Software for designing buildings in 3-D range from Autodesk AutoCAD and Revit on the professional end of the spectrum to easy-to-use click-and-drag applications, such as HomeByMe from 3DVIA. Middle-of-the-road products such as Trimble Sketchup combine the simplicity of click-and-drag applications with the unlimited potential of professional design software.
AutoCAD Architecture and Revit are Autodesk's two main offerings for professionals involved in the design and construction of buildings. AutoCAD provides architects with a wide range of tools for planning and developing building designs, including the ability to render designs in full-color 3-D. It can also automatically generate sections and elevations directly from floor plans. Revit, on the other hand, is a building information modeling tool typically used to analyze building data such as structural integrity, lighting coverage and electrical loads during the design stage; however, it also exposes 3-D design capabilities to aid architects and engineers with exploration and visualization.
General consumers, who stand to benefit little from using AutoCAD or Revit due to both their cost and their complexity, can instead use a click-and-drag program such as HomeByMe to create their own 3-D designs. HomeByMe caters to the average user by offering a degree of automation and a wide variety of prefabricated 3-D object models. Instead of having users manually drawing walls, doors and windows as a draftsman would with AutoCAD or Revit, HomeByMe automatically converts 2-D floor plans into 3-D models of rooms and spaces and then allows users to populate these spaces with prefabricated models of various furnishings to complete the designs.
Users who find programs such as HomeByMe limiting might find Trimble Sketchup to be a great alternative. Sketchup requires users to manually build 3-D objects but simplifies the process using click-and-drag shape-creation and extrusion tools.