From CAD file versions comparison to cloud PDM

From CAD file versions comparison to cloud PDM


A trend towards moving design related work to the cloud is growing. Despite a chorus of security, speed and connectivity concerned people, we can see how companies are growing their cloud data management solution towards supporting more robust features online. Few months ago, I was posting about Github moving towards the support of 3D models – GitHub PDM: is it for real? The ability of GitHub to work with 3D models together with core SCM functionality created an interesting tool for a specific market niche. Data management for individual designers, 3D printing offices and small teams.

Yesterday, my attention was caught by TechCrunch article – GitHub Adds 3D Modeling Features That Make It A Printer-Agnostic Choice For Object Sharing. Article speaks about GitHub adding a very specific 3D feature – ability to compare and finding difference in models. The following passage explains how it works.

…basically it takes each version and then overlays over the next using some nice transitions. Not unlike code diffs – the processes of comparing two iterations of a piece of software – this gives you far more control over the design process and lets you see where someone screwed up (or did something amazing).

Picture below shows how it looks like in the user interface:


Interesting enough, this feature reminded me another solution – GrabCAD CPD. GrabCAD recently introduced Workbench as part of their collaborative product development (CPD) suite. You can read my blog from last month – GrabCAD CPD wants to disrupt CAD file management. One of the GrabCAD Workbench features – visualization and comparison of versions.


Both GrabCAD and GitHub features made me think about new trend in cloud PDM development going bottom up and starting from very simple storage, file manipulation and sharing. Now it comes to revision comparison. Opposite to PDM dinosaurs trying to establish full top down file control and data management, these online tools are trying to find a right “feature” that will give them wide customer adoption.

What is my conclusion? Cloud provides an interesting opportunity to develop old solutions differently. GitHub and GrabCAD are not selling PDM first, but provide platforms for share data and compare revisions. Between these two, GrabCAD is probably looks more like a traditional PDM. GItHub popularity among software developers and SCM feature set can create an interesting perspective for different people in organization – software engineers, mechanical engineers, etc. to share the same platform. It means broader adoption – PDM industry was looking for these last 2 decades. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg


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  • Ron Fritz

    Great point,, Oleg. As the company providing the technology building blocks for CAD Data re-use and web/mobile visualization, we can confirm that you’re right. More companies whom you don’t think of typically as PLM vendors are adding more PLM-like capabilities. At the same time, PLM companies are moving past file management to allow deeper interaction with the 3D data as well as wider sharing. GitHub and GrabCAD ( a partner of ours) are two good examples, though there are more- and quite a few more coming on line over the next 6 months.

  • beyondplm

    Ron, thanks for your comment and “confirmation”. It is quite interesting to see how a landscape of CAD/PDM/PLM is changing these days. I can see more changes in the future. Happy Holidays!

  • I think this is exactly where the disruption starts. Sure, right now, it’s just STL files manually dumped into the GItHub repository, but the path forward from here should be interesting. I could see one of the bigger players, not fully understanding of what’s going on, to make a potential bid for GrabCAD.

  • Dave

    You’ve got at correct Ed !
    I see SaaS and HaaS coming together in locations close to where people live (work place malls). People will go to these locations at times convenient to them, so that they can have access to the latest advanced software and hardware resources. They will create Interlectual Property and deliver it to their clients PDMSs via clouds.
    Just 120 locations throughout North America, each providing 1000 work spaces – at the cost equivalent to a daily lunch to users – and with 24/7/52 availability, will only require a utilization rate of 30% to generate total revenues of $785 million per annum.
    Question is, do the high end SaaS and HaaS producers and the Cloud technology providers all see the same numbers and are those numbers compelling ? … 120 locations will likely serve around 360,000 professionals in total and that’s a large crowd to source from if you’re looking for “Big Data” to analyse and help you innovate and make decisions regarding the running of your Enterprise. Finally, the best part, the crowd will pay you to be part of this new paradigm.

  • beyondplm

    Ed, I think you are right. I can see it goes “bottom up”… until it will be too late for somebody to catch up. The Innovators dilemma?

  • beyondplm

    Hi Dave, thanks for comments and thoughts… Not sure I can follow all numbers, but it is clearly a beginning of a new market and lots of opportunities. GitHub answers on the question – what is the missing function “today” that everybody needed. Looks like “compare STL files” is one. What will be the next? Good questions… IMHO, GrabCAD is trying to answer… Best, Oleg

  • Dave

    I’m thinking 24h x 7d x 52w x 1000 places  x 0.30 utilization ratio = 2,600,000 billable hours
    Also thinking that at $20 (price of a good lunch) for an 8 hr daily session, the rate for access to SaaS, HaaS and other Cloud Technologies, we’re looking at would be around $2.50 per billable hour.
    For 120 Sites across North America, 120 x 2,600,000 x $2.50 = $780 million
    So the questions are :-
    Will professionals wishing to make six figure plus incomes be willing to spend daily the equivalent cost of a good lunch for access to the necessary resources ?
    Can such facilities achieve a 30% or higher utilization rate ?

  • beyondplm

    I can see that. Which brings us to the point of software consumption as “utility” per GB.