As most engineers, architects and draughtsmen can attest, it’s incredibly useful to have a reliable smartphone application to edit your documents while you’re out and about. Just think, no more A1 sheets of paper covered in incomprehensible notes. Or if you must carry that around, at least you can keep your files accessible on your phone just on the off-chance you’re able to stop into a site unexpectedly. The fact remains that CAD applications on smartphones are a great idea.
So, imagine how surprised I was to find the official AutoCAD WS Android application is available for free in the Android Market. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But it’s real, so it’s well worth getting your hands on the AutoCAD application before Autodesk changes their mind and starts charging for it.
Trying Out AutoCAD WS
AutoCAD allows you to access files stored on your AutoCAD WS account online, which you can create for free using the application. This means you can upload files to your online AutoCAD WS account using your desktop and automatically sync to your smartphone and to the accounts of your clients and co-workers. It’s a simple process to email an invitation to share documents and this ensures everybody has the latest version.
If you want a wider variety of example files than the applications offers, Autodesk have plenty of example files here.
Other than using AutoCAD WS online, the next easiest way to get drawing files on your phone is probably to email the file to yourself and save it to your SD card, but if you prefer some other way then suit yourself.
Editing Files With AutoCAD WS
Obviously, a phone CAD application is never going to be as easy to use as a desktop version. Screen size on a phone is limited, so your document view is smaller and tool options are harder to reach. Keep in mind that small edits are the intention of the application, rather than this being your primary document editor.
Android’s pinch zoom and pan gestures are perfect for viewing large and detailed drawings, such as are normal in AutoCAD. You might find yourself wishing your desktop had a touch screen so you could do the same there.
Limitations Of AutoCAD Android Application
My main gripe with the AutoCAD application is that it’s huge, taking up just under 20MB space on my phone upon installation. Even after moving it to the SD card, it hogs a huge amount of space on your phone. Which, for some Android phones, is just not feasible.
Alternatives & Complementary CAD Applications
Droid 2 CAD allows you to take location points with your GPS and export them for use in a CAD document later, which could be extremely useful when surveying sites. AndCad, RedStick Site CAD and AutoQ3D CAD are all CAD applications which allow you to edit DWG files, but are only available as either a demo or paid application. However, with the official AutoCAD application available for free, paid alternatives look far less attractive as options.
What do you love or hate about the AutoCAD application? How well does the mobile application suit your line of work? Let us know in the comments.