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powers that be here are changing cad programs from chief to softplan. anyone have any experience good or bad with it? like chief myself so not real happy unless a better program. let me know what you think, thanks.

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So, did the powers that be; give you (others) a clue as to why they're ditching CA and opting for Sofplan? As with any similar (to Chief) software, (based on looking at previous demos and reading their user comments on SP forums) some user interface have the appearance of possibly being more user friendly (they offer that the SP 2020 has a shorter - simpler) learning curve? I looked for ( their SP vs other software) comparisons.

One of the SP users stated what sold him was "the material list" of course he does mostly take off and estimating for a retailer.  Another said "The main difference to me is that while CA produces awesome 3D renderings the plan portion of the software is lacking. SoftPlan is getting much better in the 3D rendering game but I am able to produce much better looking working set of drawings. This statement of course could have to do more with user proficiency vs. software capabilities?   


But: I don't make my living (at least at the moment) with CA, so I've really have no desire to change and learn (ever so simple a learning curve as it might be) a new software (and of course ) keeping in mind the cost differences. 

I'm planning on staying with Chief Architect. 

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switching so all four stores run the same cad software. running a trial version now to get up to speed but not real impressed. have used other autodesk products in the past and were fine but really like chief and have been running it here for 8 years. new v.p. here changing and micro-managing everything. glad only 3 years till i'm done and start my own business.

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I wonder if their stock layerset is better looking? I have fine-tuned my display layers quite a bit so they look really nice, but if you were just going from the basic blue/yellow chief walls, their stock dimension text, etc it can be a bit cheesy looking.


I was turned off from trying SP because you have to like send in something via snail mail just to buy it. Thought that was a bad indicator of the software, they can't even get a website with a shopping cart thrown together...



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Softplan is a great piece of software, take the time to learn it, it has more clicks for some things, but, it has a lot of great features, it has automated many things as well. Can be network installed (if that option is purchased).  Things that have been common in Chief for a long time, are barely new features in SP2020, it is getting better for sure, I have had it since oh, since 2012 maybe?

Their monthly payments are more consistent than CA, meaning they don’t go up and up and up.... 

The powers are keeping things consistent. Good luck! 

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Softplan is a very good alternative to CA, its just different. I started with Softplan because of the large number of designers that I saw utilizing it, but I was frustrated when trying to learn it. CA operates more like how I think, and it has (imho) a larger amount of resources as far as training videoes. libraries, etc.


They both cost roughly the same amount, try them both and see what works best for you. A CAD program is one of the most important tools that you use, it makes sense to get whats best for you. You can always sell whichever one you dont end up using.



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I tried posting this in the Sofplan forum where they were asking our feedback about Chief and Softplan, but, the moderators have not approved my post!!

Here you go!

Posting as guest, haven’t been here in a long time.

Both SP and CA are powerful enough to use as production tools for residential projects.

Both have an equal learning curve and quirks

Both have great things I wished the other one had!!

Both suck at linework but, both do the job, That’s why we still run LT

Text may be better in CA with Rich Text

SP can be network install, CA can not (but, libraries can be saved to the cloud in CA and SP)

CA has a larger library base if you are into interiors

Both can import/export .dwg

CA has more importing/exporting formats

SP can export to MiTek and Javelin

SP has more clicks for basic functions

SP solids not as easy as in CA

Terrains probably just as bad in both (I could spend more time on that)

CA draws in groups, or based by room, once you enclose 4 walls you have a room, walls, ceilings and roofs are grouped in settings

Cad to walls in CA if you can set the layers in the .dwg ahead of time, but, openings not accurate (uses defaults)

The 2020 version added a lot of features already familiar in previous versions of CA

SP is definitely slower in terms of how quick can things get done. (User dependent too)

Layers, Layer sets, Annotation sets in CA, one can create as many as needed

SP has softalk, softlist, CA has schedules and Keynotes

CA has the Ruby Console where one can add lots of macros to text.

CA can run on Mac OS and Windows, files are interchangeable

SP only runs in Windows

I am sure both sites have "Features" lists that one could compare as well…

So, the big down is when we get sidetracked and want to tackle large projects with either platform, they don’t do well handling large files. (This could be expanded into a topic on its own)

Which is best? That is like asking a carpenter what is the best wormdrive/circular saw out there!!

The typical answer is the one they have had more experience with, that is why a lot of the previous posts here lean to one more than the other. (Not to mention the fanbase)

They’re as good as the driver behind them, we have been using both since oh 2012 and there’s always that (oh I can do that better and faster in...CA or SP)

By the way we use in order of priority ArchiCAD, Chief, Softplan, AutoCAD LT. All great tools to have and don't forget, we never stop learning!

Oh I almost forgot there are a lot more videos for CA than SP

Extensive knowledge base for CA for just about any topic.

Softplan has videos but are very sales oriented, the minimum basics, nothing specific, no plan sets, etc.

That's all folks! 

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wow.  Great post Jorge.


I started with AutoCad R11 at Texas A&M (E.E.) so AutoCad has always been my default setting.


I used SolidBuilder in a whole-house panelizing (and hand-cut roof) endeavor in TN for a while.

We used MiTek WalPlus for wall panelizing as well.

Then SoftPlan for a bit and finally CA.


I don't frame any more so I am 85% CA and 15% AutoCad LT.


  • I had difficulty with Softplan because I always tried to get it to work like AutoCad.
  • Solidbuilder was awesome for framer-like accuracy.  It even created accurate roof framing members, printed on cut sheets.  But it is a bear if you need it to be a marketring tool.  For shop drawings and production, it's great.
  • Chief is well thought out but I still jump to AutoCad when I want granular control of details and roof cut sheets.
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  • 10 months later...

Recently decided to switch to CA after using SP for 20 years for a number of reasons. I was constantly learning new things in SP (and LOVED when I was shown/taught their plan set feature which looks similar to CA's .layout files) and resisted switching a few years ago, deciding instead to invest in learning SP better. But the demonstration I saw at the builder's show in Vegas in Jan 2020 is what sold me. For my line of work designing custom homes (with a BS degree in Interior Design and and 2-year Architecture emphasis), the apparent ease of customization of features and the excellent rendering capabilities is what sold me (the top 2 reasons). I'm just diving into the learning part of CA and am blown away by the number of available resources and the super helpful Technical Support. That being said, I agree with the members here who also stated that most software is only as good as the person using it. I realize there were still a plethora of things I didn't know yet in SP, but just decided instead to invest the learning time into learning CA. I will keep my license for SP for as long as it benefits me in my business. After that I will decide which one meets my needs better, but right now all bets are on CA. Best of luck!!

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