SolidWorks:HEARD! - Episode 471 - GrabCAD Workbench for SolidWorks

GrabCAD Workbench for SolidWorks:

This podcast covers the updates and new add-in for SolidWorks for the evolving GrabCAD engineering platform.  Every year when I come back to revisit what GrabCAD is up to I am amazing to their expanding offerings to the engineering community.  Topics covered:

An overview of GrabCAD Workbench

- The GCWB web UI

- Overview of the SolidWorks Add-In

- Use cases and workflow from within SolidWorks

- SolidWorks format support and integration with GrabCAD web service

- Overview of pricing plans and capabilities

- Overall thoughts.

The first time I mentioned GrabCAD on this show it was July 3rd, 2011 when they broke onto the scene with an engineering community and 3D CAD sharing site.  Since then we have kept an eye on their evolution over the years and last year they introduced their Workbench product which was a shift in their previous offerings.

Workbench was focused to tackle sharing and collaborating on private 3D data and provide browser-based viewing (WebGL), markup, measure and comment threads around design teams and their data.  A year ago I covered the newly launched Workbench and at that time it was primarily a web service, requiring upload of data via the web and somewhat disconnecting the CAD authoring tool from the collaboration service.

As Workbench began to get traction, they launched GrabCAD Toolbox which is a listing of partners they work with through add-ins, and other cloud service connections like with Lagoa.  With the launch of their SolidWorks add-in, GrabCAD has narrowed the barrier between desktop and cloud, allowing Workbench to become an in-process tool as well.  Versioning, file locking and auto sync with upload/download support give light PDM to any SolidWorks user.  I'm excited to see what else the folks at GradCAD will do next!  ~Lou

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SolidWorks:HEARD! - Episode 449 - eDrawings for Android

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eDrawings for Android:

This podcast covers the newly launched Android version of eDrawings discussing install, comparisons to the iOS launch, compatibility and overall impressions.  Topics covered: 

- Overview of the launch

- Android V1 feature set

- Differentiation between iOS and Android versions

- Speculation on a Pro version

- Compatibility testing chart

- Overall impressions

As mentioned in a previous post, the demand from customers for an Android version of eDrawings was not going to just go away.  SolidWorks has been slow to realize a few things about eDrawings for mobile, one of which was the need to have it on phones and not just tablets.  This thought of it being only useful on a tablet seemed to be the reason ignoring Android as a viable platform was so strong and why it took so long for the Android version to ship.

Despite the iPad still being dominate in the tablet space, Android as a mobile platform is nearing 80% market share according to IDC, shipping 187 million, yes million, devices last quarter alone.  SolidWorks recognizing that eDrawings for iPad was also needed on the iPhone seemed to be the catalyst for Android needing to be a priority. 

As it's iOS sister, eDrawings for Android became an overnight, de facto standard for opening and viewing SolidWorks files on the platform (go figure?) but will move to a level of it's own once the Pro version comes out.  No official word yet but last year the Pro version shipped around the launch of the next version of SolidWorks (October-ish?). ~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 404 - eDrawings Pro for iPad

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This podcast covers my review of the newly released version of eDrawings Pro for the iPad that shipped at the end of last month.  I have had time to do some testing and want to share what this awesome feature set does for the tablet.  Topics covered:

- Overview of the new feature set

- How the new markup and measure tools work (options for both)

- Using the new cross section tool

- What has been improved from the original version of eDrawings

- Overall review and thoughts

Shortly after this product shipped, I did some testing of the existing features and what has been added to this new Pro version.  I wrote up my thoughts on the feature set, improved functions and my thoughts on price.  

SolidWorks has been slow to the mobile market with supportive apps for viewing and collaboration and the first attempt back in May was a start.  After SolidWorks opened up the suggestion box a number of requests came for the profession features like markup and measure in order to move this toy viewer into a real mobile client.

The last time I reviewed eDrawings for iPad I was hard on the fact that there was no version even in the plans for Android.  Although this is still missing and the stance has not changed, I will leave that topic alone in this show since I think the point is know by SolidWorks that this is a requirement for large SolidWorks community adoption. *Nuff Said!" ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 386 - eDrawings for iPad

eDrawings for iPad:

This podcast cover the much awaited mobile move for DS SolidWorks to finally ship a native SolidWorks viewer on mobile devices.  Their decision was to move on eDrawings on one platform, the iPad.  Topics covered:

- A brief overview and first impressions

- What eDiPad does for iPad users

- What can be "seen" from a SolidWorks published eDrawing

- What can be "seen" from an a modified eDrawing from eDrawings Pro.

- What needs to be in version 2

- Future wish list

- Overall thoughts for this V1 app from DS SolidWorks

For years users have waited for SolidWorks to make a move on mobile and finally the start of this movement took place this past week.  Although shipping an iPad only app would have been fine 1.5 years ago, in today's mobile market where Android, a 50% market leader in mobile operating systems, was not addressed in their mobile strategy.  The decision to also not ship the new mobile app on phone platforms on either iOS or Android has also ruffled a few feathers as well.

eDrawings for iPad is a much need app to offer native viewing solutions for SolidWorks, DXF/DWG, DraftSight and Pro/Engineer files.  Support for the "Open In.." functionality, iPad users can open these data sets from Mail, Dropbox, SkyDrive, Box.Net and other application throughout the device.

Other then the overall out cry for support for Android, the real miss was not providing the productivity tool sets eDrawings users want like markup and measure.  I hope this application can be more operating system egoistic and provide the tools that allow "users on the go" to get productive work done.  I have done extensive testing and have posted my compatibility chart here.  ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 374 - SolidWorks World App

SolidWorks World App:

This podcast covers the features in the SolidWorks World 2012 app that was launched just last week and some of the interesting features this app provides for attendees of this year's SWW conference. Topics covered:

- SWW2012 App is available on iOS and Andriod

- iOS is a universal app, scaled for the iPad

- Navigating sessions, speakers, floorplans, partner pavilion and more

- Adding sessions to your agenda

- Scanning badges from the QR code tool

- Quick links to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube

- Dassault Systemes aquires Netvibes and launches a landing page for SWW12

Last year SolidWorks released an iPhone app that was especially built for SWW 2011 giving users the ability to browse sessions and get valuable info about speakers, partners, maps etc of the event.  After 10 years of thumbing through the little conference booklet and trying to determine where I was going next, this app made navigating the conference simple.  Having a lot of detail, especially of the partner pavillion, allowed me to get more out of SWW than previous years.

The issue that many had voiced about the app was the fact it was only on iOS (iPhone) at the time. Considering Android is taking the market by storm, it only makes sense that if SolidWorks is to offer such a great tool that it be available on the lion's share of devices. This year they launched a 2012 version of the app but this time it is available on both iOS and Android and the iOS version is a universal app, giving iPad users full use of the screen real estate.

After navigating around in the app I find that browsing sessions is so easy, especially researching and signing up right from within the app. You can log in with your registration account and see what is is coming up next in your agenda and figure out how to get there.  This makes getting around and gaining the most of the conference much easier. ~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 318 - Tablet Engineering Tools

Tablet Engineering Tools:

This podcast covers a growing trend of tools available on the tablet to aid Engineers to do lightweight tasks while on the go.  Topics covered:

CAD Tools (iPad):

- AutoCAD WS - open, edit, and share DWG (Free)

- iRhino 3D - Viewer for Rhino 3DM files ($3.99 USD)

- 3dvia Mobile HD - Viewer for model on 3dvia.com

- Inventor Publisher Mobile - Viewer for Tech pubs 

- vueCAD - Universal 3D viewer and markup tool ($9.99 USD + $$$ per translator)

Current iPad App Announcements (not shipped):

- SolidWorks n!Fuze - Viewer, Browser and Comments 

- DraftSight - View, Edit, Share (no elaborate details were shared)

- CADFaster - Collaborative Tools

- NEI Nastran Mobile FEA App - FEA Cloud Computing

My Wishes...

- SolidWorks Live Buildings - View & collaborate?

- Post3D - Pull participation with chat and 3D avatar?

- eDrawings - something web-based and live clients for view and markup?

I have been wanting to do a show on a landscape of some of the applications available on the iPad for Engineering purposes.  Due to the iPad really being the only mainstream tablet on the market I focused mostly on the apps available on this platform.

Although 2011 will probably be the year of the tablet with HP, Rim, Motorola, Samsung and Apple all having players in the market, I am probably going to stick with the iPad for now since that is the platform that gets the quickest access to new applications.  What I would like to see is mobile clients built on HTML5 and other browser based technologies so the tablet platform is not as important.  Choice is good but creates complexities when it comes to application support!

As more CAD companies begin to create experiences that fit the mobile platform, engineers are going to have more choice of how they perform certain duties.  Pairing tablets with cloud based computing can deliver a "lean-back" options to certain aspects of the design process.  Tablets will not replace the desktop but can definitely complement them for certain tasks.  ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 273 - Mobile Engineering Tools

Mobile Engineering Tools:

This podcast covers technology to keep engineers in sync with their data while on the go. With mobile computing becoming ubiquitous with smart phones, netbooks and even tablets like the iPad, engineers are using these tools as part of the design process.  Topics covered:

- Smart phones / NetBooks / Tablets

- File Sync Services (Mesh and DropBox)

- Online file storage (Box.net and Google Docs

- Note / File sync (Evernote)

- Remote Desktop (RDP + VPN and GoToMyPc)

Whether it be Android, iPhone, Blackberry for smart phones or netbooks, tablets or the iPad, mobile computing is becoming a staple in our society, especially among tech savvy individuals like engineers.  We are all geeks (to some level) and want access to our engineering data and tools when on the go.  With many of these mobile devices carrying onboard broadband access, powerful web browsers and 1000's of applications for every task imaginable, engineering on the go is going to happen.

I recently bought an iPad, not just for the huge touchscreen or the killer movies I could watch on it, but the business impacts of being connected to my data via a thin, lightweight snappy device.  I have the ability to access all my email/calendar/docs via Google and my work desktop and servers via Remote Desktop.  I have even connected and launched SolidWorks to print a 3D part on the uPrint while sitting on my couch at home.  

I will followup up shortly with a post about my first impressions on the iPad but hope to shine some light on how mobility and engineering are the future. ~Lou

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