Last edited 05 May 2021


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Autodesk's AutoCAD is one of the main Computer Aided Design (CAD) software tools used for technical drawing in the construction industry. It was first released in 1982 and is used to produce drawings for design, construction, maintenance and operation as well as for future work to the structure.

The UK nbs National BIM Survey 2013 suggested that the most popular CAD software amongst respondents was:

  • Autodesk AutoCAD 26%
  • Autodesk AutoCAD LT 19% (a lower cost version of AutoCAD, with reduced capabilities).
  • Autodesk Revit 18% (used for Building Information Modelling).
  • Nemetschek Vectorworks 13%
  • Graphisoft ArchiCAD 7%
  • Bentley Microstation 5%
  • Trimble Sketchup 2%
  • Bentley Building Suite 1%
  • Nemetschek Allpan 0%
  • Other 8%

AutoCAD drawings are created at 'full size' and can then be scaled to suit different paper sizes or other media. It is mainly used to produce 2D drawaings, although there is also a 3D feature.

AutoCAD works by using a limited number of tools to draw straight lines, circles, arc's, and so on which are saved as a series of points or coordinates. This means that the resulting drawing files are relatively small in size.

As the drawing progresses other tools can be used to make the drawing more complex and contain more information. This full size drawing is drawn in model space mode which is virtually unlimited (in reality limited by the computer hardware specification), and then scaled down in the paper [space] mode.

The native file format for AutoCAD is .dwg, but files can also be produced in an interchange file format DXF.

Autodesk have a adopted an annual release strategy now popular for many software products as it allows a revenue stream for the programmers and ensures development of the software.

In AutoCAD 2010 it adopted the new visual style developed by Microsoft to allow use by all devices such as touchscreens, mouse, pens and digitizers.

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