When in April I tried to review Vectorworks Nomad, their app for Android and iOS devices, I couldn't get any further than the login screen. because only paid-up users of their annual subscription program can get access. The folks at Vectorworks noticed, and set me up with a complimentary access for a second try.
In brief, Nomad views PDF files of 2D drawing sets and rendered 3D models created by Vectorworks, and has some actions for marking up and measuring the drawings. Nomad does not read native Vectorworks files. The PDFs are strictly 2D, and so can be zoomed and panned but not orbited in 3D space.
Now, I am assuming we could do the same as Nomad on our own, and avoid the subscription fee: getting our CAD system to generate PDFs through a Publish-type command, and then using a combination of Dropbox and Acrobat for mobile devices to view the drawings on smartphones and tablets. Everyone on a project can share the same Dropbox folder.
What then is the advantage to Nomad over the generic Dropbox-Acrobat solution? As best as I can tell, two:
- Vectorworks' severs (Amazon EC2, actually) generate the PDFs, including rendered drawings, read by Nomad. The company says that this decouples "inefficient workflows, shifting calculations needed to generate sections, elevations, renderings, and BIM data from the desktop to the cloud."
- Nomad records redline-style markups made to PDFs.
A third advantage is that the online environment for storing drawings is nicer that the stark Dropbox one.
In part 2, I will next week walk through Nomad and the related Web site.