Crap Nullpointer Exceptions

This is the blog of John Dulaney, a hacker of Fedora, SCAdian, player of Music, blacksmith, sailor, and consumer of Bacon.

Why I use AutoCAD instead of QCAD

A couple of reasons, really.  Number one on the list, though, is that QCAD is useless with my drafting style.  Let me preach on it.

In AutoCAD, one can simply hit ‘l’ (or ‘L’, but the extra keystroke is not necessary) on the keyboard to draw a line.  No clicking in the text box at the bottom is necessary.  This makes drawing lines very fast.  In QCAD, one has to click on the text box at the bottom, which is very frustrating.  The alternative is, like in AutoCAD, to click on the little icon in the toolbar.  But wait, rather than then being able to immediately draw a line, one is presented with choices for a bunch of different lines.  When it comes down to it, AutoCAD has the same choices, but they all get their own separate icons.  It’s just one click, and boom, lines can be drawn.

But wait, it doesn’t end there!  When one is done drawing the line(s), one cannot simply hit <Enter> a couple of times and get out of line drawing.  It has to be manually done by the little icons on the left hand side.

Then, we get to splines.  I use splines probably more than lines when drawing ships.  I’ll trace out the stations of a ship with splines, arrange them three dimensionally along the profile, draw in the water lines (which are also splines) and fair everything out to get a nice, smooth hull.  Well, since in QCAD all the points in the splines must snap to existing entities, it makes it difficult to trace things out.

Looking around in QCAD, it isn’t bad feature-wise for a 2D drafting program, and has come a long way since the last time I mucked about with it.  However, the user interface does not present itself very well for a professional draftsman (which definition I fit, even if in the current economy that’s not how I make my living).  For non-professional home/hobby use, it can be made to work, but I wouldn’t even think about doing some of the the things that I do with AutoCAD with it, even 2D (and considering I do the majority of my drafting three dimensionally…).

You know, it’s odd that a Free Software supporter such as myself would choose the proprietary software over the open source.  However, in this instance, the open source program just doesn’t cut it.  QCAD is probably about twelve years or so behind AutoCAD in terms of development.  Sounds like I’ve just given myself a new project…

John Dulaney


11 responses to “Why I use AutoCAD instead of QCAD

  1. John Doe July 26, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Have you heard of LibreCAD? It’s a fork of QCad, maybe you can give them some feedback for improving the program.

  2. Erik July 27, 2011 at 2:43 am

    QCAD = $0
    AutoCAD = $thousand of dollars
    and is very probably you use pirate software….so… don’t blame QCAD and go use windows. Maybe a BSOD will drop you 4 hours of job jeje

  3. jdulaney July 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    LibreCAD looks like it has a better UI than QCAD.

    And yes, I purchased AutoCAD; I know how much it costs.
    It’s also what I used at work (it’s basically industry standard, and, in this case, for a reason).

  4. jdulaney July 27, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Well, on trying LibreCAD, everything wrong with QCAD’s UI is also wrong with LibreCAD’s UI.

  5. jam July 28, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Using paid software by an open source evangelist is no problem. Specially when the open source software that covers the functionality lacks usability, of course open source let’s you modify the source code to add the features/functionality you need, and then everyone gets the benefit (of course, not everyone that uses open source has the capabilities to add/change features/functionality). One must earn a living and use the correct tools for it, not because one has to use a paid tool one must completely switch close source software (i.e. MS Windows).

    I am fortunate enough to be able to do all my work with open source software. But there is enough space for both open and close source to exist.

  6. Mark March 3, 2012 at 11:29 am

    QCAD (at least Pro for a few bucks) has two letter shortcuts for every command. Forget the command line for launching commands. Type L, then I (NOT into the command line) and start drawing lines. You can’t get more efficient than that.

    Get out of line drawing? Hit Escape or the right mouse button. Not much slower then Enter, is it?

    No snap for splines (or anything)? Snap – Free (or type S, F).

    Funny, I don’t use AutoCAD because it slows me down with all this reading and typing commands 🙂

  7. jp July 7, 2013 at 11:22 am

    All the features you say QCAD is lacking are indeed there (at least in version 3.x). In addition to Mark’s comment, if you like all the linetypes and all that to have their own individual button just click the right mouse button on the toolbar and enable the “Line” toolbar. There are over 20 toolbars there to choose from there. All the two key shortcuts are listed in menus, so they should be easy enough to find. There is rarely need to focus the command line manually, but if you want to do that Ctrl+M does that.

    • jdulaney July 7, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      I just gave QCAD another shot; it still is lacking in the autofocus on command line department. It’s highly annoying to have to manually click on the command line in order to start issuing commands. That alone is a turn off

      It also doesn’t do 3D

      • jp July 8, 2013 at 8:06 pm

        Yes, that would indeed be a turnoff, but there is no need to focus the command line for typing in commands 😀 The commands will work just fine whether the command line is focused or not. it’s a bit unintuitive, but that might be a limitation of QT toolkit. You are right about the 3D part, though. Some of the other things missing are “smart” blocks (with attributes) and xref. The support for xref will apparently be there at some point, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for 3D…

  8. hiThere February 10, 2015 at 6:19 am

    “QCAD is probably about twelve years or so behind AutoCAD in terms of development”

    I disagree here. I used AutoCAD in 1993, that is more than 20 years ago, and for 2d drafting it was all it is today. The interface was different, but all the guts were there. It was absolutely the same (only it fit on a set of like 10 magnetic HD diskettes).

    So it is more than 20 years, if we want to be critical. But we can’t compare them directly. QCAD is nice. It’s just different.

    Though you are very much right about the irritating features of its GUI. What you described is exactly why I don’t use it and still stick to AutoCAD.

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