What is the difference between DraftSight and AutoCAD?

Article by Scott Lidgey updated February 5, 2021

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DraftSight gives you the 2D tools you need with the software license flexibility you want. But what are the main differences between DraftSight and AutoCAD 2D CAD software?

Not all design tasks require the power and functionality of SOLIDWORKS, sometimes a 2D CAD solution is required.  Whether you are student, professor, small business owner, machinist on the shop floor or a designer in a huge engineering firm; having an easy to use design tool with a familiar interface and an intuitive workflow is needed now more than ever. Take a look at DraftSight 2D CAD software in the video below:

Advantages of DraftSight vs AutoCAD

Many of you will be familiar with AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT, listed below are the main advantages of DraftSight over the AutoCAD 2D solutions:

  • Pricing: DraftSight comes at a much lower price point, starting at US$99 a year for the Standard version.
  • File types: DraftSight runs natively with the DWG and DXF format, and supports the latest 2018 format, all the way back to R12.
  • Familiar Interface: Transitioning from AutoCAD is a breeze. The interface is very similar to AutoCAD, so it won’t take long to get acquainted with a few new icons.
  • Shared Commands: Although some commands are different, DraftSight made the aliases match the AutoCAD commands. For example E or Erase will start the Delete command…PU or Purge will start the Clean command, Osnap will start the Esnap command.
  • Customizable UI: The DraftSight user interface can be streamlined to how you like to work. There’s the more modern ribbon interface — but for the traditionalist switch to the classic toolbar and pull down menus.
  • Flexible Licensing: To start there are 6 versions to choose from which I’ll cover further down. The world is quickly changing to a SaaS (software as a service) for software. However, Dassault Systems still provides you with choices:
    • Subscription based versions are available
    • Enterprise version of DraftSight provides a choice of:
      • Perpetual licenses which you own with optional subscription renewal.
      • Network licenses to allow sharing licenses with multiple users.
  • Latest Technology: Because DraftSight isn’t pushing 40 years old like other 2D CAD software. DraftSight has been built with the latest technology and the underlying code is much lighter, and more nimble.
  • Operating System: DraftSight supports Windows and Mac operating systems.

DraftSight Versions

DraftSight is available as a Standard, Professional, Premium, Enterprise, Enterprise Plus and the latest 3DEXPERIENCE cloud-connected version. I’ll briefly outline the different versions below:

DraftSight Standard

DraftSight Standard is the entry level. Great for students and Hobbyists.  Providing all the 2D drawing, annotating and modification tools one could ever need. A couple of unique tools are Dynamic blocks and PDF underlay. Dynamic blocks… think configurable or adjustable blocks that fit different situations and mitigates the need for huge libraries. PDF Underlay enables industry standard format PDFs, and use them as a reference or to trace in your designs. US$99/yearBuy DraftSight Standard Now »

DraftSight Professional

DraftSight Professional is where the fun begins and is typically used for Companies and Individuals needing more than just the basics. Adding to then functionality in standard, professional has Toolbox… with its automation of intelligent, standard based fasteners and holes. Batch printing, Drawing Compare, CNC G-Code Generator, Image Tracer, and a Power Trim function. This version also provides the API to allow custom applications to be written. This is also the minimum level requires for proper SOLIDWORKS PDM Integration. US$199/yearBuy DraftSight Professional Now »

DraftSight Premium

DraftSight Premium takes all that great functionality of professional and adds 2D constraints to your linework. This is very similar to the parametric behavior many are used to from SOLIDWORKS sketches. This version also adds 3D capabilities. More traditional but still provides Primitives and Boolean operations. US$499/yearBuy DraftSight Premium Now »

DraftSight Standard, Professional, and Premium is purchased online from the DS web store. These licenses are supported through the DraftSight community only, learn more about the community support.

DraftSight Enterprise and Enterprise Plus

Moving on to Enterprise and Enterprise Plus. These two versions are for larger organizations with many users or multiple locations. Enterprise has the same a functionality as Professional while Enterprise Plus has the same functionality as Premium.  However, both versions get network licensing allowing for convenient license sharing. A deployment tool helps IT teams install on multiple systems more easily. And the biggest value up is full technical support through Javelin. These licenses must be purchased through Javelin with a minimum quantity of two:

3DEXPERIENCE DraftSight

Finally, 3DEXPERIENCE DraftSight brings you all the functionality of DraftSight Premium but adds the technical support through Javelin and best of all it adds the connectivity to the 3DEXPERIENCE cloud platform. This means unparalleled team collaboration, data management and project planning which are all interconnected to your traditional DWG format data. Watch a demonstration below on the latest version of DraftSight:

Next Steps

As you can see there is a lot of functionality available in DraftSight and many advantages over AutoCAD. The flexibility in license type and user experience ensures you can get what works best for you. For more information please reach out to us or download a trial version of DraftSight Premium below:

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Scott Lidgey

Scott has been using SolidWorks since version 98. Since that time he has help countless companies find solutions and best practices for all their design challenges.