Why AutoCAD is Still Relevant in a BIM World

Why AutoCAD is Still Relevant in a BIM World

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I’m an AutoCAD fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love Revit. The intelligence, the immersion, the possibilities… However, as a long-time user and instructor of Autodesk AutoCAD, I still see a bright future for Autodesk’s signature software. Why? In many cases, it is the right tool for the job.

  • Not everyone needs the data associated with BIM projects. If you only need 2D symbols with some data attached, AutoCAD’s your tool.
  • Specialized Toolsets offer more functionality for specific disciplines. While they are not a slam-dunk to use, for many purposes they provide more options without having to learn an entirely different piece of software. The architecture, electrical and mechanical toolsets provide industry-specific content to improve efficiency.
  • AutoCAD is the foundation for powerful tools like Civil 3D, Plant 3D and Map 3D.

AutoCAD will remain relevant in this world of BIM because of:

The Simplicity.  AutoCAD has always been what I consider an intuitive program. It works the way I expect it to. If I want to draw a line, there’s a line command . . . a circle, the circle command. It is easy to jump in and start drawing meaningful stuff. Certainly, some of the more recent concepts (recent being after 1990) took a while to wrap my head around. Annotative scaling took me a while, for instance – “Why don’t I need 10 textstyles anymore?” A little AutoCAD training can go a long way.

The Continuity.  You can still draw the way you did thirty years ago if you want to. All those commands that you have typed for all those years are still there for you, even if no one uses them but you. A few have been removed and are listed in program parameters file, but of course you can just put them back in. Want the “Classic View with no ribbon? You can do that, too.

Synergy.  AutoCAD plays well with other software. Just look at the list of file types you can import into (at least 20), or export from (13) AutoCAD. Not to mention all the software that can import AutoCAD files, including Revit and most computer aided manufacturing (CAM) programs.

Personalize it.  You can still make it your own. While the open architecture of the software, which allows users to get into the program and customize to their heart’s content, has always appealed to the slightly geeky CAD users, even those who couldn’t be forced to write code can customize their working environment and improve their workflows. It is even possible to customize the icons if you’re feeling creative. Check out the Applied Software training calendar to see the opportunities available for you to learn how to make your job easier.

Improvements.  AutoCAD just keeps getting better. Annotative scaling, Dynamic Blocks, tool palettes, sharing and comparing views, mobile access to files – I could go on and on.

I will never convince my colleagues who have “gone over to Revit and will never go back.” But when I am asked, “Is AutoCAD going away?” or, “Who still uses AutoCAD?”, my first thought is, “How much time do you have?”

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