20 things about Onshape and cloud I captured during the webinar with Jon Hirschtick

20 things about Onshape and cloud I captured during the webinar with Jon Hirschtick


Earlier this week, I attended Onshape webinar – “Ask me anything” with Jon Hirschtick. Below is the list of things that caught my special attention. This is not a full script of the Q&A. I’ve made my choices. These things might be of interest for users and software vendors looking how to be ahead of time in the race of engineering software to the cloud.

1. Agile approach. Onshape is on the mission to make design process more agile by connecting people during the design process, streamlining communication,  improving data management and collaboration.

2. Real-time collaboration is a big thing. Onshape brings real-time collaboration in everything – design, data management, etc.

3. Communication time span is much shorter these days. Email is too slow. Communication is shifting to instant messengers. We just don’t have time for email. Everyone is expecting answers much faster in real time. The design process is transforming from waterfall to scrum.

4. PDM (product data management) is the way to solve traditional problems. PDM was created to solve file data management problem created by file-based CAD systems. Onshape is providing both cloud system, which combines both functions, but more importantly re-thinking the process of design and data management. The heart of Onshape is database. Everything is captured in a real time and immediately available. Data management is one of the key benefits provided by Onsahpe.

5. Why to switch to Onshape? To get rid of licenses, installations and files. Everything is distributed with Onshape. It is very easy to come on/off. No need to share files, everyone is looking in a single database in the cloud. Nothing to install. Less time waiting. So, as a result, you can be more innovative. Many engineers are afraid to innovate because they afraid to start making changes in existing CAD files and designs.

6. Offline version? It is against agile methods and it is against real-time collaboration principles. You cannot do real time provision. Offline version is also less secured. Net-net: Offline is bad for agile work methods and security.

7. Security and accessing documents by Onshape partners. Onshape is controlling who has the access to data. If 3rd party application in activate in Onshape, document owner should provide an access to application. From that standpoint, installed software is much more dangerous.

8. What happens with data if you stop professional subscription? You still have an access to all data you created as professional user in Onshape. You can view and download it. If you subscribe back, you will get write access again. You can always download data from Onshape.

9. Private cloud. This is not a priority for Onshape. It is hard to think about hosting such complex cloud systems like Onshape for a specific customer.

10. Internet speed and global servers. Onshape is adding servers all around the world to improve performance. However, remember that you local computer can also affect you cloud system performance.

11. How to create a BOM in Onshape. Check one of our partners – openBoM on Onshape App Store.  openBoM is providing a great deal of value for BOM management. Onshape team is closely collaborating with openBOM team.

12. What is a typical size of the team working in the same document. 2-12 is a most typical team size collaborating on the same document. The largest we’ve seen is 30-40. I never seen 100s of people on the same document.

13. Capturing changes and versions. Onshape is capturing changes and keep track of versions even in case you didn’t create any version by yourself. Everything is captured and recorded. Change history is always available.

14. Onshape enterprise. Onshape is coming with enterprise-level features, but these are not 3D modeling features. Onshape is not going to provide a better modeling for enterprise. 3D modeling will stay the same for all Onshape users.

15. Data exchange. There is no 3D CAD system that can exchange native features. Only data can be exchanged.

16. 3D printer. Onshape is not working and not planning to develop 3D printer.

17. Sharing control roles. Sharing roles are  important and Onshape is going to provide more granular and specific role models to share information.

18. IPO. We are working on product and there is no plan for IPO.

19. Product configurations. Support for configurations is coming. Onshape is very much interested to support it ASAP.

20. How to convince my boss that Onshape is secure enough? A good approach is to compare to what happens in a company today. If you email 3D files, if you share data using Dropbox and Google accounts, you’re in the cloud already. So, compare Onshape to what you have no and draw your own conclusion.

What is my conclusion? There is one thing that caught my special attention during the webinar.  Onshape is not trying to balance between multiple options. Onshape is not looking how to create a balance between a group of customers ready for cloud and those who is concerned about security, internet and full cloud dependencies. It can put Onshape in some disadvantage today. However, in a long run Onshape can get a bigger gain. Cloud is coming. It is just a matter of time. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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  • DavidChadwick

    Thanks for posting this overview of what was an interesting webinar from Onshape. I am little surprised you didn’t mention Parasolid! Jon was asked about Onshape’s decision to use Parasolid as their underlying solid modelling kernel and went out of his way to describe them as both a terrific partner and a technology leader.

  • beyondplm

    Hi Dave, you’re right – Jon was talking about Parasolid. It seems to me a good choice for Onshape for the moment. I hope to learn more about Parasolid and related topics later this week during Siemens PLM component conference in Boston. That would be a good chance for me to blog about. Are you coming to Boston this week?

  • DavidChadwick

    I am sure you will find the PLM Components conference will give you plenty to blog about! I wish I could be there too – Parasolid is used in the product I work with – Solid Edge – and I am excited about what the convergent modelling direction offers us.

  • beyondplm

    Dave, thanks! I’m looking forward to that!