Overall Rating: 4/5
I only recently discovered this handy tool, which, as a LEGO enthusiast, I was excited to see existed. Essentially, this program is a 3D modeling tool for LEGOs. This is a niche tool for designing LEGO models and is not for commercial use, so it probably will only be useful to those die-hard LEGO fans like myself. Strictly speaking, the LEGO Digital Designer is not an all-purpose design tool. It really is only useful for one thing – designing LEGO models. As a result, some of the criteria I use to review will make LLD’s rating lower than it otherwise should be.
The area of compatibility is where this tool really suffers. It uses a proprietary format which is really only compatible with itself and other LEGO products. The saving grace when it comes to format is that the program includes a screen shot feature, which saves to a PNG file. Models can be uploaded to the LEGO Web site or even ordered as sets from the LEGO store.
Cross-Platform Availability: 4/5
The LEGO Digital Designer is available on both Windows and OS X. Unfortunately for die-hard Linux users there is no Linux version.
While the program is a free download, it is not actually open-source, therefore it cannot be modified by the average techie. LEGO does provide updates to the program as necessary.
Support Quality: 5/5
The program includes short help videos which cover the basics of using LEGO Digital Designer. There are also forums and a Q&A section on the Web site, but the program is so simple to use that no help is really necessary.
LEGO Digital Designer is extremely easy to use. Anyone who has used a 3D program before will recognize the basic interface and be able to figure out how to use the tools. The resemblance to other 3D modeling software really end there, though. LDD is really less of a modeling program and more of an assembly program. The models of the bricks are all created and can be dragged and dropped where the builder wants them. The bricks even snap to the other bricks in the model, making the job of building nearly as easy as if the bricks were physically there. The most difficult part of using LDD is finding the brick you want to use. When building my first model, I discovered that some of the bricks I used as a kid are not available in the program. Hopefully future updates will add more bricks to this fun little tool.