Missing that special something

My first impressions of the Beta are that it works, but why? what next?

I don’t mean to be negative and I appreciate the Beta status but there is just something missing here to make me want to use it.

For context, I use SketchUp at least once or twice a week for my design work (fitted furniture maker) and until recently would switch to Fusion 360 for more complicated models or if I wanted to play around with designing a product/item that could be 3d printed. I recently discovered Shapr3D for the iPad and immediately fell in love with it because it just feels so natural and makes perfect sense on the iPad. It has now replaced Fusion 360 for me but I have been reluctant to get the full version and ditch SketchUp for my professional use (the reasons why are probably for another section of the forum).

When I read that there was a beta available for a MacOS version I was genuinely kid on Christmas Day excited at the prospect and immediately requested the download link and headed off to the computer to try it out. I had an instant image and expectation in my head when I read the announcement but unfortunately what I found was not what I had hoped to see.

As at least one other user has mentioned on my quick scan of the threads there is a distinct lack of iPad support within the MacOS app and I am genuinely shocked and disappointed at this. For me the X factor of the iPad version was the seamless integration of the iPad pencil and touch controls/gestures. Shapr3D on MacOS is just Shapr3D’s version of [insert 3d software here].

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the app is bad, far from it actually, I think for a beta it shows great promise and would be a no brainer for anyone who has the full subscription through the iPad and is looking for the fully powered desktop experience.

Imagine with me for a second, you are sat in your favourite spot working on a design on your iPad using your Apple Pencil. You decide that you want to go and take a seat at your desk and knuckle down and get your design finished. You sit at your desk, power on your Mac, open Shapr, select ‘Connect with iPad’ and instantly your design is displayed on your monitor giving you a much better and clearer view of your work and your iPad seamlessly transitions in to ‘Tablet’ mode. Your iPad and pencil are now effectively a graphics tablet and stylus that are purpose made to continue modelling with virtually no interruption or deviation of UI.

That for me would be the dream integration of both apps and hardware sets. The magic of Shapr3D is intuitive interaction between the user and the model and that is only achievable with the Apple Pencil.

I see no harm in facilitating the use of keyboards, keyboard shortcuts, trackpads and mice. If implemented correctly they can surely only serve to improve the accessibility and breadth of use cases of your fantastic apps but please don’t forget what makes Shapr3D special…


Hi @MichaelA, great feedback, thank you. We would love to hear more ideas how we could make the mac app better.

This actually works with Sidecar (if I understand correctly what you mean). If you connect your iPad to mac using Sidecar, you can use the mac app using the iPad’s screen with touch and stylus.

Eg. understanding what that image was, would be super helpful :slight_smile:

Hi, thanks for taking the time to read my rambles.

Sidecar works as a second screen with some touch controls but it itself feels like a beta and isn’t practical for this kind of use case. To get full control over the model you need to drag the app window on to the iPad (2nd screen) and then you can interact fully with the pencil. The is a terrible ux because you now have the Mac version on the iPad which is simply defeatist.

What I am trying to get across is that the iPad app feels effortless and the pencil integration is industry leading. I’m looking for a workflow that carries the effortless natural feel of the iPad ui over to a big screen with more power under the hood.

Maybe I’m not the target market for Mac app but I want it to be a turbo booster for existing iPad app not a standalone app that is good but in a saturated market.

I see the use case being a way to interact with your model on a big screen with added power for texture control and finish rendering.

The thing that makes Wacom tablets so good is there ease of use. This is something that you have nailed with the iPad app so I only hope the you can take the model on to the Mac but retain the ease of control on the iPad.

I hope that all makes sense.

How about this? (El trackpad)

Eg. understanding what that image was, would be super helpful :slight_smile:

The image in my head is very much in line with the overall look and feel of the existing beta but with the seamless interaction and integration of the iPad app.

I would imagine on starting the app you have three options, create new design, open existing design or connect to iPad app. On connection to the iPad app you would see a secondary menu, open existing design or create new design.

I’ll see if I can find an image or a video that will give a visual depiction of the type of interaction I’m looking for.

For this I believe the automatic sync between iPad and mac will be a solution, wdyt?

As macOS does not support touch and stylus, we have to rely on mouse and keyboard interactions. We spent a ton of time figuring it out, but there is definitely a lot of room for improvement. What do you think, how could we make the mouse and keyboard interactions better?

If the image uploads correctly note how the modelling is done on the computer and that’s where the focus is but the interaction is done through the tablet (maintaining the natural ease of use) with the addition of some simple to use keyboard shortcuts.

I’d assume there would be significant work required on the back end to implement this as you would have to build the engine that would translate the pencil input but (forgive my ignorance) surely that is part of the development process with the new m1 macs that bridges the gap between iPadOS and macOS.

As far trackpads and mouse input, here’s my 2 cents. Focus on trackpads as this will keep you as close as possible to the natural interaction you have on the iPad but minus the pencil. Obviously support mouse input but I would strongly encourage you to focus on the special something that sets the iPad app apart, the natural, intuitive design process of the iPad app should be the hallmark of the Mac app. If it isn’t you will be lost in the shuffle.

Being the first cad app to fully and most effectively integrate trackpad use will win you some praise and will endear you to those with accessibility issues but I don’t think it will make the app as successful as it could be if you really focus on the transition back and forth between iPad and Mac. That is what will bring the average user of SketchUp or fusion360 over.

With regards to the trackpad app. If you don’t have a trackpad this makes sense but if you have access to one then it’s not going to improve on what is the consensus best trackpad on the market.

Just my opinions. Do with them what you will. Thanks for reading.


“For this I believe the automatic sync between iPad and mac will be a solution, wdyt?”

I think auto sync will be an essential feature and step in the right direction but as it stands if I decide to fully commit to Shapr3D for all of my design work I will be modelling on the iPad and (assuming there is more to come as far as textures and rendering) I would then switch to the Mac for detailed finishing of textures, rendering and engineers drawings/plans. This sounds to me like a good workflow but I would love to be able to continue the UI from one device to the other seamlessly.

To be perfectly honest I would settle for full Wacom support as the next best thing. I would order a Wacom Tablet for £50+ right now if that was the route you were going as everything else is there it’s just missing that final price of the puzzle.

My current set up for SketchUp/fusion360 is keyboard central for shortcuts and modifiers, trackpad on the left for quick gestures and mouse in my right hand for pointing and clicking. Apps like these are essentially based on the same cad software solutions that have existed for 20+ years at this point and are heavily reliant on keyboard and mouse interaction. This works but it can be improved, you have shown this to be true with the iPad app.

In my opinion you have opened a door that I have been waiting to see opened for a long time. Touch screens, trackpads and styluses are undoubtedly the future of design across the board and frankly there is a reason that the majority of professional graphic designers, photo editors, animators, etc. use graphics tablets and touchscreens, they are simply superior methods of UI.

Sorry, but I’m having a hard time understanding what you think will be gained by pencil/stylus support on the Mac. Until (and if) we get touchscreen Macs, there will always be a difference in how we interact with the screen.

I absolutely agree that using a pencil on the iPad is delightful. But that is mostly because of the appearance that you are directly manipulating the object you are looking at — with the device that you can also see at the same time without moving your eyes. It kinda feels like magic.

But, on a PC (again, unless we get touchscreens) the cursor is what appears to doing the manipulation. Actually looking at the physical cursor manipulation device gives no advantage and just wastes time. What advantage do you feel that a stylus enables as compared to a high DPI mouse or trackpad?

My best guess would be perceived precision of movement, but there are better ways to enhance accuracy than simply using a physical device. For example, adding even more powerful “snapping points” (especially in 3D) would both enhance accuracy and speed things up. Also, having an easily accessible “magnifier loupe” to enlarge the area around the cursor and slow down cursor movement would be really useful.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate styli. They are a perfect match for a touchscreen like the iPad. But for anything else, a multi-button mouse (or multi-function trackpad) is more versatile and powerful. Primarily, because you can do so much more without ever removing your eyes from the screen.

Personally, I would much rather that Shapr3D focus their efforts on optimizing mouse/trackpad usage instead of trying to make the user experience identical on iPad and Mac. I tend to agree with Apple that some things about tablets and computers are fundamentally different. Trying to make both platforms do everything pretty much the same, will result in neither platform being able to fully utilize their different strengths.

I would much rather see support for multiple mouse buttons (or trackpad gestures) with the user being able to assign which functions best suit their workflow. And, as mentioned above, an “on demand” magnifier loupe would be great. Purely from a business perspective, it is probably best to focus on the hardware that people already own.

However, if they do have time to support more niche products, then I would strongly recommend something like the SpaceMouse from 3Dconnexion. I’ve used lots of different CAD focused hardware (worked for a CAD reseller early in my career) and IMHO, 3D navigation is more of a game changer than a stylus could ever be.

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Noting the image you posted, does the iPad work like a Wacom tablet does with a Mac or PC? If so that’s interesting. But useless to me, as I can’t draw on a different surface than I am viewing on. Not for lack of trying. I had a Wacom. Ditched it soon. I did a lot of Digital editing and it just didn’t work for me.

I can’t imagine working in Shapr on a desktop/ without touch or pencil and I don’t want to. That IS what makes Shapr IMO. It’s hard to break old habits so I see your dilemma. Shapr allows me to make things like an Engineer with the tools that work for the artist part of me.

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I think once the mouse/trackpad defaults and preferences are sorted out the MacOS version will be very powerful and valuable. Only a small percentage of modelers have their initial experience informed by an app like Shapr3D in the ipad (which is brilliant). The rest of us are used to creating and manipulating models using a mouse and keyboard and want to have that experience on the MacOS version. That said, I would teach away from one recommendation - don’t make an external trackpad an important tool initially - focus on external mice. That’s what we’ve all learned and know how to use - use SW mouse interaction as a benchmark as that’s almost the standard for CAD.

Then we can have the best of both worlds - pen based input and manipulation on the ipad and mouse on the mac. And maybe in a year or two Apple will allow ipads to boot MacOS and all will converge.

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Hi Steve, Im not looking to gain anything from the pen/stylus I’m tying to preserve as much of the essence of the iPad app as possible. I understand that there are more precise ways to interact with the model (the space mouse looks very interesting btw) but precision is not the goal. For me and I’m sure many others, Shapr3D is a breath of fresh air in the design space and the biggest reason for that is the Pencil driven UI.

As a user of SketchUp, Fusion360 and now Shapr3 (iPad App) I can honestly say that I would see no benefit of going over to the Mac version of s3d at this time over the other apps mentioned. As a standalone App the Mac version presents an interesting offer to the CAD space but I don’t think it excels at anything other than maintaining the basic easy to learn functionality of the iPad app (minus the intuitive input). From the the marketing I have seen for the beta the Mac app seems to be aiming to be a fully featured evolution from the iPad app but unless it can boast some serious gains within the rendering and texture space I don’t see an evolution.

If the developers are going the whole Hogg with regards to capabilities and are planning to add the necessary features to compete with the likes of Fusion360 then I humble retract my statements as I have misread the situation.

Hi Oregonerd, Currently no it does not. With the sidecar feature it operates as a secondary display with touch input but its finicky at best. It probably works better with a Mac book vs the desktops.

Ah ok, Id imagine there are many like you but for me it feels like a natural progression from something like the iPad Pro with a Pencil.

I absolutely adore the Shapr3D iPad app and find it so much fun to model with but I just can’t see the desire for a Mac version that doesn’t at least support the same kind of interaction via either the iPad in a graphics tablet mode or a native graphics tablet like the Wacom tablets.

Your last sentence there should be quoted by Shapr because that is the heart and soul of the app right there. Many more ‘average’ people will relate to an artistic method of design than the approach of an engineer.

I don’t see the Mac app competing with the big guns of the CAD world anytime soon but with a focus on the intuitive design method using a trackpad (if not the pencil or graphics tablet) would be a more attractive offer to those who are 3d curious but not technically minded.

Hi Steamflyer,

Where do you see the Shapr Mac app sitting in terms of the CAD market? Who do you think is the target audience?

I spent many hours learning how to use SketchUp on a MacBook via YouTube videos and didn’t initially have a mouse. It wasn’t a great experience but why should I need to buy a mouse when the Trackpad does everything else I would need a mouse for. If there is an app that does similar things to the likes of SketchUp and Fusion360 (good luck using that without a mouse as well) but you can model intuitively with your hands doesn’t that sounds like a more attractive offering and something that would be more appealing to the masses?

Hi Michael,

You make many good points. In my experience, it is smoother and faster to use a mouse for CAD than a trackpad, but that is partly due to the programs I have used, most of which were conceived of before trackpads existed (Unigraphics, Catia, Pro/E, and now SW).

Personally, I like pinch/zoom on a pad, but not picking edges or surfaces with my fingers. I guess I’m sort of saying that for the ipad instance, touch, whether via the screen or the trackpad is ideal and well executed, but that the paradigm shouldn’t be carried over entirely to MacOS.

I only use SW and Shapr3D now, so again my perspective is limited. My only tie to Autodesk is that at one point (may still) used HOOPS which was developed in a lab where I worked for a tiime… I have no AutoCAD or Fusion360 experience to speak of.

Thanks again.

I think we are in complete agreement about preserving the essence of Shapr3D, but I think we have different viewpoints on the most important aspects of “essence”. For me, the primary consideration for the mechanics of input methodology is efficiency. As an example, I find it completely “natural” (and efficient) to use my Apple Pencil in Safari to select hyperlinks, menu items, move between tabs and even scroll on my iPad. Similarly, a mouse works well for the same tasks on my iMac. What would upset me (or at least slow me down a lot) would be if the mobile and desktop versions of Safari operated differently.

In other words, as someone who regularly switches from tablet to desktop, my hands “automatically know“ how to point at or select items. For my brain to quickly decide “which” items, it helps a lot if both tablet and desktop operate the same — at least as far as basic functions, menu selections, order of operations, etc.

This may sound like I’m splitting hairs, but I am genuinely concerned about what can happen if software developers try too hard to “make everything exactly the same”. What too often happens is that we wind up with the lowest common denominator, i.e. the only things that do get implemented are the things that can get implemented on all the different platforms.

I’m particularly nervous now that it seems Shapr3D is going to bring out a Windows version. Receiving a bunch of venture capital money is a double edged sword. All of the VC investors are going to want as large an ROI as possible. There will likely be ever more pressure to get to as common a code base as possible, with little desire to accommodate niche use cases.

Long story short: I absolutely agree that a big part of what makes S3D so delightful is the way they have leveraged the pencil interface. But perhaps even more important is the overall design and the way they (usually successfully) anticipate your next action and adjust the interface accordingly. IMHO, the best way to achieve the same level of delight on the Mac is to do the same thing with the far more common mouse/keyboard interface. Purely because of the installed base of trackpad equipped laptops, they also need to support trackpads, but I strongly suspect that the majority of heavy CAD users would prefer a minimum of a three button mouse.

BTW, I completely agree that Shapr3D has a loooonnnnggg way to go to try to go head-to-head with SketchUp, F360, etc. And, again IMHO, they probably shouldn’t even try. Rather, they should continue to cement their position as the premier tablet CAD system, AND as an easy to use, fairly powerful desktop alternative. I agree with one of your earlier statements about not much incentive to use the desktop version when the tablet version is so good. I appreciate the flexibility, but I suspect I’ll mostly use it when I want the larger screen of my iMac and also to simply interfacing with other, desktop only, programs for rendering, 3D-printing, etc.

The desktop system brings along the advantage of a much easier to navigate real file system, the Achilles heel of the ipad.

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Great point.

Couldn’t agree more re the 3d mouse Steve. It really is a game changer.
It’s one of those things that until you try it, no matter how much you’ve read about it, it’s impossible to appreciate.
Using a 3d mouse and magic trackpad together makes the interaction with the design totally seemless, the only break coming during data entry from the keyboard.
A stylus is great for fine detail on pictures or the pixel level etc but accuracy in the design is the responsibility of the cad software through, as you say, improved 3d snaps, assembly functions and such like.

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