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BrickPad, a Free iOS LDraw App, is Released in the iTunes App Store






Dec 14, 2011 11:30 pm
by Joe Meno
more photos

By Joe Meno

iTunes page

A few weeks ago, I answered a call for beta testers for an LDraw app. What started as a curious project became a fun romp with an app that is a foundation for more development. The developer is Ken Drew, who took time out to answer a few questions about the app and himself after app launch.

So what do you do?
By day, I'm a software engineer and by night I'm a software engineer working on BrickPad.  In between that, and LEGO I try to squeeze in family, kids. ;)

Are you an AFOL, and if so, how long?
I grew up with LEGO and have had a few eras of "Dark Ages", but since 1997 I have been collecting LEGO as an AFOL.

What inspired you to develop this program?
About the time that I was coming out of my Dark Age in 1997 and finding the online AFOL community and LDraw, I tinkered with writing a Unix LDraw viewer.  It was more of a hobby than anything else.  However when the iPhone and later the iPad came out, I waited and waited for someone to write an LDraw app.  I thought that the mobile device would be perfect for sitting on the floor and building with LEGO.  As well, I wanted to view the models I saw on the web without having to go to a laptop/desktop computer.  After a while, I thought that I would write one myself.

How long did it take?
I started in August of this year with a proof of concept and it just snowballed from there, albeit a bit slowly.  I usually found a few hours a night (at best), and I just kept adding things.  The past month or so, I have been doing some beta testing with some of the LDraw.org Forum members.  The beta testers were a great help and I can't thank them enough.  Then, on to the App Store.

What would you like to see happen with BrickPad?
Hopefully people will find it useful by being able to view models they see on the web while using their iOS device.  As well, perhaps people won't need to drag their laptops to their LEGO building areas.

Any interesting information about the program you would want to point out?
You can format links to open models directly in BrickPad by using the form: 'brickpad://www.yoursite.com/yourmodel.ldr'

Something that I found interesting was that it only took Apple 27 minutes to review the app before approving it.  Not sure if that is a good or bad thing...

This is an ongoing project, so what are you working on in your program for the future?
I'm fixing a few known issues, transparency being one of them.  As well I want to improve the app as a viewer.  Once I feel I have a solid viewer, I plan to start work on the capability to edit and build models.  Given the device constraints it will be a challenge, but I think that it can be done.

The App

BrickPad is a free universal app for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. The iTunes link is here. The LDraw parts catalog is loaded automatically. Upon installation, you'll have a few files to demo:

screen capture

No, there are some new ones here - but tap on the names, and the model rezzes up!

You can import models from iTunes File sharing or by either online link, as mentioned above, or by e-mail. When an e-mail with a .ldr or .mpd file is opened you can tap on the file and open directly:

the prompt will change to this:

opening app

This will launch the app and save the file automatically.

Tapping the edges of the screen will take you to the various views - left, right, top, bottom. Double tapping and holding on center will give you the default view of the model. Unpinching will zoom the view, and moving the bottom status bar will move the model through its construction step (submodel steps are not defined at this time)

The iPhone screen loks like this:

iPhone pic

well, a bit smaller, but you get the idea.

And to announce the launch of BrickPad, here's a file to open on the app:

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