Getting to Know DraftSight—Your New CAD Best Friend!

Lynn Allen spent over 20 years with Autodesk promoting its annual releases, producing hundreds of video tips, authoring countless articles for Cadalyst Magazine, and writing three AutoCAD® books. There are not many people out there who know more about AutoCAD than Lynn. As a Technology Evangelist, she is always staying on top of CAD trends and working to help people embrace change. We asked Lynn to share an overview of DraftSight, especially from the perspective of an AutoCAD User.

Getting to Know DraftSight

DraftSight has become one of the top five 2D CAD products (by seat count) and has been trusted by millions of users worldwide. DraftSight has been on the market for over ten years under SOLIDWORKS®, a world leader in design and engineering software. If you’re just getting started on DraftSight, you’ll find comparable, or in some cases, better capabilities than your old CAD product. DraftSight gives you all the professional tools and functionality you expect, along with full DWG file compatibility. And, if you miss the flexibility of network licensing, you’ll be glad to know that you’ll have that option again with DraftSight. You can even purchase a perpetual license of DraftSight (it’s all yours – no annual fees) if that’s the route you prefer to take!

Which brings me to a very important question - What else could you do if you were able to free up some of your design software and hardware budget? Since you’re probably like me, you don’t have a money tree growing in your back yard, which means keeping your budget as tight as possible is key. So, in addition to the initial cost savings (which, trust me, can be significant), you’ll also experience an increase in your ROI, all without sacrificing quality or productivity. You can use your newfound savings to invest elsewhere, such as additional licenses or hardware upgrades (shoes anyone?). That sounds like a win-win to me.

And, since DraftSight will feel so familiar to you, you’ll incur minimal ramp-up time when making the change. You’ll find the tools and functionality you expect, and you can even type in the CAD commands that you already know, so you don’t have to relearn all the DraftSight command names. For those of us that don’t like change, I think you’ll find transitioning to DraftSight is easier than you might think.

Ready for a Change?

We tend to be creatures of habit, and you may have been very happy with your legacy CAD solution for many years (I know I was) but the world around us is changing. If your 2D CAD is just working “well enough,” are you preparing for the future?

I don’t have to tell you that across industries and sectors, businesses are finding themselves with more to do and fewer resources. Chances are, you may be in that predicament yourself. With increasing costs, changes in licensing arrangements, and budget challenges, it makes sense to reexamine your processes and tools.

At the same time, AutoCAD customer satisfaction is at an all-time low due to changes in product licenses, pricing increases, and lack of product development. If you find yourself struggling with your legacy CAD relationship, you can evaluate the pain of staying or seek a better opportunity. For those of you ready to seek a better opportunity, you should probably also do a little homework. Take the time to really map out your CAD requirements and your budget so you can find the best CAD solution to support your business.

Let’s take a closer look at DraftSight.

DraftSight Advantages

I think we can all agree on the importance of getting as much value out of your design software investments as possible. With DraftSight, you have several opportunities to use your precious resources efficiently and redirect savings towards activities and technologies that will drive your organization forward—all while covering your 2D CAD requirements. Who wouldn’t be excited about extra resources?!

We’re on a roll so let’s keep going. DraftSight further supports team access to CAD with the option of network licenses.

With DraftSight, you can increase ROI without sacrificing quality or productivity, and even expand team access to CAD.

You’ll also find that DraftSight is scalable and ready for the future. Whether you are looking to expand your team’s access through network licenses, or you’re ready to harness the innovative design and data management capabilities of connecting your CAD solution to the cloud (3DEXPERIENCE DraftSight), DraftSight supports the needs of growing organizations and has options to grow with you.

With DraftSight, you not only get what you expect, but more. The additional productivity features will make your team very happy, and we all like happy designers. Every pick and click we avoid saves one of our most valuable resources – time (and sanity!) Your teams will work efficiently with tools like PowerTrim (learn why I call it Magic); DraftSight’s time-saving dimension tools; Toolbox Layers, which help you maintain your drafting standards by assigning layers to object types; Mouse Gestures for quickly accessing your most frequently used commands; and 3D ContentCentral for access to free 3D and 2D content, along with much, much more. Or how about the fan favorite, Image Tracer, that allows you to quickly convert an image file to vector!

DraftSight is also known for its amazing file opening/saving capabilities and data compatibility. You can save and export drawings in a variety of formats, and in some cases, DraftSight saves back even further than AutoCAD does. You can save a DWG all the way back to Release 12! That’s not 2012 I’m talking about, that’s R12 – from way back in 1992!

If your business needs to effectively manage both 2D and 3D files, you will benefit from DraftSight’s compatibility with SOLIDWORKS. With DraftSight and SOLIDWORKS, you have everything in one place, supporting your ability to effortlessly go from 2D drafting to 3D modeling and back again to optimize and maximize designs. You can also seamlessly integrate with other Dassault Systèmes and SOLIDWORKS solutions to easily manage your DWG file designs. Easy peasy.

What You Can Expect with DraftSight

One of the biggest requirements in considering a new CAD product is maintaining and even improving your current workflows. DraftSight makes it easy to create, edit, view and mark up any DWG file with speed and efficiency. With DraftSight’s familiar user interface and common commands, your team will be up and running in hours, not days. Your existing Dynamic Blocks, customizations, keyboard shortcuts, LISP routines and Script files will all work just as you expect.

Have your team download DraftSight’s Free-30-day trial to put DraftSight through its paces. You’ll want to see for yourself that DraftSight has everything you need to get your job done.

You’re also going to be pleasantly surprised by how compact the file is. It’s much smaller and installs quite a bit quicker. It’s a newer software that doesn’t have bloat from decades of versions. It’s nice to see. It’s definitely better for older laptops. It runs great on my laptop as well as my desktop.

Experience a Quick Transition

It is always interesting to open a new software for the first time. Luckily, with DraftSight, everything will feel familiar right off the bat in a good way. Your team’s workflow should transition, the same commands still work in DraftSight. Everything will feel nice and comfortable. Some clients will really appreciate the ability to use the Classic workspace with pull-down menus and toolbars over the newer ribbon layout. It’s nice to be able to make a transition and not have to spend a lot of time learning how things work or where things are laid out. It’s straightforward and easy to pick up.

Will your team lose a tiny bit of time relearning this new software? Yes, absolutely. We’re talking hours not days. AutoCAD users find themselves getting up to speed with DraftSight almost immediately. You won’t experience the drop in production you find when switching to other CAD software, since the look and feel are so familiar for AutoCAD users.

DraftSight makes transitioning quick and easy. Let’s also not forget that your team could also GAIN some time with DraftSight’s cool new features.

Which DraftSight Product is Right for You?

Ok, now we’re going to figure out which product offer best meets the needs of your business. You have two core products to choose from and three different ways to buy.

Both DraftSight Professional and Premium contain all the 2D design tools you expect, the power tools not found in AutoCAD and the ability to use your Dynamic Blocks. You can load and run your prized AutoLISP® and Visual LISP® routines, take advantage of the robust API and much more.

I’m partial to DraftSight Professional, which is much closer to full-fledged AutoCAD without the 3D. You get the advanced CAD features and have access to the API. At $199 a year, you’ll be very impressed with how much is included. It is, without a doubt, a no-brainer!

DraftSight Premium has everything that Professional does, but it adds full 3D capabilities, along with 2D Geometric and Dimensional Constraints. With DraftSight Premium you can also edit AutoCAD Dynamic Blocks and create new Custom Blocks in DraftSight. At only $499 per year, it’s an incredible value as well. DraftSight Professional and Premium can be purchased from DraftSight’s online store.

But what if you’re in one of those organizations that were left high and dry when other CAD vendors took the flexibility of using a network license away from you? That’s where the two DraftSight Enterprise versions come into play.

From a functionality standpoint, think of Enterprise as Professional, and Enterprise Plus as Premium – that is, Enterprise Plus adds 3D Modeling and 2D Constraints. The difference is in the licensing. The Enterprise option offers the network licensing (or perpetual) you may be missing. At big companies with part-time users, network licenses can make a huge difference in extending team access to CAD.

Stepping it up even further – do your design teams need to collaborate and access data remotely? You also have the option to purchase DraftSight connected to the cloud. 3DEXPERIENCE DraftSight makes it easy to manage your drawing files and data on the cloud. Your priceless designs can now be stored online, easily reused, and securely managed. Drawing files cannot be lost or deleted accidentally (hoorah!).

3DEXPERIENCE DraftSight is part of the 3DEXPERIENCE Works portfolio of cloud solutions, bringing all your key stakeholders together on a single collaborative platform. Once you connect to the platform, you are connected to multiple, purpose-built solutions. 3DEXPERIENCE DraftSight enables designers to create and share designs quickly and easily, allowing key stakeholders to give feedback throughout the product development phase with all the design data stored securely in the cloud. You can request a quote for DraftSight Enterprise and 3DEXPERIENCE DraftSight offers from SOLIDWORKS resellers, who will also help ensure you are successful.

So, in the end, your decision comes down to:  Do I need 2D design or do I also need 3D modeling and 2D constraints. Do I need a network license, or would my team benefit from cloud connectivity? Pretty easy, huh?

So, What Are You Waiting For?!

What can DraftSight do to support the needs of your business? DraftSight helps you maximize your IT investment and free up your CAD budget for innovation. There’s more to CAD software than just commands. You need to feel comfortable and confident in the software right away. I highly recommend that you try DraftSight, that you experience it for yourself by downloading DraftSight’s free 30-day trial. You will learn quickly that it’s an easy switch, with great benefits.

Ready to learn more? Visit and contact your local reseller today to request a demo.

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