Brief Encounters Reviews

TommySoftware CAD/DRAW 4.0 Level 1

Publication Details:
Publication:“PC Plus”, UK
Date:April 1996
Product Information:
Title:TommySoftware CAD/DRAW 4.0 Level 1
Supplier:The Thompson Partnership
Phone:(01889) 564601
Fact Panel:
Minimum Requirements:Intel 80386 CPU; 8Mb free RAM; Mouse; Windows 95
Available on:CD-ROM
Options:Windows NT 3.51; Printer or Plotter
TommySoftware CAD/DRAW
TommSoftware CAD/DRAW 4.0 has good features for handling colour, including graduated tints. This can be helpful for technical illustration work, as well as draughting. The user interface is cluttered.

Brief Encounters: TommySoftware CAD/DRAW 4.0 Level 1

TommySoftware CAD/DRAW 4.0 Level 1 is a low-cost CAD (Computer-Aided Design) program for Windows 95 and NT 3.51. Distributed by the Thompson Partnership, it’s designed for 2D draughting work, although add-on modules can expand its capabilities into areas such as 3D design.

Considerable effort has gone into giving CAD/DRAW 4.0 a flexible user interface. There’s a bewildering array of features – whereas most programs in this market keep the interface as simple as possible, CAD/DRAW goes to the other extreme. There are toolbars for snap modes and properties, with another toolbar containing fly-out icon strips for the main drawing commands – these are duplicated on a floating icon menu. Most commands and features are accessible through keyboard aliases, although the keystrokes are rather difficult to remember. Extra windows show a bird’s eye view of the drawing, and list currently loaded libraries. Thankfully, you can switch off most features to minimise on-screen clutter. The interface structure isn’t particularly consistent – some toolbars need combining, and it’s difficult to find basic commands.

CAD/DRAW 4.0 includes Windows 95-style cursor help, and help-text for most icons in the window banners. There’s also a comprehensive on-line help system, with separate help-files for the more advanced features.

CAD/DRAW 4.0’s commands behave in a pretty conventional manner, using Verb-Noun syntax – select an action, then choose the objects. There’s a reasonable selection of basic drawing objects and editing commands, although ‘Ortho’ mode to force lines exactly horizontal or vertical is only an optional extra. Entering co-ordinates at the keyboard is a fundamental part of CAD work – CAD/DRAW 4.0 allows users a huge range of options here, including mathematical expressions and automatic conversion between metres, inches and points.

There are some nice advanced features. For example, the Surface command allows you to create complex closed polygons – you can also include other objects such as apertures within the polygon boundary. CAD/DRAW 4.0 supports TrueType and Adobe Type Manager fonts, as well as vector fonts. There’s a reasonable degree of control over justification, positioning and text appearance. You can exchange DXF and Metafiles with other programs – as usual the quality of DXF translation isn’t perfect, but it’s usable. Users who enjoy customising can take advantage of CAD/DRAW 4.0’s open architecture to add features.

TommySoftware CAD/DRAW 4.0 Level 1 is reasonably capable – it has enough features to perform real work, despite some minor irritations. However, there’s no clear sense of who the program is for – it’s too complex for casual use, but too far outside the mainstream for professional designers. In its price-band it’s up against several well-established products such as TurboCAD and AutoSketch – against competition like this, it has its work cut out.

Tim Baty

PC Plus Verdict:


  • Flexible user interface
  • Good colour handling
  • Open architecture


  • No ortho mode
  • Needs fast hardware
Range of features:7
Ease of Use:5
PC Plus Value Verdict:6