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- A. D. Lum - Expensive But Solid ProductIn a nutshell:
In the PC/MAC-based CAD world there is AutoCAD and then there's everything else. The only bad thing about AutoCAD is the price. The initial price is high and the upgrades are high. If you just want to draw things for your own use, then you could save quite a bit of money by going with a lower end product. If you are planning to use CAD for professional or career reasons, this is the product you want.
To give you a little background, I've worked with CADKey, which back in the day was a viable AutoCAD competitor but not now; CATIA, which is a high end system that was used (and maybe still is) at the Boeing Commercial Aircraft company, and DesignCAD, which is a low end package. I'm going to assume that the people who read these AutoCAD reviews have less experience with CAD and so I will tell you just what I think you want to know.
As far as performance and capability, it doesn't get any better for 2D CAD on a PC/MAC-based platform (LT version). But is it is worth the price? It all boils down to what I hinted at before. If you are a professional and your work may be submitted to other companies - invest in AutoCAD. The other thing that justifies shelling out the bucks is if your career might require you to use CAD. I know two people who make quite a good living by contracting themselves out to companies who need CAD specialists. For those types, the investment is worth it.
I program CNC machines for fun. But before I can program I need a drawing of the part I am programming for. My point is that AutoCAD is nice, but is overkill for a non-income generating activity like this.
Now for a few comments on the program itself. The technology has come a long way from the time CADKey was still known as CADKey. AutoCAD (When I say AutoCAD, I mean both the full version and the LT version) has come a long way to make things faster and easier. On the PC platform AutoCAD uses the ribbon concept that Microsoft introduced. The MAC version doesn't use a ribbon, but it's close enough. The idea is that the things you are most likely to use are the easiest things to access. There is much less hunting for things than in the old days. Help is not far away, and the documentation of functions in the help system is good.
If you are new to CAD and you are going to make the investment in AutoCAD, spend the time and money to train yourself. Buy a decent book and learn to use the help. Other than that - as with all things, practice, practice, practice.