ARES: Modern DWG CAD Software: From Drawings to Extended Collaboration (An Open Letter to AutoCAD Users)

DWG was invented in the late 1970s (for the Interact CAD program) and was only later licensed by Autodesk as the file format used in AutoCAD. In the 1990s, Graebert became the first company to release a workalike alternative for 2D/3D CAD with DWG support and an API for developers (FelixCAD), before leading many innovations in DWG for mobile and cloud.

Today, millions of professionals use DWG CAD software. If you are reading this, you are probably one of them, and you realize that these drawings are more than files. They contain your projects and your intellectual property — but they also play another crucial role. They are central to your business because they enable collaboration beyond your design team to bring your projects to life and maintain them afterward.

In other words, enabling, and potentially extending, the access to technical information in DWG format is essential. But if you have been using AutoCAD in the past decade, you have successively experienced the end of perpetual licenses, the end of multi-user network licenses, and little innovation for increasingly high prices. Your colleagues working with Revit have already signed multiple open letters protesting the situation, yet Autodesk continues to make choices that irritate its users.

You deserve better than that. You also deserve better than a future where Autodesk would like to lock up your projects on its servers (via Autodesk Vault, BIM 360, or Autodesk Forma). Besides a better price, and choice between term, perpetual, and network licenses … you deserve innovation.

ARES CAD software, the No. 1 alternative to AutoCAD

Graebert’s ARES CAD software represents the second-largest installed base for CAD in DWG after AutoCAD, and is also the market leader for cloud-based technologies.

The many companies using ARES include Hyundai, LG, Samsung, and three of the top five construction groups in Japan.

The ARES technology is also widely used as a CAD platform by many industry-leading developers, such as Dassault Systèmes (DraftSight is powered by ARES) and PTC Onshape (Onshape Drawings is based on ARES Kudo).

ARES Commander offers a full-featured replacement for 2D/3D CAD in DWG on Windows, macOS, and Linux. Customers have their choice of multiple licensing options, from subscriptions (term licenses) to perpetual to network.

The user interface is optimized to enable an easy transition from AutoCAD or other CAD applications, including familiar keyboard commands and shortcuts.

And even though the options are greater, costs are lower:

You can have nearly 9 years of ARES for the price of 1 year of AutoCAD.

These are things you can see for yourself with our free trial.

But there is a better story than that... the story of what truly collaborative CAD makes possible.

What is the ARES Trinity of CAD software?

ARES is the third generation of Graebert’s CAD software. After successively releasing FelixCAD (1994) and PowerCAD (2004), Graebert introduced the all-new ARES Commander in 2010. The motivation to rewrite the program entirely was to develop a modern CAD solution that would be platform independent.

That goal was achieved, so the same core CAD features can be used on any operating system. From its very first version, ARES Commander was available for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers — and all with the same license. Most importantly, this technological advantage enabled Graebert to use the CAD features from ARES Commander to build ARES Touch (for Android and iOS) and ARES Kudo (for use in Internet browsers).

This explains why ARES Touch and ARES Kudo are the only Mobile CAD and Online CAD solutions on the market that provide a full set of 2D CAD features for DWG.

The ARES Trinity of CAD software is, however, more than a suite of three products bundled in the same license. It is a fully integrated ecosystem, leveraging the best of what each platform has to offer to extend collaboration within and beyond your design team.

ARES Commander: CAD for Windows, macOS, and Linux

  • Work on your desktop computers and mobile workstations with an AutoCAD-workalike user interface, and enjoy advanced 2D and 3D CAD features.
  • Keep the flexibility to decide when to use DWG files synchronized with the cloud, and when to work with local files.
  • Employ modern collaboration tools to significantly improve teamwork among all team members, both inside and outside your company.

Video: ARES Trinity collaboration features in ARES Commander

ARES Kudo: Full-featured 2D online CAD for your DWG files

  • Work from home or on the go, directly in your Internet browser.
  • Gain remote access to your company’s DWG files — securely.
  • Enable modern collaboration tools and synchronize files across all your users and all their devices.

Video: Online CAD in DWG - ARES Kudo user working remotely

ARES Touch: View, modify, and collaborate on DWG drawings with smartphones and tablets

  • View and annotate drawings on Android and iOS, with tools tailored to smaller screens.
  • Ensure technical workers get live updates.
  • Get instant feedback from the field with voice recordings, text, and photos that convey rich information quickly.

Video: Mobile CAD in DWG: Technical worker on site at work with ARES Touch

The largest choice of integrations to connect to your CAD data, wherever you decide to keep it

Centralizing files in a cloud environment can enhance agility and improve collaboration. With ARES Commander, you keep the flexibility to work with local files (just as you did before) or to use files in the cloud — or both — according to what makes sense for your projects.

Instead of trying to lock your files into a vendor-controlled cloud, Graebert built the ARES Trinity in such a way that it can be a hub, connecting a large variety of leading solutions.

The ARES Trinity is closely integrated with the APIs of all major cloud-based storage services, including such popular options as Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox, as well as specialized services like Microsoft OneDrive for Business and Microsoft SharePoint.

Onshape and Trimble Connect users can also connect their solutions with ARES CAD software to create and modify DWG files stored on these servers with the rest of their projects.

Last but not least, ARES offers integration with private servers and private clouds. With the WebDAV protocol, you can connect to a private server. Alternatively, the integrations with Nextcloud and AWS enable any organization to create its own private cloud.

What does ARES Trinity make possible?

1. Embrace modern collaboration tools without disruption

With ARES Commander, CAD users can instantly switch over and keep working in an AutoCAD-workalike environment, with no time wasted on extensive training and no compromises in 2D/3D CAD features. After a smooth and seamless transition, users immediately start seeing the benefits of the Trinity collaboration features.

2. Synchronize files across all users and all types of devices

The native integration with all your favorite cloud storage services, directly inside each of the ARES CAD software applications, ensures continuity of work across all your devices.

You can start working at the office, then continue your project anywhere else: at your client’s office, at home, or on the go. Your CAD license and your DWG files follow you on any device, anywhere.

Most importantly, the drawings are also synchronized among all users. Users working remotely, in home offices, or in the field get live updates of the drawings whenever another user saves a modification.

3. Enable secure remote access to your drawings

Each user is authenticated with a login and password. Company administrators can decide which cloud storage providers are authorized within their organization.

Each user is granted access for viewing or editing based on the permissions defined in the cloud storage. You can see at any time who has access to each file, and grant or revoke rights as needed.

The version history shows who modified the drawing, and when. You can also compare successive versions to highlight the changes with colors.

If required, you can revert the changes, and even promote an older version to make it the current version.

4. Reduce time to market with agile collaboration tools

While working in ARES Commander, ARES Kudo, or ARES Touch, users can discuss the project with comments and markups that can be linked to selections of entities.

Such discussion threads appear in a palette and enable collaboration in context, without modifying the project.

They ensure an agile collaboration environment, even when users are working remotely or in the field.

By extension, these features enable a better workflow between the users creating the drawings, and the users in the field relying on such drawings to execute their work.

Some of these collaboration features include:

  • Comments with the option to zoom to the selection to respond or answer, before eventually marking it as resolved.
  • Picture Markup to insert one or multiple images stored on your device, or to take a photo on the spot (e.g., with your smartphone).
  • Voice Markup to comment by recording your voice.
  • Stamps to insert ready-made texts such as “To be reviewed” or “Validated” — or create your own.
  • Email notifications provide timely updates about your project so you can react promptly.

5. Easily collect feedback and validation with free online viewing and commenting

Invite all your colleagues, customers, and other collaborators to view and comment on your drawings — for free! Thanks to view-only links, which always reflect the current state of your project, your collaborators will have immediate access, without purchasing or installing any software.

With the view-only links that you create, your contacts can not only view the drawing online, but can also use the Trinity collaboration features to add comments or markups, enabling the design team to see their feedback in real time.    
Company administrators can configure or restrict how their users can use view-only links:

  • Enable / disable the option to create view-only links
  • Enable / disable the option to let viewers save a PDF version
  • Restrict the duration of view-only links to ensure they automatically expire.

For greater security, ARES users can also choose a specific expiry date and/or define a password for each view-only link.

Video: Enable free viewing and commenting with view-only links

Network licenses: Keep sharing your licenses to mutualize access, even with remote workers

Autodesk decided to retire the multi-user subscriptions of AutoCAD, with a trade-in deal offering two named-user seats for each floating license. This ratio does not accurately reflect the fact that most customers actually had four to ten users working with each floating license. As a result, AutoCAD users have faced reduced choices and dramatically increased costs.

By contrast, Graebert continues to offer users a choice between:

  • Term licenses (aka subscriptions) for 1 or 3 years.
  • Perpetual licenses with or without Trinity.
  • Network licenses for 1 year or perpetual use.

Share ARES licenses anywhere with the new Flex Cloud license

After workplaces were drastically reshaped by COVID-19, many professionals are still working from home, either entirely or for a few days per week. The third edition of McKinsey’s American Opportunity Survey concluded in 2022 that 87% of the respondents who have the chance to work flexibly take it.

This new reality is a challenge for organizations using network licenses, because such licenses typically require that all the users be connected to the same local PC network — which implies they work at the office.

While Graebert continues to support this traditional model of network licenses, it is also introducing a modern alternative: the Flex Cloud license. The advantage is that Flex Cloud licenses are shared via the Internet, rather than shared over a local network.

  • A Flex Cloud license is a Trinity license (it includes ARES Commander + ARES Kudo + ARES Touch) shared within a group of users (there is a minimum of 3 licenses, which can be shared by an unlimited number of users).
  • The number of simultaneous users is limited to the number of licenses purchased.
  • The licenses are in the cloud. Unlike with a Flex Network license, the users no longer have to be working on the same local network, so they can be anywhere: in shared or home offices, or even in different countries … the options are limitless.

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