Beth, this seems like a good productivity tool. The discussion of pricing is intersting as well. The term app was coined for smart phones to indicate a "smaller" application, therefore they were either free or inexpensive. Since they were often tied to some sort of server for the information they displayed, they really were just front ends to an application. This is more like a productive application, so its price will naturally be more. The comment about it paying for itself in one use on the factory floor is also probably correct. This is the majic of software and computers. No matter what we pay for them, they generally pay for themselves very quickly. On the app issue, it is interesting that in Windows 8 Microsoft is generally calling everything an app. When they were asked about the size of the app in the app store Microsoft was setting up, the answer came back at 2GB or more, since Office was listed as an app and was that large. This is another term that has morphed since its inception.
I've also noticed how things that used to be called applications are now referred to as apps because the term is en vogue. PTC's Creo line uses that nomenclature to refer to all the "right-sized" applications that work off the same data model, whether it's a parametric molder or a sketching "app."
As for the pricing issue, I agree that once you go beyond a simple front end to an already licensed application (i.e., you already paid for it), the cost of these productivity apps has to be somewhat higher so the company can fund continuing development and make a fair profit to boot!
Beth, now it's the age of portability and hand held computing devices, so big work stations and labs are old stories. Now professionals are looking for all tools and software in their hand held devices especially with Smartphone and Tablets. But I don't know how it's possible because of the large foot print of software and the need of high computational requirements.
Great point Mydesign. It's definitely THE age, and there's no going back. I agree that CAD and high-end design tools don't translate as-is to the new platforms. So there has to be a rethinking of what functions and tasks actually need to be done in the field or from whereever (when a mobile device makes sense) and adapt those tasks and processes to the mobile footprint. I think that's what IMSI/Design and a lot of the others are doing. It's a not a direct and complete translation.
Beth, as of now most of the tools and design software are designed for big screen having high computational power. When it moves from big screen to low screen devices like tablet or smartphones, normally companies used to release a light weight image of the tool. This light weight tools have limited features and facilities, with minimum system/resource requirements.
Although I use Android apps to do circuit design analysis on my smartphone or tablet, I have reservations on high end applications like the one described in your article because of device memory requirements. I see memory capacity being a concern for a smartphone or tablet device in using apps to markup MCAD drawings and 3D modules because of the high demand for memory capacity. What's the memory requirements for markup apps and MCAD packages on smartphones and tablets?
@mrdon: That's certainly a good point, and I don't know off hand. I can tell you that memory issues have never come up in all the reporting I've done on design tool apps, but it's worth a circle back with the vendors to push them on that issue. I will get back with some feedback.
Hello Mrdon, Mobile memory requirements vary greatly depending on the size of your drawing file. In general we have found that a mobile device with 1GB of system RAM (not to be confused with storage memory) can open a file up to 30MB. Our research indicates average file size for drawings at 3-12 mb. If your file is larger than that or your device has less memory, this may restrict the size of file that can be open. We are looking at other methods to help solve this mobile memory limitation problem and expect to have a solution this year.
Does anyone here who designs using MCAD and who travels extensively NOT bring along a laptop? I do and cannot imagine using a cell phone to mark up solid models. And at the present time, no popular tablet is powerful enough to replace a laptop. (although that will change when the Surface Pro is released in a couple of months.)
I can understand a salesperson having a powerful tablet with this type of markup program but not a design engineer who has to have a laptop as a traveling companion.
@Dave: I think the thinking is that many people (engineers included) travel with a laptop AND a mobile device, phone or tablet. That said, the laptop might stay in the hotel room or remote office for hard core design work, but a visit to a customer or factory site where you might want to mark a note on a design or compare a 3D model of a part to tooling or equipment on the shop floor wouldn't be the right environment for carrying around a laptop and using a mouse--therefore, better suited for a tablet and stylus. (I think the idea of these things working well in the limited screen real estate of a smart phone is a totally different story). In that vein, does the strategy make more sense?
Current Ultra Books are so light that I can't imagine someone leaving one in their hotel room while they visit a vendor. I guess if you are elderly and cannot carry a 4 lb laptop, yes, but really!
Seriously, though, laptops are not only getting lighter but also more powerful. The link between them and a phone may very well be the Surface Pro which will have enough power to run fairly large programs. And at 2 lbs in weight, why leave it at home or hotel?
I agree that the traditional laptop may not be appropriate, everywhere but I have used my laptop in production floor environments, quite a few times.
I remember years ago when I was so happy to have a 17 inch monitor for CAD work. I now have a 25.5 inch monitor and it really helps when designing components and assemblies. SolidWorks does have a manifying feature that comes in handy for smaller screen use but I cringe when even thinking about using a 4 inch phone screen to look at CAD models.
Laptops and ultrabooks are definitely increasingly light and powerful, but the keyboard and mouse isn't always the best fit for some of these on-the-go type use cases. That's where the idea of the stylus and human gesture interface have particular appeal on a tablet--again, not necessarily to create or even modify the geometry on site, but rather to make comments and explore the model for possible problems/improvements etc. At least that's the use case scenario I'm hearing from the vendors and those engineers who have bought into the paradigm shift.
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