Digital Design Tools on the Go
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Digital Design Tools on the Go

Aug 28, 2020
Video Length:  56:48
Presented By:  Paul Houchin

Are you tired of fumbling with your laptop as you try to get some work done while away from the office? Whether you need to travel, visit a job site, or meet with a client, you have myriad technological options that can make it immeasurably easier to make design decisions and show off your work. We’ll take a look at some phones and tablets, as well as a few pertinent applications that will help maximize your efficiency and creativity while on the go.

Webinar Contents:

Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)


  • Intro/TOC
  • Devices
  • Needs on the Go
  • Useful Applications
    • PDF Applications
    • Sketching and Rendering Applications
    • Note-Taking Applications
    • Office Tools
    • Communication Tools

0:00 – 3:30: Intro/TOC

3:31 – 5:49: Devices

Surface Pro (3:31)


iPad Pro (4:18)


iPhone (5:16)

5:50 – 15:14: Needs on the Go

List of potential needs for a landscape architect or designer on the go:

  • Using Land F/X
  • Viewing, editing, and marking up PDF documents
  • Sketching and rendering
  • Viewing and editing documents such as spreadsheets, Word docs, and slide shows
  • Notes
  • Team communication and collaboration


Can CAD and Land F/X run on a tablet? (6:50)


  • The Surface Pro runs Windows 10.
  • AutoCAD and Land F/X plugins can run on it.


Demonstration video: Running Land F/X and CAD on a Surface Pro (7:20)


Using an attachable keyboard and Bluetooth mouse with a tablet (recommended) (12:00)


Land F/X on the Surface Pro, take-away notes (13:55):

  • CAD worked surprisingly well on the Surface Pro.
  • Not recommended in tablet mode but still usable. If you use it in tablet mode, we recommend using the Surface Pen.
  • The Surface Pro proves to be a great laptop alternative.
  • Higher-tier models recommended. Check our System Requirements page for more information.
  • We recommend a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard for the effective use of CAD.
  • You need Internet access to run Land F/X. The Surface Pro has a SIM card port for cellular data usage. Or tether to your phone's hotspot.

15:15 – end: Useful Applications

PDF Applications (15:15)

A few useful PDF apps:

  • Drawboard PDF (Surface Pro app)
  • PDF Expert (iPad app)
  • PDF Element (iPad app – free)


Demonstration video: PDF applications (16:12)

  • Drawboard PDF (16:12)
  • PDF Expert (21:20)
  • PDF Element (24:43)


Comparisons (27:44)


Drawboard PDF (Surface Pro) (27:44)

  • Intuitive interface.
  • Very compatible.
  • Most features are free – Pro version $6.99/month as of presentation time.


Drawboard projects

  • Collaborative viewing and editing software.
  • Similar PDF editing interface to Drawboard PDF.
  • Share PDF projects within a team, and updates appear in real time for all users.
  • Available for all devices for subscription (Standard license is $35 per month as of presentation time).


PDF Expert (iPad, iPhone, Mac) (29:36)

  • Files synced across devices.
  • Fast editing.
  • Intuitive interface.
  • Also very capable.
  • $50 per year for Pro version as of presentation time.


PDF Element (iPad, iPhone, Mac) (29:57)

  • Free.
  • Simple PDF viewing and marking up.
  • Works as it should.
  • Lacks some fancier tools available in the other apps.
  • Lacks connectivity to Google Drive.
  • No pressure variability with the pencil except on signatures.


Sketching and Rendering Applications (30:12)


  • Photoshop: Available on iPad and Surface Pro, though limited on iPad Pro.
  • Autodesk Sketchbook: Available on iPad and Surface Pro.
  • Procreate: Available only on iPad.


Video examples (31:03)

  • Photoshop (31:03)
    • On Surface Pro (31:03)
    • On iPad (32:40)
    • Drawing in Photoshop on both devices – side-by-side comparison (35:30)
  • Autodesk Sketchbook (36:16)
    • On iPad (36:16)
    • On Surface Pro (38:12)
  • Procreate (38:35)


Sketching and rendering take-away notes (40:30)


Photoshop (40:30)

  • Requires a Creative Cloud license – personal license is $10 per month as of presentation time.
  • Photoshop on Surface Pro is the full version, though it doesn't respond quite as quickly as on the iPad.
  • Surface Pro Photoshop isn't optimized for tablet mode, so a lot of the buttons are smaller and not as easy to access with the pen.
  • Photoshop doesn't support the tilt of the apple pencil.
  • The iPad version lacks a lot of the features of the full version, but Adobe is continually updating and adding these features.
  • Overall, still a solid drawing program.


Autodesk Sketchbook (41:40)

  • Free.
  • A lot of great tools for sketching and rendering.
  • Available on both devices and phones, though we have a hard time justifying drawing on your phone.


Procreate (42:27)

  • Only available on iPad.
  • Haled by artists around the world to be the best drawing application on the iPad Pro.
  • $10 for a forever license as of presentation time.


Note-Taking Applications (42:52)

Notability (43:30)

  • Available for iPhone and iPad.
  • Quickly note ideas using the pencil or keyboard, and share them.

Bamboo Paper (44:06)

  • A virtual notebook brought to you from Wacom.
  • Great on both Surface Pro and iPad.


Office Tools (44:35)

Word processing, spreadsheets, and slideshows (44:45)

Google G-Suite (44:58)

  • Enterprise version allows real-time collaboration on these documents.
  • We use these apps frequently.
  • Access apps from phone, tablets, and personal computers.
  • Can. Be free for personal use.
  • Share documents easily.
  • Easily make documents available offline.


Microsoft Office or 365 (46:55)

  • O.G. office tools for the purists out there.
  • Apps available for all devices.
  • Mobile versions allow for free use, but you have to sign in to a Microsoft account.
  • If you're into Microsoft, these can be great tools.


Communication Tools (47:31)

Slack (47:31)

  • Team-oriented chat app that is a great place for communication throughout the office.
  • Create channels for specific teams.
  • Directly message team members.
  • Upload files and share across your team.
  • Easy to navigate applications on all devices.
  • We use Slack in the office, at home, and while traveling to communicate during business hours.


Notable mentions (48:59)

Apple's Measure and Bubble Level apps

  • While definitely not replacements for the more precise physical tools, these can be surprisingly accurate.



  • Easy-to-use markup app that allows you to take photos and create annotations on the photos.


Discussion on the CAD iOS (50:35)


Question: Is there a way to open these files on an iPad other than using cloud storage? (52:11)

Answer: Yes. iPads now accept external storage devices.

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