Wanted: fast PDF-annotate app for large CAD-drawings in PDF-format

Discussion in 'iPad for Designers and Architects' started by zenman_nl, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. zenman_nl
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    zenman_nl iPF Noob

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    Hello!

    I live in the Netherlands (Holland) and work with large PDF drawings (originally CAD-drawings). Paper size A0. These PDF-files are vector-based and thus very small in filesize (400Kb). Still when I open the files on the iPad, viewing (zoom and pan) is slow.

    I need to make annotations as a preparation to my buildingsite-visit, and when I'm visiting the buildingsite I want to be able to add some more annotations. I have to be able to save the annotated PDF and put it back on my PC.

    My best (fastest) viewing experience so far is with iBook, but I can't place annotations with the iBook-app.

    ReaddleDocs works fine with text-based PDF's but panning within a PDF-CADdrawing means I'm often confronted with the chessboard-background for several seconds (the app is probably loading the vector-info during those seconds).

    With iAnnotate I have the same experience (often waiting for the app to show me the next part of the drawing).

    What (fast) app should I try next?

    :cool:
  2. pluto6
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    pluto6 iPad Fan

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    I don't work with CAD drawings. Goodreader ($0.99) is probably one of the best overall PDF apps (even though it is also the least expensive), and it does annotation. Also does a great, and easy job of file management. So, if you are willing to spend a small amount of money, give GoodReader a try, and hopefully it will work with you.

    I have seen many, many reviews of PDF readers, and side by side comparisons, and Goodreader is generally either the best, or tied for the best.

    I have no personal interest in the company, just an overall great app.

    I have heard great things about iAnnotate, and it is also generally very highly rated - but I am puzzled, why the slowdown in speed...

    Let us know what you find...
  3. twerppoet
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    twerppoet iPad Legend

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    I imagine those CAD pdf files are pretty large.

    To help with speed, open the multitask bar by double tapping the home button. Press and hold one of the apps until they wiggle. Press the minus sign on all of them to remove them from memory, though probably the first four or five would be enough.

    That will remove all active apps from your memory giving your PDF app a bit more room to work, and hopefully a speed boost. It's what I do with drawing apps when the brushes start lagging more than usual.

    I second GoodReader for annotation. It gets very good reviews.
  4. zenman_nl
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    zenman_nl iPF Noob

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    Please download my CAD-drawing and test it within your favorite app. I will post the link as soon as my post count is greater than 3...

    :cool:
  5. zenman_nl
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    zenman_nl iPF Noob

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    2 posts already, this is my third...

    :)
  6. zenman_nl
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    zenman_nl iPF Noob

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  7. zenman_nl
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    zenman_nl iPF Noob

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    I tested another app. It's called neu.Annotate (free app).

    Loading the image after panning is faster than all the other apps I tried. It only takes about 2 seconds before the screen is fully filled again. The scroll-distance when sweeping is a bit limited though. Maybe that partially explains why it is faster, it only has to load a small portion...

    :cool:
  8. twerppoet
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    twerppoet iPad Legend

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    I tried it in GoodReader. Using the faster PDF engine (can be selected in settings) it takes a couple seconds to redraw the screen when scrolling, not too bad. No crashes, which they say may happen using that engine. I also turned off the Higher Quality images and Textured background, which it says is slower. The pdf was still clean and readable.

    Actually didn't see that big a difference between the two engines.

    Anyway, I added a couple of bogus annotations. It was easy enough once I figured out how to do it (tap and hold for annotation menu, do it again on the annotation to change properties)

    Here is your file back so you can check compatibility.

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/17742163/CAD-drawing3.pdf

    File linked, because apparently it is now too big to attach.
  9. sch
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    iPad does not do true multitasking, it only saves a file of the app's current status, so you can resume where you left off. These files will be small to insignificant for the most part. The RAM available to the system in the iPad is simply not going to allow for large graphic content.

    Cheers,
  10. twerppoet
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    twerppoet iPad Legend

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    However the iPad does leave the most current apps in RAM, until the memory manager removes them to make room for other stuff.

    This is easy to test. Get a system info app. I use Systeminfo. Open it and view your active RAM. Open the multitask bar and start deleting apps. For the first few (left most) apps you will get a significant increase of free memory. After that you get little or nothing back.

    While I agree this should not effect performance, and usually does not, I have found that response time in some of my drawing apps is significantly improved by removing all other apps from memory. Perhaps with more memory the apps in question automatically take advantage of it. No way of telling.

    So, if you need some extra speed this is worth trying at least once. Maybe it will help with that app, and maybe not. But it doesn't cost anything to try.
  11. zenman_nl
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    zenman_nl iPF Noob

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    Thanks for testing it in GoodReader Twerppoet. I opened your file in iBook and in Readdledocs and neu.Annotate. None of them showed your annotations. My original file is 370 kb, yours is 550 kb so there must be something added.

    On my Vista laptop your annotations do show up in Acrobat Reader!

    (look at the pretty flower thingys) :)
  12. twerppoet
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    twerppoet iPad Legend

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    Most of the PDF readers on the iPad do not support annotation. In a recent MacWorld article GoodReader got the best marks for annotation compatibility. iAnnotate came in a close second. He only tested five? apps, so it's hardly conclusive, but it offers something to use until you can find an app you like even better.

    The apps were all tested against Preview on OS X, so it's good to hear confirmation using Windows and Adobe Reader. To double check, I added some notes (two red and one yellow), a thick blue line, red circle, red rectangle, red arrow, and one freehand circle. The only thing I didn't test was the highlight.

    As for the added size, I had it create a new pdf to annotate. GoodReader probably isn't as efficient at generating pdf files as Adobe. I can't imagine my few annotations took up that much extra memory by themselves.

    As for my notes, well, I can't say I thought very hard about what to put in them. :)
  13. zenman_nl
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    zenman_nl iPF Noob

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    In Acrobat Reader I did see all the annotations you mention Twerppoet. :)

    I sent my PDF to ReaddleDocs and I just got a reply. They optimized my PDF.

    At first I thought loading was considerably faster but after a few tests I can't really see the difference.

    I also found out that I can get faster results by adjusting the way I navigate through the PDF drawing. I used to sweep and let go of the screen and waited until the moving screen froze and presented the corresponding part of the drawing.

    Now I sweep and tap to stop the moving screen. After the tap it only takes a second to show the corresponding part of the drawing. :D

    For optimizing the PDF I got these pointers:

    On Mac:
    1. Open PDF file in OS X "Preview" app.
    2. Chose "File" -> "Print", click on "PDF" button and select "Save as a*Postscript..." from a submenu. Save a file.
    3. Open saved*Postscript*file in "Preview" again.
    4. Choose "File" -> "Print", click on "PDF" button and select "Save as PDF...". Save a file -- it should be fixed now.
    5. If resulting PDF appears to be too large, then installing "Compress PDF Workflow 4.0" is required (completely free athttp://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/automator/compresspdfworkflow.html) and redoing step #4 by selecting "Compress PDF" from a submenu.


    On PC you may try using application called CutePDF (CutePDF - Create PDF for free, Free PDF Utilities, Edit PDF easily;.) which is free for personal use. Just "print" PDF document that causes the issue, to CutePDF virtual printer and it should be re-rendered correctly.

    :cool:
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2011
  14. twerppoet
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    twerppoet iPad Legend

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    Well, sounds like you're set, or at least as set as you are going to get for now. The apps and hardware are always improving, so it is bound to get better.
  15. zpiper13
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    zpiper13 iPF Noob

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    fast pdf

    For viewing lrge format pdf drawings in the field I found "Fastpdf+" excellent. I just completed prebid tours in 5 large schools and used the floor plans to get everyone where they needed to go. And had one hand free for notes and unlocking doors. This was the fourth app I tried and, honestly, I was quite pleased with it.
    In this geographical area, any digital drawings you recieve are PDF as most contruction site personnel do not have access or the expertise to use CAD and arch/engineers are security minded. So we are stuck with large drawing files with many pages of elevations and details.
    The ipad and this app will go along way pushing and tracking a project as far as communicating with on site trades.
    One step furthur would be to annotate and link photos. I will try a couple apps but I'm not expecting much success.
    Pathfinder has an app with a description that sounds real good "Construction punchlist". Now if they would release it!
    Fourth Art has an app "Punchlist". Right idea but it does not handle PDF's well, is image based. Zoomed pdf's are worthless. Raster versus vector and all that.
    I think this application for a tablet is a great upgrade for the industry, now if we had some software.
  16. btanner
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    btanner iPF Noob

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    Hi guys (Zenman specifically).

    Hope you are checking this.

    Did you ever find a better app for viewing and annotating floor plans on the iPad in PDF? I guess now there is AutoCAD WS now for CAD drawings but I'd rather maybe just draw on a PDF.

    I am doing a site audit on Wednesday with our new iPad and I'm desperately trying to figure out how to replace our old-fashioned pen-and-paper scheme.

    Thanks in advance!
  17. qldlifestyle
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    qldlifestyle iPF Noob

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    Try AutoCAD WS. You need to create an account and install it on your desktop first, then you can view the drawings on your iPad.
    The regeneration after scrolling is very quick.
    While the app might have its limitations, its a free download so it wont cost you anything to see if its suitable for your purpose.

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