Autodesk, SolidWorks and Collaboration Renaissance

by Oleg on June 27, 2011 · 682 comments

Brian Roepke of Autodesk brought my attention to Autodesk Nitrous Lab Project earlier this week. The context of this comment was about some Autodesk viewing technologies that don’t require any flash or plug-in. So, I decided to put my hands on Autodesk Project Nitrous this morning. When I’m still trying to figure out what is that viewer technology Autodesk is using there, Nitrous made me think about what is going with collaboration and cloud.

SolidWorks n!Fuze – PLM Collaboration Renaissance

Few months ago, I’ve posted about SolidWorks n!Fuze – a new cloud service coming from SolidWorks to help share and collaborate between engineers. I found interesting the way SolidWorks were planning to introduce this service. On the fundamental level, it is not introducing any particular new functions – you can load SolidWorks files and share them. So, what is new? The cloud storage based on Enovia V6 and completely new user experience.

SolidWorks n!Fuze was in Beta testing few months after SolidWorks World 2011. I had a chance to play with that. The user experience was good. The service is not available now. According to the information provided during SolidWorks World, it will be released later this year.

Autodesk Nitrous – a dropbox for CAD files?

Project Nitrous provides a very simple set of functions: upload files, upload new revisions, manage folders, preview, tag and comments. Take a look on few screenshots I made during my tests. The subscription to the service was easy and straightforward. You are getting 1GB of data when you register with Autodesk ID.

The home screen is simple. You can get to the list of file or folders, comment, sort, filter and tag.

Viewer is integrated into a web browser.

I found versioning function a bit strange. It wasn’t clear if it keeps separate copies of the file. When uploading a new version of file, I was alerted that name of the file was changed. The overall it gave me a history of versions in a separate screen.

Autodesk Nitrous is available as Labs product. You can register and use it now. Navigate to the following link to subscribe.

What is my conclusion? CAD and PLM vendors are thinking about the cloud. Looking on services like Dropbox and some others, SolidWorks, Autodesk and others are trying to create similar services adopted to the CAD content. In my view, these are just experiments by CAD companies about how to leverage cloud and relevant infrastructure. Will real customers end up by adopting these services? I’m not sure. Security is still the issue for most of them. At the same time, newcomers like GrabCAD are working on a bit different flavor of cloud libraries containing publicly shared CAD models. GrabCAD is helping engineers to sell their work and services online. A different aspect of collaboration maybe?

Just my thoughts..
Best, Oleg


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