Germany alone is one of the largest global markets for technical CAD software in the world. Throw in all German-speaking countries in the EU, such as Austria and Switzerland, and the market is even better. While the US and Japan are even larger, the German countries combined reflect significant global industry data and from this we can important insights.
Recently Competitionline, easily one of the leading platforms in all of Europe for competitions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, polled their designer and architect users asking them one simple question: “What software do you use?”
300 Plus Pool
More than 300 architects and planners in fields ranging from building construction and scenography to interior design and landscape architecture participated in the poll.
In the 3D Software category, leading Nemetschek brands ArchiCAD and Vectorworks easily outpaced Autodesk brands in Revit, AutoCAD, and 3D Studio Max. 23 percent of participants said they used Vectorworks (second behind only SketchUp), while 21 percent said they used ArchiCAD. Autodesk Revit was used by 8 percent of participants, behind Nemetschek ALLPLAN at 13 percent, while AutoCAD was used by 11 percent.
The number one software used, according to the survey, was Trimble’s SketchUp, used by 40 percent of all 305 participants. Largely a reflection of the AEC industry in these three German-speaking countries, Competitionline is an organizing source for architects, landscape architects, and other AEC professionals (and students) to compete for actual building and environmental design projects. As such, it attracts many of the leading firms in Europe for commission-based competitions.
When it came to visualization software platforms, Cinema 4D—also a Nemetschek brand company—outpaced Autodesk’s 3D Studio Max, 16 to 10 percent, respectively.
The Battle for 2D Dominance
While 2D software CAD systems are supposed to be dying a slow death in the face of 3D BIM, PLM and general use modelers like SketchUp, recent industry report data shows that the 2D CAD market is as strong as ever, even while 3D software continues to grow.
In this category Vectorworks and Autodesk’s AutoCAD, the world’s leading CAD software, were tied at 33 percent each. The remaining one third of participants obtain their 2D capacities largely using their pure BIM applications in the form of either ArchiCAD, Revit or ALLPLAN, at 16, 16, and 2 percent respectively.
According to a recent global CAD industry survey—which we will continue to write about due to the fact many of the results were surprising—2D CAD usage is still in high demand. The fact that AutoCAD is tied with Vectorworks in German-speaking countries in this poll for 2D CAD workflows is likely related to several factors. One factor is that in countries like Austria and Switzerland, BIM usage in AEC is relatively low compared to other EU countries and the UK and US in particular. Another factor is platform-based. PC-based firms not yet doing BIM workflows are likely tied to AutoCAD, while the many Mac-based firms in these countries are often tied to Vectorworks users. An example of the latter would be one of Switzerland’s largest architecture firms, Itten+BrechBühl AG, though that firm was making the transition to BIM more aggressively using Vectorworks Architect.
A third factor is that new entrants to the CAD world still come into CAD via 2D in many cases. New markets for CAD have included for example, large retailers who have in-house design teams. These teams have existed in years past but often only consulted with external architect and interior designers. Now, increasingly, in-house professionals utilize CAD tools for the work they do external to consultants. 2D CAD has also increased in the area of factory design and as the world continues to build more and new types of factories, factory layout has become its own CAD specialization.
Another interesting insight was to see that more participants were using AutoCAD (11 percent) than Revit (8 percent) for 3D work. What could be driving these numbers?
One possibility is that more boutique sized firms (smaller firms) are engaged in Competitionline than larger firms. Along with this is that more ‘design-oriented’ firms are engaged with the magazine, often wishing to compete in design competitions. Such firms may have more emphasis on ‘design’ than ‘production’ and have been less interested in BIM in general. It is worth pointing out what we learned from our BIG interview a few years ago about design and BIM in a leading European practice. (see, Architosh, “How BIG’s influence can reframe the role of BIM in Architecture,” 18 Apr 2015).
While all this trend data is interesting, the big take-away here is that—at least in terms of AEC practices engaged in the Competitionline magazine space, Nemetschek seems to have overtaken (or at least equaled) Autodesk in terms of software use by firm count—which is very different than seats. Revit use in particular seems incredibly low in German countries based on this poll data. And Vectorworks—much like its position in Japan—is the most direct competitor to AutoCAD.