GitHub PDM: Is It For Real?

GitHub PDM: Is It For Real?

GitHub is a well known social network for programmers. According to Wikipedia article, GitHub is a web-based hosting service for software development projects that use the Git revision control system. GitHub offers both paid plans for private repositories, and free accounts for open source projects. As of May 2011, GitHub was the most popular code repository site for open source projects. If you in a development space these days, it is hard to believe you are not aware about GitHub. The statistic of GitHub usage is amazing – On 16 January 2013, GitHub announced it had passed the 3 million users mark and was then hosting more than 5 million repositories.

GitHub made an initial 3D entrance earlier this year by providing support for 3D. You might notice my article – 3D printing, GitHub and PDM erosion. However, if you are mechanical engineer, GitHub is probably new territory for you. However, the question I want to task today – for how long? Navigate your browser to the following TechCrunch article – GitHub Adds 3D Modeling Features That Make It A Printer-Agnostic Choice For Object Sharing. In a nutshell, it means you can use GitHub to manage your STL files. The new feature allows you to compare geometry and by doing that, create sort of 3D revision management functionality on top of GitHub. Here is how this functionality explained by GitHub folks:

How does this work? We take both versions of the model, and using binary space partitioning, we compute the added, removed, and unchanged parts. This is done using csgtool, a C library paired with a Ruby gem via FFI. These pieces are cached and displayed by the 3D viewer we already have, though we color them differently and play with their transparency to help illustrate the changes.

The new functionality announced by GitHub made me think again about the potential opportunity GitHub can discover in manufacturing space. The first time, I shared it in my post exactly one year ago – What is behind GitHub for CAD marketing buzz? That story wasn’t specifically about GitHub. I mentioned few companies that actively using “GitHub” buzz to market their new approach in PDM/PLM space – GrabCAD, I can confirm that all companies made some progress towards delivery of new online work paradigm. It obviously includes new PDM paradigms as well. One of them is GrabCAD Workbench. The ideas how to convert close engineering CAD/PDM world into open and dynamic environment is widely discussed among vendors and industry pundits. The idea of viewing of 3D models on GitHub is getting traction too.

PDM + SCM = ?

Traditionally, Product Data Management (PDM) was focused on the world of mechanical engineers. EDM, TDM, PDM… these are systems that originally were born to manage mechanical CAD documents. Opposite to that, software configuration management (SCM) was established as a separate domain to provide source and revision control for software projects. Will these two worlds continue to be distinct and manage data in a separate way? When the number of software code is skyrocketing in every manufacturing product, I can easy see how PDM and SCM domains will converge in a new software discipline sooner than later.

What is my conclusion? The idea of innovation in PDM space is getting some traction. Even, an old fashion PDM systems are still “safe harbor” for most of manufacturing companies and engineers these days, I can clearly see new trends and interest from engineers how to manage data in a different way. CAD/PDM vendors need to take note before they will find mechanical engineers using GitHub repositories to manage CAD data. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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