AutoCAD, DataCAD, Microstation, Revit?

Making the correct determination of which drafting platform works for your firm can be a difficult decision. Each platform has its own history of development. AutoCAD was developed in 1982 with 30 releases to date. Utilized by Architects, Engineers, and many other professions, it quickly became the industry standard. Microstation was developed in 1988 as an easier way to draw on the computer. Unfortunately, it only comprises 5-10% of the Architectural community. Originally developed in 1981, DataCAD wasn’t released until 1985; it was designed by two Architects and intended for use specifically by Architects. Released in 2000, Revit was designed to address issues of continuity through drawing sets.  Once a floor plan is drawn, the sections, elevations, and even window legends are all produced automatically. The powerful nature of this program relies heavily on the initial input of the design phase data; the benefits of the program aren’t felt if a project never makes it out of the design phase.

In addition to the history of each program, our own histories influence our decisions. During college, our class learned AutoCAD, Form-Z, photoshop, and a little 3d Studio Max. The first architectural firm I worked at used AutoCAD; thankfully I had taken enough classes to be confident using it. Subsequent offices used MicroStation and DataCAD. After working for these three very different firms, it was time to go out on my own – and the decision needed to be made as to which platform I would use.

When looking at all the options 15 years ago, we decided on DataCAD. The two biggest factors that swayed our decision were price and familiarity. We had been designing homes with DataCAD for many years and felt it was a natural transition to use the software. It was also the least expensive option. Now that we have transitioned from residential design to As-Built surveys, our drafting platform has transitioned as well. Our drawings are sent to Architects, Engineers, Interior Designers, Mechanical, Plumbing, and Electrical vendors. 95% of consultants use AutoCAD, and file translations can slow the sharing process to a crawl. Having revised our platform, we are able to quickly and efficiently communicate with all professionals and vendors. For the As-Built market, AutoCAD remains the industry standard.

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