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Product Review: IMSI Design’s TurboSite Pro 2 for iPad

In this product review Architosh looks at the award-winning IMSI Design TurboSite Pro v2 and its many abilities to streamline the field report process in AEC workflows

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Viewing and Markup

We have already mentioned that TurboSite Pro opens 20 plus popular CAD file formats. That’s in its favor. Now once you have the drawing you want to review you can access the built-in markup tools.

These consist of annotation tools and redline tools. There are also tools to help you take dimensions, including those done in 3D (see image 02).

With nearly each markup tool you implement you can alter items through the Properties palette, including line type, terminal end (e.g.: arrow type), and color. (see 04 below)

02 - 3D CAD files can also be annotated, including use of the dimension tools, as in this example.

02 – 3D CAD files can also be annotated, including use of the dimension tools, as in this example.

03 - TurboSite Pro allows the user to fully control the visibility of layers, which can aid the process of 'selective' annotation and markup.

03 – TurboSite Pro allows the user to fully control the visibility of layers, which can aid the process of ‘selective’ annotation and markup.

04 - The markup tools have numerous property customization options all accessed through the Property Inspector.

04 – The markup tools have numerous property customization options all accessed through the Property Inspector.

You can also change fill color, fill pattern and degree of transparency. With the Text properties palette you can turn on an innovative Face Me feature that makes text face the screen regardless of the orientation of the 2D or 3D data. (see image 05). A fixed size feature allows the text to scale which in many cases might be useful. The markup tools exist on the left side of the main window while the program functions exist on the right side.

The right side tool palette consists of the GeoMarks index, Layouts–and with AutoCAD files you get both model space and saved paper space views, Layers, Visual Styles, Screen Shot button, Exports, Team, and Save and Settings. (see image 03)

With the Export you have the option of exporting out the original DWG file, Markups only in DWG, TurboApps file (.TAP), a JPG screenshot, HTML zip bundle and a PDF report. (see image 05)

TurboSite Pro Reports

In our view the killer feature of this app may be its automated reports. These PDF reports bundle together all the GeoMarkers, their associated pictures, video, audio, and notes and combine them with other annotations throughout the file.

The default format for these reports is logical and covers things like date, time (which is attached to each element in the markup file), weather, project name, project location and the name of the individual doing the TurboSite Pro report.

Closing Comments

As a markup tool TurboSite Pro is a solid performer with just the right amount of markup tools options. The ability to use the translucent highlighter or to make translucent objects with a variety of colors gives you a large variety of control over many marks. Polys, circles and rectangles supplement text callouts which can be combined with various lines with varied arrows and ends.

What makes TurboSite Pro particularly strong is the combination of GeoMarks combined with excellent use of the built in iPad camera and sensors and GPS. And the ability to auto-generate field reports complete with images.

05 - Face Me is a feature that makes text annotations always face the screen no matter what the orientation is of the underlying 3D CAD data.

05 – Face Me is a feature that makes text annotations always face the screen no matter what the orientation is of the underlying 3D CAD data.

Despite the praise for this app, there are some areas for improvement. First and foremost the online help could be much stronger. TurboSite Pro is easy to figure out but if one is going to provide a manual it should be evenly complete. We did not see adequate instruction on several items. There is no information on the reports for example. We trust that the Geo features that are dependent on clear and strong signals for your GPS will only get better as hardware advances. IMSI has taken advantage of these as much as we can imagine them doing at this time and no other iOS app in existence that we are aware of has bested this company in this regard.

Another feature we would like to see is the ability to fix a 3D file view to a top view. In our work with a particular CAD file (see image 05) our 2D data was implemented as elements on a plane in space–a particular capability in a non-Autodesk app that can export out to native DWG format. As a result it was hard to handle this particular file. When navigating it would spin out or obit out of perfect x-y plane view.

A Word About Versions – New Info

As we were wrapping up this review IMSI Design announced and even presented at Autodesk University the very latest news on TurboSite branded products. (see our detailed news report) What is largely included in this update are some new features and pricing and availability options for the three levels of this product. Let us be clear. We have reviewed TurboSite Pro, the fullest version of the three levels of this product. The other versions reduce features and price.

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TurboSite Standard v2 is now a free app. TurboSite Plus and TurboSite Pro v2 are now apps that offer subscription plan options as well. TurboSite Plus is aimed at small and medium sized firms and features the same unlimited GeoMark™ features as the pro version. It cost 199.USD or starts at 9.99.USD per month via subscription. TurboSite Pro is aimed at medium and larger sized firms and includes enterprise capabilities like Adobe 3D PDF viewing and markup, plus real-time Apple FaceTime and Skype based conferencing for team collaboration. TurboSite Pro is 499.USD or 29.99.USD per month via subscription. There are annual discount rates as well for subscription. (read our news reports here).

Recommendations

From the point of view of automation and swiftness in the production of a “field report” TurboSite Pro is worth every penny. The new subscription offerings give architects and AEC professionals fine-grain control over the app’s utilization and the ability to try it out before adoption full time or before a full-scale firm-wide rollout. For users who in particular wish to attach video and audio notes to geo-locations on drawings TurboSite is nearly in a league by itself. Some users may wish the program had more predefined marker symbols for site reviews so that you can simply locate items you may wish to count, like electrical outlets or similar items–useful in surveying existing conditions of buildings that will get renovated or expanded upon. In time these features may get added.

For users who do not need the ability to work with 3D PDF files or need FaceTime or Skype conferencing built into an AEC plan review tool, TurboSite Plus will provide the core feature set you actually need. For those who do need conferencing these new abilities in TurboSite Pro will be a nice add. —- ANTHONY FRAUSTO-ROBLEDO AIA LEED AP

Pros:  TurboSite Pro v2 offers superior coverage of a wide array of CAD file formats with its integrated cloud CAD conversion server. Once files are converted over into the native format they can be exported in “markup” form as DWG files–very useful to bring that markup data back into not just AutoCAD but all other CAD programs that can work with DWG import data. That means most of the industry. The program has solid and flexible markup tools; TurboSite Pro features innovative GeoMark features, works with sensors on iPad to help position you inside buildings on your plans. 

Cons: We felt the TurboSite help documentation had missing or shallow information regarding certain features. We feel this needs to be addressed and that the help and tutorial documentation in general be improved upon. Luckily, the app is largely easy to learn without referring to a product manual. Additionally, while the markup tools are robust and flexible, a future addition of a library of standardized symbols would aid certain types of existing conditions reports of buildings and facilities useful in AEC, broadening the appeal of the app beyond the typical construction phase “field report” market. 

Advice: For architects and other CA (construction administration) professionals the TurboSite lineup and Pro in particular offers a very strong toolset that can be put to use quickly and with little training efforts. The icing on the cake is the way the app generates and packages up the “field reports” process and provides numerous output options. 

Cost: TurboSite Pro v2 is 499.USD for a full license but is also available for 29.95.USD per month for subscription. We mentioned the pricing of the other versions above.

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