Do We Need Engineering Note App?

Do We Need Engineering Note App?


Yesterday’s post about how engineers can collaborate in the office, made me think about another aspect of collaboration – taking notes. You may argue… Taking notes isn’t specifically collaborative activity. However, I can see it very tightly coupled with our ability to communicate and collaborate.

There are lots of applications for notes taking these days. Just to mention few of them – Evernote, OneNote, Word processing applications such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs. You can see a comparison of some popular applications here. Mobile is another interesting platform today for notes taking and it created a separate niche. Take a look here – Five best mobile note taking apps. Expanding even more, Evernote is transforming into platform and allows to other development specific note taking apps – The Best Evernote Apps for Organizing Even More of Your Life.

Do you think engineers are taking notes? I think, they do. I have to admit that I do… I also know few other engineers that taking notes. Now think about engineers using CAD systems and many other engineering and manufacturing applications. Do they need a special application to take notes? Maybe CAD should develop “note function”? Maybe new social collaboration tools will provide it? I don’t know. Nevertheless, I want to outline some specific functional requirements for engineering notes app:

1- Engineering context support. When you take notes, you want to be able to capture snippet of a specific content coming from CAD and maybe other engineering content creation tools (analysis, bill of materials, etc.)

2- Integrated camera for 3D, photo, voice and video capturing. It is very important to be able to capture real world content. Engineers can take this app to field trips or use it at shop floor. Ability to take photo, video or even capturing 3D model is extremely useful.

3 – Integrated measurement tools. Measurement is another aspect of engineering activity. To have ability to take measurement in the field or check dimensions can be extremely important.

What is my conclusion? There are lots of general purpose application for taking notes. Nevertheless, I think, customization is important. To have note taking app tailored for the needs of engineers can be an interesting option. Especially, if this app will support a specific engineering context. If you know one, please let me know. I didn’t find it yet. How to make this app? This is a tricky question. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Lewis Kennebrew

    Oleg, this is an excellent topic that deserves more conversation. I do know of two applications that each tackle different aspects of Engineering Notes. The first is I-Cubed’s Tech Notes. Its a PLM add-on that automates the process for Engineers when creating the lists of technical notes that have traditionally been placed on engineering drawings. The other is MathCAD. This is an electronic Engineering Notebook that replaces the paper notebook and the shelf of Engineering Handbooks that calculates complex engineering and mathematical formulae and can even drive relationships in CAD models. These two are out today.

    Looking into the looking glass, Autodesk has an interested app/site called 123D Catch that allows users to build 3D models from a series of camera (even smartphone camera) photos! Imagine the usage for engineers or field support! Another app to look at is Augment, which is an augmented reality app for your mobile device. I can see a world where instead of looking at a drawing or even a model on a screen, the user can pull up a 3D model which appears to be sitting on their desk when looking through their phone.

  • beyondplm

    Lewis, thanks for your comments and examples. Yes, indeed, I can see multiple ways to see engineering notes as part of design / development activity, capturing physical product data or just capturing unstructured information out of your mind. To make it simple is a key, in my view. Best, Oleg

  • Would GrabCAD’s markup in Workbench count? You can have conversations, and even draw from what I understand.

  • Tejus Phadnis

    This is a great topic. I am always wondering how to improve on this. Below is how I do it now.

    I currently use “Good Notes” on my iPad to take notes. I can bring in a PDF document or anything else (office etc.) and annotate it. If this fails, I take a picture and save it as a PDF and annotate it. I used it to review processes blueprints last week and circulate my comments to the team.

    This is not totally collaborative, I agree, but given the lack of other tools this is the solution I have found.

  • beyondplm

    Ed, Why not? I think you can count GrabCAD workbench. But we need to figure out how to use it together with existing app similar to Evernote.

  • beyondplm

    Tejus, thanks for sharing your experience. I wonder, what are important features you need besides drawing / model annotation? Thanks, Oleg

  • Richard

    Hi Tejus,

    If you want to try another good app then use “Notionnote” it is stunning note taking app and suits your needs. Visit this link to know more about this app.