DraftSight ends Beta; general release announced!

The big news from Dassault Systemes today is that they just announced the general release of DraftSight for Windows.  DraftSight is a no-cost 2D CAD application for CAD professionals, students and educators which allows them to create, edit and view .dwg files.  The very long beta release of the Windows version has ended with an impressive 400,000 450,000 downloads (as of 5:00PM ET on February 22, 2011) from the DraftSight website.  In a conversation I had with Aaron Kelly, Senior Director of DraftSight at Dassault Systemes, he stated that this number is “a lot more than we expected.”  He added that the total number of full DraftSight activations is over 95,000.

Language support

Also according to Kelly, since the beta 3 release, the DraftSight user interface has simultaneously supported 14 languages at once (English, German, French, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, Korean, Polish, Russian, Czech).  As of today’s general release, DraftSight will now also support these languages in the Help file, meaning that DraftSight is now fully localized (all 14 versions will be released at once for each update).

DraftSight is community driven

Free support, training and enhancement requests may be conducted through the DraftSight online community, based on Dassault Systemes’ SwYm online collaboration and social innovation platform.  SwYm communities have profiles, blogs, micro-blogging, “iQuestions”, wikis, media sharing spaces (data, audio, video, and even 3D), status updates, and more all within one online user interface.

Other updates in the general release

API support for DraftSight is now available, for a fee.  This enables users to write add-on programs for DraftSight in C++ and other supported programming languages.  The addition of Command Variables Enhancement allows users to set and change system variables directly from the command line.  Aaron Kelly adds, “we fixed a bunch of bugs that people reported”.  He also stressed the value the user base in improving DraftSight.

Service options

DraftSight offers a variety of support options, including no-cost community support (mentioned above), as well as fee-based Premium Services that may include telephone and email support, network licensing and access to DraftSight APIs.  There is now the Education Premium Service for educators which includes curriculum materials, network licensing and telephone and email support.

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.