At first glance, there are far more than just a handful of architectural software packages available; this makes choosing the right software tricky. Such a specialised software can be expensive and time-consuming to learn, so merely trying them all out isn’t a practical solution. The best way to go about choosing an architectural software package for yourself or your team is to do your research. So, what software do architects use? We have looked at a few of the most highly rated packages to help you choose what’s right for you.

What Features Do You Need in Architectural Software?

If you are a seasoned architect, you will likely know what works for you and what doesn’t. However, if you’re less familiar with architecture software, consider what your clients need and what you need to improve your workflow.

Important architecture software features:

  • Flexibility
  • 2D and 3D drawing capability
  • Rendering software
  • Cloud integration
  • Variety of plugins to choose from
  • BIM (Building Information Modelling) capabilities
  • Compatibility of files with other software packages
  • User-friendliness
  • Generative design capabilities

Five of the Best

We’ve had a look at a few of the most prominent architectural software packages; these are commonly used and have become the industry standard throughout the world and in Australia.


The industry standard since 1982, AutoCAD enables users to draft, annotate and design both 2D and 3D models. You can automate floorplans, sections, and elevations. Its popularity lies in the compatibility of its files with other design packages. AutoCAD’s biggest drawback is that it doesn’t offer BIM (Building Integrated Modelling), instead using older design practices.


As a more modern software, Revit incorporates BIM into its software, helping architects design sustainable buildings, improving collaboration, efficiency and offering greater control over design decisions. Its automation processes record changes in 3D mode and applies them throughout your plan and various views. Revit simplifies the co-ordination of multiple team members on the same project for architectural studios.


 Rhino is a package which offers architects the ability to model complex intersections and curved structures which other architecture applications may struggle with. This flexible software can scan real-world data, physical models, and drawings into the software. Rhino can create professional renders, animations and base models, and users can adjust their workspaces by creating their own plugins.


This architectural software enables users to create professional base models with the wonderful ability to pull topographical images from both satellite images and Google maps. You can buy more features and build simple 3D models quickly. Its user-friendliness makes it perfect for those just starting out with 3D modelling while constructing complex geometry. Its downfalls: Sketchup is not a collaborative tool, and it does not offer built-in rendering.


Starting right from the beginning, Archistar has been a user-friendly option. Archistar gives architects aerial views and the ability to view the planning rules of a site such as maximum building height, zoning, and heritage sites. Amongst Archistar’s most sought after features is its generative design capabilities that are easily edited. Exporting and importing CAD files ensures your design flow is simplified.

With a clear idea of the architectural software packages available, you can easily choose the right software for your team and the types of projects you oversee.