Zipcad – the CAD-Reviews independent review

2D drawing data on the move with Palm OS

Zipcad review screenshot

Zipcad from 123-D Software Inc

If you need to access or create 2D drawing data on the move how about on your Palm OS 3.1 or higher PDA? Developed by a firm of Boston architects, ZiPCAD sports a surprisingly comprehensive range of tools excluding dimensioning.

Despite having an architectural bias with capabilities such as the patent pending wall and gap feature, mobile access and editing of mechanical drawings is perfectly achievable.

The interface comprises four icons with pop up menus of commands each with customisable shortcuts for quick access.

Double tapping a toolbar button recalls the previously activated tool.

In addition, the standard palm menu button displays a menu bar of file, edit and setting drop downs.

General settings include units and coordinate system while other specifics include layers, colour including DXF number to synchronise with desktop CAD settings, four linetypes and snap behaviour.

These include endpoint, midpoint, perpendicular, intersection, curve quadrant, and snap angle and can be used in any combination.

The Snap Aperture setting specifies the maximum distance between the tap location and the snap point.

Commonly used drawing, editing, selection and view manipulation tools are all available and work remarkably well with the aid of prompts to step through the necessary inputs.

There is even on-line help available! Critical commands include corner trims and offsets to a tap point or by a specified distance.

There is also infinite Undo and Redo so that changes can be reversed.

When entities are selected they are rendered in a bolder line weight and match and edit buttons appear.

These allow the current line drawing properties and active layer to be set to match or the coordinate properties to be edited.

Although there are no dimensioning tools, measurements can be calculated between points on screen and text can be inserted into the drawings.

The size of the text is specified in the settings but a T placeholder is used for text that is too small to be rendered legibly at the current zoom settings.

The view can be zoomed to a window by dragging the stylus on the screen and the standard hardware keys can be used to pan and zoom.

A list of the ten most recent windows is stored and can be recalled using the Prev and Next Window tools.

View areas and layer settings can also be named and saved for rapid recall.

Points can be specified dynamically on screen or using an onscreen keypad for coordinate input.

Cut, copy and paste commands are ZiPCAD specific clipboard commands and cannot be used to copy drawing elements to or from other Palm applications.

Drawings are transferred to and from ZiPCAD as DXF’s.

Under Windows, a drop folder is created on the host PC’s desktop for transfer of files during a normal Hotsync whereas for operating systems such as Mackintosh or Linux, files are transferred using the handheld’s memory expansion card.

Imported files retain symbols or blocks.

Symbols can be copied into the current drawing by selecting the source drawing and selecting the erequire4d symbol from a graphical browser.

The edit button allows the rotation and scale to be specified.

ZiPCAD uses 362K of the PDA’s memory.

Drawings can typically range in size from 5K to 150K although provided sufficient memory is available, DXF files up to 2Mb should not be a problem.

A limited period demo can be downloaded from zipcad.com and a full license costs £98.18 with bulk discounts available.

ZiPCAD is a powerful yet easy to use CAD tool.

Despite limitations of visibility of large drawings it is sure to find applications for off site working, but it also offers a CAD alternative to the back of a fag packet for the inspiration that occurs on the spur of the moment.