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Mobile sketching software

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Warren Sumner

Sophomore Member
Jan 19, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
North Carolina
My software company, ACI, has come out with a mobile software to fill in URAR info on the palm pilot. I wanted to hear how the PDAs work in the field from any of you who have experience with them. I'm particularly interested in the sketch software. Being able to spend less time at my desk is very appealing to me. Anyone care to offer any feedback???


Freshman Member
Jan 30, 2002
I have just starting using the Palm with ACI Mobile. Still have not gotten used to it but I believe it will save time once I become more familiar with it. The key is to have the majority of what you see in an inspection loaded with a common response so that you can hit a drop down arrow. The more I do the larger my Common Response database grows and the faster I should get. The problem is that the forms, although identical to the printed forms, are not practical to follow during an inspection. (i.e. the HVAC/kitchen equipment are together which is rarely the case when you are physically at a property). Does that make sense? I think it would have been better if ACI created its own inspection form with exterior items together and so forth then had those fields populate the proper URAR field when Hot sync the desktop. It is hard to explain without physically showing you. I have yet to invest in the Sketch program for the Palm. Not sure how practical that will be. I have noticed though that I do spend slightly more time in the field going through the mobile checkoffs but I also do not miss a thing as I check each field. Back at the office I am basically done with page one.

Ted Martin

Senior Member
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
I've had the ACI palm program for quite a while and really don't think much of it. I've been trying to find a programer that would rewrite it to make it more useful. As written it is the 1004 form on the palm rather than a data gathering tool. Palms are great tools but they aren't a subsitute for your primary computer. Over on the ACI forum I posted a list of what I'ld like to see in a palm program. I've also forwarded the ideas to ACI.

Ted Martin

Senior Member
Jan 17, 2002
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
I found my notes on what I would like in a Palm program.

This is a reply to an email I got from another Palm user.

I'm sure we are on the same page on this. I don't know if you
remember the old DOS form programs (Hyperform comes to mind) that
scrolled the fields rather than trying to mimic the form. I would
like to see a Palm program with the following fields:

File name/number
subject address
special taxes

alley surface

Site dimensions
Site size
Additional site structures
att/det/car count
Exterior of subject

Room count/level grid
interior doors
Bath floor
Bath walls
kitchen appliances
foundation material
ceiling finish
walls finish
floor finish
inside/out access
sump pump

This is the short list, which could be refined. Even if the list
doubled I think the Palm could handle it. I think it would be a good
idea to group them by interior / exterior with a menu option that
would reorder the list according to the appraiser's preference for
starting the inspection inside or outside the subject. I usually
start inside so I don't track dirt into the home. Mostly these would
be check boxes. The description drop downs are a good idea but the
comment sections can be done at the office. It would be nice to have
a menu option for sticky notes for each field which would transfer to
the sticky notes in ACI rather that the comment sections. We could
then just cut and paste into the comments section of the report. My
field notes tend to be rather cryptic.

Taylor the lists for the 1004, 704, 2055, 2075, 2070, 1025 with a VC
option for the 1004 and the 1025.

I really believe that limiting the number of fields and not trying to
make the Palm display the form would speed up the handheld program to
the point where it would be useful.

As for the Palm camera link, that could be a separate software item.
I've only seen the advertisements for this accessory and really think
they are more a toy that a real substitute for a digital camera.
Similarly I wouldn't bother with a GPS link.

A corresponding drop in the software price would be nice also. The
current $100 tab is really way out of bounds, every other palm
program I've bought cost under $50 (most under $20). If it worked
I'ld still buy it, but reserve the right to grumble about the price.

I don't think it would take much or a programing effort, the hard
part would be getting the palm and ACI to talk to each other.

Maybe we should do this as a survey but does anyone else have ideas
about what should be in a Palm appraisal program. I think we should
keep it simple and treat it more like the clipboard you take on you
inspection rather than a small version of you computer.

I had another idea for the palm software. If the assignment is an FHA
the VC questions would a menu option would insert the VC questions
into the correct section. The VC site #1 - #4 checkboxes would then
be tagged on to the end of the site observations. I'm not discribing
this very well but I can picture it in my mind.


Senior Member
Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Gvmt Agency, FNMA, HUD, VA etc.
I used the palm pilot for inspections for awhile found that it took time to get used to however, after awhile I got used to it and found that page 1 was filled out. Would not recommend using the sketch program unless you doing a manufactured house or a straight end gable rambler with no garage. It is easier to just sketch it on graph paper and go from there. To bad my girlfriend took back the palm pilot oh well will just have to go buy one of my own now. :evil:

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