In my experience with various computed aided drafting [CAD] software your reaction or comfort with the interface or the appearance and organization of the software on the screen is the most important decision to make before buying. It may also be the hardest to discover so software selection is a major pain in the calendar and a man's patience.
There are software packages that cost many thousands and there are free packages. Usually the expensive packages have more features and tools and automatic calculations and are geared for full time marine design and engineering professionals. The less expensive packages are less extensive and require you to do more steps or make more decisions on your own and the free packages are for those who don't have any budget for software but want to spend time exploring marine design.
You'd have to set your budgetary group then collect each of the applications offered in that group and test run them to make the first decision above. That's why I said its a pain- it takes time and requires you to 'learn' some basics in each package to compare them. I don't know of any full on tools-to-tools/apples-to-apples comparison of marine design software: anywhere. If you find one- will you please help us all to learn about that document?
The last main point is that dedicated marine design programs don't try to be general flat CAD drawing programs they usually concentrate on providing a way to make a hull model in 3D. So AutoCAD, the most used CAD in the world professionally, I think, is useful for thousands of drawing types but the marine design package in only good for boats, car bodies, maybe airplane bodies and mainly only the hull surface, not as often the interior structures.
AutoCAD is just like a 350 V-8 with an Merc I/O leg: you can push about anything that floats with this engine and Acad will create just about any picture/image/drawing you want. AutoCAD is really a graphic 'engine' ; its the front end or dash board and steering wheel that makes it useful. There are countless graphics programs that use the AutoCAD engine and they add the hull house and wheels, [both the prop and the helm].
There are marine design programs that use Acad as their basis so you have to own your license of Acad to run their 'add-in' software. Acad is about 2-3k$ [US] per seat, plus the add-in which might double the investment.
Dave is of course right about my opinion; I think Delftship Pro is a good deal in marine design software. That is- the cost of the software weighed against the tools and features you get for the money, seem good to me. But you may be able to buy a more capable package, for example, one of the very top packages is MaxSURF by Andrew Mason, I believe, from Oz, Down Under. I think you can have a copy of MaxSURF for about the cost of new mid size pickup depending on how many features or elements of the entire 'suite' you want to buy.
I like the interface with D'Ship Pro and have built a few skiffs using it, and I also could afford the few hundred it cost compared to affording the MaxSURF packages because I'm not a full time designer or builder.
So.... I said all that to say, you might like D'ship, it seems affordable to me, and there is a free version with fewer features, but you may also find that when you test different evaluation copies that you find another design package more intuitive. But only you will know, and unfortunately, only after to you get it running and take enough time to drive it through some design exercises.
The more intuitive the interface- the more you will learn in the less time and therefore you will use the software more- that takes me back to may original statement and, hopefully, explains it?
Do you have several tools of the same type but from different manufacturers? How about comparing the cars you've owned? Maybe you are a Ford man, or a Dodge guy or a Chevy buyer? Each company produces a four wheeled, internal combustion powered vehicle; but the 'feel' different to different people. If you can see where I'm headed, software is like a tool, all of us have one or another favorites but the next guy will not have the same opinion.
I don't rip with a table saw, even sheet goods- I prefer a band saw and the panel saw to break up sheets and especially I use the band saw for lumber cuts, but most of my friends use their table saws nearly exclusively. We both have our unwavering opinions based on OUR OWN feel of the same common tools.... I think software is the same. I firmly believe computer design productivity is more dependent to your "comfort" or 'feel' for that programmer's ideas as they appear on the screen than on your overall knowledge of marine design.
If you, or anyone here at the Glen-L Forum, would like free lessons in Delftship Pro they are available in email. email@example.com
Their purpose is solely to teach someone to move around at the beginning of their use of D'ship not
to teach marine design. Dave would have been fine in the software without me; but I do hope to have saved him some time learning-by-mistakes instead of learning by repetitive exercises. I have been teaching CAD for 19 years so I do have some methodology to share; all of it intended to get a learner to a stand alone stage in the shortest possible time.
Your question was short but my reply is not, in part because of some of the items I've tried to review, I hope this made sense?
good discussions are at http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/design-software/