Online Drafting Tools

by Nicole Newman

Web-based drafting tools are mostly targeted at computer-aided design professionals and budding neophytes to create and exchange drawings with consultants, clientele, friends, and online communities. The user-friendly programs can be used to make basic modifications, or to simply view a rough draft of a drawing. An architect may utilize online tools to collaborate with engineers or consultants, whereas a homeowner may share his renovation plans with friends. The possibilities are endless.

BluePrint Now

Solidwork's BluePrint Now enables drafters to travel and send two and three dimensional design files for review without some form of a computer-aided design viewer or editor. The program gives consumers with internet access the power to upload and proof files. Clients may create idea drafts and mock-ups, which are saved as two and three-dimensional design files, despite the original editing program. The secure server space stores drawing with ease and convenience. The drawing may be accessed at later times or sent anywhere via e-mail. The drawing's recipients can review or modify the image through a web-based collaboration. The software is suitable for professional who communicate constantly with clients, who can then make edits or changes according to their needs.

SketchUp Pro

Google Sketchup Pro is an online-based, three-dimensional rendering tool used for exploring ideas. Its simplistic layout is aimed at providing a medium for presenting designs to those with little to no computer-aided design experience . Consumers create three-dimensional models from scratch or from imported data. Clients can upload photos, plans, aerial imagery, and drawings to further develop their three-dimensional ideas. SketchUp Pro can export models in numerous formats to use with additional applications. Its two-dimensional companion, LayOut, is used for producing presentation documents, digital clips, and construction drawings. Finished sketches may be imported in Google Earth to incorporate terrain and even galaxies in outer space in the drawing. The online warehouse--a collection of buildings, cars, and bridges--allows drafters to share and store models.

Project Butterfly

Autodesk's Project Butterfly is an online application that enables users to edit and share AutoCAD renderings from anywhere. Drawings and files may be shared with colleagues without sending web-based mail, since the drawings are stored on the Internet. The program enables all users to view and edit each other's changes in real-time. Participants see the exact same drawing view--including layouts, zoom, layers, and each other's mouse pointers--during real-time collaboration. The participant list is unlimited, allowing managers to collaborate with their entire organization. Recipients do not need to set up accounts or purchase additional software. They simply click on the link in the e-mail invitation The project creator may manage permissions and abilities of viewers to protect his data.

About the Author

Nicole Newman is a Dartmouth College associate who works in Tiltfactor Laboratory, Dartmouth's premier game design center. Her research has included investigating the digital humanities through "Writing as a Dimensional Artifact" and "Evolution of the Ghetto: The Decline of America’s Inner Cities," a research initiative on urban design.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera drawings image by Chad McDermott from