Draft iT Architectural (Cadalyst Labs Review)30 Jun, 2007 By: IDSA ,Mike Hudspeth
Low-cost floor-plan software affords architects, building designers and real-estate agents powerful architectural muscle.
Roughly a year ago, I wrote a First Look review of a product that I thought was pretty good, especially considering the price—free! It was called Draft iT, and it was from a British company called CADlogic. I remember being very pleased with its 2D drafting capabilities.
Draft iT Architectural
Well, now those chaps from the United Kingdom have done it again. Not satisfied with their free product, they're offering upgrades to products you can buy: Draft iT Plus for £10 (approximately $20) and Draft iT PRO for £49 (approximately $98). These have many more capabilities to make your job truly productive. CADlogic also has launched Draft iT Architectural for £99 (approximately $197). For architects, building designers and real estate agents who need fast and easy floor-plan creation, it's a low-cost/high-value winner!
As is the case with the entire Draft iT family of products, Draft iT Architectural is fast and easy to use. It is strictly 2D, so it's quite uncomplicated. You have a few choices for drawing walls. You can use your arrow keys and enter exact measurements (figure 1), or you can click and drag in the graphics window (figure 2). I've always liked how Draft iT uses live dimensions to let you know what you're doing. Draft iT Architectural continues this. No matter what you're doing, Draft iT Architectural will apply stretchy dimensions so you'll know where you are in relation to where you started.
Figure 1. You can input your walls by clicking a start point and using your arrow keys. After you have established a direction, just type in exact numerical values. It's that easy!
A menu is full of wall set-tings that let you change all kinds of things about your walls (thickness, height, material, etc.). After you've got your exterior walls laid out, you change to interior wall creation and put them in the same way. You can just eyeball the placement if you want, because you can make changes and enter exact values at any time in Draft iT Architectural.
Figure 2. You can't get much more intuitive than clicking and dragging walls where you want them to be. When you do, you get dimensions that stretch and contract as you go.
Home Sweet Home
Draft iT Architectural comes with multiple catalogs for adding detail to your building. The first is a catalog of door and window types. Again, you select what kind you want to draw and where you want it. Draft iT Architectural puts the door or window where your cursor is and adds the live dimensions to help you place it along the wall. When you are inserting a door, you also have the ability to orient it. It's really very straightforward.
The door and window settings have menus. You can control a surprising amount of detail in the window settings. You can put in information about the window opening, the sill and even the jamb. You can even specify a bay window! One interesting control is the justification. You can tell Draft iT Architectural where to dimension to (right, left or center).
Figure 3. The Furniture Dialogue—I just love British spelling—lets you select from a catalog of available pieces. It even has potted plants.
A house is not a home. Everyone who's ever moved into a new place knows it'll never feel like a home until you move in your stuff. Draft iT Architectural has you covered here as well. The Furniture menu has a nice mix of furniture to choose from (figure 3). It includes office furniture as well as residential. You even have a selection of potted plants you can place in and around your house. That's right, around. It also has landscaping elements for the yard. You can select what kind of roof your building has from a Roof menu (figure 4). You can control the type of roof, height, eaves and all sorts of stuff.
Figure 4. You can specify a variety of roofs within Draft iT Architectural. You select them from the Draw Roof menu and enter whatever fine-tuning dimensions you need.
Because Draft iT Architectural is a 2D product, you won't be able to get shaded perspective views and virtual walk-throughs on the house, but an automatic elevation function generates orthographic images. You can build buildings with multiple floors and use the Staircase menu to add a way to get between floors. You can have straight runs, multiple landings and handrails, and you can control them all from the one menu. Of course, you're going to want to specify those nearly invisible but all too important necessities such as electrical fixtures (lights, switches, sockets, meters and even fire alarms) and plumbing fixtures. Draft iT Architectural is right on it! And there is so much more.
You can have wall openings; heating components (radiators, meters, pumps, fans and ducting); kitchen stuff (sinks, stoves, ovens, refrigerators and dishwashers); and even WCs (that's the toilet in American English) and bidets (Crocodile Dundee figured it out—so can you). You can have full-wall section views of your building to show off the foundation, doors, windows and sills as well.
And Behind Door Number 2 . . .
Of course, Draft iT Architectural can't do everything you might need to build a project. Fortunately, it doesn't have to. Other products in the Draft iT stable include Quick Architect for site layout and building design; LT Architect, a tool to enhance AutoCAD LT to make architecture easier; Architect 2000, which is made to work with AutoCAD to automate many architectural functions; LTA Symbols, a library of intelligent, parametric symbols; LT Structural for steel designers and drafters; and paraCAD+, a fully parametric engineering tool.
If you need something more than what CADlogic offers out of the box, the company can customize a version of Draft iT to suit your needs. That is, it will write the code for you for a fee. CADlogic also offers user tech support for its Architectural and PRO versions, but it's predominately Internet-based, and because they are in the United Kingdom fast timing might be an issue. Draft iT Architectural is compatible with Windows 2000, XP and Vista.
Affordable and Useful
This product is good for real-estate people and building managers. You can create and manage your site and space requirements and easily keep them current. The price is low, and the ease of use is high. If you're on a budget but need architectural muscle, check out Draft iT Architectural. For more information about CADlogic's products, visit www.cadlogic.com.
Mike Hudspeth, IDSA, is an industrial designer, artist and author based in St. Louis, Missouri.