Editor's Note: This review has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it no longer ranks as a top 10 product. The original review is below, but check out our current top 10 about CAD Software here.
AnvilCAD Lite is decent CAD software that provides basic 2D and 3D functionality through a simple, easy-to-navigate interface. While it lacks many of the features and design functionality found on our higher-ranked applications, the software is bolstered by wide-ranging file support and unique, beneficial help options.
AnvilCAD Lite doesn’t offer very many features but those it does help boost the overall convenience and usability of the software. For instance, easy drag-and-drop functionality allows you to drop notes and labels directly into a design and you can add text anywhere on a design. The software also has a dimension, or measure, tab that automatically calculates and displays dimensions and you can create your own toolbar configurations. The CAD software doesn’t have a point marker tool that automatically numbers identical objects in a design and we also couldn’t find any type of command history that tracked all the changes we made.
For an entry-level CAD application, AnvilCAD Lite provides a decent amount of 2D and 3D design tools. Most notably, it boasts parametric drafting. With parametric drafting, whenever a dimension is changed, all other objects in the design are automatically adjusted to correspond. This way you don’t have to change every component in a design manually if a change occurs.
The CAD software also offers 3D modeling, which includes both wireframe and shaded displays. A wireframe 3D model shows all the edges of a design and appears transparent. On the contrary, a shaded design appears as a solid 3D model with solid surfaces.
Aside from 2D and 3D design methods, the software also offers a handful of useful design tools. It has cross hatching, which creates a mesh-like pattern in a selected area. Cross hatching is another method of creating tonal or shading effects. The CAD software also has snap tools and a color editor but disappointingly no layer transparency options or photorealistic rendering. It also lacks any architecture-specific tools such as wall tools or a house wizard for expedited creation of floor plans. Lastly, AnvilCAD Lite doesn’t have specific lighting effects but similar to cross hatching, it does offer shading modals to emulate light sources and shadows.
Considering its light functionality, AnvilCAD Lite provides decent file compatibility, supporting most of the file formats we were looking for. As is the case with most CAD applications, AnvilCAD Lite supports both DXF and DWG files. The DWG file format is a binary file format for digital drawings and the native format for most CAD software while DXF is a format developed by Autodesk to increase compatibility of Autodesk’s AutoCAD applications with other computer-aided design software. The application also supports PDF publishing and most major image files including JPEG, PNG and TIF.
There’s no such thing as “easy” CAD software but AnvilCAD Lite was noticeably easier to use to than many of the other applications we reviewed. This isn’t to say the software doesn’t have a learning curve but we did find the interface relatively easy to navigate and subsequently, it didn’t take us as long to find our way around the software. One small but highly beneficial detail we liked about the interface was each icon was labeled; you didn’t have to hover over them or search the help section to know exactly what they were. One minor complaint we had was the interface appears outdated and reminiscent of early Windows applications. Fortunately, the CAD software’s lack of polish doesn’t impede usability.
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If you need technical support when using AnvilCAD Lite, we’d recommend consulting the software’s supplementary resources before seeking technical support from the manufacturer. A built-in help section can be accessed from the software’s interface and offers comprehensive instructions on how to use the application. There are also basic exercises (e.g., completing basic designs) you can use to practice using the software. These exercises are a useful and valuable training tool for beginners. You can also turn on tutorials to get tips on features and tools in use. The tips are conveniently displayed at the bottom of the interface. You can contact the manufacturer directly via email or telephone. We were disappointed to find technical support is only offered Monday through Friday during regular business hours.
AnvilCAD Lite certainly isn’t the best among the CAD software products. The application lacks many of the features and design tools found on more robust, noteworthy applications. However, the software still offers decent 2D and 3D functionality and earns a spot in our lineup with its easy-to-navigate (albeit outdated) interface and flexible file support.