWG file, and they are less architectural software. A9CAD and Draft It belongs to medium category of free alternatives. They have less options. Free version of Draft It don’t support DWG and A9CAD don’t supported our test DWG file. CadStd Lite is in low-rank category of free alternatives to AutoCAD and other retail CAD programs.

Functions DoubleCAD XT Solid Edge Free 2D A9CAD DraftSight nanoCAD Draft IT CadStd
Basic format – DWG No No Yes Yes Yes No No
Support DWG Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Linear Dimensions Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Radial and Angular Dimensioning Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Hatch Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No
Block editing Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No
Line weight Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Insert raster image Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Layers Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Export DXF Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Export PDF Yes No No Yes No No Yes
Export SVG Yes No No Yes No No Yes
Undo/Redo Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fillets Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Offset Arcs, Lines and Polylines Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Snaps (Intersection, Center, End, Mid point, Perpendicular, etc.) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Runs on Windows 7, Vista, XP Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Trim and Extend Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Text Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mirror Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Xref support No No No Yes Yes No No
Command line Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No

February 1, 2014

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