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AutoCAD® and BricsCAD® are two well-known CAD software platforms, both used as a DWG viewer and design program. They share some similarities but are also quite different from one another.
If you considering a new CAD solution or looking to make the change, hopefully this article will provide some helpful context so you can compare the two.
Despite the growing popularity of BIM workflows, there is still plenty of basic 2D CAD work happening in the AEC industry today. In fact, this is what a lot of people still think of when referring to an AutoCAD drawing.
BricsCAD Lite and AutoCAD LT are both solid applications for working with basic 2D drawings utilizing the DWG file format. They are also the most economical CAD versions available for each brand. The lite versions are typically a good place to start for someone who is concerned is AutoCAD hard to learn.
Both programs include all the fundamental features needed by users, including tool palettes, ribbon interface (with CUI support), XREF (external referencing), plotting in 2D, and much more.
They both allow you to work with blocks, albeit a little differently. AutoCAD LT uses Dynamic Blocks and BricsCAD uses Parametric Blocks. In BricsCAD, you can independently control the parametric values.
Adding and editing parametric blocks in BricsCAD
Run LISP in BricsCAD Lite
An advantage of BricsCAD Lite over AutoCAD LT is BricsCAD’s ability to run custom LISP programming for running custom routines. AutoCAD LT simply does not support this - AutoCAD requires you to get a full version to utilize LISP.
All versions of BricsCAD can run LISP routines, even the 2D Lite version.
With BricsCAD, as an alternative to AutoCAD, you can run LISP programs developed in AutoCAD or other CAD applications or develop your own with the integrated BricsCAD LISP Advanced Development Environment – BLADE.
When it comes to modeling in 3D, you need to choose to either the full AutoCAD license or BricsCAD Pro. These allow you to work in both 2D and 3D.
Both have 3D drawing capabilities, various camera views, walkthrough navigation, and more.
Designing a 3D model house is a simple as creating some shapes and using tools to push/pull extrusions and curves. This format essentially lets you design first and adjust later.
As with all versions of BricsCAD, the full version of AutoCAD supports custom LISP programming with AutoLISP.
3rd Party Plugins
There are literally hundreds of industry-specific, 3rd party applications to install and use inside of these CAD platforms. These include custom apps for electrical, structural, mechanical, HVAC, and more.
Both regular AutoCAD and BricsCAD Pro fully support these apps. Remember that neither AutoCAD LT nor BricsCAD Lite can run any 3rd party plugins.
If you are designing in 3D then you probably want to generate an impactful image to from your 3D model. Both the full AutoCAD and BricCAD Pro allow you to add lights, makes objects transparent, add materials, and more to produce a presentation-ready image of your project.
Once your project is rendered, you can save it as a BMP, JPG, or PNG file for easy saving and sharing. Both software applications are equally capable of rendering images from models.
License management is where AutoCAD and BricsCAD differ wildly.
AutoDesk has announced that they are retiring licenses based on serial numbers. This means the end of the perpetual license policy with any AutoDesk product, including AutoCAD LT and AutoCAD.
In a nutshell, you can no longer own a license of AutoCAD outright. All users are being forced into a ‘named user’ policy. This means that each individual user will have their own login credential to use AutoCAD.
This may not seem like a big deal, but this will cost your company much more money in future as every user will have to pay for a license as an annual subscription
BricsCAD Has More Flexible Licensing
Bricsys has a completely different philosophy about software licenses. They give you the choice to either ‘rent’ the software via annual subscriptions, or you can still buy and own the software completely. In today’s world, this seems like a novel concept, but Bricsys is sticking by it.
Buy BricsCAD once and own it forever.
Perpetual licenses of BricsCAD can be kept current through annual maintenance support. If you select this route, the maintenance is the only recurring cost – potentially saving your company thousands of dollars.
AutoCAD has killed their Network License option.
BricsCAD, however, embraces network licenses. You can still get a network license of BricsCAD to share among multiple users across your network.
Likewise, this also works great with virtualization. Since COVID, many companies are transitioning to a flexible office/home policy with their employees.
This has further led to the use of virtual machines and cloud enterprises. If this is your situation, BricsCAD works great in this environment.
One word of caution though – BricsCAD network licenses are required to share in a network environment, NOT single licenses of BricsCAD.
Because of this, it is best to work with an authorized partner (like TAVCO) to ensure that you are purchasing the correct licenses for your specific needs.
Both AutoCAD and BricsCAD are good CAD software platforms for your 2D Drafting and 3D Modeling design work. At the end of the day, either one will give you great results and be your go-to CAD software for your DWG files. But, there's a bigger picture to consider.
AutoCAD's new licensing changes have turned off a lot of people. Many of them are looking for other options.
If you are one of these people exploring different alternatives, BricsCAD more than fits the bill. It is a solid platform, and it is backed by Hexagon, a global European company.
BricsCAD runs fast, is easy to use, and cost less than AutoCAD, especially over the long run. But, if you are ok with simply giving AutoDesk more money for the same tool, you can stay put.
What do you have to lose? Try a free trial of BricsCAD today and see if it is a good fit.