CAD competition – standard cloud feature list

CAD competition – standard cloud feature list


Once upon a time, CAD system competition was about 3D modeling. Although, it is still true, I can see the new trend of competition – cloud data management and collaboration. Meantime, active players in this competition are cloud CAD vendors. However, I’m pretty sure it will expand to other CAD systems (or Product Innovation Platforms).

My attention was caught by two Solidsmack articles about Autodesk Fusion360 and Onshape. Navigate here to read more – 5 ways Fusion360 improves team collaboration and How collaboration works in Onshape (and 5 reasons you should try it now).

Read the article and watch examples. Based on the article and knowledge of both systems – Fusion360 and Onshape, I’m coming with the list of cloud data management and collaboration features. Some of them are available in both systems. Some of them are unique features available only in one of these CAD systems.

1. Data access on all devices. This is pretty basic, but absolutely important for cloud CAD. Data is managed in a centralized way using cloud database and other servers. Each system can bring its own implementation specific – I will discuss it in my next blogs.

2. Share design with others. A direct outcome of cloud data access and management. Sharing data is a basic thing. But the value of the feature is huge and it is demanded by all users.

3. Live review. The 3rd most common feature after data access and sharing. CAD is a visual tool and ability to view information simultaneously is very important.

4. Redline and markup. The ability to markup is pretty standard. Coming from 2D/3D viewers and combined with social network commenting, it is also nice common feature.

5. Simultaneous 3D data editing. The ability to make editing is one of the most disputed cloud data management features in cloud CAD systems. It all goes back to paradigm of editing. I will discuss it later in my next blogs.

6. Where used and related data queries. CAD system can get some goodies as a result of placing database servers behind the tool. Management of relationships and queries is a good example how to bring value to users.

7. Branching and merging. This is a feature that goes back in the history to SCM (software configuration management and control). Existing branching and merging tools will remind you Github and other SCM tools.

What is my conclusion? CAD competition is coming into a new phase – cloud data management and collaboration. The list of possible and desired cloud-based features is maturing.  It will be interesting to watch how leaders in cloud CAD (Autodesk and Onshape) will be able to compete. Another interesting thing is to watch how existing vendors can play a “catch up” game. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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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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