DoubleCAD XT vs. Bricscad

If you are looking for an alternative to AutoCAD LT you have a lot of different software programs to choose from. Two of the best are Bricscad and DoubleCAD XT. Version 2 of DoubleCAD XT has recently been released and I downloaded a copy to check it out.

I’ll skip ahead to my opinion.

If you need to work in 3D you probably don’t want to use AutoCAD LT or either of these programs.

If you already know AutoCAD, Bricscad is the most like it in appearance and functions, so it won’t take you long to learn how to use it. I think it would be a good replacement, or additional seat. It cost $695.00 for one seat, but you get a break on price if you need 10 or more. Bricscad was created with only one thing in mind and that was to be as much like AutoCAD LT as possible. Bricscad also runs AutoLisp programs. You may know, AutoLisp is a programing language that you can use to customize the full version of AutoCAD. There are several AutoLisp programs that I have written and some from some others that I find really useful. AutoCAD LT does not support AutoLisp, but Briscad does.

DoubleCAD XT is free. That can’t be stressed too much. You can get an AutoCAD LT work-alike with most of the functionality of AutoCAD LT for free. If you already know AutoCAD LT, it will take longer to learn than Briscad, because it works a little differently than AutoCAD LT. They have attempted to make it work quite a bit like AutoCAD but the differences will be a bit of a stumbling block. However, it is entirely possible that you will prefer the way it works. This is a program that was written to be the best cad program that it could be while making sure that it had all of the AutoCAD LT functionality. It has several features and functions that are missing from AutoCAD LT. If you do not already know how to use AutoCAD LT, this will be an excellent program to start with. Like AutoCAD LT, it doesn’t support AutoLisp.

If you are wanting an inexpensive alternative to AutoCAD LT and you want to use it for architectural drawings, you may want to step up to DoubleCAD XT Pro. For $695.00 you get a lot of Architectural Desktop (ADT) compatible tools and some additional features that you don’t get with the free version. This version also supports custom commands written with their software development pack (sold separately), but it also doesn’t support AutoLisp.

The prices above were listed on the companies websites on February 24, 2010.

Interview with Kanti Purohit

Kanti Purohit is the manager of the Bricscad affiliate program. The notes below are based on my telephone interview with him on Sep. 29, 2009.

Bricscad is a CAD package developed by Bricsys and built using the IntelliCAD engine. There are several “AutoCAD like” CAD programs that were based on IntelliCAD. According to Kanti Purohit, Bricscad is now about 99.9% IntelliCAD free and is working to become 100% IntelliCAD free. This will free them up to develop the program to provide more functionality than it does now.

There is a new 144 page e-book by Ralph Grabowski called “Bricscad for AutoCAD Users”. You can get it for free now a free on the Bricscad site .

Right now they are compatible with AutoCAD through 2009 and will soon be compatible with 2010. I asked about whether they would be implementing the AutoCAD ribbon interface, and he indicated that that was still an open issue. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of user demand for it at the present.

In their non-scientific user’s survey they found users 98% satisfied. And 90% preferred it over AutoCAD. Some users say they find it more compatible with earlier versions of AutoCAD than AutoCAD itself. They even have some users who got Bricscad in order to read older AutoCAD drawings.

He stressed that Bricscad is a premium product, and not just another “me too” IntelliCAD clone. It provides a complete platform for third party application developers. There are about 100 applications already and another 300 or so in the works. Many third party application developers are finding that potential users of their products just can’t afford to buy their product and also buy AutoCAD to run it on. He called this a “CAD Tax” that is added to the cost of their application. Bricscad reduces this “CAD Tax” and provides a stable platform to run their applications. If a developer has any problems re-compiling their program to run on Bricscad, they will do it for them. Who could ask for more?

The current version of Bricscad is 9.3. You can download a free 30 day evaluation copy from their web site. If you should decide to purchase a copy, please use my affiliate number JW6C-3224-JSAW and get a 5% discount.

Thoughts on the Bricscad Affiliate Program

Last month I received an email from Bricscad inviting me to become a Bricscad affiliate. For those of you who are not familiar with Bricscad, it is low-cost alternative to AutoCAD. I hadn’t looked at the program in a couple of years, so I got a copy and was impressed with it. Perhaps I will pose a full review of it later but for now I want to tell my opinion of GlobalForce DIRECT, the distributor of Bricscad products in US and India. They appear to be based in India, and that may be the source of the problems I ran into. [I was wrong about this. refer to the reply posted by Kanti Purohit ]

First let me say that after my review I was fully prepared to recommend this CAD program for existing users of AutoCAD that want to switch from Autodesk. If you can be happy with 90 percent of the functionality at 30 percent of the price and jump off of the spiraling upgrade costs of sticking with AutoCAD you may want to check it out. Bricscad uses the same .DWG file format that AutoCAD uses so there is no translation required when sharing drawings with your consultants. The menu system looks enough like AutoCAD 2008 that existing AutoCAD users can be productive with Bricscad in less than an hour, no re-training required. And if all of this is not enough, your existing AutoLisp programs will run without modification (90 percent of them anyway).

However, when I tried to sign-up I ran into problems. The email gave me two different ways to sign up. I could fill in the form on their web site, or simply respond to the email. I replied to the email and have still not received a response. I then went to their web site and clicked on the form. The form was a simple email response form where you fill out a couple of required fields and it forwards an email to them. One of the required fields was my phone number. It would not forward the email until this field was filled out correctly. I suppose I am not smart enough to enter my phone number in a format that it liked. I tried 5 or 6 different combinations. I live in Colorado and I almost never have a need to call out of the country so I am thinking that there must be some special way for someone in India to call here, but by then I just gave up.

Note to GlobalForce DIRECT:

If you are serious about getting affiliates in the USA you should not put so many obstacles in their way. If you send me an email requesting a response, and then never even acknowledge that response, it gives me serious concerns about the level of support an end user of your product could expect. If you intent to provide reasonable support to users in the USA, your web site pages should not present them with obstacles that get in their way. It is not good enough for a CAD company to have a good product. It must also have a good distribution and support network. Because of this I will not be actively promoting this product. [After posting this I received a call from Tony Flynn and then from Kanti Purohit who explaied the technical problem they had and again offered me the opportunity to become an affiliate. After I receive the conformation email I will let you know.]

Graphic software programs

I thought that I would start by listing some of the software that I use. Later I will be commenting on each of these, offering my opinions and tips I have discovered along the way. Here are most of the graphic programs I use:

  • AutoCAD
  • Revit Architecture
  • Autodesk 3D Studio Max
  • Sketchup
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Adobe Photoshop CE
  • Arris
  • Corel Painter
  • Irfanview
  • Piransei
  • Bricscad

There are others, but these are the main ones.