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The Top 13 AutoCAD Alternatives

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Update 10/12/17: This post has been updated with several new alternatives identified over the past 10 months. The list now includes 13 AutoCAD alternatives over the original seven.

Autodesk is a juggernaut in the drafting industry—and they know it. While they tend to produce sleek, full-featured products, they come at a high cost.

top_autocad_alternatives (1)

In a market filled with terrible AutoCAD knockoffs, it can be tough to distill which products are worth your time—and which aren’t. Luckily, I’ve done the legwork to gather the top 13 AutoCAD alternatives for you.

I chose these alternatives using four criteria:

  • They read the same kinds of files that AutoCAD does
  • They integrate easily with AutoCAD itself
  • They’re intuitive to learn
  • They won’t break the bank

By whittling down the options from our comprehensive list of engineering CAD software products, I came up with 13 options that meet all four criteria. They are listed below in alphabetical order.

1. BricsCAD

BricsCAD integrates with the cloud, recognizes XREFS, has a robust rendering engine, and is largely customizable.

(BricsCAD’s dashboard)

If you’ve used AutoCAD before, BricsCAD’s interface will seem familiar. It doesn’t have the ribbon, but is otherwise almost identical. The developer claims that it supports “hundreds” of third-party applications.

BricsCAD integrates with the cloud, recognizes XREFS, has a robust rendering engine, and is largely customizable. The functionality is almost identical to AutoCAD; it has 2D drafting (ex: floor plans and technical drawings) and 3D modeling in .dwg format.

The only major drawback to BrisCAD V15 Pro is that its document management tool is difficult, though not impossible, to learn.

Used BricsCAD? Leave a review!

2. Chief Architect

Looking for a building design and architectural tool? Chief Architect is a solid choice.

The software creates 3D models, construction drawings, CAD details, and elevations for residential home design projects.

A niche tool in this segment, Chief Architect offers 3D visualization features, home interior designs, and smart architectural objects like doors, windows, stairs, and roof styles.

(Chief Architect’s dashboard)

A niche tool in this segment, Chief Architect offers 3D visualization features, home interior designs, and smart architectural objects like doors, windows, stairs, and roof styles. There’s a steep learning curve, but what you get out of it is definitely worth the time you put in to learn the system.

Used Chief Architect? Leave a review!

3. DesignCAD 3D Max v24

DesignCAD 3D Max v24—, made by the same people who make TurboCAD—, is a versatile tool that will fit (most) of your CAD needs.

(DesignCAD’s dashboard)

Want a CAD program that won’t break the bank? DesignCAD is probably your best option. At a price point of only $99, DesignCAD 3D Max v24—, made by the same people who make TurboCAD—, is a versatile tool that will fit (most) of your CAD needs.

This CAD software is easy to learn and great for 3D and 2D architecture. It allows users to add texture and hatching and it can produce photorealistic models (for example: furniture). It has over 10,000 symbols to choose from and the navigation is easy. DesignCAD is customizable, and when help is needed, their phone and email help team, is available at no cost.

Where DesignCAD lacks is its compatibility. It’s compatible with DWG and DXF files, but does not support STL, DGN, or SKP files. That means that if you want to use your CAD program for 3D printing, you should look elsewhere.

Used DesignCAD? Leave a review!

4. DraftSight

 If you’re using it for a business, DraftSight offers two reasonable options: DraftSight Professional (for small and medium-sized businesses) for $299, and DraftSight Enterprise (prices vary).

(DraftSight’s dashboard)

If you’re a student or individual looking for CAD software, this is your best option (because it’s free!). If you’re using it for a business, DraftSight offers two reasonable options: DraftSight Professional (for small and medium-sized businesses) for $299, and DraftSight Enterprise (prices vary).

DraftSight is good for 2D modeling, but doesn’t run LISP routines and offers no express tools. That said, it can save and open DXF and DWG files, do batch printing, offers macro recording, and a huge design library.

The free version of DraftSight doesn’t offer much—it’s good for quick calculations and drawings. As you scale up, DraftSight begins to compete directly with AutoCAD.

Used DraftSight? Leave a review!

5. LibreCAD

LibreCAD is an especially good option if (a) you’re a Linux user and (b) you want free CAD software that can read DWG files. If you’re a Windows of OS X user, it works perfectly fine on those systems as well.

LibreCAD is an especially good option if (a) you’re a Linux user and (b) you want free CAD software that can read DWG files.

(LibreCAD’s dashboard)

In addition to reading DWG files (an option added in 2015), this open-source two-dimensional CAD program has the ability to export SVG files. And if you like open-source software with a large user community, this is the software for you.

The interface and handle concepts used by LibreCAD are the same as in AutoCAD, so it’s a seamless transition for those looking to abandon AutoCAD for a free and open source CAD option.

Used LibreCAD? Leave a review!

6. Microstation PowerDraft

A slightly pricier option, at almost $2,500, Bentley’s Microstation PowerDraft is a popular software choice for architects and engineers. You can create traditional drawings as well as 2D and 3D hypermodels.

The software supports various file formats including DWG, DGN, IFC, Esri, and SHP. Improve your drawings by including raster imagery, satellite pictures, and other templates using the software.

PowerDraft creates  drawings, schedules, and reports directly from 3D and BIM models.

(PowerDraft’s dashboard)

PowerDraft creates  drawings, schedules, and reports directly from 3D and BIM models. While Microstation offers great 3D capabilities, AutoCAD beats it in 2D drafting. Microstation is also capable of handling large files.

The two giants of the CAD industry are bound to have their die-hard fans and hard-hitting critics!

Used Microstation PowerDraft? Leave a review!

7. nanoCAD

nanoCAD is an entirely free AutoCAD alternative, –and its fully-featured version, nanoCAD Plus, is only $180.

nanoCAD is an entirely free AutoCAD alternative, –and its fully-featured version, nanoCAD Plus, is only $180.

(nanoCAD’s dashboard)

When comparing nanoCAD to AutoCAD, there are some notable differences. nanoCAD doesn’t offer dynamic input, associative hatches, library objects with behavioral properties, or operations with solid 3D objects.

However, it offers many features that AutoCAD doesn’t, including raster manipulations, an Excel-style table editor, and a linetype editor.

Used nanoCAD? Leave a review!

8. ProgeCAD

ProgeCAD is for people who want AutoCAD but can’t afford it.

(ProgeCAD’s dashboard)

ProgeCAD is for people who want AutoCAD but can’t afford it. Running at  $499, ProgeCAD boasts over 11,000 2D symbols and an intuitive interface that’s relatively easy to learn.

Want to make a new file using ProgeCAD? It automatically saves as a DWT file. CAD technicians can also save in DWG or DXF formats, and all three file types sync well with AutoCAD 2012.

Some critics say that ProgeCAD is a direct AutoCAD knockoff. The program also struggles to read 3D geometry because it has to go through a proxy.

Used ProgeCAD? Leave a review!

9. Sketchup

Formerly known as Google Sketchup, this is a great option for CAD professionals.

(Sketchup’s dashboard)

Formerly known as Google Sketchup, this is a great option for CAD professionals. Starting with a very basic version and moving up from there (the construction version is $590), Sketchup is compatible with numerous file types (including DXF, DWG, FBX, OBJ, XSI, and VRML) and it can export images (including PDFs and HD animations).

Sketchup is known for being easy to use—its website boasts, “If you want to be productive after just one day of training, you’ve come to the right place.”

While Sketchup is a great package, it does lack some features. It doesn’t let you use NURBS surfaces, it only supports texture files that are labeled with less than eight characters, and there can be compatibility problems when importing images from other CAD programs. It also lacks wall tools.

Used Sketchup? Leave a review!

10. Solidworks

Solidworks 3D CAD software is a popular option for 3D sketchers who want CAD software with multiple features for detailed design work. The software has “intelligent design” tools that let you quickly produce detailed designs and check them for completeness.

Solidworks 3D CAD software is a popular option for 3D sketchers who want CAD software with multiple features for detailed design work.

(Solidworks’ dashboard)

Solidworks claims that their software will help designers quickly become proficient in 3D modeling, allowing them to more efficiently create designs and get them to market.

Reviewers on Capterra praise the software for being intuitive and user-friendly, as well as the number of features it offers for those who want to design every single detail.

Used Solidworks? Leave a review!

11. TurboCAD Pro Platinum

While a bit pricier than other AutoCAD alternatives at $1,695, TurboCAD Pro Platinum is a full package with more features than AutoCAD 2014, including a smart dimension tool, 3D terrain modeling, and Ruby scripting.

(TurboCAD’s dashboard)

While a bit pricier than other AutoCAD alternatives at $1,695, TurboCAD Pro Platinum is a full package with more features than AutoCAD 2014, including a smart dimension tool, 3D terrain modeling, and Ruby scripting.

TurboCAD stands apart from AutoCAD 2014 because it has more 3D modeling features—it excels at creating detailed and complicated images.

Because this behemoth of a software has so many features, some users have noted that it can be difficult to learn. Their support is decent—they have email and phone lines to call—but there isn’t much aid within the application itself.

Used TurboCAD? Leave a review!

12. Vectorworks

Vectorworks directly competes with AutoCAD and is particularly popular among Apple users.

(Vectorworks’ dashboard)

Are you a BIM programmer? Vectorworks directly competes with AutoCAD and is particularly popular among Apple users. The program is straightforward to set up and use, and has OpenGL rendering. It is fully compatible with DWF/DXF/DWG files, and can easily exchange files with AutoCAD and Revit. Vectorworks costs $2,945.00

Vectorworks offers the complete package. This intuitive program allows users to move their BIM files around without re-rendering. Vectorworks 2014 and 2015 offer Sketch Mode for simple and conceptual drawings.

Used Vectorworks? Leave a review!


Want something evocative of AutoCAD at a lower  price? ZWCAD has a similar interface and is customizable, with pricing starting at $599 (classic version).

ZWCAD 2017 is the  most recent version and offers features such as file comparisone, super hatch, tool palettes, and object isolation.

(ZWCAD’s dashboard)

ZWCAD 2017 is the  most recent version and offers features such as file comparisone, super hatch, tool palettes, and object isolation. The software  is compatible with AutoCAD and supports DWG, DXF, DWT, as well as DGN file formats. The commands, linetypes, text styles, and hatch patterns are also similar to AutoCAD.

The software has innovative features such as SmartVoice, SmartMouse, or SmartSelect that make working with the tool easier. The 3D functions are not as advanced as other CAD tools and the software currently only supports Microsoft Windows OS.

Used ZWCAD? Leave a review!

What other great CAD options are out there?

Is there a great CAD program that I missed? What do you use? If you use AutoCAD, why do you prefer it? Let me know in the comments below!

Love these AutoCAD alternatives? Hate them? Let us know either way with a review!

Looking for Construction Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Construction Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Dan Taylor

Dan is a content writer at Capterra, specializing in hotel management, construction and real estate. Outside the office, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, catching up with the latest offering from HBO or paying a visit to a new place.


Free, easy and complete.

Bentley’s Microstation PowerDraft ?

A very usefull piece of research. Thanks. 🙂

However, I’m a little surprised not to find VariCAD in your review.
It’s a feature packed 3D CAD-Suite, complete with CNC control starting at only $750,-
Right now they offer a 20% discount on the latest version including 1 year upgrade. That’s $600,- for a real tool, not a toy.

You may find the GUI a little 90’s. 😛
Comes in both Windows, MAC and Linux flavor, and should meet the other criterias in your round-up. 😉

How about Chief Architect as a comparison?
tried revit, overly complicated, 3d navigating a nightmare, not inuitive ( not in young generation)
love Sketchup, but obvious shortcomings for wd’s.

Hi Rachel,

I’m a bit disappointed you’ve chosen to highlight BricsCAD V12 in this comparison, a version form 2012. The current version, V15, does have the ribbon and a lot more. Here is a nice overview of what’s new in BricsCAD V15:’s-new-in-bricscad-v15-m166

BricsCAD V15 unifies advanced 2D design with the intelligence of 3D direct modeling for Windows, Linux, and Mac. Here is a short overview:

– Familiar Interface: The powerful features that you know and love in a clean and consistent user experience.
– 2D Drafting: Create 2D technical drawings, floor plans, and other layouts quickly and accurately.
– 3D Modeling: BricsCAD performs 3D direct modeling with assemblies in the standard .dwg format.

And way more… For a complete overview, please visit our web site

We do have hundreds applications running on BricsCAD (today 390). A lot of these application used to run on AutoCAD. You can find the complete catalogue over here:

I’m convinced that BricsCAD V15 is the best alternative out there.

We are into detailing and this software is very impressive, not sure why is not listed above…

Thank you. Your list is really nice.

Wonderful images and information.

visit here :

Hi, Very useful info Rachel. We are small engineering co. from India and are looking for a cheaper alternative to Autocad and came across this site. Has anyone used ZW Cad. I came across one co. who uses it and are reasonably satisfied. Some of the software mentioned above seem to inclined more towards architectural drawings. We are looking for a pure engineering software. Wud love to hear from you all.
Ajay Singh

Wonderful Information

Been using google sketup tools and thanks for the list of tools.

BricsCAD is the best

LibreCAD for Linux users now reads DWG files and its FREE

2 fold question:
Do u know of any current CAD program similar to the old Claris Cad program? It was a very easy program to use, set up for quick access to draw graphic images. Had no command line box that gets in the way of ones creative thought process.

Do u know the name of the company who purchased the rights to Claris CAD program? If this acquisition is correct would you provide me with the name of that Company? Do you know if Claris’ line of programing was incorporate into their product or did they just bought out the competition?

Thank you very much. with Autocad going to subscription base, clearly the door is open for
good quality replacements for small businesses that can no longer afford to be part of the Autocad bandwagon. Well done, I am sure all CAD companies will hope to offer products to fill the new market of the great Autocad escapees!

What about Ares Commander from Graebert? Does anyone have any experience with it and it’s compatibility with AutoCAD .dwg files? We are a small company and need to move to a more affordable CAD package, but have to stay with .dwg file format.

Zayfti offers several Incident Management and Behavior based safety software for organizations.

So software like Sketchup is listed and Vectorworks but no mention of Rhino or Medusa. i would have thought Rhino was the only true alternative to Autocad, to me Sketchup is more like Inventor or Revit.
as a simple alternative you could even list Adobe Illustrator, or even some microvellum products, if in a production environment you normally find autocad, solidworks, solidedge, PTC, and in rare occasions Inventor.
But as a general rule if you want autocad functions go to rhino as their are plenty of plugins for various other upgrades. Or why not list blender, it’s a beast of a program that is happy to do 2d and 3d as well as game design and movie production.
But if it’s not clear Rhino should be on the list, and at least Bobcad. or even some of the cam programs like mastercam, and visualmill or even some of the delcam products, as these all have 2d and 3d cad incorporated.

All of the AutoCAD alternatives are “too away” from AutoCAD…
I any of ACAD alternative is something missed.

If you miss something in your ACAD alternative, try DWDRAFT IntelliCAD 2016 Premium Edition:

Peraps it will meet your requirements

Freecad is free multiplatform (win, mac,linux) and opensource !

Unfortunately BricsCAD from Bricsys is parting out functions from their Standard/Pro/Platinum versions to sell them seperately now. Once in good faith they seem to drift aways from a good path. With v16 they now sell BIM and sheet-metal as separate modules while in v15 Plat is was included….lets wait what they part out next. Very disappointed by Bricsys.

You have done a reasonably good job in narrowing down to the top 7 alternates to AutoCAD considering the fact that dozens of such low cost software are available today. However, I see that your analysis seems to be more inclined towards the architectural segment, letting aside mainstream mechanical, HVAC, MEP, structural and the likes.

Has anyone tried CADMATE 2016 ?

CADMATE 2016 is the latest and the best in the basket of alternatives. It is very fast, smooth, strong and 100% compatible with AutoCAD. What makes it a reliable and no-nonsense investment is it’s proximity to AutoCAD. Try it free for 30 days.

CADMATE 2016 supports .net APIs (in addition to other APIs), comes with a Barcode & QR Code recording feature and tons of new tools.

With AutoCAD jumping to “subscription” mode, clearly the door is open for quality replacements. The monopoly of the “big white elephant” has ended. I am sure all CAD companies will hope to offer products to fill the new market of the great Autocad escapees!

And in my opinion no other AutoCAD alternative has so much to offer as CADMATE 2016 has.

we are planning to drop AutoCAD because of their new greedy subscription rental, business thanks for the posts, lots of great options, goodbye autodesk

Hi I am looking for any of AutoCAd alternatives, but I need something , where I can work with point cloud and digitize it. Can you help?

@Philip Hatfield

Claris was a spinoff company from Apple in the early Mac days. They eventually took the product line back into the fold and renamed it AppleWorks. Claris CAD got dropped somewhere along the way from what I can see. Sad, because it was so simple and functional to use. I really wish I could find something as straightforward for basic CAD.

I’m using ActCAD. It’s produced by an Indian company and built around the very latest version of IntelliCAD. It’s not perfect but nor is AutoCAD, and the engineers are helpful and seem highly motivated to improve their product. Very good 3D functionality, 2D drafting is pretty much as good as anything, excellent DWG file compatability, and offers x64 support unlike some other IntelliCAD builds. Oh and it’s very cheap! Not perfect but very very good and likely to get better. Give it a try!

I absolutely HATE the ribbon menu system. If it has a ribbon, I just don’t want it. The classic structured pulldowns are fast and easy to navigate, and they take up so much less screen real estate. Given how close Autodesk and Microsoft had become, it’s no surprise that the hideous ribbon found its way into Autocad. I know there are people who do like the ribbon, but I’m not one of them.

That said, it’s tough to find a decent acad alternative out there. I’ve been using acad since v9.0 and seen a lot of transition. Their changes when they went to v2000 really showed a change in company philosophy that caused some concern. They used to listen to the drafting people to get feedback on how to improve acad, but now it seems more like internal corporate managerial buzzword influence makes the decisions.

Nanocad looks to be a good shot as well as Progecad (as long as they keep their structured pulldown menu systems). Progecad also has a civil package, and if that’s decent to pick up as an alternative to acad, then that may be the choice.

Most important these days for the small offices is NOT having that “subscription” model that Autodesk has moved to. You could actually see the transition to annual software version changes with the antivirus industry in the 90’s. Then regular software developers realized annual versioning could be a cash cow, and when that wasn’t enough, NOW they want to go the idiotic route of subscription based only. Stand alone licenses are the best way, and always have been. People will upgrade if they feel like it, but if they’re automatically forced to upgrade against their will, this is never a good thing especially when the software developer has made drastic changes with the interface negatively affecting productivity. With the annual versioning of software, you often saw changes in the interfaces that made little sense, and they did this justify the annual update to make it look like they were busy.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! There were a lot of things that autocad really needed to have improved and innovated, but the menu system wasn’t one of them.

OK… my axe is plenty sharp now 😀

ActCAD is a professional grade CAD software based on ITC CAD engine. We use the most latest libraries from ITC to provide the features, speed and performance to our users. The price is very affordable and we offer global licenses with self-license transfer capability. We will be happy to provide addtional information and screen shots if you can kindly include us in this list.

Please I have to buy a CAD program, (not AutoCAD because it is to expensive) but, I have a a “must” it has to be compatible with AutoCAD of course, fully compatible, and, a very important thing is that it must be possible to transform a drawing to a PDF-file. (in Denmark the authorities ask for these when you will have a permission to build)
I am in a hurry, I have to buy a program very soon!
Lise Ravn

CMS IntelliCAD is also a great AutoCAD Compatible CAD Software.

What about Medusa4? It’s a professional CAD software with a 30 day trial for free. And there is also a complete free version for private users.


This listing and all the responses have been very helpful. Regardless of what app’s end up on this list, it would be incredible helpful to summarize the programs in a side-by-side comparison matrix. Out immediate needs are to create panel drawings (engineering, not architecture). Today we don’t need 3D modeling, but it would be nice to know if there is an upgrade path. Our needs are import and export of AutoCAD file types plus any others.


The article misses out on a huge array of AutoCAD alternatives, if you can call them that. If you are including SketchUp in the mix then you may as well include every CAD software on earth, and there are hundreds of different ones. I see no mention of RealCAD. RealCAD is by far the best… we create it 🙂 . But seriously surely if you are looking at a true AutoCAD alternative you need to be comparing only CAD software that looks and feels like AutoCAD and uses DWG file format? BricsCAD is the best of these we feel.

Great alternatives. For DraftSight I have developed some tutorials here:

I’m using NanoCAD and BabaCAD on win7 for over 2 years. BabaCAD is good if you need autolisp (I use it pretty often). Well, not every script works (cause some AutoCAD commands are missing), but it’s free and portable (I have it on my usb stick). NanoCAD is better than Draftsight (I couldn’t get it to work on my laptop with XP).

FreeCAD is Free and open source CAD software. It is primarily used to build 3D drawings. FreeCAD allows to easily alter designs by going back into your model history and changing its parameters. It is powerful enough to create some great 3D models. FreeCAD is open-source and highly customizable, scriptable and extensible. The out file format can be used for 3D Printing.

For those who say: If there is a ribbon I stay away…News flash – ribbon can b replaced with classic interface… For those with suggestion for only Windows compatible software – there is a vast amount of Linux users out there… For those who are saying that Rhino is the real alternative to AutoCAD – you don’t know what you are talking about. For those who are looking for a real alternative – Bricscad is the best solution out there.

Hi Guys,

Over the years I have tried many alternatives to AutoCAD. (Including draftsight, intellicad, progecad, briscad, zwcad, and so on…) While most of them look promising and identical to AutoCAD in look and feel, almost all of them suck big time when you deploy them on large projects involving BIG data. As I was just about to give up on them (the alternatives), I came across this gem of a kind… CADMATE 2016. This is an awesome package. Almost identical to AutoCAD , same toolbars, keyboard shorcuts, works same way as AutoCAD to the last details. Handles BIG data as good as the Original. Try it yourself.

RealCAD is great for those who need an AutoCAD alternative that’s easier to use and works on either Mac or PC. It handles DWG, DXF and CAD format files and has brilliant support for those just embarking on using CAD software. IronCAD is also a great alternative not mentioned in any of the above, I guess because it is way ahead of old school products like AutoCAD. IronCAD would be my choice for any mechanical design need, and RealCAD for any 2D drafting

ActCAD 2017 is based on latest IntelliCAD 8.2a engine and is available in Classic, Standard and Professional Versions. ActCAD is a native DWG, DXF and DGN CAD software with both 2D and 3D capabilities along with Rendering. The interface is very similar to OtherCAD and shortcuts and aliases are also same. We use ACIS 3D technology from Spatial Systems which is the same technology used by AUTO-CAD. Hence there won’t be any loss of data during inter-operation.

Please visit compete details at

Does anyone know which of these converts all the coordinate systems Acad Map 3D does?

A comment on which operating systems each can be run with would be useful. As a Linux user I find (free) Draftsight is superb.

I have been a long-time user of BricsCAD. For a long time, it was the king of the DWG compatible alternatives. But, there seems to be a lot of competition now.

There is one thing that I have not seen anywhere, except in GStarCAD, Dynamic Block creation. But, software is now so dependent upon the cloud, So, getting software from a country known for ignoring copyright laws does not garner a lot of confidence in being able to keep my data to myself. If China and the U.S. ever break ties, I need to also consider that my software may stop working.

Does anyone know of any other alternative than GStarCAD, that is able to author Dynamic Blocks?

If you are looking for 2D (which is basically what you think of with AutoCAD), then why not look at Solid Edge 2D and is FREE. It can read and write dwg and dxf and is a got parametric program.

Chief Architecture is best


went through the whole list, impressive. of course everyone for the most part has different needs. for me, autocad 2000i was sufficiant antil my win 10 “ate” years of work in a sly clean-up operation. As we have been downsizing steadily, we have not decided if it is worthwhile to start again. The offerings of this many people provides a glimmer of hope. I thank you (the catalist ? ) for your contribution . I wish you well indeed, aw, senior physicist.

I’m looking for a lightweight and fast alternative of AutoCAD just for 2D drafting
Any suggestion?

I’m starting my own design company doing mainly corporate and healthcare design along with a little residential. I’ve been using AutoCAD for several years now. I will be having to buy a program that is a AutoCAD replacement and also would like to have SketchUp. Buying both is cost prohibitive. Is there a program that integrates the capabilities of both that is cost effective? Thank you.

GstarCAD is a lightweight, fast and cost-effective alternative of AutoCAD at a lower price. It is compatible with AutoCAD and more familiar for users.

Much thanks. with AutoCAD is going to subscription base, plainly the entryway is open for great quality trades for independent ventures that can no longer stand to be a piece of the AutoCAD fleeting trend. Well done, I am certain all CAD organizations will would like to offer items to fill the new market of the immense AutoCAD escapees!

Started with AutoCad in 1990. It stunk and was very slow on 286 and 386 machines.
Bought FastCad 6 months later. Owned 3 manufacturing businesses and last bought AutoCad 2009. Used Solid Works vs 18-20 for coal fired powerplant components. Designed airfoil propellers in Rhino. Rhino is my favorite. FastCad is still one of the best. It was the Work of Michael Riddle (known as the father of cad). I use Rhino now for everything can
recommend it highly. It reads and writes many CAD files and has plug-ins for 3d printing,
Cam, bolt generation, Rendering, element analysis, PDF and jpg creation and many more. AutoCad is not worth the money. Solid Edge is a fine program but expensive and upgrades are constantly promoted for sales.

Thanks, Rachel. That’s a great post.

Have a check on Design Presentation, a fast and cost-effective CAD company in the US with best 2D CAD service, drafting service, cad modeling, AutoCAD services and lots more. Find more about us at

Any thoughts on DataCAD?

Hi Rachel,

Great post to read. But we are mostly using Revit when it comes to architectural services. We have also used AutoCAD in the past and it’s a great tool to use.

I found that there is one more big cad alternative software name is ActCAD wich is available at for free trial and purchase
there we can find couple of softwares
This is getting popular in USA, UK and india

After using cad software from different companies for around 20 years, recently I found ActCAD as the best in features and also price. I believe it should be on top of the list.

Hello Dan Taylor,

Thank you for the very informative article on alternative CAD software. You may also be interested in a similar article by Canadian Tech Journalist, Ralph Grabowski:

Please check it out to read about some more CAD Software options.

Thanks for the tips. Very helpful.

I did browse for an Autocad alternative cad software and found….a lot of them… there are free ones that are useless – funny a couple listed here – and ended up having to pay for one. Seems to make sense because freebies are definitely not intended for professionals.

Most payed ones, also listed here, have a LOT of useless features (for my work tasks). Seems that some are packing features freely available in the Internet so why the heck would I have to pay for that or for what I’ll never use?

The best one I found for my money was CMS IntelliCAD that I found at

Has all the cad features that I usually use and it’s compatible with cad files I get from several sources. Plus, they also included a cad viewer that I can use to view my files on the go.

Keep the good work !

Have one, CorelCAD. Affordable CAD solution for expert results.

Nice website. Except for the fact that my software is not here 🙁
An excellent alternative with a great CAD program and 17 BIM modules that can sit on top is Arcadia 10

Switched our architecture office to ZWCad Pro this year…tired of the license scheme of autodesk…as well as the high prices..We used Acad for 2D features, as well as Xrefs, blocks and Lisp and we barely see the difference in use with ZWcad now…ctb’s also are seamlessly embeded..great move!

MicroStation PowerDraft is industrial strength if you have demanding projects–with the ability to use and produce an unmatched range of data formats and types (including Point clouds and 3D BIM models) and high performance for any size project. You can download a 14-day trial here.

There are also plenty of open source options out there. Here in this reddit post I have tried to list all I could find plus explaining a little bit why we should use open source:

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