eDrawings for iPad Goes Pro

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Back at the beginning of May DS SolidWorks launched the 1.0 version of the long awaited eDrawings for iPad.  This first release was far from perfect but SolidWorks opened up the suggestions box and asked for feedback from the community.  Many of the feature requests were addressed in the 1.1 version that shipped just 45 days after the debut of eDrawings for iPad.

Although the biggest request was a version that would run on Android, which has still not been addressed, the feature list that makes eDrawings useful to a majority of it's users (Markup, Measure, Section, etc..) was still absent from the mobile version of eDrawings.  It appeared that subsequent updates would trickle out but that the buik of what this mobile client would do was somewhat feature complete.

On the last day of August 2012, DS SolidWorks launched another version of eDrawings for the iPad called eDrawings Pro for iPad, bringing almost all the features still missing in the standard version.  In addition to the first generation build, eDrawings Pro for iPad will add the following functionality:

  • UPDATED Interface
  • Read and create markups
  • View Decals
  • Measure
  • Apply cross sections

SolidWorks, on their blog, listed many features that were already in the first version of eDrawings along with the pricing for this new offering.  The official price will be $9.99 but will debut for 30 days at a 50% discount of $4.99.  I think the $4.99 price is probably fair but the $9.99 price tag might me a bit high unless this is a must have app for you.  Some folks seems to think this is a hefty price considering they already bought the first version that does most of what this version does.  Maybe I'd feel that way at the $10 mark however it would have been wiser to make the Professional features available as an in-app purchase in the original version for $4.99.  Perhaps this would ease the pain of buying the first version not knowing the Pro version was right around the corner.  Unfortunately I will probably just delete the original version of eDrawings since it has been obsoleted by the Pro version. ($2 early adopter fee?)  

It's interesting how the mobile app marketplace has changed not only the price point of apps but also the expectations of it's users.  Five years ago, people wouldn't even complain about an application that had a $10 price tag, in fact they probably wouldn't even hesitate to purchase it.  However, today a $10 mobile app brings a lot of  "purchase hesitation" where as a $4.99 price may be still considered an impuse buy.

Below is the updated compatibility chart I built from the first version of the application.  Obviously there are still things that can only be done on the desktop version but overall this mobile client is the one to have of the two.  It is not apparent if the new interface or other pre-existing features will be updated in the standard version of eDrawings for iPad.

As far as plans to eventually support Android, well the stance is the same:

"We opted to concentrate on iOS for the time being because we felt we would reach the most users that way. But as I said earlier, we welcome any and all feedback."  - Matthew West, Social Media Manager, DS SolidWorks

Personally I have purchased a Google Nexus 7 and think it is one of the best tablets I have used to date.  Having owned the original iPad and now the iPad 3rd generation, as a utility device, the Nexus is at par with the iPad and has become my go-to device.  I hope Google entering the market and making a reference design will promote more quality devices to be made by its partners and boost the Android tablet market.  At this point counting out Android on tablets is just not going to happen and more companies have to start giving Android love on day one instead of treating the platform like a second rate citizen.

eDrawings Pro for iPad is the real deal and is the feature set I have always wanted to see on a tablet.  At $4.99, it is worth every penny, even if I already paid for the first version.  I have invested a total of $7 into having this functionality on my tablet and would like to see it make its way not only to Android but also to phones since that is the platform that will reach the masses.  Having this feature set on any mobile device will move SolidWorks in the right direction to addressing what users want in the mobile space. ~Lou

Dropbox Preview for SolidWorks Setup

Dropbox has become the universal tool for syncing data from our desktops and mobile devices for a few years now. Having talked about the topic a lot on the podcast, syncing datasets between not only systems but also collaborators on a project can be quite useful.

With access to almost anything from our phones and other mobile devices has many of us storing 3D data in Dropbox and wanting to see more than the "Unable to view file" screen from our devices.  Until Dropbox enables a way to natively preview our 3D data on their service we are out of luck....sort of.

SolidWorks has a nice little tool that I use for many tedious and repiticious tasks called SolidWorks Task Scheduler (...and yes it appears this utility has been named following the Microft product naming methology, just state what it does as the product name.)  Anyway, this tool can do all sorts of jobs like file conversion, eDrawing creation and, in this case, Export files...

On my Dropbox I have a folder called "CAD" and inside that folder I have sub folders for different CAD projects I am working on.  Obviously I can navigate to these folders from my phone without issue but viewing doesn't work so unless I know the exact the name of the file I want, I have no way of "viewing" what the file contains.  Since Dropbox has a built in viewer for pictures I figured I would just run a task to create a simple image of the cad data automatically so I could preview it on my phone.  So I setup SW Task Scheduler to run daily on my CAD folder to export files to a sub folder called "CAD Images".  

Since the JPG export from SW, by default, uses a screen capture, I wanted to make sure the files would be large enought since SW sessions launced by SWTS are really small so the images would be poor quality.

Here is how you can do it:

1 - Go into SolidWorks and set the JPG Export options: (set to Print Capture instead of Screen Capture)

2 - Launch SolidWorks Task Scheduler (Start -> Programs - > SolidWorks 20XX -> SolidWorks Tools -> SolidWorks Task Scheduler

3 - Click "Export Files"

4 - Select JPG (*.jpg) as the "Export file type:"

5 - Pick your folders and set the file names to use for *.sldprt;*sldasm 

NOTE: You cannot do this for slddrw so I would do another task to export slddrw to PDF with a similar schedule.

6 - Set your Task schedule to "Daily" or whatever interval you would like.

7 - (Optional) Pick a sub folder inside the folder called "CAD Previews" or something that you can preview.  It might be easy to just have it save in the same directory as the original so you can see the names right next to one another on the device.

8 - Click OK! 

  

  I hope that SolidWorks has some good news this year at SolidWorks World about viewing our CAD data on our mobile devices but until then, this will have to do.  I have been experimenting on a little command utility that can be triggered by Windows Task Scheduler that creates a picture with the same name of the file from the Windows thumbnail graphic.  This would work on any files in Dropbox that the local system running the utility would have a preview in Windows Explorer.  Once I finish it I will post it for use for free and post the source on GitHub. ~Lou

SolidWorks iPhone App, Just an Ad?

On October 29th, DS SolidWorks released a free application on the Apple App Store under the category of "Business".  The description of the app in the App Store is as follows:
Download SolidWorks iPhone app now to unveil SolidWorks 2011 on your iPhone and Discover the tips on how you can: 
- Share designs while protecting intellectual property
- Simplify complex analysis with increased accuracy
- And much more!
- Manage data to improve collaboration and productivity
- Create stunning visualization for partners and customers
Download now!
Dassault also released a similar application a few months back that was basically an outline about their products and links to other places within their website.  Solidworks has followed suit with an informational app but does include some content that users might use.  
The SolidWorks iPhone App contains 4 main areas on content:

Products: Outlines the 5 product lines from 3D Design, Simulation, Sustainability, PDM, and 3dvia Composer

Video: Lists of the videos available on their YouTube Channel which are categorized and viewable inside the application.  The categories are:

  • We Are SolidWorks (5 videos)
  • Let's Go Design (5 videos)
  • SolidWorks 2011(9 videos)
  • SolidWorks Innovation Day 2010 (5 videos)
  • Tips for Engineers - 7 Tips for Windows 7 (8 videos)
  • Tips for Engineers - Microsoft Office Excel Sequel (7 videos)
  • Choose SolidWorks Screencast (4 videos)

Most Popular: A list of videos ranked by popularity. Unsure how this is ranked, probably by views from their YouTube Channel.

Event: Shows a mobile flavored webpage of the upcoming SolidWorks event.  Currently the event is for Innovation Day 2010 where you can register and view the event agenda.

Although a majority of this application is for marketing purposes, the video content can be useful for brushing up on new features in SolidWorks 2011.  What I am curious to see is what is to come with the "Event" area of the application.  Maybe this app can be transformed to have SolidWorks World information, breakout sessions and ways to add a social layer to their events.  Currently Innovation Day 2010 is in progress so I wonder what value it can add to a larger event like SolidWorks World 2011.

At first glance, however, the app might suggest there is something useful like a viewer, which I am sure we would all love to see.  This is the first comment on the Apple App store so far:

We do know that there are plans for a mobile strategy for SolidWorks Connect that were announced at SolidWorks World 2010 and on the Innovation Day 2010 site as well.  I hope to see more mobile apps, not only for various areas like viewers and presentation tools but also across more platforms such as Android and Windows Phone 7. ~Lou