iPad scale drawing app
March 8, 2015 1:34 PM   Subscribe

I want an iPad app that will let me easily make a scale drawing of my back yard, and then export it in a useful standard format (e.g. PDF, EPS, etc.). I'm having a hard time telling of the "room design" and "floorplan" apps will do what I want.

Basically, I want to take the iPad with me as I measure the various sides of the yard, as well as some things within it (e.g. the built-in grill counter). There are some weird angles, curves and stuff. Ideally I'd like to be able to roughly draw a line, and then enter the real-life distance of that thing, and have the app adjust and scale things properly so that it all fits together and is accurate to scale of the real thing. I don't want to have to fool around with getting angles just right, and I'd like something that's smart enough to figure out the remaining distances when I give it enough information. I'd like to use the same tool for some indoor floor plans, so it should be general enough for that (but I think if it meets the other criteria, it would have to be).

There are a few things I don't need at all:
  • An app that tries to do the measurement itself in any way (echolocation, gps, etc.)
  • Features for drawing in photorealistic elements, or even for drawing detailed plans -- I intend to just do the scale drawing on the iPad and then load it onto my computer for future work.
  • 3D
If it has that stuff and it stays out of the way, ok.

I've done this kind of stuff in the past with pencil and paper, but it takes forever and is really error-prone (or maybe I just suck at it). I'm hoping there's something out there that can make it easier.
posted by primethyme to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My immediate thought was "Google SketchUp", but it looks like they don't do SketchUp for the iPad, only a viewer.

Here's a list of SketchUp alternatives for the iPad.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 1:37 PM on March 8, 2015

Use excel or spreadsheet program of some sort. Make the cells square. Each cell = 1" (or 6" or whatever resolution you need)
posted by chasles at 2:04 PM on March 8, 2015

iDraw can draw things to scale -- it's basically a graphics app, kind of like a simplified Illustrator. I use it on the Mac and find it quite handy, though I haven't tried the iPad version.
posted by irrelephant at 2:24 PM on March 8, 2015

Not to threadsit, but to add a tiny bit of detail that might help, one of the main problems I've had in the past is that I'll have a space shaped something like this (ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but not that much). Actually measuring those angles is hard and time consuming, so I'd like something where I can measure the sides, as well as the sides of the pieces inside, and their distances from each other, and it will figure out the correct angles to make it all fit together right.

I've found doing this manually to be very error-prone. I don't think something super simple like a spreadsheet is going to cut it. I'll check out those Sketchup alternatives as well as iDraw. I'm also playing with some CAD apps to see if those work for me. I'm pretty good at picking up complex software, so it doesn't need to be braindead simple, but I do want something that will do at least some of the work for me. And I'm quite willing to spend some money on a great solution, but $1500 for a professional app (yes, I found one like that) is a bit much. I could see spending $100-200 for a really awesome app, but I'd need enough information to avoid it being a complete leap of faith. Worst case I can use OmniGraffle or Sketchup on my computer, but in the past I didn't find either of them to really solve the "a bunch of weird angles to figure out" problem. Maybe I just haven't learned them well enough yet.

FWIW, the main reason I want to use the iPad and do the scaling in real-time is so that I can notice immediately if I made an error or forgot to measure something important. In the past I've spent a ton of time writing down measurements on paper, then hours later go to enter it into the computer only to realize I screwed something up...

Thanks everyone.
posted by primethyme at 2:53 PM on March 8, 2015

where I can measure the sides, as well as the sides of the pieces inside, and their distances from each other, and it will figure out the correct angles to make it all fit together right

I might be misinterpreting, but note that geometrically, this is impossible with anything with 4 or more sides. If you break it down into triangles (i.e., measuring from corner to corner), or a conjunction of rectangles, any of these apps should be able to do it.
posted by supercres at 4:25 PM on March 8, 2015

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