LibreCAD vs QCAD

LibreCAD vs QCAD

On the surface QCAD and LibreCAD and every other 2D CAD software is the same, offering the same basic tools, user interface, and supported file formats. The small differences will either have you praising the software developers or cursing them as you spend your precious time fiddling with the quirks.

In 2011 LibreCAD was forked from QCAD version 2. In the software development community, forking is the process of duplicating a project and having it be developed by a different group of engineers. The process is common when developers have differencing opinions on where the project is headed or want to implement features that the original project owners don’t want. At that time, QCAD and LibreCAD were nearly identical since they were copies of each other.

In 2012, QCAD diverted greatly from their previous version which LibreCAD was based and reworked large portions of their software to bring it up to version 3. With version 3, QCAD implemented many improvements to their software that now distinctly distances it from LibreCAD.

Feature LibreCAD QCAD
SVG Export Yes Yes
PDF Export Yes Yes
Isometric Grid Yes Yes
Plugin Support Yes Yes
DXF Support Yes Yes
DWG Support Limited Yes
Library Browser Yes Yes
Command Line Yes Yes
Client Tools No Yes
Pricing Free Free and Pro versions

The feature list is infinitely larger, but you likely already know that both programs have tools for lines, arcs, dimensions, ellipses, snapping, hatching, and modification and movement tools.

QCAD Unique Features

Outside of the expected tools for 2D CAD programs, almost every additional feature present in QCAD is unique compared to LibreCAD. A full list of QCAD features is available on their website.

Some features are limited to QCAD Professional, those will be left out of the below features to compare QCAD and LibreCAD on a level ground.

QCAD text tools has many additional features. You can stylize text with their rich text editor to add color, set font weight, add italics, and more. Maybe the best part of it is that once the text is placed in the drawing, you can edit it.

QCAD comes with a library of over 5,000 parts (screws, nuts, symbols, …) to use in your drawings. The library browser also lets you set favorites and has text search.

A fantastic addition to QCAD is ECMA scripting. With ECMA scripting, plugins can be written in a high level programming language to automate drawing parts and create new tools. Even if you don’t program, this feature lets other developers easily create tools that you can use.

Aside from 2D and isometric projection with LibreCAD also supports, QCAD supports planometric, dimetric, cabinet, and cavalier projections. I’ve never needed anything other than isometric view, but for more experienced designers, this feature alone could change your perspective on what program to use.

QCAD also has a dark theme for their program. You can switch from light to dark to save your eyes when working at night. These small differences really add up when you spend hours inside a single program.

LibreCAD Unique Features

LibreCAD has no defining features compared to QCAD in their current states. “LibreCAD is going to get new features, QCad will not.”, R. van Twisk said when asked about the differences between QCAD and LibreCAD[1]. At the time, QCAD did appear to be unmaintained, but QCAD was working quietly on their next large release.

R. van Twisk, a contributor to LibreCAD also said, “LibreCAD is truly open source while QCad was not,” which may have been the case in the past, but QCAD is on GitHub and accepts pull requests from other developers.

QCAD or LibreCAD

I suggest using QCAD over LibreCAD in every case. With the additional features, more polished drawing interface, and the always expanding feature set, QCAD is a solid choice over LibreCAD. I’ve made the switch from LibreCAD to QCAD a few months ago and have really enjoyed how the program runs.

Everything in QCAD works as I expect without having to fiddle with settings or lookup why certain tools behave the way they do. Even without the additional features, QCAD makes for a much nicer environment to work in.