Cloud file sharing and collaboration tools are booming. To store and share files on one of the cloud file sharing tools like Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple iCloud is part of everyday workflows. The situation is different for engineers working with CAD tools. You can store CAD files in your Dropbox. However, because of cross references between CAD files, you should do a lot of hand work identifying dependencies and bringing files back to your desktop. I discussed CAD file sharing and integration challenges in my blog earlier.
The problem of supporting specific file formats as well as providing ready to use revision management and collaboration workflows is recognized cloud file sharing vendors. My attention was caught by the following Dropbox acquisition – Pixelapse. Venturebeat article Dropbox acquires Pixelapse a version control and collaboration tool for designers brings some more details. Here is a very interesting passage:
While GitHub has built an entire business from enabling version control and collaboration for developers — it even takes its name from a popular version control language — designers have not been as fortunate with their tools. CAD and design software have been slow to catch up, usually forcing designers to save multiple versions of what they’re working in order to have access to slightly different versions. Adobe, Layervault, and even GitHub have also tried to alleviate this problem for designers, although no one, Pixelapse included, seems to have become an industry standard yet.
Some of Pixelapse features are interesting if you think about supporting work on engineering teams – real time notification, collaboration in context, granular permissions.
What is my conclusion? Mainstream cloud file sharing and collaboration tools are getting better. Of course, Dropbox is not targeting engineers working with CAD tools. However, by bringing new features and capabilities, Dropbox and other cloud file sharing tools can close the gap and push CAD file sharing and collaboration tool providers to search for more differentiations to justify premium price for cloud PDM tools. Just my thoughts…