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Editor’s Pick: eDrawings for the iPad

By Anthony J. Lockwood

Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:

So, a couple of years ago I mention in passing that I have one of them newfangled iPads. Tom Conlon, DE’s publisher and Ted Danson doppelganger, asks me what I think of it. I say that it’s not there yet. I explain that it’s cool for reading magazines, surfing the web, and, most importantly, subscribing to (and cheating on) crossword puzzles. But, the iPad was not ready for real work beyond e-mail processing.

Such a difference a couple of years make. People are developing all sorts of nifty stuff that melds the iPad with engineering work. Today’s Pick of the Week is a perfect example. And let me say right here that ‪eDrawings for the iPad from Dassault Systemes SolidWorks is fun. I shot my wad and spent a couple of dollars to download it. I then spent way too much time playing with it.

For those of you in the dark, eDrawings is an e-mail enabled tool for sharing 2D and 3D models. We’re talking here of the eDrawings viewer — well, viewer-plus, which I’ll get to. Anyone with an iPad can use this app immediately regardless of CAD-compatibility or CAD operating experience. The download, which was no time, was longer than the learning curve.

Anyway, say you desperately need me to review some SolidWorks or Inventor model — or Solid Edge, STL, etc. — but I’m with the client at Sam Malone’s tavern. You use eDrawings Professional to make then send me a copy of the file. Here comes the plus part.

So, I get it and fire up ‪eDrawings for the iPad. I can zoom, pan, and rotate the CAD data. I can explode the 3D image or watch an animation. I can browse assemblies, drawing sheets, and so on. And I can do all of this and more in that neat iPad way. You know, double tap for a full screen or move things with a finger. I can use iTunes file sharing to store/retrieve files, and I can also get them off the company’s network. In other words, it’s not picky how I get the files.

‪eDrawings for the iPad comes with five sample images. Arrayed across of top of the loaded image are the available commands for the image, say explode or run the animation. I became a tad obsessed with the pump housing image. I even mailed it to myself. I really got into zooming in on it until it disappeared then double tapping it to full size. Response was excellent as it was with the animation of the front loader model.

The nub of it is that ‪eDrawings for the iPad is a great collaboration tool and plain old fun. While I am of two minds about being tethered to the mother ship, the reality of my work, like yours, is that I have to stay in touch. But, I’ll also tell you that I leave the laptop at home and take the iPad if at all possible. It’s simply easier that way, and the TSA doesn’t hassle me about the iPad.

If you need to fix an eye on the design, impress a client, or keep the non-techies in the loop, you simply cannot go wrong with ‪eDrawings for the iPad — especially for a couple of bucks. Hit the link over there and get it. This is terrific stuff.

Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering

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About Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Desktop Engineering's Editor-at-Large. Contact him via de-editors@deskeng.com.