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Construction Field Guide: What’s in Your Builder’s App Toolbox?

Posted by Dan Dolinar on Thu, May 09, 2013 @ 14:05 PM
Dan Dolinar
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It is time to play, “What’s in Your Builder’s App Toolbox?”  This post features productivity apps that prove to be useful for architects, engineers and builders.  This handy list is categorized by type and provides a description along with some field notes.  We compiled a list from your industry peers – read through the list and tell us where we fall short by commenting below.  Once we receive a healthy list of updates, we will continue to update and run this feature.


TYPE:                         Document and Model Viewing and Mark-up

Document and model view mobile applications allow you to download, view and edit your files while you are on the go.

Construction Technology, App

App Name: GoodReader

$4.99 iOS | Good.iWare Ltd.

Description:  GoodReader is the a highly rated PDF reader with advanced reading and annotating capabilities.  The app can handle large PDF and TXT files, manuals, drawings, and large books.

Field Notes:  This application is a very effective for getting a working set of contract documents into the field.  Hyperlinks that are created on a local server are operable in GoodReader. The app can also synchronize with cloud services and servers to automatically download and update project folders.  It also easy to mark-up drawings!

Field notes were provided by project engineers, Shane Clark, Matthew Aversa and Jesse Adams-Doolittle.


Construction Technology, App

App Name: Buzzsaw

Free iOS | Autodesk

Description: The Autodesk Buzzsaw mobile app lets Buzzsaw users securely access Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) project designs and documents from anywhere. View Autodesk Revit and Navisworks models and metadata about elements in your designs, view 2D and 3D DWF files, view standard office documents and images and upload project photos directly to the Buzzsaw cloud.

Field Notes:  This app great if you’re using this program to access drawings for your project. 

Field notes were provided by project manager, Kelly Terry and project engineer, Justin Vorhees.

Construction Technology, App

App Name: PlanGrid

Free iOS | Loupe, Inc.

Description: PlanGrid is a free app (up to 50 sheets) that lets you bring all your project plans, specs and photos to your iPad. You can sign up for a free account at plangrid.com and drawings you upload will automatically sync to iPads in the field. 

Field Notes:  This is a powerful app embraced by both superintendents and subcontractors. These user groups utilize PlanGrid for their QA/QC process by attaching all associated RFIs.  It has proven to be the fastest app for viewing drawings in the field that can be cached to the iPad without connectivity or being tethered.

Field notes were provided by assistant superintendent, Josh Cantrell, and senior project engineer, Rebeca Ayala.

Construction Technology, App

App Name: AutoCAD WS

Free iOS | Autodesk

Description: AutoCAD WS enables you to view, edit, and share AUTOCAD drawings with anyone, anywhere using your mobile device.  Annotate and revise drawings in the office, in the field, or in a meeting. Work in designs without an internet connection, and easily DWG, DWF and SXF fiels directly from email.  Simplify design creation, review and approval using powerful, built-in social design collaboration tools.

Field Notes: This app is another good 3D model viewer. 


Construction Technology, App

App Name: TurboViewer

Free iOS | IMSI/Design

Description: Free TurboView is a drawing viewer with multiple capabilities including native DWG viewer that supports both 2D and 3D. 

Field Notes:   This app is a good viewer for models.


Construction Technology, App

App Name: SketchBook X

$4.99 iOS | Autodesk

Description: Autodesk Sketchbook for iPad is a professional grade paint and drawing application. Using the same paint engine as its desktop counterpart, SketchBook delivers a complete set of sketching and painting tools through a streamlined and intuitive user interface designed exclusively for the iPad experience.

Field Notes:  This app is easy to draw with, not able to import pictures yet.


Construction Technology, App

App Name: Penultimate

Free iOS | Cocoa Box Design LLC

Description: The original and most popular handwriting app for iPad.  Penultimate gives you the natural experience of writing on paper, with the added power and availability of Evernote.  Take notes, keep sketches, or share your next breakthrough idea – in the office, in the field, on the go.

Field Notes:   This is great tool for making quick sketches or notes. It is also easy to include pictures. 


Construction Technology, App

App Name: Notability

$1.99 iOS | Ginger Labs, Inc.

Description: Notability integrates handwriting, PDF annotation, typing, recording, and organizing. Capture ideas, share insights, and present information in one perfect place.

Field Notes:   This app is similar to Penultimate and effective for annotating photos or other documents to provide further clarification on a RFI or question areas that may impede construction progress.

Field notes were provided by project engineer, Jesse Adams-Doolittle.


TYPE:                         Utility

Utility apps are useful tools that help you get the most out of your iPhone whether you are number crunching or scanning images.


Construction Technology, App

App Name: Builder’s Helper

$14.99 iOS | My Pie Interactive 

Description: Builder’s Helper performs both normal and unit calculations. Unit calculations can also convert between different units easily by selecting which unit you would like to see the displayed value to convert to.  The E/M toggle allows you to interchange easily between the two unit modes with a convenient toggle.  You can store and recall triangular measurements to calculate roof pitch, rafter lengths, stair lengths, and more.  The Ticker Tape function keeps easy-to-read list of your calculations for error checking.  These are just some of the functions available with Builder’s Helper.

Field Notes:   This app is a solid construction calculator. 


Construction Technology, App

App Name: Measures

$1.99 iOS | Michael Neuwert

Description: Conversions are done much faster and easier with Measures. This app has access to a huge database with over 1000 units in 40 categories and a user friendly all-in-one screen interface with scroll wheels.  

Field Notes: This app allows you to add dimensions to images.


Construction Technology, App

App Name: Genius Scan

Free iOS | The Grizzley Labs

Description: Genius Scan turns your iPhone into a  pocket scanner. It enables you to quickly scan documents on the go and email the scans as a JPEG or PDF.

Field Notes: Offers the ability to transform an image into text and, then, into a usable document. 


Construction Technology, App

App Name: Digits

$0.99 iOS | Shift

Description: Digits combines the edit-ability of a spreadsheet with the simplicity of a calculator.  Tap any entry on the tape and correct it (or edit, insert, copy and more). Then, add a label/comment and email or print the tape.

Field Notes: This calculator provides 10 key functionality and a running tape.


TYPE:                         Management

Management mobile apps assist in expediting your project’s daily tasks while on an active project site.

Construction Technology, App

App Name: Bluebeam Revu

$9.99 iOS | Bluebeam Software, Inc.


Bluebeam Revu for iPad helps you access and navigate your PDF files on the go from anywhere, and view your PDFs how they are meant to be viewed – comments and annotations display clearly and accurately so nothing is missed.  Redline your PDFs with industry-standard symbols, and save them for reuse across sessions. Collaborate and colleagues across the globe in real time using Revu’s cloud-based solution, Bluebeam Studio. 

Field Notes:  

Bluebeam was voted as one of the Top Construction Apps by Engineering News Record for document management.  Project teams have the ability to annotate PDF documents on-the-go and have a collaborative session in the Cloud Studio. All files can be synchronized back to a cloud service or local server. This tool is powerful for the mobile manager or engineer.


Construction Technology, App

App Name: Latista

Free iOS | Latista Technologies, Inc.

Description: A comprehensive app for construction quality and field management.  Users can access, view and mark up project documents online or offline.  LATISTA for iPad can be utilized for Issues, QA/QC, Punchlist, Safety and Documents. Easy-to-use and clean landing page, which makes navigation easy.

Field Notes: This is a great user-friendly app for conducting QA/QC and creating punchlists for a project.

Field notes were provided by senior project engineer, Jonathan Waltz.

Construction Technology, App

App Name: SmartBidNet

Free iOS | JB Knowledge Technologies, Inc.

Description: SmartBidNet is a construction bid management tool that keeps you in charge while centralizing and simplifying vendor interactions. This application allows you, the bid manager, to access your private network of subcontractors and view them organized by the services they provide to ensure bids target qualified and licensed companies you approve. The goal is to build a network of approved subcontractors and vendors that will be available to submit proposals for future construction projects.  Your private generated database of people and companies is securely available on your iPhone 24/7 to ensure you never lose touch with those you depend on. 

Field Notes:  

This app is great for building and managing bid packages while being mobile. The user is able to easily access bid documents submitted by each bidder from your mobile device.

Field notes were provided by estimator, Mark Kobey. 


TYPE:                         Collaboration

Collaboration apps increase your project’s productivity by offering enhanced, timely collaboration via mobile device.

Construction Technology, App

App Name: Conference Pad

$4.99 iOS | Evan Schoenberg, M.D. 

Description: Control a presentation on up to fifteen iPads, iPhones, iPod Touches from your device, simultaneously and wirelessly over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.  Display it seamlessly on one or more external screens or projectors attached to iPads and iPhones. 

Field Notes: If all members have Conference Pad, a user can open a session and share a PDF with the group. It is good for using at meetings in lieu of paper minutes, but there may be limitations at times. 

Construction Technology, App

App Name: JoinMe

Free iOS | LogMeIn, Inc.

Description: Host meetings and present files from your iPad with a join.me pro account.

Field Notes: For the travelor, JoinMe is a great App to join a webinar while on-the-go or collaborate with team members. In addition, the user has the ability to share their iPad screen while on the fly.

Field notes were provided by technology manager, Chris Jadwin.


TYPE:                         Connectivity

Connectivity apps help you access the digital documents and drawings residing on your firm’s server.

Construction Technology, App

App Name: Filebrowser

$4.99 iOS | Stratospherix

Description: Filebrowser is like having Windows Explorer or Mac Finder on your iPad/iPhone to access network folders on Macs, Windows, Linux, and NAS drives and now Box, Dropbox and SkyDrive are also supported.

Field Notes: This is a must have for accessing proprietary files from company servers!


Construction Technology, App

App Name: Cisco Anyconnect

Free iOS | Cisco Systems, Inc.

Description: Cisco AnyConnect provides reliable and easy-to-deploy encrypted network connectivity from any Apple iOS 4 device by delivering persistent corporate access for users on the go.  Whether providing access to business email, a virtual desktop session, or most other iOS 4 applications, AnyConnect enables business-voice over IP [VoIP] are provided an optimized communication path to corporate resources.

Field Notes: Allows VPN access.


Construction Technology, App

App Name: Citrix Receiver

Free iOS | Citrix Systems, Inc.

Description: Citrix Receiver lets you access your enterprise files, applications, and desktops to help you be as productive on the go as you are in the office. If your company uses Citrix, you have the freedom to work on your favorite device from wherever you are. Just ask your IT department to get started.

Field Notes: All access to a company’s Citrix applications.


TYPE:                         Other



Construction Technology, App

App Name: Evernote

Free iOS | Evernote

Description: Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all the devices you use.  Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity.  Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders---and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, in the field, or on the go.

Field Notes: A great tool for recording job site activities.


Did you download some of these apps?  What’s in your toolbox?  Please share the great tools you use in your daily work practices below and we’ll feature your app.  We look forward to your feedback!



Topics: Mobile Devices, Culture, Gear + Apps