File Sharing/Publishing


2 Nov, 2011 By: R.K. McSwain

First Look Review: Use this handy app to view 2D and 3D DWG files on your iPad or iPhone.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in the Fall 2011 issue of Cadalyst magazine.

IMSI/Design, developer of TurboCAD, recently introduced TurboViewer, a new, free application for viewing 2D and 3D DWG files on the iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. At press time, the company claimed that TurboViewer was the only mobile app capable of viewing 3D DWG files.

CAD managers and others should be reminded that iOS devices do not support USB and hard-wired network connections. These devices connect to the outside world through Wi-Fi or 3G only. My test device was an iPad 2 with Wi-Fi only, and I tested TurboViewer v1.0.4, which required iOS 4.2 or later.

Downloading TurboViewer is as easy as opening the App Store from your iOS device, searching for TurboViewer, and clicking the Free button. The app downloads and installs automatically. To view drawing files, e-mail a message with a DWG or DXF attachment to your mobile device or use your web browser to download files from web sites, FTP servers, or cloud-based storage systems such as Dropbox.

TurboViewer is almost as easy to use as it is to install: Tap the icon and the application opens quickly. The largest sample file (2 MB) opened in less than 10 seconds. A smaller sample drawing (164 KB) loaded almost instantly.

Open other drawings in TurboViewer via e-mail. One nice feature is that while a larger file is opening, a lower-resolution image displays on screen. As soon as the file finishes loading, the high-resolution vector model is ready for use.

You use gestures to navigate, which vary slightly depending on if the drawing is 2D or 3D, which TurboViewer automatically detects. Basic navigation includes panning, zooming, and orbiting. Orbiting a 3D drawing is very easy and natural. The app supports named views, as well as isometric and standard views. The viewer displays 3D drawings in wireframe mode. Full-screen display is available.

TurboViewer supports all DWG files, and all the standard AutoCAD drawings that I tested displayed accurately and were compatible with all app features. Drawings that contain xrefs display correctly as long as you download the xrefs into the TurboViewer Inbox. Drawings that contain image references do not display those images.

I had problems working with drawings created in some industry-vertical products, such as AutoCAD Civil 3D and MEP. My test drawings from these platforms contained proprietary objects, which do not display in TurboViewer. Many of them downloaded but the graphics did not show up. IMSI/Design reports that most proprietary objects will display correctly if Proxygraphics is set to 1 in the original DWG; however, I still had viewing problems with some drawings.

Some of these test drawings appear to be 2D but act like 3D in TurboViewer, making panning and zooming difficult. Object enablers are not available in TurboViewer.

As we went to press, IMSI/Design announced TurboViewer Pro ($9.99 introductory price). It includes all the features of the free version plus visual styles that support hidden lines, x-ray, shaded, and grayscale, among others. It has a layer manager, settings to turn off autosense navigation, and more.

TurboViewer is a free, fast tool for viewing standard 2D and 3D DWG files. It lets you use your iOS devices to take your drawings with you and review drawings from others — and the price is unbeatable. Highly Recommended.

About the Author: R.K. McSwain

R.K. McSwain

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