Well said, Alex. In one of our mobile posts recently, there was lots of discussion about consolidation and replacement--that is, any one computing paradigm (i.e., tablet, smart phone, laptop) replacing everything and be the singlely used, go-to computing tool. I think we're realizing that that won't be the case. That people will have mulitple computing devices for multiple use cases and that's fine with them. Therefore, as you say, there will be a variety of tools, in all shapes and sizes, that are right-sized for each platform.
I think the functionality issue is, different strokes for different folks. A tablet-based app is not going to have, nor should it have, the same functionality or purpose as a laptop app. We see this outside of CAD, so why shouldn't it obtain in CAD, too. Tablets are great for taking drawings into the field, but they're not so good for heavy data input and creating stuff from scratch. But that's not a negative; just that they're appropriate for different uses than laptops.
Jim, I totally understand your first impression and I think that's the barrier for most people who try to consider mobile design apps at first blush. But the idea is to see past a direct port of a traditional CAD or any other design tool to that new mobile platform and see a modified capability that meets a particular use case--as you well noted, taking the design outdoors or directly to the manufacturing site for explanation and markup. Not, as some are getting stuff on, doing full CAD creation on a somewhat limited mobile platform.
I admit my first impression was exactly that which you covered in the article, being that design engineers are skeptical about the quality and functionality of a tablet-based design application.But if I can reasonable think beyond that obvious shortcoming, and clearly see the value of taking "read-only" , or perhaps "red-line" version of layouts into the field or manufacturing floors, the benefits are obvious.
I think back to countless times when I was hovering over an assembly station in a manufacturing environment, trying to clarify the design intent of a prototype for the factory assembly personnel.Sometimes, there was a network based monitor nearby, and the effort was easier; but more often, there was no access to databases at all and the explanations were difficult. Having access to the databases to explain design intent is so helpful to clarify and educate for production.Manufacturing ramp-ups will get faster and easier.Further, going wireless and taking it outdoors, I would expect the construction industry to see increased adoption of the practice as well.
This is a trend that is important. Years ago I worked with a company that was creating a mobile viewing application for their CAD tools that leveraged cellular networks. They had provision for annotation and for continuing to work on downloaded content while disconnected from the network. Much of this had to be developed by the CAD vendor and partners. Today, much of that is included in the tablets and smart phones available today. So, while those applications were useful, a tablet with the ability to view design artifacts is going to prove more useful, and will perhaps take this to the next level. In addition, the tablets introduce new user interface possibilities that might prove useful.
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