Does anybody use LibreCAD here?

I'd love to know if anybody here is using LibreCAD (well, I know @yorik does, and I have touched it here and there ... but I'm looking for users who use it as part of their regular workflow).

If you do use it, a few questions:

  1. What are your thoughts on it? Was it easy to learn? What are its biggest pros and cons over the obvious elephant in the room, like AutoCAD?
  2. How do you deal with file compatibility? At the firm I work at, all consultants deliver DWGs (I do need to start an effort to change the contracts to specify DXF). These are generally "generated" DWGs (i.e. automatically derived from BIM software, like Revit, Tekla, etc), so I'm not sure how much magic they are using compared to a "natively authored DWG" which may use some tricky AutoCAD black box stuff. Do you request DXFs from everyone?
  3. Does it scale well? I have tried opening a DWG of a large project on LibreCAD, which couldn't be imported. I then tried the trial version of QCAD. It opened fine, but was laggy to pan around. It would be nice to know at what scale of project it has be used in.

And then of course, I'd love to know your usecase for using it! At work, I rarely, if ever, need to touch 2D drawings - it's either 3D models, or PDFs.



  • I don't know about LibreCAD, but I'm curious too - although I checked it on Github and the latest version is from 2018, isn't it a bit dead?:(

    I do need to start an effort to change the contracts to specify DXF

    Yes... almost everyone requests DWGs (I said almost, because the rest doesn't ask for anything specifically:)), I think it's not clear that DWG is a proprietary format and DXF is open.

    I don't really use DXFs, usually it's the native format, IFCs and DWGs that are specified in the delivery, even in public contracts.

    Is it slower to work with DXF compared to DWG in your opinion? We tend to use primarily ARCHICAD and it can crawl to a halt when you reference a larger DWG file (usually MEP or landscape, but smaller files with detailed hatches can kill too).

  • I use QCAD. Basically for cleaning up and/or slightly modifying CAD files.

  • I am also very interested in this topic. I forexample used Rhino to do cad work mor efficiently than autocad in the past. Tho even in rhino to autocad there are some compatibility issues. For example, with different objects from autocad, xrefs, and also proxies that often comes from the municipalities dwgs . I would love an open sour e alternative where dwgs could be processed in a nice manner and then exportes to dxf . To be able to use it in blender or whatever. But it feels like autocad is very very well established in the industry so its even harder to replace than revit.

  • Not realy open source but the ODAFileconverter may be a solution to convert dwg to dxf

    1. I use librecad mainly to prepare drawings for laser cutting. I worked with autocad and rhino extensively and learning librecad after that was very easy. (Compared for example with freecad)
      I prefer that it is strictly 2D, as I have in the 10 years of my autocad experience never seen anyone meaningfuly use 3D drawings.
      I really miss proper referencing and layout system. The other 95% of extra functions autocad has are principally useless. Some sort of programming capability as lisp in autocad would obviously be a benefit, but as the only serious use of a drawing software nowadays is simple sketching over referenced plans I don't find it important.
    2. We worked with dxfs in the past, I've never had problems with receiving dxf from consultants on request. Worst case Autodesk provides a free viewer and converter to dxf, which is official, so theoretically better than for example archicad import.
    3. I can open the urban plans provided by municipality of Vienna and work with them reasonably, which is quite ok. (They provide dxfs directly)
  • edited December 2020

    well, I know @yorik does

    Once Yorik mentioned he uses QCAD paid version as a way to support the development of this Linux CAD software. The cost is low and you will have support for both DWG and DXF.
    Also I can recommend nanoCAD5.0 It is a clone of Autocad for Windows. It is freeware and works with DWG too.

  • I use Nanocad 5 too. I used to use Draftsight. It was free until recently but not anymore. Not sure it's the case for QCad but iirc BricsCAD works with DWG by creating a new file that allows you to work with the DWG natively. Or something 🤨

  • I have tried LibreCAD t with large and complex files it doesn't work.
    If we had good open source software that reads and writes DWG it would be great!
    In my work I use BricsCAD but it is not open. It is also not cheap. But I am guaranteed to read and write DWG files of any size and complexity.
    I think BricsCAD uses the ODA library.

  • For commercial package, would also go for draftsight, load time is quite fast.

  • edited December 2020

    Thanks for all the replies! I've posted what I've learned from this thread as well as my own experience here:

    I've also linked it from the main page. In my opinion, getting people off AutoCAD is a nice quick win for free software, so making this page well written and provide easy steps for people to switch is a high priority. It's also a good way to cut funding from Autodesk, who have been milking it for far too long than is good for consumers.

    I used to use Draftsight too, but I think in the interest of the OSArch mission for free software, we should not mention Draftsight, NanoCAD, BricsCAD, or really any of the other proprietary alternatives. We should instead promote QCAD and LibreCAD.

    I was looking for a more modern comparison (since this one in 2013: ) between QCAD and LibreCAD and came across this: - from my initial testing I seem to agree with the conclusions: that QCAD seems to have resolved its closed development model, and is actively maintained as well as has much more mature features (not to mention the most important one, which is out of the box DWG support). This should be documented in the wiki so that new users get a good first experience.

    @joselaks can you try your large complex file in QCAD? I tried a few files (of small to medium complexity only) and QCAD worked well. LibreCAD worked after converting to DXF. @JanF is there a reason you are using LibreCAD and not QCAD? I'm curious if you tried both, or if your usecase is such that it makes the differences negligible.

    The page probably also needs to mention Blender and FreeCAD's DXF (and to an extent, DWG in FreeCAD)'s support too. Can somebody write what they know about it on the wiki?

  • edited December 2020

    I've been using it for a few years already and I think back then I simply did not like that QCAD has a paid version or something like that. Also I use the portableapps platform a lot and they don't include QCAD, maybe that's why actually.
    Edit: looking at the QCAD features, there are some things (most notably polyline editing) that is only available in the paid version contrary to LibreCAD, so I'll probably stay with LibreCAD. I'd like to learn to draw with cad tools in Blender and ditch the extra application anyway.

  • edited December 2020

    I had used QCAD on Linux years ago (more than 10) on Linux for small 2D drawings with measurements. DXFs have been smaller than 10 MB. Files This had been worked very well. But I have not used it since than.

    I use LibreCAD on Linux to view dxf files. These files are 2D and generated automaticly by FreeCAD. They could go much larger than 10 MB. My impression is, once the file is loaded it works out well, but loading huge files could take long and I even had some breaks during loading. But I did not dig into the problems.

    In the regard of QCAD. AFAIK it is a one man standing show without a big dev comunity ( It is a Swiss Guy named Andreas Mustun. See Actually I have never been in contact with him. But there must be a lot of users arround. The user forum is quite active

  • edited December 2020

    @bernd from the commit log, it seems you are right that QCAD's commit log seems to be one guy whereas LibreCAD has a bit more variety.

    I'm curious to know a modern comparison of QCAD and LibreCAD. Especially from the LibreCAD devs - the article I linked above basically said that "QCAD has everything LibreCAD has and more, just use QCAD", and it seemed a little one-sided. I'd like to hear the other side of the story :)

    My initial impression is that QCAD seemed more mature, despite the evidence that it's a one-man band. Here are the (small) things which added up to give me that impression in QCAD compared to LibreCAD (please correct me if I am wrong):

    • OOTB DWG which is a huge positive for users, even if it is from ODA
    • I can draw a line with "li" and it immediately jumps to the line tool. In LibreCAD, I have to type "li" then press "enter". It's a small detail, but incredibly important. Three keys, especially where the enter key is very far away, is a huge issue in a workflow.
    • All the tools had hotkey tooltips in the toolbar. Again, a small detail, but super useful for quickly learning and quick navigation.
    • Snaps were on by default, with annotations to what I was snapping to to make it clear.
    • A dark theme. Superficial, but ...

    I didn't dig too deeply (yet). Curious to know other thoughts.

  • @Moult said:
    @bernd from the commit log, it seems you are right that QCAD's commit log

    The other side of the story ... Github issues is deactivated for QCAD.

  • I have a licence for GstarCAD. It is not open but it works just as good as AutoCAD. The whole evolution of CAD skipped the part that DWG bacame an open standard like PDF became. I do think this needs to happen to "free the 2D vectorformat" There is just so mny DWG material available. It is unbelievable this is not an recognized standard by software vendors and organisations like BuildingSmart.
    my cent Hans, i like to call myself "dwg consultant"..

  • @magicalcloud_75 the issue is that DWG never became an open standard like PDF. The lines seem a little blurred here but there are some distinctions which need to be made.

    At one extreme, we have the "free file format". It has a published specification, and is effectively in the public domain. At the other extreme, we have no specification, proprietary, and guarded by a single competitive market player. PDF is somewhat halfway, towards the "closed" side of the spectrum. The good news is that PDF has an open specification published by a single competitive market player author, but is still legally copyrighted. This is the same as DXF, which has an open specification published by a single competitive market player author. You'll notice there are a few factors we're studying here: 1) is the spec "open" i.e. available for free inspection, 2) who is authoring the spec, is it a private competitive entity, or a non-profit standards body, and 3) is the spec copyrighted, or effectively public domain or open sourced?

    DWG is much further along to the "closed" side of the spectrum compared to DXF and PDF. It does not have an open specification. Instead, it has a reverse-engineered guide by the ODA available here. It is also published by a single competitive market player. Also, it is copyrighted. It has all the hallmarks of a fully closed extremely proprietary format... save for the fact that a dedicated organisation (ODA) has been swimming against the current to reverse engineer it - no easy feat.

    It is impossible to recognise it as a standard, because the authors guard the original spec as a secret. Autodesk can also freely dump extra data in the format which is magically incompatible with everybody else. The only people who don't see a problem with this are those in the Autodesk system, or those who depend on the ODA integration system. For everyone else, they'll realise very quickly just how painful it is.

  • Read the Wikipedia article about DWG for everything you ever wanted to know about the history. It's a freaking nightmare with embedded encryption, lawsuits ... you name it.

  • @Moult I didn't try QCAD because I didn't like that it had a paid version.
    That's why I only tried LibreCAD and it disappointed me with large files. Anyway, if it is useful I will test large files with QCAD . And I agree on the importance of solving from open source what will be the standard for 2D documentation and its relationship (conversion? stop using it?) with dwg files.

  • An additional problem in the exchange of DWG files is their complexity of assembly: Paper and model space, xref, etc etc etc. There is a topic to push for an editable 2D file standard that complements PDF as a frozen documentation file.

  • @Moult I installed QCAD. It only has an installer for the paid version. Go then go to the community version you have to manually delete some .dll libraries.
    I was able to open a complex dwg with the paid version, but it works slow and the paper space does not match those of Autocad (screenshot attached).
    Then I deleted the libraries to test QCAD community version and (surprise!!) it does not allow opening .DWG files, because precisely one of the libraries to delete is "qcaddwg.dll"

  • good morning @Moult

    until I know, for a BIM workflow, AutoCAD is used like a "Photoshop" and probably LibreCAD will be used in the same way it is added in a workflow.

    LibreCAD 2 opens big DWG files in comparison to FreeCAD or Blender at least in my case.

    I think LibreCAD 3 should add more tools, "osnap", add support for 3D drawing and objects, Autolisp+DCL support, VBA (or gambas) support, support annotation, etc. and this not just for work if not for creating a relevant option to migrate since AutoCAD, others already did, BrisCAD or ZWCAD.

    I would like to add a LibreCAD to my workflow but creating an interconnection, something like Dynamo and Revit, I mean use PyFlow or Dynamo or Sverchok to connect with FreeCAD or Blender, because LibreCAD has better 2D tools.

  • The place to talk to the librecad devs is here:

  • edited February 6

    I've recently retested both librecad and qcad because @yorik has been mentioning his collaboration efforts with librecad and here are my takeaways

    • librecad has a much nicer UI. I've found it takes me significant less clicks to perform an operation than in qcad. But that's about the only positive
    • as someone else mentioned earlier having useful layouts is really important. Neither qcad nor librecad pass the bar as both of them seem to handle just a single layout
    • the other super important function is offset and that's where qcad works singificantly better. When offsetting a polyline with a fillets , qcad excels with intersections, etc. Librecad either fails completely, or the result isn't accurate. Freecad draft module also doesn't handle offsets well with polylines/beziers.
    • qcad also has really useful polyline editing tools.

    I wish that development could be shared between librecad, qcad, and freecad draft. Eg a common geometry base so offsets and polyline work the same way. Freecad is the best when it comes to layouts, librecad for UI simplicity, and Qcad for functions.

    I also used to use draftsight when it was free but now I am defaulting to rhino for drafting . It's not well known that rhino is on par for drafting as AutoCAD (even better in my opinion).

    CAD 2D drafting is one area where it's hard for me to recommend a good open source solution. Reason being that the time spent to draft, edit, and document is significantly higher compared to AutoCAD and AutoCAD like 2d drafting clones.

    We need a robust open source 2d cad app.

    PS: Don't think robust DWG support would solve much of the inherent issues. As far as I am aware, DXF support is quite alright, and handles most functions. Since Blender doesn't support DWG, I've grown used to exporting DXFs from various sources, and it's fine.

  • So there is no better FOSS 2d drafting tools at the moment ? :)

  • @paullee one of the problems is poor support for DWG which kind of defeats the purpose of making a 2D CAD package. Have a read of the wiki page and let me know if you have any further questions.

  • edited February 6

    IMHO libreCAD should join FreeCAD Draft Workbench and/or create a separate LibreCAD WorkBench because FreeCAD supports C++ and Python and could be relatively ease ported, I think...
    ... this because for LibreCAD 3 they are treating a GUI since zero, basically they are re-inventing the wheel again...
    ... I already suggested them in multiple posts but they resist any change.
    ... for now, is just a dream but I think joining force could be better
    ... and the same similar case for many others FOSS related to construction, for example, QElectroTech should join KiCAD to win force.

    ... and in general, all our dear FOSS are re-inventing the wheel again and again...

  • Just a word of caution that sometimes there are good reasons why it might seem that "the wheel is being reinvented". Sometimes there isn't, but sometimes there is. I would like to hear from the developers before making any conclusions.

  • @duncan said:
    @paullee one of the problems is poor support for DWG which kind of defeats the purpose of making a 2D CAD package. Have a read of the wiki page and let me know if you have any further questions.

    Thanks for the pointer @duncan :)

    I had used dwg/dxf format as I had been an autocad user since almost R10 (1991 ?) until about 2008 I think. Not really used Revit and other BIM tools until FreeCAD Arch/BIM WB. DXF is good enough to my understanding and there had been a lot of exchange in files with DXF format indeed.

    Have intermittently read some doc about LibreCAD but not really have time to do a full drawing to get familiarized with it. FreeCAD TechDraw WB produce 2D representation but there are still many delicate controls not available in FreeCAD Arch + TechDraw, like those would had found in ACAD - like Attributes, ease of line thickness control, 2d blocks/representation of furnitures / MEP as simple as light switch etc. Thus, I am trying to see if exporting FreeCAD model to DXF and kind of post-processing there is a good enough workflow.

    It seems @Yorik use QCAD for that purpose. See if other has found a productive workflow and share.

    Thanks ! :D

  • @Moult said:
    Just a word of caution that sometimes there are good reasons why it might seem that "the wheel is being reinvented". Sometimes there isn't, but sometimes there is. I would like to hear from the developers before making any conclusions.

    sorry Moult, maybe I was disrespectful, you have a reason, we should support more our all our devs.

    I hope we can prove LibreCAD 3 soon, I already wish to replace my AutoCAD for any FOSS.

  • edited February 17

    Hi, just dropping a line here. I found out different free software can be used for different functions. Autodesk Trueview is very good for printing DWG to PDF. BricsCAD shape has some nice 3D solid modelling functions. Combine that with other 2D FOSS for DWG. As with IFC, using more then one program that can handle a fileformat can take you further. Cheers.

    nb. is was very suprised and happy to see FBX export in BricsCAD Shape too. Autodesk tries to kill that fileformat exchange. As many other ways they try to kill. I know many Autodesk users look at FBX to see if it can bridge the gap, as alternative to IFC or DWG.

Sign In or Register to comment.