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Using PDA devices (Palm OS or PocketPC based) in appraisal

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ocvillas1

Freshman Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2002
Professional Status
Real Estate Agent or Broker
State
California
Has anyone been using PDA devices lately? I’ve checked the archives and the most recent discussions on this topic are from about a year ago. There were concerns at the time about the readability of the screen in full sun, ACI bankruptcy, etc.

The newest PDA devices have considerably much better speeds, screens, etc. and deliver a better user experience overall. How about the most recent software, does it offer better integration with the desktop? Do you find that using a PDA increases your efficiency significantly?

What are your latest thoughts? Thanks for any input!
 

Tater Salad

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Jan 15, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Missouri
Hi Roxana!

I use a PDA with WinTotal. Love it for the small houses, hate it for the big ones.

If you are using ACI, I have no experience there. What software are you using?
 

Farm Gal

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Nebraska
In all probability ACI isn't going to go under without being purchased by some other entity, I wouldn't be too concerned about THAT aspect...

I have not updated my palm, in part because the newer better screens (in my opinion) aren't significantly better than the older

Desktop emulation probably isn't the greatest way to field collect data, but have to agree that on little boxes it works.... :?

What the software developers need to do is get with a few appraisers and run through what we actually DO out there:

to develop a program that will download some stuff into the formfill program, and set us up with a nice piece fo filed inspection paper to throw into the file (notes on the side...).
 

ocvillas1

Freshman Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2002
Professional Status
Real Estate Agent or Broker
State
California
Carole and Lee Ann,

Thanks for your quick replies! I am currently using Appraise-It, which doesn’t have PDA companion software, and I am considering switching to something that does. It looks like the only choices would be ACI for Palm OS, or WinTotal for PocketPC.

I own a Palm OS device, but I would consider buying a PocketPC if WinTotal is really superior to ACI.

Lee Ann, I’m not quite sure what you meant by “to develop a program that will download some stuff into the formfill program” – isn’t this what the PDA programs are currently doing? (Sorry, I haven’t tried any of them yet, that’s what I thought they would do…)
 

Farm Gal

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Nebraska
:lol: :lol: I keep beating this drum in hopes that others will also take up the beat and get the developers to LISTEN... :twisted:

Roxanna:

The ACI palm program is essentially the entire ACI program dumped into your handheld, complete with dropdowns and ALL the comments and features you have (hopefully) installed on your desktop machine....

Which is fine, but as I walk around a house that is not what I DO~!
I want a place to check off the URAR boxes, AND make notes that don't get put anyplace a CLIENT or worse yet a homeowner would see them... (HO painted LR international orange, cpts filthy/cleanable, r/r back deck steps b4someone dies...) I am OK with them seeing: new beber upstairs new HVAC etc... but the 'notes to self usually writ in my own cryptic scrawl and shorthand are for MY eyes only 8O

I want something that skips the neighborhood and site and other data I would usually input while sitting in the warm/cool conditioned office. To get to the places you need to go you have to blip down through stuff I am NOT going to be doing in the field :evil:

I want it to address certain sections of the house such that I can follow my OWN path through (inside outside up down...) without having to drive myself nuts - touch sensitive tabs at the bottom would be a plus for this...

I want places to make notes so they get printed out when I get back to the office but NEVER NEVER get into something a client or homeowner could receive.... 8O

Like many others I have developed my own inspection form, and methodology for inspecting, but I can see a way to make every one happier than the current system when it comes to PDA's... :roll: but first enough folks have to embrace the technology.

Designing a kludge system isn't going to aid that process :eek:nfire:
 

ocvillas1

Freshman Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2002
Professional Status
Real Estate Agent or Broker
State
California
Lee Ann - this is really eye opening, thank you. Do you know if WinTotal is any better in that respect?

I wonder if there is any way you could import an XML or DOC document into ICA's URAR form. This way you could create your customized form, according to your own inspection methodology, fill it out on the Palm device, then transfer it to the desktop and import it into ACI.

Anybody has tried that?
 

Farm Gal

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2002
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Nebraska
any way you could import an XML or DOC document into ACI's URAR form. This way you could create your customized form, according to your own inspection methodology, fill it out on the Palm device, then transfer it to the desktop and import it into ACI.

Not really -
ACI is written in Borland/Pardox database... theoretically you could do this, but thus far we haven't been able to figure out exactly how.... the balnks are numbered and you OUGHT to be able to make it work...

We have looked into this on a limited basis, but the software company isn't going to go out of their way to assist 8O :roll: :wink: They also aren't listening real well on the subject either :evil:

There are five or six folks who can and will put up cash money for such a program, I have considered it but lack knowledge skill and time :?

But I figure if I keep grousing sooner or later they wil listen.... :p

The reason I'd like to see a tab driven program (windows sectioned at the bottom) is that house dependent my inspection methods can change... and it isn't that hard to write....
 

SeanGoodpasture

Freshman Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2002
ACI has a DLL that you can use to read/write from their files.

You could use that dll to extract from your file format and create/read/write their files.

It ain't pretty but it does work (and it's not documented, and yes it is like pulling teeth to get them to support/help with it).
 

ocvillas1

Freshman Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2002
Professional Status
Real Estate Agent or Broker
State
California
Sean, that's great info! Would you mind sharing any information you might have about the API? What file format does it support? Do you have the header file by any chance?
I wouldn't want you to get in trouble with the ACI guys -- you can send me this information privately.
Thanks!!
 
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