AutoCAD LT Review

By Katie Nielsen
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Autodesk is an industry leader in computer-aided design software, and its AutoCAD design applications are among some of the most widely used in the world. Given the company’s renowned reputation, CAD software reviews would seem incomplete without the inclusion of one of its products. AutoCAD LT is the light CAD design software in the AutoCAD family and offers robust computer 2D drafting and detailing.

At first glance, it’s easy to see why the software has gained such a loyal customer base; it’s sleek and polished, with a toolbar that’s jam-packed with features yet still relatively easy to navigate. The software’s steep price tag and learning curve is likely to intimidate beginners. However, the investment in both money and time the application necessitates is well worth the effort for those willing to learn.

Features
AutoCAD LT provides all the features we were seeking, all of which help improve the overall usability of the CAD design software. You can create custom tool palettes that display only the tools you need for your current project. This allows you to organize the interface in the most efficient and useful way for that particular project. There’s also convenient drag-and-drop functionality of design objects and a command history that lets you track changes. The latter is especially important if the project is a collaboration between multiple users so you can see the specific changes made by each user.

The application also has a handy command entry feature that helps you quickly find a specific command by name. If you don’t know the full name, you can enter what it starts with and the software will populate a list of features that begin with what you entered. You can even use wildcard characters in your search. If you know the feature has four letters and ends with R, you can input “???R” and the software will list all the features that match your search query.

AutoCAD LT also includes features that help condense many of the redundancies often associated with computer design. For instance, it allows you to create macros. A macro is a consecutive set of commands that are saved and later executed as a single command. Macros make redundant processes, like adding windows to floor plans, less tedious and time-consuming and can help streamline your overall design process.

The CAD design software also has a convenient point-marker tool that automatically numbers identical objects (e.g., doors, walls, etc.) and a measure command. With a measure command, the software automatically calculates the distance between two selected endpoints.

Design Tools & Methods
The fact that AutoCAD LT does not offer 3D modeling is a detriment considering many of the other light CAD design software products we reviewed offer both 2D and 3D functionality. However, sans 3D the application provides nearly the entire AutoCAD feature set and exceptional 2D drafting capabilities.

Regardless of what you want to create, the software’s range of tools allows you to create detailed, professional 2D designs. AutoCAD LT has cross hatching, dimension tools to automatically calculate design measurements, and transparency options for layers and objects. It also has snap tools, textures and a wall tool to create walls in floor plans with a single click.

 File Compatibility
Indicative of most AutoCAD applications, AutoCAD LT supports a wide range of files that can be imported and exported with no conversion. Since it is an AutoCAD application, the software’s native file format is the DWG (drawing) binary file format and you can export DXF files for interoperability with other CAD design software. The software also supports PDF, JPEG, TIFF, WMF and BMP files.

Ease of Use
AutoCAD LT isn’t the easiest to use and figuring out how to use certain features can be difficult and time-consuming. However, most usability issues seem to stem from the software’s vast functionality and will likely diminish as you can become more familiar with the application.

Out of all the products in our lineup, AutoCAD LT is the best in terms of aesthetics. The user interface is clean and polished and has the sleek, commercial look that’s become a trademark of AutoCAD applications.

Help & Support
Given Autodesk’s eminence and popularity in the world of CAD design software, it comes as no surprise that this application is supplemented with extensive help and support options. The most advantageous resource provided is the online knowledgebase on the AutoCAD website. Here you’ll find product information, troubleshooting articles, training videos, how-to tutorials and more. There are also product updates you can download.

To help you make the most of the software, the manufacturer also provides direct technical support via its subscription web support. You must purchase a subscription to speak directly to an Autodesk technician or you can purchase per-incident support.

In addition to support provided by the manufacturer, there are an array of third-party support resources such as online forums and in-depth user guides for purchase.

Summary
AutoCAD LT is a powerful stand-alone 2D application that provides a range of capabilities that few will actually utilize. Despite such a steep learning curve, such impressive depth and functionality deserve the effort the application requires. And while it may not have 3D functionality, the CAD design software is the go-to application for 2D drafting design.

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