Friday, May 13, 2005
CAD on the Hoof? PowerCAD CE Frees Me From My Drafting Table
Posted by John Walkosak in "SOFTWARE" @ 09:00 AM
Use in the Field
When I use CAD on my desktop, it is being displayed on a 21" LCD monitor so that I can see large expanses of my work and minimize eyestrain. The screen of my Pocket PC is smaller than the eraser shields I used when I hand drafted. And if you can remember manual drafting and eraser shields, than you are old enough that eyestrain is an issue.
This was my primary concern when I started to use the program; would there be enough screen to be able to actually do anything useful? The answer is both yes and no.
The easiest way to use the program on the go is to use the redlines and vnotes functions to make notes in the field. This method needs only the stylus, and is easy to do while walking.
Figure 1: The Draw menu with the markup flyout
The use of the traditional CAD features for editing drawings or making new drawings is a little more dicey. Having the drawing area open with the on-screen menus and having the on-screen keyboard open resulted in a sliver of work space.
Figure 2: The main menus all displayed
Figure 3: Inputting Coordinates
Figure 4: Plan with menus displayed
It was rather like trying to read a set of blueprints thru a straw. This is not a reflection on the developer, but just the reality of a PDA. GiveMePower does a good adapting to the screen, but it is what it is. However, using an external keyboard and a Bluetooth mouse provided a very desktop like experience, and I found it rather easy to use.
Figure 5: Zoomed in close enough to see detail on a plan
Figure 6: One of the menus in use
When I thought about it, this seemed to make sense to me. When I am walking around the job site, it is nice to be able to have multiple files with me to be able to reference and make quick notes. It allows me to replace carrying rolls and rolls of drawings with my Pocket PC. It is also great to be able to edit this information when I can find a place to sit.