Google Version of CAD Interoperability Story

I’m going back to talking about the CAD interoperability story, inspired by some interesting experience with Google Apps and Microsoft Word. My previous take on CAD interoperability in <Top Five Disappointing PLM Technologies> follows:

#3 – CAD Interoperability — The inability of CAD vendors to agree on how to exchange models continues to affect people in the industry. You can see people spending their entire lives translating files from one CAD to another. You can still find “translation departments” in organizations. Quite a large amount of companies in our industry still focuses primarily on interoperability. So far, it looks like this problem will still be with us for awhile…

Based on comments and discussion following this post, I got the impression that although there is no agreement on how to resolve this topic by vendors, but there are solutions in the field. There are companies and toolkits providing solutions for converting one CAD format to another.

So, what is the Google story? This is quite simple – Google continues to add format support to their Google Apps. With this announcement, Google is supporting Microsoft Office 2007 formats. So, from now on, docx and xlsx formats are supported. MS PowerPoint 2007 is still on-going. Together with the already supported, range of file formats including .doc, .odt, .xls, .ods, .ppt, .csv, .html, .txt, .rtf, and others,  I can use Google Apps for a wide array of use cases without going to MS Office.

So, why have I decided to come back to this topic? The answer is simple – I was impressed by how Google Apps are solving interoperability problems related to MS office. This is seamless and does not hurt me as a user. Therefore, as I said – we need to learn and reuse this experience. My summary on this isL

  1. Use a seamless way of converting and keeping track of document (and/or models, in the case of CAD)
  2. Focus on the browser as the key tool to deliver user experience. Users love everything that comes in a browser, and we’ll see more examples of user experience dedicated to specific browsers.

I believe that the solution for this problem is also in the hands of companies providing CAD Viewer solutions. I’d be very interesting to learn and hear about your experience in the field of seamless user experience and interoperability in the CAD area.

Just my thoughts,



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