The much anticipated initial release of eDrawings for iPad is now available from the Apple App Store. This is an inexpensive app ($1.99) to view SolidWorks models (.sldprt), assemblies (.sldasm) and drawings (.slddrw) on the iPad. Of course, eDrawing formats (.edrw, .eprt, .easm) and .DWG are also supported. All images in this article are actual screen shots.
The official name of the new app is eDrawings for iPad from 3DS SolidWorks. This initial release is a great app with a lot of potential. For the first time, you can inexpensively open and view native SolidWorks files directly on a mobile device.
The app provides many of the familiar and fun functions from the eDrawings family. It is useful to quickly and conveniently communicate 3D CAD files to locations and environments were PCs and printed drawings just aren’t practical. It also provides an great method to view SolidWorks files for customers that do not use SolidWorks, from the shop floor to a corporation’s CEO.
When the app is started, you are presented with a menu of models and drawings. There is an area of sample models and an area for your files, called “User Files”.
The sample files provide good cases to try out eDrawings for iPad functionality. The User Files area lists any files which you have added to the iPad to view in eDrawings.
When you open a supported 3D file, you can rotate, pan, zoom in and out, zoom fit, zoom home (last view when file that was saved). Similar to other eDrawings applications, the eDrawings for iPad app can Play a model by transitioning between different views of the model.
For assemblies, you can highlight individual parts from the Components tree.
Configurations are also supported. Selecting a particular configuration from the Configuration tree will immediately display it within the graphics area. It is very easy to switch between configurations.
Assembly explosions are viewable from the Explode Assembly button. Individual configurations can also be separately exploded.
Highlighting parts from the Components tree is also available when viewing the assembly as an explosion. This makes it very easy to identify parts in the graphics area when browsing through an assembly.
Just as with the desktop computer, larger files consume more device resources. If you wish to view a large assembly, you may wish to close background processes if your iPad resources are stretched thin.
Disclaimer – Though this article was not reviewed by SolidWorks, nor its parent company Dassault Systemes nor any other entity, the author of this article is an employee of Dassault Systemes and is internally familiar with eDrawings for iPad. As such, this article should not be understood as being from an uninvolved and neutral third party.
Zooming methods are the same as assemblies, with zoom fit, zoom home, panning, etc. Play is also available. I don’t know what it is about Play; there is just some inexplicable joy that comes from watching a model transition between views.
Configurations are also supported for parts. Switching between configurations is a breeze.
Same as other eDrawings releases, DimXpert dimensions are viewable in eDrawing part (.eprt) files.
Zoom tools work a little different for drawing. There is still pan, zoom in and out, zoom fit, and zoom home. Logically, you won’t have the ability to rotate a drawing sheet into 3D space.
When viewing a drawing, Play works the same in eDrawings for iPad as it does in other versions of eDrawings. Watching a drawing transition between drawing views is even more enjoyable than watching a model because the associated dimensions are displayed at each waypoint.
Drawing sheets are also supported. Switching between drawing sheets may be done through the Sheets tree.
Usability and Performance
eDrawings for iPad is very intuitive for anyone familiar with multitouch screens. One finger drag rotates the model. Two fingers pan. Pinching zooms. I’ve used this app on both an iPad and iPad 3. On either of these devices, manipulating the model orientation has great responsiveness that is as immediate as you may expect any iPad app to be. For example, switching between configurations and sheets using the tree is very quick.
Loading a file into eDrawings for iPad is also a snap. You can copy files to your iPad via your iTunes interface. Even easier, just email the file to yourself or someone else who has this app installed.
When downloading the model file through your email interface, you are automatically presented with the option to open it in eDrawings. If you accept, it is added to your User Files and opened. Very convenient.
eDrawings for iPad has enough functions to immediately make this a useful tool. It is very inexpensive when compared to similar applications that view native SolidWorks files on the iPad. The app is very easy to use. These points give this app a great combination of qualities.
eDrawings for iPad is available as of May 1, 2012 from the Apple App Store. Please find and install this app through App Store from your iPad device. Search word: edrawings. Or, follow this iTunes link. There is a lively discussion on Twitter under hashtags #edrawingsforipad, #eDrawings, or just plain search for edrawings. Also, if you wish, check out the SolidWorks.com introduction site