I’ve been in this CAD-related industry for roughly 10 years, and served as a product manager for more than 5. My goal is to learn about how people would like their DWG solutions to be, and help the development team with product roadmaps and the ways to realize them.
During my career, I’ve met hundreds, if not thousands of customers and end-users. Many of them are drafters, some are CAD managers, and others are head of IT departments. By talking to them, learning their expectations and finding out their pains, I have gradually summarized my own understandings of how to choose a .dwg-based CAD software. If you are the one to make the decision, and do not wish to splash out money on some “monopolies”, don’t miss the things below.
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Figure 1. I was communicating with ZWSOFT’s partners about the requirements from users in their local markets in ZWSOFT Europe Forum 2018.[/caption]
First thing first. The most important question to ask when facing many choices, is whether it is compatible with your current solution. In my experience, switching from AutoCAD ® is the most common scenario. They have a lot of legacy .dwg drawings, with the versions ranging from the very old R12, to the latest 2018.
At the same time, compatibility means both file format and user habit. Many could do the first, but fewer can do them both. The fact is that a lot of drafters are only familiar with the way how AutoCAD ® works! So the importance of choosing CAD software that is consistent with the drafters’ former habits cannot be overemphasized, to make them accept and get the hang of it immediately.
I still remember that one of my users from the United States was choosing between ZWCAD
and one other CAD solution. When I paid a visit to him, he told me that he finally chose ZWCAD since it was like an old friend at the first meeting, and he could continue to work on all of his previous files.
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Figure 2. Familiar user interface and easy-to-use CAD commands, as well as great .dwg compatibility can make the switch of CAD software much easier.[/caption]
Software is a tool. A tool must have enough functions to solve certain problems and get things done fast.
Before making decisions, everyone can have a trial on those possible choices in the market. And during that process, I would recommend that you pay attention to the following issues:
- Always test it in the real working environment. It is very important to let you know whether the software really works if you buy it.
- Not only think about anything missing, but also be cautious of the “too-powerful” trap. In fact, 80% of the functions might never be used by your employees, but you are the one that actually paid for them.
The key point of software testing is to find out its pros and cons in real workflow. No one is perfect. Every product has its weaknesses. But choose the one that fits you most, not too less and not too much.
Extensibility and Connectivity
If you use some add-ons or plug-ins upon CAD platform, and you did test it in real environment, you might find out another key factor for choosing a CAD is whether it can support all your 3rd
party tools. CAD platform is only a base, applications that work on it are ones that really matter.
But how well your existing applications can be supported is decided by whether your CAD software is doing great on API. Most of the time, it affects users’ productivity so much, and even much more than the platform itself.
As modern technologies develop, mobile apps, clouds, SaaS are all coming to everyone and affecting every industry. CAD is not an exception, either. If there are any CAD APPs or even web-based solutions connected with your CAD software choice, that would be definitely a plus point in decision making.
For example, CAD Pockets
is a perfect companion to ZWCAD users, which provides the ability to view .dwg on smartphones and tablets, keep your design files in touch, and collaborate and communicate with your colleagues as a team. CAD or IT managers can also enjoy easy-as-pie management of teams, projects, files and licenses.
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Figure 3. An engineer from Korea Expressway Corporation uses EX-CAD, a customized mobile CAD solution based on CAD Pockets to conduct bridge and road inspection, improving working efficiency and flexibility.[/caption]
Service and Support
Every IT manager would agree that, no software is perfect, and every software has patches. That is why we need a decent global support system when purchasing software.
At the beginning stage, to make sure that the new software adapts to the team as soon as possible, a reliable service and support system is indispensable.
In the future daily work, good tech support also plays an important role when anything unexpected happens.
Support is so much important to IT managers, at both the beginning and later stage. It is like an assurance that comes along with your new CAD software, to guarantee your teamwork with it smoothly from now to forever.
Yes, I put the price to the last. I know most of the time, switching CAD solutions means to “save cost”. But what I say is that, “cost” is a tricky word. To judge whether CAD software is expensive or not, you should take all aspects I listed above into consideration, and then balance them with the price.
My experience here is not asking you to choose the lowest-priced one, but to choose the one that fits your work the most, while tagged with the most reasonable price. You can spend 1 euro to buy a 1-euro thing, or spend 5 euro to buy a 10-euro thing, when your requirement is actually an 8-euro product. Cheaper products may save your budget now, but would somehow cost you more in the future, and I have seen quite a lot of such examples.
Two years ago, an IT manager in Singapore came to me and wanted to switch to ZWCAD, because their former solution, matching its low price, also came with low quality, which resulted in endless damages of efficiency. The loss outweighs the gains. Luckily, he made the right choice this time, cause the great quality and greater support of ZWCAD made his team and himself very satisfied. He even wrote a complimentary letter to our support team.
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Figure 4. A reasonable price of ZWCAD is an important factor that leads CH. Karnchang Public Company Limited in Thailand to choose it for the Mass Rapid Transit Project.[/caption]
The above 5 things are what I regard as the most important when choosing a .dwg solution, and also what I take careful consideration into when thinking how to develop a great CAD product. They indeed, together form the philosophy of ZWCAD product development.
We develop it based on all the users’ opinions around the world, making it powerful enough for most of the work scenes, and giving it an affordable price matching its capabilities. We develop it to be light-weight, to be agile, to be fast and support all the functions and applications you need, meeting your design requirements and saving you a considerable amount of money. All that lies behind is a kind of great balance, between “cost” and “performance”.
Hope this article can help you get some ideas when choosing an ideal .dwg solution.