LibreCAD, we will finally have a free CAD

LibrecadI want to start by clarifying that it is not the same to say free CAD as free CAD but both terms are in the most frequent searches of Google associated with the word CAD. Depending on the type of user, the basic drawing will think about its availability without making a license payment or temptation for piracy and hence calling it free CAD; the advanced user or developer looks at LibreCAD for the freedom it has to expand its capabilities.

And it has been recently released the first stable version of LibreCAD. It is one of the first in which we have many expectations, we have seen Open Source as a business model that will break many paradigms in the way knowledge is democratized. In fact, in other fields such as web publishing platforms and Geographic Information Systems, free software has made very important advances, surpassing even proprietary tools with popularized brands, but a basic CAD (outside of Blender that is great but for mechanical design). ) So far we have not seen much.

Development is reusing some of the Qcad, Of which I spoke a while ago, although after various difficulties due to the type of license and some rights, it has almost been rebuilt from scratch, barely taking advantage of the functionality and some of the effort it took while the project was called CADuntu.

To date it is still a fairly basic version, however the trend and acceptance that it is taking in the community, I dare to believe that in three years we will finally have a CAD tool that competes with popularized software. As long as it is integrated into the geospatial ecosystem, LibreCAD can even achieve greater achievements in the GIS environment since many things still need to be done from the CAD side in the style Line / trim / snap

What progress LibreCAD has

For now, the usability of LibreCAD is very practical. The user interface design is quite practical, with adjustable panels.

The handling of layers is quite practical, similar as it is in CorelDraw or MapInfo, with off, on in just one click. In lower panel the space for line commands to the AutoCAD style although the contextual options are in a horizontal bar that can either be up as default or floating anywhere. The following images show what the QCad interface was and how similarity has been maintained in LibreCAD.

Free librecad cad

Qcad free cad free

I like the logic of the LibreCAD command flow, avoiding so many bars that clog the workspace. The left panel is not really of command but of command menu, to the ethyl Microstation. To give an example:

  • Choose the command line
  • This causes the icons to be replaced by the line options (from two points, starting from a point (ray), bisector, tangent, etc.)
  • And when you choose the line type, the snap

Also in this panel you can activate menus that do not occupy lower from the top bar, such as modify commands, sizing, selection or information commands.


Obviously it is a flow logic very practical, otherwise in other conditions would have to swim across the screen to make a line with a specific snap.

  • It is also very practical, that as in Microstation, the used command does not die, unless another is going to be used.
  • Similar to AutoCAD, it accepts text commands, with quite similar names and abbreviations. Example, the line can be written: Line, L, ln; parallel can be written or, offset, even, parallel.
  • It is very practical, that you can configure the language for both the interface and commands, that is chosen in Edit> App Preferences.
  • It has auto-saved, and can be configured every time it happens.

Most of the innovations in LibreCAD are in the interface, although there are interesting commands, such as the selection of all the objects in a layer, and we would have to see if there are any other innovators. And although as a free solution you should redesign the way you do things, in general you have given priority to the commands most used by proprietary programs, then ready a comparison of those that now exist with respect to the ones I used when giving the AutoCAD course based on the most common 32 drawings of construction drawings. While there is a new RC, I am using the last 1.0 stable of the December 15 2011.

1 clip_image001 Line Si Activating the line menu activates options such as:
-Line from two points
-Line from start and angle
- Vertical line, horizontal line
-Bisector line
2 clip_image003 Polyline Si Selecting the command activates options for editing the polyline such as adding or removing nodes or trimming segments.
3 clip_image005 Circle Si - Center point
- Radio center
-2 points
-3 points
4 clip_image007 Boundary No Possibly can be done with the command hatch
5 clip_image009 Block Si The menu includes icons for renaming, redrawing, editing, ungrouping, or inserting
6 clip_image011 Arrangement No
7 clip_image013 Trim Si There is also a trim option for two lines, similar to what we do with the zero radio fillet.
8 clip_image015 Copy Si
9 clip_image017 MOVER Si The move command is in the copy and rotate commands, in a logic similar to the lisp known as I follow
10 clip_image019 Rotate Si
11 clip_image021 Climb Si
12 clip_image023 Mirror Si
13 clip_image025 Edit vertices Si
14 clip_image026 Exploit Si
15 clip_image028 Sweaters, Jerseys and Cardigans Si
16 clip_image030 bow Si -Center, point, angles.
-3 points
17 clip_image032 Polygon Si -From a center
-From one side
18 clip_image034 Ellipse Si
19 clip_image036 Hole No There is no support for solid type stuffed objects yet
20 clip_image038 Rectangle Si
21 clip_image040 To stretch Si
22 break Si The command is called divide, part the line at a specific point
23 clip_image043 Multiline No
24 clip_image044 Xline No
25 clip_image045 Hatch Si
26 clip_image046 Insert Block Si
27 clip_image047 Text Si You can ungroup text in letters, very practical panel for text attributes and common symbology insertion such as diameter, at, degrees, etc.
28 clip_image048 Parallel Si
29 clip_image049 Extender No Apparently can be done with the stretch or trim of two lines
30 clip_image050 Prolong Si
31 clip_image051 fillet Si
32 clip_image052 Delete Si There is a difference of commands between the delete and delete selected object

Limits of LibreCAD

I am not going to talk about the limitations, since the project is still tender.

For now the interface is quite slow and there are many missing features to the mouse both when selecting objects and on the right mouse button. The snap options are more or less acceptable but the capture functionality still seems poor. It only supports work in 2D, in the short term it will surely implement the isometric as it did qCAD. There is no handling of layouts, the existing ones in a drawing are seen as blocks inserted in the file although they can not be visualized, the printing is quite poor.

Obviously, as a result of being new, there is still no manual.

It also only supports dxf files in 2000 formats, then we expect dwg2000 support.

It will grow to the extent that it is prioritized on the wish list, in what community Will play a good role.

The biggest challenge of LibreCAD

Honestly, I do not look at difficulties in getting a fully functional interface and a good use of the computer resource.

In my opinion, the biggest challenge is that it manages to open dwg / dgn files. While almost any low-cost program, such as those in the IntelliCAD line, Globalmapper, TatukGIS do, very mature programs like QGIS y GvSIG They have been unable to open the door to an agreement. It seems that the doors are not always open for free initiatives. In the case of Bentley Systems, the attempt should be made by means of Open Design Alliance And dealing with the V8 format and I-model that we believe will be about 10 more years, in the case of AutoCAD is more complicated because after what everyone has been able to open (dwg2000) there are at least four new formats including the one that will bring AutoCAD 2013.

It is also a great challenge to think about scalability, since today talking about vectors is already obsolete, the future of CAD is in modeling (BIM), and for this LibreCAD will be a heavy burden if we consider that the majority of contributions are voluntary .

The other challenge is sustainability, which will surely find it as it is internationalized.

For now I get a good impression, than a program with an executable of just 12 MB.

Download LibreCAD

4 Replies to "LibreCAD, finally we will have a free CAD"

  1. You have serious errors when trying to split a circle between two lines as you do in the youtube tap tutorial. I am not capable and I have hours with it. Does the video cheat? Is it my program? can you help me? T

  2. Thank you very good contribution, as I am new to this I can say that the interface is very intuitive, hopefully the blocks in dwg can be downloaded and displayed soon.

  3. I see it allows you to import shapefiles files, although I have not been able to see the elements drawn in the tests I have done.

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