CAD Manager's Newsletter (#278)

14 Mar, 2012 By: Robert Green

A Mobile CAD Reality Check, Part 2

Phones and tablets won't take the place of your workstation, but they can make field operations more efficient.

In the previous edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I began an exploration of how mobile CAD applications for phones, tablets, and notebooks might change the way we view and manage CAD. In this installment, I'll wrap up my discussion of mobile CAD by considering how these applications' strengths and weaknesses could impact our CAD workflows. Here goes.

Small Devices, Big Limitations

The more I explore mobile CAD applications, the more I believe that they will not even come close to replacing traditional workstation-based CAD. Instead they will be relegated to use in the field by workers who can't easily lug around a full-sized computer. I disagree with those who believe we'll all be doing CAD editing on our phones soon, because of the following factors:

Interface size. Phones and tablets are too small for large-scale CAD work. There's simply no way I can be as productive on a tablet as I can at my workstation, with its 24-inch or larger HD screen. And on a microscopic phone screen? I think not.

Input difficulty. Even the well-designed touch-screen keypads on Apple devices are nowhere near as fast for data input as a full size keyboard with a scrolling-enabled mouse — and trying to format text on a phone-sized device is simply painful.

Lack of OS support. Full-featured CAD applications are primarily Windows-based (with an increasing amount of support for Mac). These applications simply aren't going to be fully ported to Apple iOS–based or Android-based mobile devices. Instead, we'll see smaller applications with limited feature sets — and limited feature sets mean we won't be able to perform high-powered CAD work. Read more »

:: AutoCAD 2013 is (Almost) Here

Significant updates include improved mechanical model documentation, annotation options — and some cloud-based functionality that is still top secret.

It turns out that you can't keep the next version of AutoCAD secret! Due for release later this month, AutoCAD 2013 was the subject of a gathering of CAD bloggers in January — myself among them — but we had to agree to a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that would lift on March 27. Well, in late February, Autodesk Japan lifted the covers prematurely, exposing the new version via the Internet. At that point, Autodesk rescinded the NDA — or at least part of it.

That gives Cadalyst the opportunity to offer you a sneak peak at AutoCAD 2013 a month before its official launch. In a later update (most likely in the March 28 edition of my CAD Manager's Newsletter), I'll reveal the features that are currently still under NDA and will discuss the new release in terms of how it will affect CAD managers in particular.

Getting Acclimated

In terms of its user interface, AutoCAD 2013 looks much like recent releases: The wide-format UI utilizes an ever-growing ribbon panel across the top, view manipulation components to the right, and an enhanced Command prompt, status tray, and shortcut bars. The Quick View Drawing tabs have been updated to show specific layout tabs, so you can better track the various sessions you have open even if that includes multiple sessions of the same DWG file. There's also a lot more going on in the upper right corner for Cloud, Exchange, product updates, and Help queries. Most users should be able to get to work in the new UI with very little transition.Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox: Prioritize Your CAD Crises

Which workplace issues are giving you the most grief? Here's an easy way to focus your problem-solving efforts.

If you're like most CAD managers, you run from one crisis to the next, just trying to keep up. Unfortunately, when you operate like this, you never take stock of the problems you have, and you're unable to prioritize the fixes you need to make.

As simple as it sounds, keeping a commented problem list will go a long way toward keeping you on task and gaining management's support to fix things. Here's what I do:

Record the problem: Carry a notepad at all times! Jot down every problem anyone mentions. (Example: "Plotting pen weights are wrong for the XYZ project.") Also note proposed fixes, if any. Read more »

Do you have a question or tip for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at; if I use it in the newsletter you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!

:: Resources

Nanosoft Provides Free CAD Software for Commercial and Individual Use
CAD vendor Nanosoft has released nanoCAD, a free CAD application offering a classic interface and native DWG support. NanoCAD comes equipped with the tools needed to create and edit 2D and 3D vector primitives, texts, tables, blocks, graphical technical documentation display, and print settings using either a model or a sheet.

:: Events

Customer Success with Enterprise PDM
March 20, 2012
9 a.m. CT
This event is one a monthly series; in each webinar, Fisher/Unitech will feature a successful EPDM (enterprise product data management) customer implementation. Read more »

SmartGeometry 2012
March 23–24, 2012
Troy, New York
This conference from Bentley will focus on computational and parametric design tools, technologies, and methodologies. Read more »

Lead the Way with Better Design
March 29, 2012
9 a.m. PT
In this free virtual event from Autodesk, Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen will be on hand to discuss Autodesk's software for building information modeling, digital prototyping, and digital entertainment creation. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

:: What's New at

Cast Your Vote in Cadalyst's New Poll
Do you wonder how much time your CAD peers spend working in 3D? Simply scroll to the bottom of the Cadalyst home page and vote in the latest Cadalyst poll to find out! You can even bookmark the results page and come back later, to see how the results change as more voters weigh in.

CADspeed Blog Post:
Optimize ArchiCAD 3D BIM Models to View on Mobile Devices

This blog post discusses optimizing textures and model size to get the most of out ArchiCAD models. Read more »

Viewpoint: Could Crash Modeling Have Saved the Concordia?
Event simulation helps automobile manufacturers design safer vehicles — and it can do the same for shipbuilders. Read more »

AutoCAD 2013 Is (Almost) Here
Significant updates include improved mechanical model documentation, annotation options — and some cloud-based functionality that is still top secret. Read more »

HP Refreshes Z Workstation Line with Three Upgraded Models
The HP Z420, Z620, and Z820 make their debut, offering new multicore options and increased expandability. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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