One key to success for any CAD software is extensibility. Stand-alone CAD products — unable to be changed through customization or by adding third-party features — rarely succeed long-term in the market. A big reason why AutoCAD beat its rivals in the 1990s and achieved market dominance was its ability to be customized. Other products were thought to be better drafting tools, but they lacked the ability to be extended either by users or by third-party software developers.
DraftSight users are fortunate; their product is customizable. In fact, an entire community has grown around the product to extend the utility of DraftSight with a wide variety of tools. The subject of extending Draftsight is too big to cover adequately in a single article. So I’ll focus on various aspects in future posts. Today I want to focus on add-on products from DraftSight co-creator Graebert Software.
Many DraftSight users are unaware it is produced by two companies. When Dassault Systemès recognized the need to have a drafting product in its portfolio, it found a development partner in Berlin-based Graebert GmbH. Graebert has been in the CAD industry for more than 30 years, and has achieved a global following for its products. In addition to working with Dassault Systemès to create the basic product, Graebert also offers add-on products to extend the capabilities of DraftSight. In no particular order, these products include:
PDF Import for DraftSight: PDF has become the lingua franca of engineering; companies routinely export drawings in PDF format to share outside the company. But there are times when designers need data that is only available in a PDF file, not a CAD drawing. That’s where PDF Import for DraftSight becomes indispensable. This Draftsight plug-in converts selected entities or entire pages into DWG data objects that can be imported and edited with DraftSight. The nature of the conversion depends on how the objects in the PDF were originally created. CAD data will become editable CAD data; scans, photos, raster images, or text will be treated as read-only objects. CAD objects can be re-scaled, and imported blocks can be exploded. PDF Import for DraftSight can be set up for batch processing.
G-Electrical for DraftSight: G-Electrical brings added power to the electrical side of product development. There are a wide variety of new commands to automated schematic design, including such time savers as the automatic cutting of wire when a component is inserted. Find-and-Replace works with components, wires, cables, and pages. G-Electrical includes more than 7,000 standardized components which meet industry standards such as ANSI, DIN, IEC, and ABNT. These components can be user-modified as needed. The product manages the placement of contacts, and automates a wide variety of electrical design processes including generation of pages and templates. Templates can be customized to meet an organization’s specific needs. Reports including Bill of Materials and terminal strip instructions can be exported. G-Electrical also simplifies the copying or other re-use of data from one project to the next. For larger engineering groups, user privileges can be managed to prevent unauthorized changes to components.
OnlineMaps for DraftSight: Product design doesn’t generally need location data, but most utility network drawings as well as civil engineering and asset construction projects benefit from map data. This product has a more extensive pedigree than the other DraftSight add-ons. It is based on ArcGIS technology from the renowned leader in graphic information systems, Esri. It has a simple but important function — connect the DraftSight user to ArcGIS Online. From within ArcGIS, the user can create specialized maps, complete with contextual data. ArcGIS Online Smart Mapping styles make the data visually appealing as well as useful. The completed map can then be exported to DraftSight.