Review by Glenn Cavill - Architectural Designer
Drawing efficiency in relation to producing architectural drawings from initial concepts through planning, building regulations and onsite construction.
Glenn Cavill is an architectural designer providing architectural services for an array of clients from one off individuals to property developers and interiors designers. Having used other similar software packages as Vectorworks and AutoCAD for many years he wishes to test and review ZWCAD+ 2012. Glenn Cavill has to provide a cost effective design service meeting the clients’ needs both conceptually and in the production of working drawings. He currently uses the latest BIM (building information modeling) software called Archicad.
With many features, commands and similar screen layouts (palettes, ribbons, etc) as other CAD software products, it was very quick and easy to start drawings both in 2D and 3D. The SmartMouse feature provides the capability of undertaking commands quickly and effectively in the production of drawings. There is also the feature of drawing tabs which lets you switch between drawings more efficiently.
Superior display accuracy
Fluency for large raster images
Effective drawing efficiency which includes memory optimization technology
Review on ZWCAD+ 2012:
I currently use Archicad, the latest in BIM (building information technology) software and feel that it would not be justifiable to review ZWCAD+ 2012 against this software as it is not a comparable cad drawing software. Having previously used other software packages such as Vectorworks and AutoCAD, I feel that it is more justifiable to compare and review ZWCAD+ 2012 software alongside the latter mentioned software options available to users, in particular sole proprietors and small start up business. These entities usually require CAD capabilities with minimal cost outlay.
When ZWCAD+ 2012 was released by ZWSOFT Guangzhou, P R China, it was also promoted as an AutoCAD challenger and at a reduced price, therefore this comparison seems appropriate.
When you start up ZWCAD+ 2012 for the first time you will instantly see a familiarity in the user interface if you are a past/current user of AutoCAD with such things as the Ribbon and Tool Palettes, command lines, model and layout tabs/views and more. This likeness provides a quick learning curve for past/current AutoCAD users and provides the opportunity to reduce the need for paying/undertaking classes to obtain the skills to operate ZWCAD+ 2012.
As per ZWCAD+ 2012’s user interface many of the tasks, commands and etc. are similar to AutoCAD which is a great advantage but having been a past user of AutoCAD there does not seem to be a great deal of features and/or difference that excites me apart from SmartMouse gesture facility and Drawing Tabs, therefore I feel it is more advantageous to describe these two features in more detail whilst concluding that the majority of features and design of ZWCAD+ 2012 are similar to AutoCAD.
SmartMouse is a feature where the user can produce a command by forming a “gesture” with the mouse cursor. You can change the SmartMouse settings provided initially, add gestures and turn this function on/off. For example as you can see in Figure1 the upwards motion when right clicking activates the ‘New’ command.
A screen shot of the SmartMouse dialogue box and initial gestures are shown below in Figure1.
The other feature that standards out to me is Drawing Tabs, which allows me to navigate between multiple drawings in different tabs which makes this task more efficient, saving time when having to reference across to different projects or elements of a scheme.
The screen shot below (figure2) shows the different tabs. Each tab can be opened quickly by selecting it with one click. The process in AutoCAD is not as simple, where you have to undertake more actions and the outcome takes up more valuable screen space.
Alongside the two main features described above there are also two elements that make up ZWCAD+ 2012 software and add to the users’ drawings efficiency. These are:
1. Unique memory optimization technology:
For tougher design tasks the new memory optimization technology included in ZWCAD+ 2012 enables the user to open any drawing with memory usage reduced by 50%. That's why it works smoothly with drawings that are even over 100 MB. It's also excellent in reducing memory accumulation, which ensures non-stop operation throughout the day. This technology assists and increases productivity when working on larger and more complex files and helps the overall running of your computer when wishing to multi tasks.
2. Superior display accuracy and fluency for large raster images:
After inserting images, you will find every single detail of an image will be ready to display in the blink of an eye when users put it into work. The instant response and clear display from the image enhancement will especially be obvious with images over 1G in size.
Initially on a personal and professional level (not part of this review but I feel that it should be mentioned so that CAD users can consider other CAD packages on the market) with architectural CAD software moving more towards the implementation of BIM (building information modeling) with such software packages as Revit and Archicad, I personally think that ZWCAD+ 2012 is biased more towards engineering rather than for the architectural profession. ZWCAD+ 2012 stands strongly against AutoCAD and with its reduced start up price can be a very effective tool for sole proprietors or small startup companies if they feel that full BIM technology is not necessary, required or within budget.
There are many reviews of ZWCAD+ 2012, its features and associated AutoCAD features and I felt with myself being in the architectural design industry and having past experience in AutoCAD that my review/conclusion should be focused on showing the features that stand out to me and that I think would be beneficial to other CAD users that are considering starting CAD for themselves or have/currently use AutoCAD.
Whilst undertaking the review based on creating architectural drawings, the features mentioned within the review speed up this process. Referencing across to other project drawings with ease is advantageous to this task, but I feel that within the architecture industry software has moved along way from simple 2D or basic 3D drawings that such software packages as ZWCAD+ 2012 produce.
ZWCAD+ 2012 has all the create features and ease of use that AutoCAD offers, plus bonus features and the low startup cost makes it an attractive cad software to consider depending on your budget, industry focus and overall business goals/plan.