The title of this article is a challenge, if you have used Autodesk programs I suppose you could think “it’s an advertising strategy”,”an exaggeration”, I invite you to continue reading and you will see how QGIS being free software fulfills the challenge of giving us an intuitive and professional interface to draw accurately in 2D similar to Autodesk.
If you want to draw as you do in Autodesk, if you are going to make layouts considering angles and distances, or if you have set out to make a cadastre with a free GIS, you have to see this!
To meet the objectives of this article we will focus on a single Plugin, using very little of QGIS’s own drawing tools.
It is pertinent to clarify that there are several Plugins that improve the drawing capabilities of QGIS, among them I can name: CADDIGITIZE and CADTOOLS.
However, none of them is as versatile and comprehensive as the one below, the central theme of the article.
The purpose of this Plugin is to provide QGIS with an interface as close as possible to AutoCAD. Two very positive aspects:
QCad tools can be accessed through the button bar that is activated with the plug-in, as highlighted in the image below.
Or they can be accessed in the “QCad” submenu that appears in the “Vector” menu:
1. Command bar: Activating QCad displays a command bar similar to Autodesk, if we write in this bar the initials of a command shows a list of options, for example if we type the letter “P“, then accept the Polyline option, immediately the command line gives us instructions similar to how AutoCAD would do it, for example if we click on the screen will ask us the following point, or we can type the letter “.
IMPORTANT NOTE: the command line is optional, you can do all your work without it.
2. Right click: Another feature similar to AutoCAD is that by right click we can access options intuitively while working, I explain, while drawing a polyline with right click appears a dialog box that among other things allows me to finish the plot (Enter), close the polyline (Close), choose between the most recent coordinates to place the next vertex, define the length, draw an arc, among others.
Even, without drawing but still active the QCad tools, if we move the cursor over the screen and left click a dialog box is displayed that allows you to choose between the recently used tools or enter options for more settings.
3. Work mode: QCad does much more than provide us with drawing tools, it creates a new work environment while it is active, that includes: it alters the shape, color and cursor movement, it gives the options with right click already commented, precision adjustment (snap), even the behavior of the entities when selecting them, all in a similar way to AutoCAD.
4. Precision adjustment (Osnap): Precision commands are the main feature of AutoCAD.
What is a precision adjustment command?
It is the one that allows us to unite entities with precision while drawing, for example the vertex of a line or polygon, with a point, directly to a portion of a line or perpendicularly, parallel, or join it to a corner of an entity, among others. Precision adjustment commands are called “Snapping.”
To configure the Snap we can access through the toolbar selecting the button in the form of a wrench, the same way through the menu or we can even alter the type of Snap while we are drawing.
If you select the button described above, a dialog box is displayed to configure the various Snap and other drawing parameters:
And the most interesting thing is that this is only a small part of the large set of tools and configurations available, we also have polar tracking mode, tools for delimiting, scaling objects, symmetry, buffer, offset, creating matrices, dividing and extending, and much more. It is simply necessary to play with all the tools available and you will be able to discover the infinite number of things you can do.
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