LEGO Digital Designer to be discontinued

Update 1/21: It appears that rumors of LDD’s death have been somewhat exaggerated.

The LEGO Digital Designer (LDD) software, available since 2004, is soon to be discontinued, according to reports. The following statement was issued by the LEGO AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) Relations Team:

“Good Afternoon everyone, I’ve just touched base with one of our Digital Product Specialists within the Consumer Services team. A business decision has been made to no longer allocate resources towards the LDD program / initiative.

“For now, the program will continue to be offered to anyone interested in utilizing it but please do not expect any updates regarding functionality, the adding of new LEGO elements or glitch fixes. We have decided to pursue other digital experiences.

“Although this may not be the answer you were hoping for, I hope this information will be of use to your RLUG members. Thank you for your time and continued support for the LEGO Brand & hobby.”

Since 2004 the LEGO Group has provided the LEGO Digital Designer CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software free to the public. This software enables users to create virtual LEGO models on the computer (Mac or Windows) and share them with others using the LXF file format. The LEGO Group provided digital models of all the available parts in production for the software. It has been a popular choice for fans of all ages.

For a while (ending in 2012) you could even upload your designs to the LEGO website and have them ship you the parts to build your own models in real life, in a program called Design By Me which was discontinued because of the labor cost involved in pulling the parts for the orders – it was never popular enough to automate, but too popular to have human workers do by hand. After this was discontinued the LDD software has continued to be available, and the full range of parts LEGO makes were added for advanced users.

For those who wish to build virtual models of your LEGO creations, the fan-created LDraw system still exists. With the shutdown of LDD, I hope that more people get involved in LDraw and write new and updated tools for the system in order to take advantage of modern computer technology, as the tools have been basically unchanged for about ten years. Personally, I use LDraw tools (specifically, MLCAD and LPub) for all my virtual LEGO modeling, and build LDraw models of all my major creations. If you want to build decent step-by-step instructions, LDraw is the only way to go in my opinion, though it is significantly harder to use than LDD because LDraw doesn’t track whether parts actually connect together.

What do you think about the impending end of LDD? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Note: the term “RLUG” mentioned in the quoted text refers to Recognized LEGO User Groups – those user groups with a relationship to the LEGO company. If you aren’t a member of an RLUG, you should find and join one today!