Not that long ago, a new free .dwg 2D editor was public beta released by Dassault Systemes called Draftsight (download it for free here). The fact that this application is free signals a shift in the 2D CAD industry.
According to Fielder Hiss of SolidWorks Corp (a Dassault Systemes subsidiarity), many customers still have the need for 2D. He stated that the free Draftsight application will allow these customers to free up investments for 3D. He also commented that 70% of Draftsight downloaders told others about it and “90% loved it.” With 45,000 installs to-date (mostly during the traditionally slow month of August), the adoption rate is impressive.
Adjoined to Draftsight is a growing online community that will participate in the application’s use, development and support. The users are given direct input via another technology announced by Dassault Systemes also announced in June 2010, called SwYm (See What You Mean). SwYm allows Dassault Systemes to establish a strong online community backbone for Draftsight users.
How will Draftsight generate income?
Though it is free, DraftSight is not offered as open source. Nor is it offered under a true freemium marketing model. Dassault Systemes is taking a different path.
Funding for the development of DraftSight will come in the form of paid add-ons and services. A yearly maintenance fee covers the following:
- direct telephone or online technical support
- Floating network licenses
- API extension (including LISP)
Even though Draftsight is still in public beta release, Dassault Systemes reports that some customers have already purchased the additional services.
According to Arron Kelly of Dassault Systems, hundreds of “AutoLISP” functions are already available in Draftsight’s own supported LISP. “It’s not a 1 for 1”, he states. He makes clear that the list of LISP functions will grow based on community input.
I personally would like to see some fundamental LISP functions supported without a service fee. Even some standard functions in AutoCAD started out as customer generated LISP routines. Not providing some portion of Draftsight’s LISP for free may hinder development of Draftsight itself.
Possible impact on 2D CAD industry
Draftsight seems to hit the 2D CAD industry hard. Offering a free alternative to over-priced 2D CAD competitors might be one of the smartest things that Dassualt Systemes does in 2010. Hopefully this time next year, Dassault Systemes will be able to brag about a massive rate of users who convert to Draftsight.