AutoCAD Still?


I will be graduating in May and have begun the job hunt. It seems many firms are still using AutoCAD for most of their CD productions. As a current intern working at a small firm that solely uses BIM (ArchiCAD and Revit), it seems like getting a job at a firm that still uses AutoCAD would be a step backwards. Am I alone in thinking this or do I just need to buck up and apply anyways? Do any of you work at a firm that predominantly uses AutoCAD?

Feb 11, 13 4:49 pm
Depends on the firm. Acad is still a powerful and robust program. It probably will disappear in the next ten years. Remember that it took years for hand drafting to dissappear. Heck if I started my own firm acad would probably be enough. Don't be a priss and assume that revits the only way.
Feb 11, 13 6:31 pm

autocad will disappear when the u.s. converts to the metric system

Feb 11, 13 6:37 pm

I don't see AutoCAD disappearing anytime soon. Yes, BIM may be the future of our industry, but many small firms can't afford it, or are willing to invest the time and money to train their existing staff.

Also, not every project is complex enough to require BIM modeling. I would argue that firms that have "bread and butter" projects where they have it down to a science, BIM would actually be counter productive.

Feb 11, 13 6:55 pm

Hi there,
Firstly, have you used Autocad before? I don't mean just playing with it for a few hours I mean being an advance user.... if you do then you should know the difference in efficiency between a 2d software (autocad) and a 3d software such as Archicad and Revit. Maybe I'm old school, but I'm a heavy user of all those programs and after working on various types of projects using different software I still find that AutoCAD is the most efficient tool when trying to crank up some 1:10, 20, 50 details. Most jobs requires us to submit a "2D" set of drawings, why are we building models in "3D"? it takes up twice the time. You can crank up a set of CD in less than half the time using a 2D software. For one, it is faster with less lag time.... compared to Archicad or Revit which requires 100000 gigs ram (exaggerating) for it to work smoothly. Two, all the setting and library parts, the family, the view ports and page layout, the layer combinations, the 3d elements that never get used at the end of the day. All this is eats up time especially on smaller jobs where the hours spent on a job is crucial.

Having said all that, 3D software does have its advantages, but not as great as what the promoters made them out to be. It is a powerful software and it can be use for both presentation for client's sake when trying to show them a fully rendered perspective view of their building or producing a set of construction documents. I have used both revit and archicad to do CDs and I do prefer Revit over archicad but that's just my personal preference. However I wouldn't choose Revit or archicad over Autocad if I have a choice. The complication for using a 3d software to do simple 2d works are unnecessary in my opinion. 

The other reason why I think firms still have Autocad running is because people haven't fully converted to the whole BIM thing as yet nor are they comfortable. Some firms I know have fully converted but very minor. I believe Autocad will be around for a very long time, or at least till I retire. I also believe BIM will always be developing and one day will be the future of cadding software once it reaches its peak. In my firm we have both Autocad and revit install in all computers.

Feb 11, 13 7:02 pm
I'm a realitively new revit user (2years) and old cad user (15++. Years) . I think that bim's the future . But many firms cannot afford the computer horsepower that bim requires or see the need for it. Hell- 10 years ago guys were still doing hand drafting in offices (and still could be today for all I know). Nothing wrong w /2d drafting...
Feb 11, 13 7:14 pm

Nothing wrong with 2d Cad drafting, but hand drafting is definitely out dated and almost unpractical now days. Hand sketches? yes

Feb 11, 13 7:18 pm

It will be a step backwards. Don't do it. 

(Keepin' it simple...)

Feb 11, 13 11:22 pm

This "priss" knows AutoCAD so please do not make assumptions. My dad is a structural engineer and still uses the software in his daily practice. I grew up using AutoCAD as basically my version MS Paint and continued to draft for my father through high school. I fully understand the benefits of the program, but also recognize that the future of architecture is shifting.

Feb 11, 13 11:37 pm

A better question to ask is what type of firm do you want to work for, what size of firm, what building typology and sf size projects, quality of people, and quality of work, etc...

If you make that question a priority, then the software tools will sort out themselves. Just keep flexible and know both. But I will make a plug for getting at least three major BIM projects under your belt so that you have that flexibility. And its good to get that under your belt earlier rather than later. I work for a large firm and am coming off a project that used revit with additional linked in structural, mech, elec, interior design revit models. But I used CAD alot to coordinate with landscape and civil. And this week I'm using CAD to bust out a really quick 2 week TI. I'm working with one other architect on the TI who doesn't know revit and so to get the job done, I just used CAD. The firm is trying to move even quick turn around TI work to revit but it takes time. 

What is more important than knowing the software is to become a good contributor to making good decisions regarding documentation approach and fee range. For TI's that have alot of demo and phasing work, it might not make sense to spend the time to draft existing conditions to make it a pure BIM project. On the other hand, managing demo layers in linked in CAD files in a BIM model is a pain in the butt...but what is appropriate for the fee and type of project? What is appropriate for the firm's overall software learning strategy? I've worked on some projects that the firm ate a little bit to get more people up to speed on revit. Every project is different.....

Follow the quality of work, quality of people and focus on being someone of quality  that can switch to either a CAD or BIM platform AND bust out hand sketches. If you are always open to all learning possibilities on any given project, you'll be fine. 

Feb 12, 13 7:46 am

Although AutoCad is a piece of crap, I don't see it going away any time soon.  It's been a piece of crap for 30 years and everyone's still using it. 


On a practical note, if you limit your search solely to BIM firms, you are not going to find a job. Loosen up for now and maybe in 5-6 years when a) the market picks up and b) more firms have switched over and you can afford to be more uptight about it.  It's probably better in NYC but certainly in the city in which I practice the standard is still, by far, AutoCad.  [Frankly, I'm amazed firms still use PCs but in my career, try as I might, I haven't been able to limit myself to only Mac firms.  But that's a different digression...]

On a separate note, if you want to practice in residential arch, I doubt you'll see much movement towards BIM in our working lifetimes.  For two reasons: most residential firms are small and/or sole proprietorships, and they don't have either the financial resources or the time to devote to switching their entire practice over to BIM.  Secondly, frankly, BIM is not nearly so beneficial for small one-off residential projects, where every detail on the project is a unique one.  (Caveat: unless you are doing completely green projects where the BIM performance modeling really kicks in.  But if you're doing completely green houses you're on the cutting edge anyway so you're more likely to invest time and money in the newest software.)

Feb 12, 13 8:22 am

On a separate note, if you want to practice in residential arch, I doubt you'll see much movement towards BIM in our working lifetimes. 

say What? I have worked at 3 firms in SF, where we use Revit for residential projects and there is another office downstairs that uses Revit on all of their residential projects - 

The great thing about doing residential in BIM is how quick you can turn around changes for clients, have those changes reflected in all your schedules, details and plans then go straight to permit set issuance and get paid on permit. There is no way I could do what we do in autocad - just isn't the time

Feb 12, 13 12:36 pm

On a practical note, if you limit your search solely to BIM firms, you are not going to find a job. Loosen up for now and maybe in 5-6 years when a) the market picks up

Do it now - 5 -6 years from now and they will hire people fresh out of school who know the latest BIM and Rhino based software. I know, I was one of them - Now the shoe is on the other foot and after 4 years of experience I am competing with the latest grad. 

Feb 12, 13 12:42 pm
On the fence


Autocad was here before you and it will be here after you leave.

Feb 12, 13 2:25 pm

The person who said autocad is a piece of crap, can you elaborate on that? What is it that you don't like about it. This is one of programs that started it all, the revolution of drafting and delivering if you like. Revit is a good program indeed.

Feb 12, 13 3:44 pm

We use both Revit and AutoCAD. As hys316 mentioned before we do all detailed design in AutoCAD, too.
I'm curious - do most of you use Revit to produce construction documentation?

Feb 12, 13 4:03 pm

we do at the office I work @ - and CA (both detail views and drafting views) 

Feb 12, 13 4:41 pm


questions, when you do details on Revit, I assume you do a "callout" and that forms a new view port which links back to the model, then you go into it and add more 2d lines and notes? That's how I do it. Do you find that the majority of the detail drawings are 2d line work? This made me think, besides the advantage of it being all together on the one revit file, it's actually faster to do the details on AutoCAD. But that always cross my mind when thinking about consistency in line weight, title block etc.

I agree with those who say making client changes to the design are so much easier and less stressful on revit than on autocad.

Feb 12, 13 7:38 pm

callouts and or details views(sections) - we had detail components - some are 2D, drafting lines, and assemblies + parts(Revits 2012 + 2013) - we have a house rule - it the detail is in already in autocad, then we link in the acad file - Seriously  we find doing details in REvit more expedient - this way the model tracks into the details - I did several really complex stair details that required a lot of 3D to support all of the necessary detail views - thi gs we did before in autocad did not measure out - so I did it all in 3D - at AECOM, we did entire wall assemblies in 3D for Kaiser Hospitals - to show OSPD

I agree with those who say making client changes to the design are so much easier and less stressful on revit than on autocad.

In this office, this is always the case

Feb 12, 13 8:03 pm

For some complex details - working it out in 3D, then using 3D views on detail sheets to show both consultants and clients goes a long way to getting things to work. Was using Maya to do that in School.

Feb 12, 13 8:21 pm

we have a house rule - it the detail is in already in autocad, then we link in the acad file

Interesting, thanks for sharing. Yes when designing complex forms, 3D comes so handy, most client can't read 2d drawings.

Does everyone in your office use revit and nothing else? I used to work in an office who worship apple. They use nothing but apple products, and nothing but Archicad. It was the most painful 18 months of my life because everything was so slow. We are not allowed to use any other mouse besides geniune apple mouse with the small scrow and the 1 button click, which I discovered later it actually has two buttons.

Feb 12, 13 8:34 pm

AutoCAD could be a software system application for CAD and drafting. The software system supports each 2nd and 3D formats. The software system is developed and sold-out by Autodesk, Inc., 1st free in Gregorian calendar month 1982 by Autodesk within the year following the acquisition of the primary kind of the software system by Autodesk founder, John Walker. AutoCAD is Autodesk's flagship product and by March 1986 had become the foremost present personal computer style program within the world, utilizing functions like polylines and curve fitting.

Feb 13, 13 5:30 am

AutoCAD could be a software system application ..?  oh my, AutoCAD most certainly IS a software system application, wiksadiy-pedia!

Feb 13, 13 10:01 am

You know how that works  FRaC, do not feed the trolls. Unless it's your sockpuppet.

Xenakis, thx. Wrong answer though. ;-)
My boss thinks there's no way to do 2D details in Revit. As in: we made him believe that.

I get the idea of linking in ACAD files, then again I'm not sure how to feel about mixing things up.
Well, I guess it's just something you have to get used to.

Feb 13, 13 10:57 am

Yes personally I will still prefer to use AutoCad if it involve too many 2D lines on a 3D program to do details. It can be done on a 3D program but it's just hideous.

There's a slight difference between an 'Application software' and 'system software', not sure what you meant by software system application though...

Feb 13, 13 8:44 pm

I've been working on AutoCAD for nearly 25 years, and I still see people coloring objects by object, not layer, creating blocks with insertion points somewhere to the west of Honolulu, giving blocks names like "239SD9234LS" or "column" or "this", giving drawings names like "Stan's-plan" and "presentation-last-week" or "2ndFloor"...

Took some basic courses in Revit and after seeing it, don't know how they will EVER adapt to Revit.. I think that Revit will flush out a lot of people from the field the same way that AutoCAD flushed out the hand draftsmen.. 

Some of them at the time picked it right up, but others were forced into retirement, or smaller firms....

Nearly all ads now want Revit- I think it's more of a jump-through-hoops thing. They want to see that you have it, even though in a firm of 100 people there might only be 2 people using it...

Now the ads are demanding project Revit experience- not "scholastic" experience. 

Lack of job security and moving-about when things are good in the field means that firms are reluctant to train employees.. 

From what I saw, Revit will take some time to absorb.. Autodesk desperately needs to come up with a "Revit-Lite" so that more people can adapt it / work on it..


Apr 4, 13 12:29 pm

i am a fan of semantic naming.  naming a drawing "this is a thing i was playing around with for a while but don't keep it" clearly communicates what the drawing is for.  i also name drawings "delete me" somewhat regularly.  why does that cause trouble?

Apr 4, 13 12:34 pm

i don't see acad disappearing any time soon

Apr 4, 13 3:14 pm

I agree with tmston2 that autocad will be around for a very long time. 

Poiuy, I only half agree with your concept about "naming" I agree it is important to name each file and each drawing an appropriate name. It is also important to name each layers, line type and xrefs. But it is less important to name every single block e.g. Basins, wc, or even a whole unit. In my opinion it is not necessary, a block is a block, it doesn't matter if it has 573647735fjcgyb as a identity. In autocad it allows u to free copy and paste any block to a drawing. I see the need for naming a block being inefficient and time wasting. You can simply turn any element u choose to select using the "ctr+"c key or "ctr+x" key and then turn it into a block by simple hitting the "ctr+alt+v" key to paste block. To break it u simply just xplode the dam thing. This while process can be done in 1 second. Why waste a whole bunch of time naming each f'ing little thing? I see people sending me cad files and everything is named, down to naming a line as a block???? That to me is playing not working. This is why some people can finish a whole set of plans in 3 days and others take 3 weeks. 

Apr 4, 13 4:00 pm

block?  I wblock everything and save it to the main drawing folder - I like to name the wblocks things that are very similar to the main drawing files - which are also random strings of letters, numbers, and symbols.  I don't use any semblance of standard layers - and I make sure that maybe about one in ten things are actually on the correct layer - the rest are on various other layers, but I just changed the color so that someone who somehow manages to find the correct drawing file will think things are correct.


Also - I do not use ortho or snaps - eyeball everything by the grips, and at least half the lines start somewhere other than zero on the Z axis (and I've somehow disabled the flatten command).


Other than that, before I leave I go into other people's project folders and change both the UCS origin and one character in the file name of xref'd drawings.

Apr 4, 13 4:50 pm

it's not design if you use ortho or snap.  then it's just math and programming.  if you don't have ortho and snap on a sketchpad, you shouldn't have it in autocad.  otherwise, the computer is dictating your design.

changing people's ucs frees them from the dictatorship of the computer.  when i do that i feel like the catcher in the rye.

Apr 4, 13 5:00 pm

hahahaha hahahaha @ toast. Comedian if you're being sarcastic, fish clown if you're being serious. Either way you make me LOL.

Apr 4, 13 5:11 pm

@curt, I believe design comes from the heart through the head and out onto a piece of paper or screen. You can't just rely on drafting programs with or without artho or snap. There is no such thing as a design program either for those who thinks rhino is magic!

Apr 4, 13 5:20 pm

i stoped using ortho back in 02' when they came out w/ polar tracking

Apr 4, 13 5:24 pm

I think you kinda have your question answered, don't you think?  While Revit is labelled as the future, not every client is willing to pay the additional fee needed to support the time spent on a Revit project vs an Autocad project. One estimate was that a Revit Project spends 2-4 times as much time as a Autocad project would. As has also been said, not everyone needs the complexity and precision of a Revit project.

As long as you can switch hit when called to the plate, you should be fine. This economy doesn't lend itself to a singular vision and things won't fully adjust to some semblance of the pre-era, for some time.

It sounds like you have a good application background and it's safe to say that it will depend on where you are aiming to work, the project types and what that firm decides is the best course.  I have seen projects originally slated as Revit, switch to Cad and vice versa. It happens.

Apr 4, 13 5:44 pm

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