Drafting, anyone? IMSI’s free DoubleCAD may be a good pick.

DoubleCAD Screenshot
DoubleCAD Screenshot

There are now so many free 2D CAD drafting programs available out there that it is almost amazing why Autodesk’s AutoCAD LT is still selling (let alone their recently updated software AutoSketch). Some examples are: DraftIt, Solidedge 2D, D-CAD-L and there are more, I just can’t remember all the links.

Here’s the new contender for the drafting part of the CAD market: DoubleCAD by IMSI/Design, the makers of TurboCAD, DesignCAD and IDX Renditioner for SketchUp. DoubleCAD’s claim to fame is that it opens DWG, DWF and SKP files and that it works very similar to AutoCAD LT. I just tried it and most of the classic AutoCAD commands work fine – only the “z” for zoom is being steadfastly ignored.

Opening even large DWG files works fine (see our campus model in the screenshot) and with existing AutoCAD knowledge I was able to quickly get some lines drawn up and layers manipulated. As an added bonus for architectural users, DoubleCAD features architectural walls that supposedly export directly into AutoCAD Architecture as objects.

So if you need to work with DWG files, look at this free software. Even if you are a SketchUpper who would like to switch away from LayOut, this may be for you. If you need more power, then check out their enhanced (Pro) version. Or AutoCAD LT, of course…

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  • Appreciate the mention!

    While there are a fair number of free 2D CAD apps, there aren’t any free, up-to-date, and reliable AutoCAD LT work-alikes. We think these were the missing ingredient in past efforts.

    Good catch on the “z”… that will be fixed in next update… but since our UI is fully customizable, you can fix it now:

    Simply set it as a key command by going to Tools –> Customize –> Keyboard –> Choose Zoom category –> Select Zoom Window –> press Z for new short-cut key –> press Assign button.

    Lots of reasons to try our free DoubleCAD XT… obvious ones are more features… but we’re getting good response from owners of old AutoCAD LT that can’t open up newer AutoCAD formats and are using DoubleCAD XT as a translation companion.

    Also, here’s a fun one: Create a floor plan in DoubleCAD XT and import it into AutoCAD LT…

    … all of DoubleCAD XT’s ADT-compatible, self-healing walls *continue* to be self-healing in AutoCAD LT… and AutoCAD LT doesn’t even have self-healing walls! (Hours of wall-editing time saved with this one.)