What are the most popular CAD programs for architects?

It depends on who you ask.

In a manner similar to how we went about finding the most popular general-purpose CAD programs, we set about trying to determine the most popular programs used by architects. Many architects still use general-purpose CAD programs, but most in the U.S. have moved to the more specialized AEC-specific CAD programs or building information modeling (BIM).

Again, we asked Perplexity.ai, our current favorite chatbot. Perplexity has experienced increasing use and has gotten rave reviews from the New York Times. Who are we to argue with the country’s best newspaper?

Here’s what Perplexity found (with the order preserved but descriptions corrected):

  1. SketchUp: A user-friendly 3D modeling and design tool that is popular among architects for creating quick 3D models.
  2. AutoCAD: A powerful and widely used general-purpose CAD software used for creating 2D drawings and construction documents.
  3. Revit: A BIM software that offers more options for architects, including collaboration with mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors, and construction staff.
  4. ArchiCAD: BIM software for architects that provides a comprehensive set of tools for designing and managing architectural projects.
  5. Chief Architect: A residential home design software that is popular among professionals and DIY home enthusiasts.
  6. MicroStation: A versatile general-purpose CAD software used for various architectural and engineering projects.
  7. Vectorworks Architect: A versatile application that provides extensive 2D drafting and 3D modeling for architects.

This correlates well with our understanding of the market, but experience with the previous ranking of popular CAD programs still burns, so we thought we’d see if G2 would agree with Perplexity. Weeding out specialty programs that G2 includes, we are left with the following products ranked by “market presence,” which we will associate with popularity:

Market presence and satisfaction with architectural CAD programs. Image: G2.com.

  1. SketchUp
  2. Revit, by Autodesk
  3. ArchiCAD, by Graphisoft
  4. CorelDRAW Technical Suite
  5. RoomSketcher
  6. Chief Architect Premier
  7. Vectorworks Architect
  8. Softplan
  9. FRANK

G2 includes more residential design programs than Perplexity does, such as RoomSketcher and Softplan, and it inexplicably misses Bentley’s MicroStation.