Autodesk AutoCAD (Windows and OSX)
Autodesk AutoCAD is the top choice for CAD design and architectural projects for both amateurs and companies. This software is suitable to any project: 2D floor plans, with basic 2D tools and Hatch tools, 3D design modeling with 3D Tools and Mesh objects, and outstanding Rendering with custom Environment, Sun, Sky and light sources. Its super easy user interface allows to realize projects in no time without any command â€“ but if you are more traditional, you can always work with your keyboard by typing your tools under the Command Line. Moreover, its 3D ViewCube allows to get a complete preview of your project, from every point of view. This software is available on monthly or annual subscription plans, and is available in several versions, depending on your designs. For example, AutoCAD Architecture is more focused in realizing buildings and houses, AutoCAD Electrical to realize circuits, or AutoCAD Mechanical to realize mechanical engineering projects for manufacturing.
Graphisoft ArchiCAD (Windows and OSX)
Graphisoft ArchiCAD is a great software to realize 2D plans and 3D architectural projects, from houses to buildings with extreme design. Its easy user-interface, with the loads of design tools available allow to draw projects in a very short time. Differently from AutoCAD, you do not have to draw each single part of your building completely manually: in fact, there is a tool for the Floor, another for the Walls, and a special one for the Roof. You can quickly choose and paste free and ready templates to drop Stairs, Windows, Doors, and even several internal objects, all fully customizable. This software is recommended to amateurs and also professionals as AutoCAD, or both 2D and 3D projects. NB: to purchase this software you may need to contact a sales representative.
Autodesk Revit (Windows)
Autodesk Revit is a great alternative to ArchiCAD, if you do not mind to buy under a subscription basis. Mainly focused on 3D architectural projects and designs, Revit brings several tools to draw Floors, Roofs and Walls, with several object templates to fulfill the internals quickly and easily, and excellent drawing tools to give to the Floor or the Roof the basic shape you like, from customized ones to regular shapes and circles. In respect to ArchiCAD, Revit has also Modify tools, very useful to fast copy, flip, mirror, move and rotate your object, and also dedicated tools to realize conductors, pipes and terminals under the Systems section. But indeed, it does not support proper 2D design.
Trimble SketchUp (Windows and OSX)
Trimble SketchUp is the best easy-to-use CAD software available on the market. Its simplified user interface is the best solution for people not used to CAD software, complete with 2D design tools and 3D drawing and modeling. Choose your proper template, to either start with a floor plan or a 3D project, and start drawing â€“ getting help from the Instructor panel if you need. Several editing tools allow to easily move, scale and rotate objects as you like. SketchUp also goes professional, with a great list of Materials to apply to your objects, and the LayOut workspace, dedicated to advanced 2D presentations and floor plans. This software is available in two main versions:
- SketchUp Pro â€“ this is the professional solution for companies that require a commercial use on the product. Available with a perpetual license without subscription.
- SketchUp Make â€“ the free version of SketchUp, which is not available for commercial use. This is perfect if you want to try and learn a CAD software for the first time.