Solidworks was one of the first CAD companies that said in public word “cloud”. Six years ago at SWW 2010, the news about new team and technologies were announced. Lot of things changed since that time. The landscape of CAD, PDM and PLM application is changed. The adoption of cloud technologies by CAD vendors is growing and it appears in the way new cloud application were developed and existing applications were adopted to the new cloud reality.
Solidworks competitors did a prominent job by introducing new produces using cloud technologies. Autodesk introduced a full line of new cloud products – Autodesk A360, Fusion 360, PLM 360 and others. Newcomer in CAD space – Onshape introduced full-cloud CAD product, which can run completely in a browser. It might sound that a major cloud disagreement in cloud CAD / PDM space is between cloud-enabled Fusion360 and browser based Onshape – Autodesk and Onshape disagree about cloud technologies.
But SOLIDWORKS is striking back at SWW16 by announcing bunch of new products using cloud and browser technologies. I’ve been following Solidworks World 2016 via twitter and online translation. Below few screenshots I captured from online translations and twitter.
In case you’re still confused about Dassault Systemes cloud strategy, take a look on a picture below. Dassault Systems is aiming to bring you a full menu of choice – desktop, connected and online application. The naming sounds reasonable to me. It might close the debates between true and false cloud application.
Existing SOLIDWORKS application can run in a browser using desktop virtualization technology. As far as I understand SOLIDWORKS is partnering with Fra.me for that purpose. You can read Fra.me blog for more details. Also, read Fra.me SWW16 announcement here.
Another uplift of existing product is eDrawing. Since now, eDrawing can run in a browser. It is not clear if the product was redeveloped from scratch. But for SOLIDWORKS users it is a clear bridge to existing concept.
Then we can see new applications – 3DEXPERIENCE Xdrive app and SOLIDWORKS XDesign. These are product that announced to run in a browser. According to SOLIDWORKS CEO Gian Paolo Bassi, the availability of products is planned for spring 2016.
3DEXPERIENCE Xdrive is a clear step in a cloud PDM domain. According to the video, Xdrive is available in the browser as well as on the desktop. It can synchronize changes made by CAD and other applications between different computers and allows to users to work simultaneously with the data in multiple locations. You can think about Xdrive as “Google Drive for CAD”.
Last, but not least, SOLIDWORKS new part search delivered via integration with Exalead One Part products allows very intelligent search function enabling to find right component for the design.
What is my conclusion? SOLIDWORKS is moving forward to deliver cloud based products. It is a mix of old and new technologies. Existing SOLIDWORKS can run on virtualized desktop and use 3DEXPERIENCE Xdrive to synchronize data. Files are still in the middle of data management paradigm for these applications. At the same time, new native browser applications, according to announcement can run “on any device, at any place, at any time”. This is a slogan I’ve heard previously from Onshape. It is not clear to me how browser based SOLIDWORKS XDrive will manage data. Also, a good question to ask how SOLIDWORKS Xdesign PDM features will match or outperform Onshape capabilities for simultaneous editing, revision management and branch merging. What is clear – SOLIDWORKS is joined the race to deliver CAD in a browser and will compete with Autodesk and Onshape. Just my thoughts…