SolidWorks:HEARD! - Episode 439 - Sunglass Revision Management

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Sunglass Revision Management:

This podcast is a first look at the new revision management feature set that was added to the popular 3D browser-based collaboration service Sunglass.io.  Revision tracking is a key feature to using today's CAD platforms however they are typically format specific or can be challenging to get outside parties (vendors/contractors) into the collaboration environment.  Topics covered:

- An overview of the updated UI of Sunglass.io

- Understanding the SoilidWorks plugin and workflow

- Web viewer experience for collaborators

- Projects and Spaces in the Sunglass Dashboard

- Viewing / Comparing / Restoring Revisions

- User experience and workflow

- Overall impressions

Sunglass.io, a San Francisco 3D web-based collaboration start-up, has been very busy iterating over the past year and much of what was in the V1 service during the initial release has been refined.  This past week Sunglass announced a revision management layer to their 3D web viewer, co-viewing and other collaboration tools to help keep track of the various changes that occur during the design process.

PDM, product data management, tools are typically expensive, require hardware/infrastructure and implementation.  Although the end result can be very powerful however for small. remote groups this can be too expensive and overkill. Sunglass is attempting to address this common need by taking the hosting and setup out of the equation by introducing simple "push/pull" plugins for SolidWorks, Inventor, SketchUp and Rhino.  Pushing a revision up to Sunglass is easy, prompting for comments and syncing the changes up to the collaboration service with the push of a button.

This "Github for CAD" is starting to focus on some of the big challenges when it comes to 3D design.  I have been testing Sunglass since their launch and although many services support version tracking (uploading a file of the same name), their approach is more streamlined to how CAD users work.  ~Lou

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SolidWorks:HEARD! - Episode 438 - GrabCAD Workbench

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GrabCAD Workbench:

This podcast discusses the newly launched collaboration addition to GrabCAD's already popular 3D Model Community.  GrabCAD has now entered the browser-based collaboration arena to join players like TeamPlatform and Sunglass.io.  Topics covered:

- What is Workbench?

- Collaboration portfolio 

- The workflow of uploading, sharing and collaborating with others

- Toolsets for collaboration

- My wish list (for let's say V2)

- Initial thoughts

This past week GrabCAD, a 3D model community, introduced a new collaboration are to their service called Workbench.  Workbench is an attempt to give it's community more depth to this popular sharing platform by enabling it's users design collaboration tools. Prior to Workbench's launch, GrabCAD offered sharing but more inline with an open source mentality where the community could see, comment and download models from you.  

Workbench is a collaboration area of your GrabCAD account where projects are uploaded, collaborators are invited and 3D collaboration and communication happens on your terms.  Although in the V1 launch is asynchronous, I hope more real-time features make the coming builds and knowing GrabCAD and how quickly they iterate, it is probably not too far out.  

It is far from the perfect collaboration tool as it sits today but it is addressing a grown need for remote teams and smaller groups to easily get their project content hosted and give them tools to make informed 3D decisions without a lot of prerequisites and software.  This is yet another example of how the web is connecting us to be more efficient in design, communication and yes collaboration. ~Lou

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SolidWorks:HEARD! - Episode 433 - MyCadbox

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MyCadBox:

This podcast covers a new product from the folks over at CadFaster called MyCadbox.  This is a new online CAD collaboration service that is works across the desktop and the iPad.  Topics covered:

- What is MyCadbox really?

- Details on the "Freemium" model

- Collaboration tool on the desktop and iPad

- Co-Viewing Experience

- Overall impressions

- Enhancement ideas

Two years ago I ttalked to Tuomas Holma, the VP of Marketing at CadFaster and we discussed a product that had come our right before SolidWorks World that year called CadFaster Collaborate for SolidWorks.  Since then the company has focused more on BIM (Building Information Modeling) and was not as focused on the MCAD industry.

A few weeks ago, MyCadbox launched a a pseudo the Dropbox for CAD, which I first read on Deelip's blog, and since I have spend a fair amount of time in the Dropbox API and a long time user of the service, I was intrigued.  I have spend a few hours of testing with the service and now believe is it nothing like Dropbox (Deelip's words) but that there is more focus on sharing the experience than the files themselves.

With services like GoToMeeting, Join.Me, Google Hangouts and Skype, collaboration services coming into this space need to focus on the vertical markets like CAD and have to add tool-sets that break the collaboration habits we currently rely on in our design lives.  I am unsure at this point if MyCadbox will dislodge my collaboration habits yet. ~Lou

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SolidWorks:HEARD! - Episode 417 - TeamPlatform

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TeamPlatform:

This podcast covers a cloud-based service for design teams to collaborate, communicate and manage their projects called TeamPlatform.  Topics covered:

- Signup process and subscription options

- Dashboard (your TP at a glance)

- Workspaces & Pages

- File uploads and 3D CAD support

- Discussions and Tasks

- Sharing Controls (private & public

- Overall impressions

I am thrilled to see that the cloud-based, collaboration arena for 3D continues bring new players to the table with their own take on how it is to be done.  I have often brought up SolidWorks 3DTeamWorks on this show since it was a product so far ahead of its time and TeamPlatform  reminds me of that on steroids.

Services like Sunglass.io and GrabCAD have emerged for different reasons but ultimately making the ability to view 3D CAD on the cloud a browser based tool.  TeamPlatform packs project management, file collaboration and version control all into a hosted space with a nuumber of uses.  It reminds me of an Engineering focused version of BaseCamp from 37 Signals.

I love the fact that the folks at TeamPlatform also have pushed their API up to GitHub and provided a number of methods to connect via their API (paid versions) to integrate this service into the numerous tools being used inside your company.

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 381 - Sunglass

Sunglass:

This podcast covers a browser-based 3D collaboration tool that give you live, 3D interaction, markup and other design review tools. Topics covered:

- Sunglass signup and overview

- Uploading content

- View navigation and object manipulation

- Live collaboration tools

- Markup and save options

- First impressions

I am always looking for the next web-based 3D tool for helping engineers and designers collaborate on ideas.  I heard about this tool a while back from SolidSmack and have been playing with it quite a bit.  This MIT startup based out of the bay area just received $1.7M in funding and is quite impressive in its early stages.

I am unsure, at this point, if Sungless is more beneficial to its users than using screen-sharing tools along with their CAD platforms, however it shows is the promise of browser-based tools that can be run from anywhere for hassle-free collaboration.  Hopefully as it develops they will add more native file formats (currently OBJ, 3DS and STL) and possibly launch simple upload tools directly from the CAD platform in order to remove the export step for collaboration.

The tool does require flash, which rules out many mobile platforms, however performance-wise the service ran pretty well and the collaboration experience was quite good.  Chat, markup, view saving and live 3D collaboration environment make this browser-based tool a service I will keep my eye on for months to come. ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 367 - Touch Maide Possible

Touch Maide Possible:

This podcast covers a new 3D control app for the iPad (and soon iPhone/iPod Touch) developed by a startup called Maide Inc in Toronto.  The app allows you to pan, zoom, and rotate your models with intuitive multi-touch gestures on your iPad. Topics covered:

- Product introduction

- Supported 3D CAD applicaitons

- Setup and Configuration

- Feature set of Maide Control for iPad

- Tips of use with iOS5 and the iPad (1st gen)

- Overall first impressions

3D mice and control devices have been gaining momentum over the past decade, bringing a level of 3D control that a mouse alone just cannot provide.  In my early CAD days after migrating away from a digitizing tablet, I was using Spaceball 4000 and really started to get hooked.  It was almost to the point where I found I could not even use CAD without it!  I have since moved away from it since I travel and am on the go (despite having a space traveler that collects dust in my bag!).

A few weeks ago I received an email from Maide's CEO & Founder Oleg Kostour asking if I was interested in taking a spin on their 3D control app for iPad since it had now entered a beta for SolidWorks.  After freeing up some time to really take a look, I installed the app and Maide Connect (desktop component) and dove in.  I tested on both Mac and Windows with Sketchup since support for SolidWorks is in beta but only for 2011 and I have since removed all but 2012 from my systems!

The app works as advertised and can be customized in most (not SolidWorks yet) for menu commands, similar to the way you have mouse gestures in SolidWorks in a ring.  I am excited to see their iPhone / iPod touch app that is coming out since it uses the gyros, allowing movement of the device in conjunction to touch to navigate the 3D space.  For more information about Maide Inc check out their blog!

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 345 - Dropbox Library Sharing

Dropbox Library Sharing:

This podcast covers ways to utilize Dropbox, the cloud based drive/sync service, for keeping CAD data, libraries and other shared resources centralized and local to remove design teams. Topics covered:

- Dropbox signup, setup, options and plans

- How to share files and folders with other users

- Use and access Dropbox from inside of SolidWorks

- Possible libraries of SolidWorks good for sync

- Things to avoid for now..

- Apps to work with Dropbox to help

- ChatBox (Mac Only >;-) Windows coming!)

- WatchIT! Yahoo Gadget

Since getting on iOS, Dropbox has been a an integral part of my device requrements when it came to file sync. SolidWorks has so many libraries, templates, file locations, weldment profiles, etc, the local groups just place that content on the network and are good to go. What about those of us who are remote? Dropbox is a great way to get that content locally.

In adition to libraries, sometimes using it as a way to share CAD content crosses our minds. SolidWorks can use Dropbox's sync folder pretty well as long as SolidWorks is placed in a multi-user environment for use with assemby design. Although Dropbox does keep versions, it cannot be used to allow two users to work on the same file so avoid trying that...I already have.

Overall there are a few things that Dropbox could use to really become that missing link for remote teams and I talk to a couple, one of which I think it great but is not on Windows so make sure you tell them you want to see a Windows version soon! ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 342 - Future of CAD

Future of CAD:

This podcast covers my thoughts on the Future of CAD and how things seem to be progressing on the tech front. Topics covered:

- A little background where this topic creeped into the cast

- How engineering tools were like in the early 90's

- Today's CAD landscape

- Parallels in moving to Google Apps & the Future of CAD

- The definition of a "real" web app 

- Hopes for the future of CAD

Two weeks ago I received a shipment from my dad that contained a number childhood memories, one of which was an Armatron.  This 12" tall, 6-axis robotic arm that had two joysticks and was fully operational that finalized my love of robotics as a kid.  This same toy was the focus of a Freshman year project in my ME tools course with CADKey and it got me thinking about how much the tools have changed in just a segment of my life.

Over the past 1.5 years my switch to Google Apps for all our corporate email, calendar, docs, chat and internal intranet I see a shift in how we use services and applications. It did not come without some frustrations and trials but overall the switch has been very positive and has grown many areas of our business.

And then there is mobile. No-one wants "an app for that" (at least I don't) but they want to be able to access their content where they are, on what they have, and be expected to do what is "device appropriate".  I personally do not like the "APP" model but prefer the web model so any device that has a browser is in play.  ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 322 - CadFaster

CadFaster:

This podcast is an interview with Tuomas Holma, VP of Marketing for CadFaster, the company behind realtime collaboration tools for AEC and the MCAD market and soon on iOS.  Topics covered:

- CadFaster backgroud and market experience

- Current product line

- Workflow for CadFaster Collaborate as a SolidWorks User

- Technical aspects of the Collaborate tools

- How CadFaster Collaboration is different from other remote meeting services.

- Roadmap for iOS client (to launch on the App Store in April 2011, approval pending).

- Plans for other platforms (mobile, desktop, AEC/MCAD tools)

- Trial and payment model

- Other tech talk about the industry

What a fun show!  Tuomas and I discuss CadFaster the company, products and overall solutions they provide. You might remember some buzz about CadFaster right before SolidWorks World 2011 when many of the blogs were talking about their up and coming iPad application for sharing SolidWorks models over the web.

CadFaster's philosophy is high performance with simplicity for the user without the requirement for high-end hardware.  CadFaster has been in the market for 10 years with their viewer tool (CadFaster QuickSTEP) but has been developing collaboration tools since 2009.  Their approach is different than traditional screen sharing since they host the annotation layer (comments, markups, etc.) while the client drives the visuals created by the self-executable output.

The iOS version of the client will be free in Apple's App Store in April pending approval but will deliver this same viewing and collaboration capability in a mobile device.  I want to thank Tuomas and CadFaster for coming on the show and sharing their vision of how product reviews can be in the future.  ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 317 - Post3D

Post3D:

This podcast covers the 3D immersive collboration tool introducted by Dassault's CEO Bernard Charles at SolidWorks World 2011.  Topics covered:

- Post3D Overview

- Getting started

- Creating a 3D post

- Inviting Users

- Options and controls

- Collaborative options

- Uploading 3D content to your post

- Overall thoughs of "Second Life for CAD"

Post3D was debuted at SolidWorks World on Day 1 by Bernard Charles and Jeremy Luchini of Let's Go Design and they gave a demo of the Ultimate CAD Chair with another person from a remote location (told to be China).  The demo looked alright but I wanted to log in and tool around to see exactly what is involved to create this "immersive" design review.

The setup was actually very ease, uploads were simple to do and navigation and model placement didn't take that long.  It is an interesting way to share and collaborate with others. Although a bit corny at first, the introduction of the avatar more importantly shows you their visual perspective so you can interact in ways that you would when physically standing in the room with them.

Post3D seems to take the recently retired tool SolidWorks 3D Instant Website and takes it to a new level with 3D being the environment as well as the design and adding a true collaborative layer with chat, comments and a single point, 3D workspace.  It is in technical preview right now so the folks at 3dvia are very interested to hear your experiences and your feedback, so get to testing! ~Lou

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