Bill Burchard is Corporate CADD Manager for Psomas, a California-based survey, civil engineering, and GIS consulting firm. His most recent books include Inside AutoCAD 2000 Limited Edition, and Inside AutoCAD 14 Limited Edition.





PocketCAD Pro
Arc Second, Inc.
44880 Falcon Place, #100
Dulles, VA 20166
Phone: 703.435.5400
Price: $199.00 US
PocketCAD Pro
By Bill Burchard

The era of hand-held devices is well underway. Companies such as HP and Compaq now offer very powerful and reasonably priced Pocket PCs. HP's Jornada and Compaq's iPAQ, run the Windows CE operating system, offering users a variety of useful tools and features that you can take with you virtually anywhere.

Until recently, these devices were used to help manage email, calendars, and task lists, maybe to check out a few web sites, and even to play a hand or two of Solitaire. However, with the introduction of PocketCAD Pro, hand-held computer capabilities now include CAD.

Figure 1. PocketCAD Pro allows you view and edit AutoCAD drawings using your Pocket PC.

Similar to AutoCAD LT in terms of its targeted audience, PocketCAD Pro, by Arc Second, is intended to help you perform the most common drawing editing features you need. More importantly, it's designed so you can take your AutoCAD drawings with you and edit them on the go. Whether you're traveling to a meeting, inspecting a site design in the field, or just want to redline a set of drawings from your easy chair, with PocketCAD Pro, your drawings are always in the palm of you hand.

PocketCAD Pro, shown in Figure 1, works with AutoCAD DWG and DXF files, and can read drawing formats from Release 12 through 2000i. To import a file to PocketCAD Pro, with your Pocket PC synched to your computer, you simply drag a drawing file from your desktop to your Pocket PC.

As the drawing is transferred, PocketCAD Pro automatically converts it to PocketCAD Pro's own *.CAD file format. When you finish editing, you copy the file back to you computer's desktop, where PocketCAD Pro converts the *.CAD file to a DXF file.

Pocket CAD includes many standard AutoCAD features. With PocketCAD Pro, you can draw lines, arcs, circles, and polylines. You can create, edit, redefine, and insert blocks, as well as create and attach block attributes. You can trim and extend lines, and move, copy, and rotate objects. PocketCAD Pro can even draw horizontal, vertical, and aligned dimensions, and also insert and edit text. It also has Zoom and Pan features, including Zoom Window, Zoom Extents, and Zoom Previous.

Figure 2. PocketCAD Pro allows you to enter both relative and absolute coordinates and distances.

PocketCAD Pro lets you work with AutoCAD's layers, allowing you to create new layers, make another layer current, and to change a layer's name, color, or its On/Off status. PocketCAD Pro also includes AutoCAD's object snaps, allowing you to preset the osnaps that you desire. With osnaps turned on, pick points snap to objects just as they do in AutoCAD.

PocketCAD Pro uses two methods for identifying points. The first method involves simply picking a point on screen. If osnaps are turned on, as you drag your crosshairs around, they snap to the appropriate points on an object, such as a line's endpoints. The second method involves specifying exact coordinates and distances, and PocketCAD Pro allows you to identify both relative and absolute values, as shown in Figure 2.

PocketCAD Pro allows you to display and edit an object's properties. Similar to Release 2000's Properties dialog box, when activated, the selected object's properties are displayed, as shown in Figure 3. Once displayed, you can edit the object's properties as desired. When you save your changes, PocketCAD Pro updates the object's properties to reflect your edits.

It's important to understand that PocketCAD Pro is not full-blown AutoCAD, nor is that what its designers intended. PocketCAD Pro is specifically designed to allow you to edit drawings on a Pocket PC. Given the memory limitations of Pocket PCs, PocketCAD Pro handles certain AutoCAD

Figure 3. PocketCAD Pro allows you to view and edit object properties.

drawing features in unique ways, and has limitations. For example, while PocketCAD Pro can work with xrefs, it does so by converting xrefs attached to a drawing into blocks and inserting them into the drawing. So, if you drag a drawing with an xref from your desktop to your Pocket PC, the xref is inserted into the parent drawing as a block.

More importantly, when the drawing is moved from your Pocket PC back to your desktop, the xref still resides in the drawing as a block, and the reference to the original xref is lost. Additionally, when you move a drawing from your Pocket PC back to your desktop, the drawing is converted to a Release 12 DXF format.

While this approach ensures compatibility with all AutoCAD drawings from Release 12 through Release 2000i, it also means that objects unique to the newer releases of AutoCAD, such as lwpolylines, are not recognized. Also, PocketCAD Pro does not recognize Paper Space, and only imports Model Space objects.

These features notwithstanding, when used as intended, objects in the original drawings can be wblocked to PocketCAD Pro, where edits can be made. Then, the edits can be inserted back into the original drawing using the Release 12 DXF file. This means that minor edits such as design adjustments or As-Built notations can be accurately made in the field, and then inserted into the original drawing file back in the office.

Simply stated, PocketCAD Pro is AutoCAD on a Pocket PC. When used as designed, to augment and compliment AutoCAD, PocketCAD Pro is an excellent tool, making this application a worthwhile investment. I like PocketCAD Pro, and I think it's a very promising application.