By Joris Maes
A few years ago, I have tested ZWCAD 2011, one of the AutoCAD alternatives, and now they have several new versions. After reading a message in the “joericad” forum, ZWCAD+ 2014 Pro, which I haven’t tested before, attracts my attention. So I decided to have another product review on this latest version of ZWCAD+.
What attracts my attention immediately is that, ZWCAD+ 2014’s download/installation package is only 230MB! The installation process is similar to other major software, so I won’t spend much time talking about this.
ZWCAD+ 2014 switched its interface from classic to Ribbon, just like what Microsoft did before. We can see the positions of the buttons and tabs are similar to AutoCAD’s. Maybe new users will not care about the interface, but for those who have already used AutoCAD for many years, the familiar interface will help them reduce re-learning cost.
In the screenshot above, you can see there are standard tabloids to switch between the opened drawings.
I have made several assignments in ZWCAD+ 2014 Pro. For the basic operations, it doesn’t matter whether you work in AutoCAD or in ZWCAD+ 2014 Pro. The shortened commands (alias) are also similar to AutoCAD. But I cannot assure this because I have made some adjustments in AutoCAD in past years.
The differences are in the details. For example, sometimes I make the menu visible, but I cannot find that option. And it’s impossible to have multiple locations for the plot style tables. Importing a PDF file is also not supported with pdfattach. The other functions I mentioned are very easy to get around, but the missing of the pdf import is a shortcoming. But the good news is that, PDF import will be supported in the future version.
SmartMouse is a new method enabling faster drawing. It allows you to start a command by making a gesture with the mouse. For example, when you want to draw a line, you can hold the right mouse button and move from below and to right to start the command. For a while, you get a blue “L” on your screen.
A disadvantage for me is that, it doesn’t work when you have disabled "Shortcut menus in drawing area". This is what I always do as first when installing AutoCAD.
SmartVoice in ZWCAD+ 2014 is really a new function for CAD users. It allows you to put an audio fragment into your drawing. It works as an alternative choice of the well known Revision Cloud, and has advantage when exchanging drawings between several departments. But I don’t have to say that you cannot print or plot Audio....
The drawings are perfectly compatible in ZWCAD+ 2014. I have made changes in drawings and saved them in ZWCAD+, which were made in AutoCAD, and vice versa. Besides, AutoCAD.NET applications can be easily used in ZWCAD+ 2014.
If you’re going to work with ZWCAD+ 2014, I strongly recommend you to use ZWCAD Touch, a free APP specific for mobile design. I have an iPad2, an old model, but even with it I can open my DWG files and make adjustments very fluently, like adding dimensions and annotations, changing the attributes of layers, etc...
A very strong recommendation!
iPad download link
iPhone download link
Play store link
What I’m missing?
The first thing is the creation of Dynamic Blocks, which is very important for me. Although I can use Dynamic Blocks in ZWCAD+ 2014, I cannot create them. But the good news is that it will be supported in the upcoming version. Besides, I sometimes use AutoCAD to draw a large room in 3D and render it. If you want to do this in ZWCAD+, you need external rendering software.
The second thing is parametric drawing. This is possible in the earlier version of AutoCAD, but in hundreds of drawings received from several companies, I have never seen a drawing with “Constrains”.
To a large extent, purchasing CAD software depends on how much you want to spend for it. If the price is not your major concern, you should clearly know about what you really need. A useful help could be this comparison matrix: http://www.zwsoft.com/zwcad/Comparison/
I also suggest trying ZWCAD+’s 30 days free trial. For some die-hard users, AutoCAD may be their only solution, but for the most CAD users, ZWCAD+ 2014 will be a worthy alternative. The favorable price also makes it possible to get multiple licenses with less money.
The choice will be personal, but I strongly advise to take a look at ZWCAD+ 2014 Pro!
For more information, you can visit http://www.zwsoft.com/zwcad/
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