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okh
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Tablets and SH3D

This is a continuation of thread,5130 - but more generic in its nature to cover tablets in general.

Background: to use SH3D in the field, I searched for tablets running a SH3D compatible OS. MS Surface Pro 2 looked like a good option, but it is expensive. And with rumours that the price would be dropped shortly (in part because of the release of Surface Pro 3), that was (for me) not an option. So I purchased an Asus Transformer Book T100 which is a Win 8.1 32 tablet that comes with a separate docking keyboard (tablet and keyboard 1/2 kg each). Price in Norway (June 2014: €365 + €100 for 64GB extra memory, hdmi micro cable and stylus). It may not be the fastest, or have the best screen - but it has an Atom Quad core processor, 11h battery life and is currently good value for money.

Point is to try the tablet as a field tool for SH3D (and a spreadsheet). I should probably add that my project is 8 km away from the grid (charger), and much further form civilisation. I want to put the tablet and a laser tape measure in my backpack and put together a complete todo list for my construction ambitions (with the help of SH3D) before I start abusing my credit card.

So here goes: I love the little beast (the ASUS that is) already, but have yet to try SH3D using the tablet. Plan is to post my experiences in this thread. Anyone tried SH3D on a tablet? Please pitch in...

ok
[Jun 20, 2014, 6:14:29 PM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message    Hidden to Guest [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
okh
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Re: Tablets and SH3D


  • Using a tablet for SH3D is fully possible(as indicated by threads 4140 and 4225).
  • With a tablet running Win 8.1 32b I did not expect any compatibility issues and have not found any (that is, full Win, not Win RT / Android or other tablet specific software). As for the Win 8.1 experience, it does make more sense on a combo tablet. And, of course, having a full OS on a tablet is very nice. Beyond that, well, I am not in the 8.1 fan-club.
  • Making do without the clever keyboard/mouse combinations in SH3D is a pain, but with a bit of fiddling it is possible to do basic sketching (prepare for some frustrating moments and many undos).
  • I suppose an advanced stylus user (possibly using a tablet with better stylus support than the Asus T100), may actually cope quite well, but for me actual drawing will probably still be done with a mouse and keyboard. (In theory, I suppose the SH3D interface could also be equipped with a special "stylus/tablet mode" that would facilitate tablet use, but I for one would not see that as a priority. But who knows, maybe a tablet enthusiast out there feels this is worth some development).
  • What actually works quite well, is to work on an existing plan and do fine adjustments (which is my primary objective for now), namely double-click the elements and enter exact numeric values.
  • Working in portrait mode on the tablet is very nice, and the lower screen resolution (1366x768) much less of a problem than I feared it might be.
  • Weighing in at 1/2 kg, the tablet part is on the heavy side, but apart from that, the Asus T100) is a very positive experience. So much so, that it may indeed become my primary work tool. Some reviews complained about keyboard and build, not me. Also, it is fast (enough), silent (no fan) and just all-in-all very good value for money (it also, btw, comes with Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, not a big deal for me, but if you need them, it makes value even better).
  • Conclusion is that I am very happy with the purchase. But I doubt I will use SH3D in pure tablet mode very often.
  • Other Win machines like the Surface Pro 2/3 probably work just as well with SH3D (or better for all I know).
  • I may try a Linux bootable drive at some point, but I have doubts as to how well it will work on the Asus T100, something tells me the hardware is just to specific for Linux to deal with in a standard installation. However, when a decent tablet shipped with/built for Linux appears, that could be worth a try.

ok

This is a clearly a very subjective take on the experience. Each user is different and some will probably hate working (with SH3D) on a tablet, and others may love it.
[Jun 21, 2014, 12:41:48 PM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message    Hidden to Guest [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
Puybaret
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Re: Tablets and SH3D

Many thanks for your detailed report smile
I expected that it would work better to place objects in an existing plan. If ever one day I port Sweet Home 3D to iOS or Android, there are some chances I start by this part first, because drawing a plan itself on this kind of device must be a pain.
----------------------------------------
Emmanuel Puybaret, Sweet Home 3D developer
[Jun 23, 2014, 11:38:37 AM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message    Hidden to Guest [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
Puybaret
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Re: Tablets and SH3D

I bought an Asus T100 tablet too (my first PC running Windows for many many years!) to make some tests. It's very interesting because Sweet Home 3D can run out of the box on it, and this can be very helpful to choose what should be changed to the user interface to make it more usable, before even considering porting Sweet Home 3D to iOS or Android.
As I didn't buy any stylus, I used only my (not so big but not so thin too) fingers to test Sweet Home 3D:
- First, I felt that selecting menu items without error is quite difficult when you use your fingers, because the default font size shows them at a too small size to ensure you won't touch the next or the previous menu item. The trick is to move around your finger around in a menu to get the visual feedback on the selected menu item before releasing your finger, and/or customize the system with a larger font (for example 12 pixels), but this second option won't have any effect on information shown in lists and trees (but that should be fixable). By the way, keyboard shortcuts feel completely useless and shouldn't be displayed on this kind of device.
- Icons in the tool bar look a little small too, and an option to display them at a larger size would be welcomed (or maybe the size should be enlarged automatically as soon as icons look too small at screen). To replace keyboard shortcuts, the ability to customize the toolbar would be probably very welcomed, even if all the tool options are also in contextual menus that are easily accessible with a longer finger press on the screen.
- Drawing walls with the finger is quite difficult to get accustomed to, because clicking and drag-and-drop operations works differently with the mouse and the finger, and the tooltip showing wall sizes is hidden by your finger, preventing from reading the size of the objects you modify. The workaround is to enter values with the virtual keyboard which works great after pressing Enter key.
- To draw rooms, you'll probably prefer the option to double-click in areas surrounded by the walls you already created, unless you prefer to draw rooms first then using double-click to draw walls around rooms.
- Drawing dimensions with the finger is the hardest thing to do, and even using the keyboard to draw them won't be that easy since you'll have to enter values that might be not so easy to guess. I hoped that zooming in the plan could help, but it wasn't really better. The difficulty comes mainly that the finger is really too imprecise to point a place in the plan, default magnetism tolerance is probably too small and the multiple clicks required to draw dimensions don't fit the tablet behavior.
It's also the kind of drawing where the Escape key is missing the most, forcing the user to finish an action and undoing it when he made an error.
- Placing furniture works pretty well. First, you should display the catalog with a searchable list to get bigger furniture icons that you'll be able to drag and drop with the finger more easily. The main issue is that rotate/resize indicators at the corners of a selected piece of furniture are not easy to use, forcing the user to modify a piece with its modification dialog box.
- Using the dialogs are ok, but editing numbers with spinners -/+ is not easy because they are too small.
- Modifier keys (shift, ctrl and alt) are missing a little but not too much.
- The good surprise came from pinch gesture that is automatically translated to zoom in and out in the plan and in the 3D view (even if it's too slow in the 3D view). Very handy!

As a conclusion, here are a few points that should be changed to improve Sweet Home 3D usability on this kind of device:
- Increasing magnetism sensibility
- Enlarging indicators size of selected object
- Displaying bigger icons in the toolbar and in the navigation arrows
- Removing keyboard shortcuts
- Making number spinners more usable
- Showing text in lists with a larger font
- Moving the tooltip showing edited values elsewhere, maybe in some kind of status bar
- Proposing an other way to create dimensions
Maybe all those features (except the issue with dimensions) could be set with a simple Pointer option showing Mouse or Finger radio buttons…

Feel free to ask more details or propose some solutions.
----------------------------------------
Emmanuel Puybaret, Sweet Home 3D developer
[Sep 5, 2014, 11:14:17 PM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message    Hidden to Guest [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
okh
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Re: Tablets and SH3D

Yes, this is exactly how I experienced using the tablet interface. I did buy a stylus, but it did not help me much. Precision better, yes, but less sensitivity when working in the 2D pane.
- Drawing walls with the finger is quite difficult to get accustomed to, because clicking and drag-and-drop operations works differently
This, I think, is the most problematic - unfamiliar gestures and no ESC key. The first walls, fine, but finishing the walls always seem to go wrong. Increasing magnetism sensibility (maybe adjustable?) might help. Maybe an "autocomplete" (like SVG z: back to origin)?

With all of the proposed approaches, I admit to some concern as to whether tablet improvements would sacrifice the normal interface (would not like bigger icons generally). But in conclusion - it is quite cool to be able to run SH3D directly on a tablet. And it works well for exploring the 3D view and simple rearranging of furniture...

ok
[Sep 6, 2014, 11:29:05 AM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message    Hidden to Guest [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
okh
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Re: Tablets and SH3D

I may try a Linux bootable drive at some point, but I have doubts as to how well it will work on the Asus T100, something tells me the hardware is just to specific for Linux to deal with in a standard installation......
Just a quick update (while witing for endless Win updates on various home computers):

  • In case someone wonders: I gave up on Linux on the Asus T100 without trying, Github and others too discouraging. A shame really.
  • A 1368x768 screen is smallish for working with SH3D. Small projects, like a room, fine. Bigger projects, both 2D and 3D up seem too small. However, that is easily fixed by hooking up to an external screen or TV.
  • Speed is satisfactory for my kind of file sizes (compact). In fact, it outperforms computers with higher specs. The fast Micro SD card may contribute to that.
  • For SH3D on tablet alone, see other comments. Not ideal, but usable for fixing and rearranging furniture. And also for viewing and showing your design to others. Which means, this combination of Win 8.1 tablet and SH3D is a very good idea when going to a project site smile Attach the keyboard and a mouse, and you can keep drawing in the most cramped of spaces (read Ryanair).
  • So it is very affordable (price now dropped). With such a tablet (and an extra screen or TV + mouse) you are really all set to do pretty nice SH3D stuff (and most other things).
In fact, I am so happy with this little piece of hardware that it quite unexpectedly became my main computer. I no longer even bother to boot my other (more expensive) PCs, but have come to rely solely on this little thing for all my work. In part that is because I like a small keyboard, and love fan-less silence. And the few times I use other PCs, I rely on portable installations on the Micro SD to shift to another workspace.
ok
[Nov 25, 2014, 7:48:22 PM] Show Printable Version of Post    View Member Profile    Send Private Message    Hidden to Guest [Link] Report threatening or abusive post: please login first  Go to top 
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