This could be really useful to architects and has probably been created by a couple of them. Basically, you and any number of collaborators can visually “chat” over the net. It works in your browser and no signup is required for the free version. This short video explains it best:
Edit: The website seems to be down of late.
It’s not often that you come across a fantastic, non-bloated software that is free even for commercial use but Tiny PDF belongs to this category. At under 600 kilobytes, it’s a tiny download compared to most others and, additionally, doesn’t require the bulky GhostScript libraries to work.
I’ve tested the output against CutePDF Writer (free) and Amyuni PDF Creator v.2.09 (not free but which comes with my edition of ArchiCAD). Amyuni still makes the most compact PDF files but the output from TinyPDF isn’t too far behind and it’s way ahead of CutePDF. Also, don’t forget to get the plugin called PDF Merge from the site and you’ll be able to add to an existing PDF or merge two of them together.
For anyone interested in sharing CAD drawings (or any other document for that matter) with people who don’t have the required software, this is a great tool to have.
UCLA has recently released a new version of a free software called HEED that helps architects in designing energy efficient homes. This supersedes “Solar” which I had tried a few years ago and been totally befuddled by. I’ve just given HEED a spin after downloading the climate data for Bombay (Mumbai) from the EnergyPlus site and I will need time to fiddle with it before I can really make good use of it. However, I can say, even now, that it’s worth getting the hang of. If only it would give us more options for, say, materials and take graphical input from 3D dxf files instead of the primitive graph-paper-like drawing window… That would really make it a killer app.
Another useful tool from the same source is Climate Consultant v.3 – also recently released – which takes raw data (the same as used by HEED) and displays it as charts and graphs. Architects keen on improving the energy efficiency of their designs must try both of them. It may look daunting at first and the choices within HEED are somewhat limited but it still gives a good overall picture.