For those of us who spend our days drawing in the 2d- and 3d- world, its been a long wait for an app which allowed us to model without a mouse, commands, or short keys. And now that wait is over. Autodesk, the industry leader in design and engineering software, has released its latest design tool – FormIt. Made to help you model up building concept ideas, you can generate from anywhere and anytime ideas strike – with nothing but your fingertips.

Included in the feature of this app, a map extension helps you bring in location and context via satellite imagery, while built-in calculators give you real-time floor area, volume, and height information. A shadow-study tool also projects the sun’s angles for any time of day and any day of the year.

There is small library of shapes – cubes, cylinders, and pyramids among them – to get your model started. You can then push, pull, twist, copy, rotate, and skew faces, edges, and complete masses to help form your concept model. The tools, while primitive compared with other parametric modeling programs being developed now, provide a great start to getting a quick concept built. Once modeled you can easily export the model or capture and send screenshots of your design.

The layout is clean, simple, and straightforward. It is almost effortless to pan and rotate around your model, and while getting a handle on the different tools to manipulate your model will take a little practice, the interface is very intuitive.

This app also supports BIM (Building Information Modeling) workflow and exports to a variety of other design software including- Revit (.rvt), and Autodesk Fusion and other 3d modeling programs (.sat). Users also have the option to share and store models in the Autodesk 360 cloud services.

What I liked: This is a true first for the industry and it’s a great glimpse at the future for 3d designers and engineers. (A bit like Tom Cruise working in Minority Report, right?) The ability to lose the mouse and model with our fingertips has great potential, and this app is extraordinarily intuitive and easy to use. You can export what you’ve started to other BIM or 3d platforms – it makes a great tool for starting a new building design.

What I didn’t like: While we’re really excited for 3d modeling on the iPad, there are a few kinks in the app thus far – you cannot import models and modify them in the app. The app only uses imperial units for modeling, although Autodesk has reported that it is working on a release with metric units. There is no advanced editing for the base massing shapes it provides – you can pull and push faces and edges, beyond that, you’re stuck with what they provide.

To buy or not to buy: While this is a first for Autodesk, it is a great introduction with loads of potential. Its free (for now) and if your line of work, or even a hobby could benefit – its definitely worth downloading and going for a spin.

  • App Name: FormIt
  • Version Reviewed: 1.1
  • Category: Productivity
  • Developer: Autodesk
  • Price: Free
  • Score: