Draftsight news (Part 1)

Draftsight logoNot 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.

Online community

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.

DraftSight; How can Dassault Systemes offer 2D CAD for free?

As mentioned in an article earlier this week, Dassault Systemes announced the release of a new “professional-grade” 2D CAD application called DraftSight.  DraftSight is touted as an easy DWG file editor.  The big bonus is that DraftSight is free!

2D CAD at Dassault Systemes

Within the Dassault Systemes family of products, DraftSight now takes its place as the 2D CAD offering.  For non-SolidWorks users, it will effectively replace the old DWGEditor.  However, according to Matthew West of SolidWorks Corp in a recent tweet,

The SolidWorks 2D Editor isn’t going anywhere for the time being.  But [SolidWorks] customers are welcome to use DraftSight if they prefer.

It’s free?

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.  When I talked to Arron Kelly, Sr. Director, DraftSight, I expressed my concern that DraftSight may be yet another application that starts off strong as free but then eventual fizzles out and is forgotten.  What is Dassault’s plan to kept this product vital?  His answer was complex.

swymersDassault Systemes made a dual product release announcement that involves DraftSight.  The DraftSight application is being closely tied to the DraftSight.com community.  This new community is based on a new technology called SwYm (“See what you mean”).  The community is also free.  It will have community support, question and answers, voting on answers, blog, videos, knowledge base, etc.    According to Aaron Kelly, Dassault Systemes plans to “leverage the community to build a better product.”  They are going to rely on the community to determine how to develop DraftSight.  Users will make suggestions and prioritize enhancements, similar to SolidWorks Brainstorm.

Funding for the development of DraftSight will come in the form of paid add-ons and services.  For a yearly maintenance fee, users will be able to have direct telephone or online technical support.  Larger customers will have a network license.  DraftSight also plans to charge for the API extension.

I asked, does a user need to purchase the API package to use LISP, or do they just need it to develop LISP or C++ routines?

Kelly stated, users need to have the API extension to use LISP file too.

SolidWorks concern

One concern I have is for SolidWorks users who use SolidWorks 2D Editor (formerly DWGEditor).  We get support for 2D Editor via our VAR.  We are unlimited in our use of its API (limited that it may be).  If DraftSight eventually replaces 2D Editor, SolidWorks customers do not seem to have a path to use their SolidWorks subscription to gain support and the API extension for DraftSight.  Though 2D Editor is not often a selling point, it is part of what we pay for in the form of subscription and original purchase.  Does Dassault Systemes really intend to leave SolidWorks users out on a limb if 2D Editor is ever cancelled?

Review of DraftSight

I will review DraftSight and DraftSight.com in future articles.