The Great iPad Race: DWG on the Go

IMSI/Design's TurboViewer, a DWG viewer for 2D and 3D drawings.

IMSI/Design's TurboViewer, a DWG viewer for 2D and 3D drawings.

AutoCAD WS Mobile, Autodesk's DWG viewing and markup app for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices.

AutoCAD WS Mobile, Autodesk's DWG viewing and markup app for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices.

How would you like your DWG? For here or to go? If you want it to go, to view it on your iPad or iPhone instead of your immovable desktop, IMSI/Design’s TurboViewer may be one of the apps you can use. Released this month, TurboViewer is described as “a free application and the first and only native DWG viewer that supports both 2D and 3D CAD DWG files for the iOS platform.”

Folks at Autodesk, of course, will probably dispute IMSI/Design’s claim to be “the first,” as it also has its own AutoCAD WS Mobile, a free DWG viewing and markup app for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. That’s where semantics — the study of meanings — gets interesting. IMSI/Design may be on solid ground for saying the first to support “both 2D and 3D CAD DWG,” because AutoCAD WS is currently limited to handling 2D DWG drawings only. (For 3D DWG files, Autodesk would recommend its Inventor Publisher Mobile app.)

TurboViewer is strictly for viewing, without markup.It gives you the ability to pan, zoom, and rotate models using your fingertips on the iPad. If you publish your DWG with predefined views, the recipient of your file can view them by choosing them from the list of available views. Default views (front, back, top, bottom, and so on) are made available in the same fashion.

By contrast, AutoCAD WS offers markup functions in addition to viewing. (AutoCAD WS also requires a log-in and password to use.)  You may, for example, use your fingertips to draw polyline and line segments. Or you may draw a rectangle to single out a region and add notations. AutoCAD WS also lets you take measurements using your fingertips. Like most mobile apps, the software is not meant for precision drawings and detailed works, but it works well for quick approval, review, and feedback on design revisions.

But IMSI/Design may have bigger plans for its TurboViewer. The app is, according to Bob Mayer, IMSI/Design’s CEO, “The first of many new apps — specifically for DWG CAD professionals — that will make mobile devices as indispensable as a PC.”

IMSI/Design and Autodesk aren’t the only two design software makers looking at the iPad the gateway to mobile CAD. Recent iPad apps for engineers and designers range from basic analysis (NEi Stratus) to product lifecycle management (Siemens PLM Software’s Teamcenter Mobility and PTC’s upcoming mobile app for Windchill).

Inventor Publisher Viewer for the iPad, Autodesk's app for delivering interactive 3D files.

Inventor Publisher Viewer for the iPad, Autodesk's app for delivering interactive 3D files.

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