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I need to create a model of our hall to try out some tile patterns.

I've got a library of patterns in dwg and dxf format, but I've currently not got any way of using them. I only need to create a plan view of the hall (I have all the measurements) so a 2D system would do.

I've used AutoCAD in the past and my first paid job was writing CAD software (a firm called PAFEC if anyone's interested) so I know my around CAD systems. I've done a search, but there are a bewildering number of systems out there, and as it's been a while since I did any of this I've lost touch with what's good and what's not. As I don't have a lot of time to download and try out a lot of systems I thought I'd ask here to see if anyone had any recommendations.

I'm running Windows-XP.


I should add that I'm only really interested in loading the patterns into a drawing and trying out various colour schemes so the application doesn't have to be that brilliant at actual modelling.

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closed as off topic by Canadian Luke, Hennes, techie007, CharlieRB, TFM Nov 21 '12 at 20:40

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also see alternativeto.net/desktop/autocad –  matt wilkie Jul 22 '10 at 14:58
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5 Answers

Open source AutoCAD alternatives

QCad Community Edition

QCad Community Edition is an open source edition of RibbonSoft's CAD system. QCad is a 2D CAD applicationthat aims at being simple enough for anyone to use - even users with no previous CAD experience. Compared to the Professional edition the Community Edition has no scripting or poly-line support - also features are a few months behind. Features include layers, dxf files import and export, many flexible drawing tools and precise selection tools.


Archimedes is a computer aided design (CAD) solution focusing on architectural design. While the current version of Archimedes may not be mature enough for all - this project is very promising. It already has many of the most common and advance drawing features you will find in a commercial CAD solution. However, it's interoperability with other products is still lacking. On the other hand drawing can be exported in scalable vector graphics (SVG) format - allowing you to share finished drawings with a wide audience without requiring them to install the product. This is a great upcoming project started in Brazil - their goals are to create a real alternative for AutoCAD, but make it more suited for architects.


BRL-CAD is an open source cad systems based around constructive solid geometry (csg) modeling. On top of all of it's modeling features, such as the interactive geometry editor, BRL-CAD offers parallel ray-tracing, path-tracing, image and signal processing tools. The ray-tracing process can even be distribution over a network of computers. When starting a new model determining an accurate unit of measurement ensures that your models will always have the correct proportions compared to real world objects. CSG is a fascinating way to work with 3d modeling and allows you to quickly build rough models and can be finalized later with all required details.

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Re: qcad, see also librecad.org –  XTL Sep 27 '12 at 12:25
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Well I tried a couple of the suggested programs (Felix CAD in particular) but I couldn't get them to do what I wanted. The tile company provide a suite of DWG and DXF files of the various standard patterns and even the individual tiles. I wanted to load them up and then create an array of these patterns to give the effect of the floor. Then change the tile colours to try different colour schemes. However, I couldn't even create the copies of the patterns!

I then remembered that the software I used to work on (RealiMation - no links as it's completely dead now) could import DXF files so I tried in that and within 10 minutes I'd got my "floor" and had started changing colours of tiles. Why I didn't think of this in the first place I don't know.

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PROS - light and portable CONTRAS - in Portuguese only and some ads

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Felix CAD

FelixCAD LT lets you work directly with billions of existing CAD drawings: it can directly open and edit drawings saved in DWG or DXF formats (from R2.5 to R2002) and save them in its native FLX drawing file format. This means you can work with billions of existing drawing files and blocks that currently exist in these industry standard formats.

FelixCAD LT features hundreds of commonly used 2D drawing and editing commands and functions available in other "light" CAD systems which cost money. It conforms to standards for layers, colors, blocks, line types, fonts, hatch patterns, and block support. You can reference external drawings.

FelixCAD LT supports simultaneous editing of multiple drawings at a time, with up to 4 separate views of each drawing and instant copying and pasting of an object between drawings.

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I've downloaded this but haven't had chance to install it yet. I'll let you know how I get on. –  ChrisF Oct 28 '09 at 19:26
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Sketchup (formerly Google Sketchup) is by far the easiest to learn.

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