Glossary November 23, 2021

Comparing Revit to AutoCAD

Table of Contents

The advent of CAD (computer-aided drafting) software led to many new terms being used all over the world. For example, it’s not uncommon for people to confuse Revit and AutoCAD since they don’t know the difference between BIM and CAD in the first place. However, the truth is that AutoCAD and Revit are quite different from each other.

While both belong to the Autodesk family, their purposes are quite different. However, to start working out the confusion that is Revit vs CAD, we have to address the elephant in the room – the difference between BIM and CAD.

BIM and CAD

In the most basic terms possible, you’re generating drawings when using CAD for various projects. Alternatively, when it comes to BIM – you’re creating an entire model of a building that can be used to create drawings.

At its core, CAD is a Computer-Aided Design that provides engineers, architects, and other professionals in the field to generate precise drawings of a project in both 2D and 3D – which means automating a process that previously involved a lot of manual drafting and drawing.

BIM, on the other hand, is Building Information Modeling – an intelligent multi-functional process that’s based on a 3D model and is capable of providing experts like engineers, architects, AEC specialists, etc. with both the insight about a project in question, as well as the tools to perform the entire lifecycle of a project – including planning, designing, constructing and management.

Now that the difference between the two is more apparent, it is time to address the troublesome task of comparing AutoCAD to Revit.

Revit vs AutoCAD

The main difference you can think of in this context is that Revit is BIM software, while AutoCAD is CAD software. This is where our previous comparison of BIM to CAD comes in handy – Revit is a solution tasked with supporting all phases of a construction project that deal with either design or documentation, while AutoCAD is a widely applicable drawing tool.

It’s not uncommon for Revit and AutoCAD to work alongside each other or even integrate into each other to some degree – but their purposes are still drastically different, as well as their list of situations where they can be used. It’s not uncommon for companies to use Revit for BIM deliverables generation and collaboration with design disciplines while also using AutoCAD for certain components of a design or a project.

Surprisingly enough, a rather unusual similarity exists between the two. It doesn’t matter if you’ll choose to start with Revit or AutoCAD – both of them are notorious for being rather complicated pieces of software that are not exactly user-friendly. 

Both of them simply have too many different features, tools, and other pieces of information that can be done with them, and it’s the main reason why so many people claim that using such software is quite overwhelming at first – no matter if it’s Revit or AutoCAD.

To make it easier to notice the differences when comparing Revit to CAD, we will go over each of the two to figure out their advantages and shortcomings.

Benefits and shortcomings of AutoCAD

AutoCAD, on its own, is ancient by professional software standards; it has been around ever since 1982. It singlehandedly managed to create a surge in accessibility for design-related software, and it offers a plethora of features in both 2D and 3D drawings. Some of the more prominent benefits of AutoCAD are:

  • Cloud-based viewing and PDF integration. Since almost all construction projects nowadays are exclusively team efforts, it’s not that surprising to realize that AutoCAD has its own features that help with better accessibility and usability for people in different timezones and with different devices. AutoCAD can change their proprietary .DWG file format into PDFs to keep the project unaccessible for edits until it’s in the right hands. Additionally, AutoCAD offers a cloud-based viewing ability to allow several people to see the same project simultaneously, even though group editing is still unavailable.
  • Precise 2D geometry. AutoCAD is a computer-aided drafting tool, first and foremost, which is why there are multiple different ways that AutoCAD can offer its users to interact with geometries – and it’s the main reason why people find AutoCAD so intimidating. And yet, once you’ll manage to get a good grasp of its features – you’ll have one of the best drafting tools on the market.
  • 3D object flexibility. Although the original purpose of AutoCAD was to work with 2D objects, there is now an option to work in three dimensions, as well – with the same level of control and precision as with its 2D part, with no limitations to your creativity.
  • Customizable workspace. Surprisingly enough, this one comes from the main complaint about AutoCAD – with it being too intimidating to approach. Once you’re past the first impression and start working with AutoCAD regularly, you’ll quickly realize that most of the features that seem overwhelming to you can be easily hidden if you don’t have the need for them in your daily work. You do have to understand how to do that in the first place and the basics of AutoCAD itself, and yet, it’s surprisingly customizable.

However, some inconveniences and downsides can be noticed when approaching AutoCAD from a slightly different angle. For example:

  • Layer synchronization. AutoCAD’s layering system is excellent for including an abundance of details into a model – but it’s rather terrible from the convenience standpoint since you always have to sync edits with the entire design manually. It is a massive problem for bigger teams that work with AutoCAD since one person’s mistake can cost an entire team several hours of manually changing values and adding changes.
  • Inability to automatically fill in component information. While AutoCAD’s can freely manipulate all of the geometry parts, it’s a massive headache in terms of consistent component information – you’ll have to manually input all of the specific dimensions of each element every time you need it in your design. 
  • Difficult learning process. You can indeed hide most of the unnecessary features when you’re confident enough with AutoCAD, but this process can take a while, and AutoCAD’s learning curve is rather harsh and brutal. Luckily enough, it’s a well-known problem for everybody, so many different courses and training packages can help you to become more familiar with AutoCAD’s interface in some way or another.

Advantages and problems of Revit

Revit is also technically a type of CAD software – even though it is a BIM software first and foremost, allowing it to create a 3D model of a project with all of the details of both physical properties and how components can influence one another. Three of the most popular industries for Revit are city planning, architecture, and construction. Here are some of the biggest benefits of Revit:

  • Detailed building information. Revit is capable of generating information about parts of your design in the middle of its creation, adding context in terms of materials, price estimates, and so on. If this information changes at any point in the project creation process – the entire model would be updated accordingly.
  • Performance analysis for project designs. Revit is also capable of providing performance analysis of your model in real-world conditions, mostly centered around the environmental friendliness of your model. Power- or resource-efficient constructions are always a win in everyone’s book.
  • Information integration into a model. Unlike AutoCAD, Revit does not work with different layers but offers the ability to work with the entire 3D model at once, including different viewpoints, synchronized changes, and more.
  • Easier maintenance and upgrade. Because of the specific way that Revit integrates all of the changes into the entire model, it’s effortless to update or change said models whenever you want, or look at the design archives, if you need those.
  • Clean interface. Since Revit’s interface is cleaner when compared with AutoCAD’s interface, many users consider the former to be an easier one to learn and get used to.

And yet, it’s the same situation as with AutoCAD – some problems can be found with Revit as a whole, such as:

  • Bigger price. Since both AutoCAD and Revit are produced by Autodesk, it is reasonably easy to compare the basic prices of the two – and Revit is always higher, with the difference for the three-year plan being $1000 for the Revit version.
  • Windows-only software. Unfortunately, design sharing with Revit is somewhat more complicated since it only works on Windows-based devices. It’s not a particularly deal-breaking problem, but it is something to be aware of.

Industry-specific software. Possibly the biggest drawback for Revit is its spearheaded focus on three of its industries – construction, architecture, and city planning. Other than that, it pretty much cannot work with any other industry – and it’s a rather big problem for people to keep track of.

Conclusion

There is, in fact, a significant list of differences between Revit and AutoCAD, and some of those things might not seem as apparent at first glance. Hopefully, we’ve managed to explain the topic to the degree that makes the difference evident for everyone.


About the author
James Ocean

BIM/VDC Specialist. James Ocean is Head of BIMspiration at Revizto and keeps everything moving onwards and upwards. From supporting and teaching our internal team as well as our clients, James shows us the ins-and-outs and how to best leverage Revizto to maximize workflows, cut costs, and get all types of projects through the finish line.

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Revit vs AutoCAD. Revit vs CAD Autodesk offers several different products, and the difference between some of them is not apparent. For example, there’s a big difference between Revit and AutoCAD, and it’s not exactly clear how they differ, making a lot of users quite confused. The topic of discerning Revit from AutoCAD is the central theme of this article. 2021-11-23
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