DraftSight – FREE 2D For ALL

June 22, 2010 50 Comments »
DraftSight – FREE 2D For ALL

Dassault Systemes today announced the introduction of DraftSight, a 2D CAD tool that is available for download for FREE at DraftSight.com.  Last week I was contacted by a PR agency and was asked if I would like to see the product first hand and review some of the details of the program.  I jumped at the chance and even got to test drive a pre-beta version of the software to see for myself what it was all about.  Below are the highlights of what is being offered.

  • FREE download version to anyone who wants it
  • Increased performance over many 2D packages
  • API Extension and Direct Technical Support can be purchased as Add-Ons
  • If you print or save, a one-time e-mail submission is required for the Free version.
  • Online DraftSight Community using the new DS SWYM platform
  • Commercial version bundles API & Tech Support sold as FlexLM license by all DS Reseller Channels
  • Will offer both MAC & LINUX versions later this year

The Basics

The product is little over 40 megabytes when downloaded.  Installation literally takes less than a minute.  The interface is VERY Clean.  The look and feel is very “modern” which is refreshing when compared to the IntelliCAD based SolidWorks 2DEditor (DWGeditor).  It also contains some enhancements which do make this product unique.  Below is a screenshot of the default screen you see when you start the program.

Although I don’t use 2D tools very much at all any more, I was still able to find my way around the product since it is VERY much like AutoCAD.  One of the features I immediately noticed is that DraftSight contains a Polar snap setting, which was always missing in DWGeditor.  The layers interface is very clean and appears to have all the major tools and features necessary.  Below is a screenshot that shows all the details.

One of the unique features of this tool is the Enhanced Command Window which features colors for options as you enter geometry creation commands.  This makes the options standout and will allow the user to identify the options available much faster.

Basic Block Commands are also available.  The example I created included a gradient shaded hatch.  All of the placement options will look very familiar to most 2D users.

If you Save or Print a file in DraftSight, you’ll be prompted to Activate the software.  All you have to provide is an e-mail address.  (THAT’S IT!)  You have 30 days to provide this e-mail address.  After that you will have to provide it in order to continue using the product.

DraftSight also has a mouse gesture wheel feature that functions very much like its counterpart in SolidWorks 2010.

Performance is key and according to Aaron Kelley, Senior Director of DraftSight, users should see a significant performance increase when compared to SolidWorks 2DEditor.  Of course I had to test this for myself and I must say the results were very positive.  A 19 megabyte test file (cannot show the content on the screen…sorry!) loaded in about half the time it took to open the file in SolidWorks 2DEditor.  This product is being lauched as a Beta.  This is pretty common these days with many software companies…after all…Gmail was labeled “Beta” for quite some time.

Commercial Licensing

All Dassault Systemes reseller channels will be selling a Commercial version that includes the API access and Technical Support for $250 per year per license.  It is a standard FlexLM setup that will allow multiple users to access the available licenses on the server.

Community Aspect

One of the interesting aspects of this product is the Community approach.  The DraftSight Community is an area setup within the new Dassault Systemes SWYM online Community.  (SWYM stands for See What You Mean)  The hope is that the user Community will provide lots of feedback on the product which will drive future enhancements.  It was stressed that this product WILL be enhanced and will always offer a FREE version.  I’ll cover more about SWYM in a future post as it is just now being launched along with this product.


The technology behind this product is NOT IntelliCAD.  It is based on ARES which is a newly launched platform from German based Grabert CAD solutions.  Later this year a MAC & LINUX versions of this product will be available which follows in line with product announcements already made by Grabert.  I did ask about the future of SolidWorks 2DEditor and was told that announcements regarding that product will be made later down the road.

Industry Effects

The fact that such a comprehensive 2D tool is now being offered for FREE is without a doubt a groundbreaking action within the CAD Industry.  Although it may not have the Bells and Whistles of some of the other 2D CAD packages, it offers an amazing amount of functionality for virtually no cost to the user.  So perhaps Dassault will need to add “2D for Everyone” as a slogan to go along with their “3D for Everyone” mission statement.  What will the other CAD vendors say?  Well, I’m sure we’ll hear all about how DraftSight lacks this feature and that feature, but the bottom line is this package is not trying to be the ultimate 2D package.  It offers basic 2D functionality at no cost to the user.  Pretty impressive.


So far, I am really impressed with this product.  The interesting test will be putting it through its paces in the hands of the user.  After more folks (along with myself) have kicked the tires of the Beta version of the product, I’ll post the results here on the site.

Stay tuned….much more to come!

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  • Hmmm…interesting! Screenshots look good; I will have to try it out myself soon, although I don't see much use for it myself.

    I would expect that this will eventually replace the current SolidWorks 2D Editor. I wonder how the licensing will work, though. You currently get 3 seats of SW2DE for every one seat of SolidWorks.

  • Brad Hakeman

    We downloaded it this morning, and so far it's hard to tell the difference between DraftSight and AutoCAD. I have all of my keyboard shortcuts set up, template defaults ready to go, and when I have CAD on one monitor and DraftSight on the other, our co-workers are having trouble telling the two apart. Our Drafting Department uses both AutoCAD and SolidWorks (CAD to generate 2D prints since we only have two people using SolidWorks and not everyone here is on board with using eDrawings to view slddrw files.)

    So far, so good.

  • I asked about that and there were no plans at this point to make any changes to 2Deditor. This product looks a whole lot better though. :-)

  • Brad,

    Thanks for letting us know how it is going for you. Please keep us posted. Would love to hear your thoughts on how it is working out for you.


  • Brad Hakeman

    Someone passed it on to some of our non-AutoCAD users (currently using CADopia), one of which is a certified SolidWorks user. So the list of Beta testers should be growing pretty rapidly.

  • 3dcad

    when are we ever going to get away from Autocad

  • Brad Hakeman

    The only complaint I have so far is print errors. The print preview shows what I want, but A-size prints are off centered (some to the extent that information is lost). Larger prints (C/D size prints) are scaled down to 3″ x 4″ in the corner of a 17″ x 22″ piece of paper (again, the print preview is correct). I have posted on the DraftSight Community site to see if it is a bug or if there is something I am missing. The dwg's print fine with AutoCAD using the same settings.

  • Vikram

    cool one very interesting

  • Great stuff Ricky. I've already distributed it throughout our company for use as a replacement to the 2d editor. It opens drawings (even large drawings) much faster than AutoCAD. You can't export BOM tables to excel, but editing attributes is smooth. Everything else pretty much functions like the normal old AutoCAD. It's way nicer than 2D editor, as you can probably imagine.

  • William Chen

    I think TurboCad might lose its place on the throne… this looks impressive!

  • Shankar

    looks really cool

  • Roger Pierik

    Does anyone know where drafsight put's it's GUI preferences? Application keeps crashing after clicking a wrong display setting in the options menu. Re-installing and restoring computer to pre Drafsight state brought no solution. Must be in the register somewhere.

    Any help appreciated.

    Roger Pierik

  • Website Design

    Too abstract, I don't have the slightest idea about this article.

  • Trey

    Everything looks and runs nice except for the dimensioning. It is not easy to edit the dimensions. I haven’t actually been able to change the drawing with the dimensions, only the text it displays.

  • work at home

    Great post having a very useful stuff.
    work at home

  • A new technology can bring up a new revolutionary. Let's wait for its next step.

  • It looks professional and smart. But it seems DraftSight does not have a MAC edition. doesn't it? I hope there will not be too long to wait for.

  • Sydney House Cleaning

    Woo – FREE. I love it when the price is right.

  • Hotels Bowral

    Way to write it out like an essay, this is bursting with info. Cheers.

  • R. D. Childers

    The only think I need it for is to export BOM Tables to excel.

  • john

    so interesting screenshots

  • With software like this making an appearence, and with 3DS Max also becoming more and more powerful, are AutoCADs days limited?

  • it is good sofeware tool and i used it before.

  • Good Post, it's very cool articles because give me more information
    thanks for sharing!

  • It's definitively a very good software. Thanks for the post, very useful

  • nice screenshots. it looks easy to use..

  • This looks really interesting. I’ll definitely download and check it out.

  • Snapshots are good, I’m downloading the software. Will try it very soon.

  • Snapshots are good, I’m downloading the software. Will try it very soon.

  • Jdshep1

    my plots are tiny even when I select window and fit to paper? How can I fix this? I plot same drawing in autocad 2011 without any issues.

  • Jdshep1

    I have a similar problem with printing, everything is tiny, I am looking for help on this.

  • it’s very interesting that what you write about. thanks for information.

  • E22joe

    If you grind thru the “help” area online (a difficult undertaking you will see), you will find the printing problems are not yet solved (6 months so far). Worrysome…

  • Nice review. I tried it myself and use it for work sometimes (only have a 3D package) and at home. Like you said, not all the bells and whistles are there, but it’s a pretty competent package. I actually wrote my own – not as complete review here: http://jcopro.net/2010/12/29/draftsight-review-like-autocad-but-free/

  • E22joe

    News noted on Jan 17, 2011 — Printing problems (update promised by Dec 2010) are solved. However “release” is now expected by end of Jan 2011 “[for resolution of legal questions]”. Additionally, many complain of unannounced TimeBomb that halted use of Beta-1 (where printing worked OK) and required DL of Beta-2 (where printing did NOT work and required the user to reset all the variables he had invested in Beta-1). For a Market release, a terrible path seems to have been employed. Now they will need to establish user confidence.

  • L. J.

    I am retired, since 2003. I had used AutoCAD since 1992, and SolidWorks from 2001 to 2003, but was too slow on both. I have wanted CAD software for home projects, layouts, etc., but couldn’t justify buying AutoCAD LT or anything else more expensive. I tried DoubleCAD XT about a year ago, from IMSI/Design, LLC. It was free, and a $50 Tutorial was available, but somehow, it was so different from AutoCAD that I never got the hang of it.
    As stated above, Draftsight is so similar to AutoCAD, that I am able to make drawing files.
    It has locked up twice. The first time, I was trying to draw a line. Just now, I typed e for erase, right clicked to select, and crossed the entity I wanted to erase, which highlighted. Then LOCKUP. A doughnut appears in the middle of the screen, the cursor can still be moved by the mouse, but no buttons work. Task Manager will not launch. I restarted the computer, and the drawing file was lost.
    I have also had printing problems similar to comments by other users. The preview appears to be correct, but the print does not match the preview. In one case, only about 2/3 of the drawing printed. The other 3rd was off the page.
    But, for free, it’s GREAT.
    L. J.

  • Mark

    I’m a CAD newby, so sorry if this is a silly question. I’m importing a file from a drawing program and the shading is inverse of my original drawings. I’d like to see black lines on a white drawing space. Is is possible to invert the colors in DraftSight?

  • Volker von Detten

    Cannot print in DrSt. and continue to use Editor without any problems. Otherwise DS is very good.

  • Hello Mark,

    You can do this through the System Options. In the menu system to to Tools->Options, then select “System Options” in the left column. Expand the “Display” section and Select “Element Colors” -> “Model Background”. I have included a link to an image showing the options screen.



  • Jonathon

    I cannot get my HP1220C to print to B-size anymore, now that I have upgraded to the newer release of Draftsight. It worked fine before upgrade, but no longer does. How do you get it back to functional printing?

  • Tomjanp1

    I had and used draftsight for home use, but now when I try to open it, it tells me the license has expired.
    Help, please. Tom

  • Dwctruck

    But it won’t plot to large format paper 

  • Tomjanp1

    Hi, I used the free draftsight 2d to do my dwg,s for my new teardrop camper. Now I have most of my mat’l to start building the unit, aluminum parts for the understructure, door,windows,axle tires & aluminum rims approx. $2000.00 worth. Iam ready to start cutting the longit, . I can’t run the prints.
       It tells me (this product is not licensed or has expired)
        What can I do to get back to using Draftsight 2d ?
         Please help        Thanks, tom pfeifer galion, ohio 44833 

  • Tom,

    You should be able to download the latest copy of Draftsight and you will be able to view your drawings again.


  • Dclark

    I have the same error,

    p, li { white-space: pre-wrap; }This product is not licensed or has expired.”
    I downloaded and got the license email but didn’t read it or activate.  It’s a month later and I can’t ge it to work.
    Draftsite: beta

  • David Cleveland

    Here is were the “free” part comes in. It’s a community developed product, where as AutoCAD has been been under development by Autodesk for eons. The good folks at Autodesk have catered to the specific needs of many such as yourself and also the mechanical folks and have honed their products effectively, but they’ll cost you dearly. But…for what this is… a totally free (sans premium account), CAD package, it’s hard to find much fault.

  • Mike

    Can the save files be read on AutoCad?

  • dino librandi

    V1.2 has a good print preview. V1.3 does not manage line thickness and does not print lines on the border of the print area. In both versions, when printing the lines thickness is really imprecise.

  • Mtldad1

    They will need your current email address after 30 days.  It should work fine than.  I’m more of a carpenter than a Techi.
      I’m also interested in teardrop campers, how has your turned out.

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