Siemens PLM Shows Catchbook. Is This the End for Paper Napkins?
Kyle Maxey posted on September 09, 2015 | 14032 views

At the Siemens PLM Connection 2015 event, the German CAD provider announced the release of Catchbook, a mobile-based sketching and drawing tool that is expected to be released in Fall of 2015.

Catchbook, shown here creating a sketch from a photograph… (Image courtesy Siemens PLM.)
Catchbook, shown here, creating a sketch from a photograph. (Image courtesy of Siemens PLM.)

While there are a number of mobile sketching tools (Concepts, Autodesk’s Sketchbook, etc.) Siemens’ entry appears to be the first lightweight, parametric design tool and sketch pad (though it does have the ability to make sketches for notes and conceptualizing).

To that end, Siemens has provided Catchbook with a simple palette of tools that allows users to sketch and dimension line work to define product (or modify) geometry. Using a stylus (and maybe a finger; more on that later) users can draw whatever geometry suits their needs without worrying about how straight a line might be or whether a circle is truly round.

What’s that you say? All of my years learning to steady my chicken scratch line work has been in vain? Sadly, it has.

Catchbook lets you dimension and redline (Image courtesy Siemens PLM.)
Catchbook lets you dimension and redline. (Image courtesy of Siemens PLM.)

One of Catchbook’s more remarkable features is its ability to interpret a drafter’s intent even if a line wiggles or wobbles away from its intended direction. If your circles look more like eggs than orbs, that’s not a problem. Make a circle-like shape and Catchbook will know what you mean. Simply put a dimension on your circle, constrain it into place and you’re done.

To add even more power and reliability to Catchbook, any line can be constrained to another, providing a level of parametric control that’s only found in larger CAD software.

While Siemens has promised that Catchbook will be a powerful tool for parametric drafting and drawing on the fly, a number of questions remain unanswered.

I wonder how the device responds to haptic input. Will I have to use a stylus to get the best results? If so, which stylus is recommended?

Catchbook can work like a sketchpad (Image courtesy Siemens PLM.)
Catchbook can work like a sketchpad. (Image courtesy of Siemens PLM.)

I’ve tried a number of drawing apps, some artistic, some parametric, and each of them has their own input bias. Will Catchbook be the same, or will it port Siemens’ new input technology that’s made Solid Edge on a Surface Pro a reality?

I wonder how Catchbook drawings will be shared with other Siemens software like Solid Edge and NX? Can Catchbook sketches be uploaded to Teamcenter and shared across an organization? For that matter, can Catchbook export files to DWG or DWF formats so they can be used by subcontractors who don’t have Siemens' products?

The world of mobile app development seems to be more difficult to navigate than Siemens’ usual stomping ground. Can top class design apps be successful in a landscape littered with Angry Birds, Facebook and my personal favorite, Capitals?

We have plenty more questions so stick around for the answers as the app becomes available.

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