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Autodesk Revit vs AutoCAD

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

autodesk revit vs autocad

Thinking about the move to Revit and have been using AutoCAD your entire professional career, in this post I will explain the differences between the two software and hopefully shed some light on why moving to Revit is the right choice.

Both Autodesk AutoCAD and Autodesk Revit have long-established themselves as the most widely used software packages within the AEC industry.

AutoCAD and Revit can both be used to generate construction drawing packages in 2D and 3D, but there are still significant differences in how each software generates them. Even though at times both software are viewed as competing products, AutoCAD and Revit offer complementary solutions, and both are provided by Autodesk.

A brief history of each software

AutoCAD - Since its first release in December 1982, AutoCAD has grown substantially. In fact, there have been 31 versions since the initial launch at the COMDEX trade show in Las Vegas. It only took 4 years after it was launched for AutoCAD to become the most widely used design application worldwide! To remain current and bring new professions to the platform, Autodesk added new features and programs over the years. The software supports APIs for customization and automation, which enabled the creation of vertical products such as AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Electrical and AutoCAD Civil 3D. In the last five years, Autodesk has also created mobile and cloud-based apps, including AutoCAD 360, Fusion 360, and A360 Viewer.

Revit - Back in 1997, the original software was created by Charles River Software. In 2000, with the help of a public communication consultant the name Revit Technology Corporation was born. There are rumours the name came from a brainstorming session where the two words ‘revise’ and ‘instantly’ were chosen to define the most revolutionary aspect of the software: revising an element anywhere changes it everywhere, in any view. Whether this is to be believed or not, I find it to be very fitting for the software. Then in 2002, Autodesk acquired the company shortening the title to Revit.

Revit VS AutoCAD

The main difference between the two software is that AutoCAD is a general computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting software used to create precise 2D and 3D drawings for all industries. While Revit is a software designed specifically for AEC applications and BIM (Building Information Modeling) with tools to create intelligent 3D models of buildings, which can then be used to produce construction documentation. In AutoCAD, you have a set of general drawing tools like the line tool, arc and circles and they are applied to a broad range of applications. Revit on the other hand is a building-specific design and documentation software, where you work with components like walls, doors, and windows.

Let me explain this in a bit more detail.

  1. Digitalised drawing sheet VS Data enriched components

With AutoCAD, you treat each drawing as if you are drawing it on a sheet of paper,

drawing the different line types and thicknesses. Basically, you are creating a drawing

by connecting simple lines with absolutely no data or information attached to them.

Revit thinks differently, it’s the closest thing to a real building. To put it into other words,

instead of drawing with a ruler and a pen on the old blueprint paper, AutoCAD allows

you to draw 2D accurate lines to then build and represent real elements, hence –

Computer-Aided Design, or CAD. In contrast, Revit builds 3D components, if you

imagine a dynamic block in AutoCAD but on steroids. Each component is equipped

with real-time metadata, data which we can use throughout the lifecycle of a building,

hence the term, Building Information Modeling, or BIM. This is undoubtedly the most

important difference since it drives all the others.

2. Drafting singular standalone sheets VS one single model

With AutoCAD, we draw each element of a building separately. We first create the

plans of the building in one part of the drawing file and then create the elevations,

sections, details, and schedules in another. Some designers may even draw these

elements in separate DWG files.

With Revit, with model one single model. Creating the plans and elevations

simultaneously and in turn creating the sections automatically. What this provides us

is what I consider the greatest time-saving aspect of the software when we create or

make a change in a plan view, for example, this is automatically generated in the 3D,

elevation or section views. This changes the entire outlook of our project and the

overall design of the building, as we can now think of the overall design as a whole.

3. The power of one single model

Where Revit really shines is the instantaneous changes made to all views and schedules

without having to painstakingly thrall through each one manually like in AutoCAD.

Let me set the scene, you have 1 hour before you must submit your tender package.

The client calls and wants to increase the width of one window type by 103mm

throughout the project, as well as change the bathroom plasterboard thickness from

12.5mm to 15mm. If you are using AutoCAD, this means going through all floor plans,

elevations, sections, details, and schedules to individually change the window type and

update the plasterboard type. It also means you must ensure that all references, tags,

and leaders have been updated too. This is a huge task when dealing with large-scale

projects and there’s always one drawing you miss.

With Revit, you only need go to type properties of both the window and wall type to

update the information once. With that, all views, schedules and even the revision

clouds will be updated automatically and there is no need to double-check for the one

drawing that may have slipped through.

To summarize

Both programs have their benefits over one another when speaking in broader terms. They are often used within the same firm and even by the same practitioner.

If we focus purely on the AEC industry, Revit is the future and overshadows AutoCAD in so many ways. I personally transitioned over to Revit 6 years ago and haven’t looked back.

Ready to make the move to Revit?

Revit isn’t this daunting mega software that will take years of practice to push through the learning curve. I have created multiple courses that simplify the learning process to make the transition as easy as possible. Once you have completed the beginner to intermediate level or the beginner to advanced level course you will be capable of undertaking almost every task.

Courses available

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