As it’s an evolution from “the drawing board” combining CAD/BIM software and Tablet PC seems natural. I wonder why it hasn’t been done by the major market players? In the early days hardware was a real limitation but newer tablets like the Lenovo X61 or Toshiba M400 have reasonable performance for portable use. I don’t see them as workstation replacements, rather an ideal way to take your design on-site or to a meeting where using a mouse isn’t practical.
I’ve tried mark-up with Autodesk Design Review (ADR) on a Tablet and liked it in-spite of the application’s User Interface (UI) not being very Tablet friendly. That was with ADR 2007 but, sadly, the newer free ADR 2008 makes more use of fly-out tools for mark-up formatting which are harder to use on a tablet. Even with the current UI the speed & ease of pen input for non-precision sketch/mark-up leaves a mouse/keyboard combo for dead, especially in the field where you can’t use them at all.
I’ve also played with AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture and Revit on a Tablet PC and all were usable, if not really viable full-time. There’s no perfect UI but for many environments & tasks the pen/tablet is far more natural, dare I say fluent, than the mouse & keyboard. I was surprised to find AutoCAD’s UI and command “logic” (selection/command sequence) worked better than the smarter object based applications.
Revit’s dialog heavy UI was the least accommodating which is a pity given the power of it’s engine to assist design. I’d love to see that Building Information Model manipulated with a Tablet friendly UI as a conceptual design tool. You wouldn’t want to do detail design work – lots of text or precision dimension entry – but for knocking around a concept the tablet & pen is the most natural human interface, at least until those surface displays with direct manipulation become affordable.
Thanks to “GottabeMobile” I found an application from Evodia which shows what “concept sketches” become with some smart software and a tablet. It’s software for Electrical Schematic design and looks brilliant. I can only say “looks” because the website is in French (my ignorance prevents me reading that) and I don’t have a machine to try it on as the Tablet PC’s I’ve used were loan machines. Donations to the “Tablet for Robin” fund accepted in the tip-jar
I’ve seen all sorts of software used for this – Excel, Visio, AutoCAD/Revit MEP – but none an Electrical Engineer, who can drive a pen faster than a mouse, could use so fluently. You get the speed of a scribble with the power of software assisted design & layout. Imagine that with a conceptual Building Information Model. The pen may not be the ultimate design tool but it’s mightier than the… mouse.
Via GottaBeMobile.com - Using a Tablet PC for Electrical Sketching
“When you see how quickly someone can sketch out the schematics for a house, you have to wonder why electricians would ever choose to go back to paper.”