Bloatware – a tale of two CAD applications

You may have seen me mention in passing that AutoCAD is bloatware. That’s not just the general grumpy-old-user moan you see from long-term users like me, who can remember when AutoCAD used to fit on one floppy disk.

Yes, programs get bigger over time as new functionality is added and old functionality needs to be retained. Hardware gets bigger, better, faster over time to compensate for that. I get that. Understood.

The AutoCAD bloatware problem is much more than that. AutoCAD is literally ten times the size it needs to be, to provide the functionality it does.

How do I know? BricsCAD proves it. Here’s what I mean.

BricsCAD V17.2 64-bit Windows Download
Downloaded File Size (KB)
BricsCAD-V17.2.03-1-en_US(x64).msi 248,812
Total (1 file) 248,812 (100%)
Equivalent AutoCAD 2018 Downloads
Downloaded File Size (KB)
AutoCAD_2018_English_Win_64bit_dlm_001_002.sfx.exe 2,065,829
AutoCAD_2018_English_Win_64bit_dlm_002_002.sfx.exe 328,277
AutoCAD_2018.0.1_64bit_r2.exe 120,663
AutoCAD_2018_Product_Help_English_Win_32_64bit_dlm.sfx.exe 180,013
Total (4 files) 2,694,782 (1083%)

Which dog is which? They’re both cute, but which would you put your money on in a race?

(Original image: Przykuta)

(Original image: Lisa Cyr)

I’m actually being very generous to Autodesk in this comparison. The two primary AutoCAD download executables alone expand from 2.4 GB to 5.2 GB before install, requiring a total at least 7.6 GB of disk space before we even get to the same ready-to-install point as BricsCAD’s 0.24 GB MSI file.

No, it’s not because BricsCAD is a cut-down application compared with AutoCAD. The opposite is true. Overall, BricsCAD is significantly more feature-rich than AutoCAD. It near-exactly duplicates over 95% of AutoCAD’s functionality and then adds a big slab of its own on top of that. Some of it is in paid-for optional extras, but the code that provides that functionality is still included in the same small download.

This issue isn’t unique to AutoCAD. Super-morbid obesity seems to be standard among Autodesk products. The AutoCAD-based verticals that add a comparable level of functionality to that the BricsCAD download includes are much bigger again!

Anybody care to explain what’s going on here?

10 Comments

  1. I think that Autodesk builds and keep on building their software on top of another older version and over again, instead of having a new version clean, from scratch. Something like what Windows does…
    Bricscad on the other hand takes time to address every part of it with care and cleanly every time around. I think that AutoCAD carries bugs from 2000 to today and just makes a workarounds and that is why it is a 100 times bigger than it should be.

    1. Maybe the developers are congratulating themselves on cutting down AutoCAD by that much to create TrueView? High fives all round!

      But yes, that’s pretty embarrassing. Autodesk’s DWG viewer is over three times the size of a competitor’s full AutoCAD-and-then-some application. Wow.

  2. The expanded files of DWG_Trueview 2018 are ±2.3GB in size.

    Inside this tree of files….
    [x64dwgviewerProgram FilesRootInventor Server] is over 0.5GB
    [x64dwgviewerProgram FilesRootAutodeskGSBCS] is over 0.3GB
    [x64dwgviewerProgram FilesRoot] contains over 0.5GB of loose files
    [3rdParty] contains almost 0.3GB

    Is easy to see the breakdown using a tool like WinDirStat. I’m not sure how or why the download almost doubled in 2 releases…?

  3. Blender 3d (free open source modelling, rendering and animation), which I’m learning these days, is a much more complex software that AutoCAD, and, yet, it’s a 85 Mb download, and 271 Mb once installed. Maybe it has something to do with PhD software engineers…

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