I do a lot of drafting using AutoCAD 2000 LT on Windows XP, but I need to upgrade to a newer operating system (Windows 8). Unfortunately, AC2000 won't work. So, I am looking for a new free (no money) alternative that is:

  • Fast: I need to be able to modify some really large files
  • Is customizable: whether this means that it is Open-Source in C#/Java so I can mess with it's inner code, or is really robust for add-ons, I need to be able to add functionality.
  • Complete: So many of the projects I have found have either been abandoned, or are on such an early stage that they are very unstable.

Extras would be touch support, coded in C#, and things like XREFs.

Does anyone know of such software?

  • Given those constraints, I doubt you are likely to find any. Most are written in C++ and very few are open source. CADs are very complex programs so its not likely you will find something that meets your requirements.
    – CobaltHex
    Mar 1, 2014 at 19:23
  • 3
    LibreCAD is free and open source. I don't do more than play around with CAD, so you would be able to tell in moments if it meets your needs, where I cannot. Good luck!
    – Marc
    Mar 2, 2014 at 0:19
  • I agree with @Marc that LibreCAD is an excellent candidate. It's a little bit awkward in it's current state (just needs a little bit of UI love to fix the rough edges), but the current v2 isn't getting many features added since developers are in the process of porting it to Qt5. Jul 19, 2014 at 0:58
  • Out of curiosity, what do you draft? Civil or Mech. Engineering?
    – mart
    Sep 24, 2014 at 14:02
  • @mart: Civil engineering on mostly high-end homes.
    – Robin
    Sep 24, 2014 at 16:44

2 Answers 2


You're not likely to find any complete CAD software being opensource, simply because they are really complex programs.

However, one of the the options you have are:


  • Can handle large files and is free
  • Is very usable, having an AutoCAD-esque interface
  • Is cross platform and compatible with Windows 8 and 8.1
  • But not open-source

My father is a civil engineer and I can confirm that the above points are true.

  • I was considering this as a potential answer - it also lacks a free API - thats part of the premium product. Mar 2, 2014 at 7:49
  • 1
    I don't think this would work because being able to customize functionality is essential for me. I upvoted, but cannot accept.
    – Robin
    Mar 3, 2014 at 21:00

While my answer does not meet the requirement of C#/java, I thought I would mention it as it is in intensive development, and is open-source.


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It is written in Python and in some C++. It has an extremely active core group of contributors that do an excellent job of documentation. They will be quick to tell you that 2D-layout is not their direct goal, but the pieces are there to use it as such and will hopefully continue to grow.

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