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 469 - Lagoa

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Lagoa: Multi-Optics Cloud Rendering Engine

This podcast covers Lagoa, a cloud- based rendering engine that I first saw at SolidWorks World and was, hands-down, the most innovative, mind-blowing tech I have seen in years. Topics covered:

- Platform overview

- Features and options

- User Interface and Experience

- Collaborative environment

- Overall first impressions

This year at SolidWorks World, I made it a point to spend quality time in the partner pavilion, a place that seems to get the least of my time in previous years.  After 12 years of attending SolidWorks World, there has been a list of 3rd party products and services that have impressed me.  However, in today's engineering culture, the web is creeping into the equation and services tend to be more impressive than 3rd party local software.

Over the past 3-4 years, cloud services have made a move into the space, offering a number of collaborative layers to the traditional desktop environment.  Whether this was through task panes or other menus inside of SolidWorks, the services were still very tied to the desktop installation.

Lagoa is a cloud rendering software as a a service (SaaS) and not only offloads the rendering hardware and horsepower needed for high end processing, it offloads everything needed from your system.  Cameras, complex material and advanced lighting all at your control through a web browser tab!  Roll in some real-time collaboration, sharing and commenting and you have the ultimate rendering experience completely in the cloud.  Cool stuff!  ~Lou 

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SolidWorks:HEARD! - Episode 436 - Kenesto Community

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Kenesto Community:

This podcast covers the free Kenesto Community, a cloud service that brings business process workflow and social interactivity into one hosted community.  Kenesto came on the radar a couple years ago at SWW 2012 but was still under beta at the time.  Topics covered:

- What does Kenesto Community do?

- What are the costs of the business plans and what do they offer?

- The feature list and how it blends workflow with social.

- Use cases and highlights

- Overall impressions

I had heard about Kenesto in the early months before SolidWorks World 2012 in San Diego, CA and that Mike Payne, long time CAD pioneer, was taking the PLM and business process automation (BPA) to the cloud.  The early promises were to take the infrastructure load off of customers and centralize this automation in the cloud. 

I first saw the product at their booth in the SolidWorks World Partner Pavillion where I got a demo and a more concise description of their goals and product roadmap.  Since then the product fell off my radar since the launch was not quick and it appeared that the beta was going to take some time.  However, earlier this year there was a shift when Kenesto brought on Steve Bodnar from Autodesk to head up products and marketing.

This year (2013) they are now expanding upon their hosted workflow and integrating a social layer and "Freemium" model to get users familiar with the service.  Kenesto offers collaboration and discussion around tasks, documents, workflows, links, forms and a number of other aspects important to project/process management.

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SolidWorks:HEARD! - Episode 427 - SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual First Look

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SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual First Look:

This podcast covers the first look at the first new product announced at SolidWorks World 2013 in Orlando, Florida.  Topics covered:

- The launch of SW Mechanical Conceptual

- Product focus and capabilities

- Simulation options

- Communication options

- Workflow used with SolidWorks on the desktop 

- What "always connected" means

- Availability and thoughts

Well today was the day we have been waiting for since SolidWorks World 2010 in Anaheim, CA.  Fielder Hiss took the stage and announced a new 3DExperience platform (no really that is the name of the platform) that is "always connected and will bring conceptual design and collaboration to the SolidWorks offering.

Unlike the last announcement, this product looks similar, like most of the DS products do, in the UI but had a much larger list of functions focused on both history and direct modeling techniques.  The feature list included function like sketching, dynamic movement, simulation, version control, chat, communities, and the list went on.

I wanted to simply talk about what we know and what was shown since we have no more answers than we did the last time.  There are dates but those can be pushed however I think due to the scope of the list of features, this product might have merit once users can get in and start modeling. ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 395 - Transition to Cloud

Transition to Cloud:

This podcast discusses the possible scenarios that SolidWorks could take with their introduction of SolidWorks V6.  Make not mistake, this is not an all or nothing choice but the move has more questions than answers at this point. Topics covered:

- What we know about SolidWorks V6

- What we still have to learn

- What the "Cloud" can offer

- Possible options for the transition to the V6 platform for SW users

- Miscellaneous questions and how to be ready

To say that SolidWorks has been quiet about the next generation of SolidWorks would be an understatement, especially since we are approaching 3 years since we saw a first take at SW World 2010.  Not only was SolidWorks shown as a cloud-based app running on a number of devices, it was demod in front of it's biggest fans and the CAD press.  Looking back, many would say they let the cat out of the bag way too early, but caused an uprising of doubt of the future of SolidWorks itself.

Like many technology previews, SolidWorks V6 has been the topic of conversation on many blogs and commenters around the web.  The web is something we all use in and out of work for a variety of applications, however when discussions about moving our precious CAD tools to the web start, the open-mindedness goes right out the window.  I believe this is because many of the necessary technologies are brand new or are not fully adopted yet, therefore the desktop works so why "fix it"?

If this move request the "all in" approach, I believe the transition will not happen for a vast majority of users.  A platform shift of this magnitude required a long list of benefits as well as a gradual transition period.  Taking a lesson from the mobile platforms like iOS and Android would tech us that "Apps" are designed for local performance while harnessing the cloud for collaboration, sync and other powerful cloud services. ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 339 - SolidWorks n!Fuze

SolidWorks n!Fuze:

This podcast covers the final launch of SolidWorks n!Fuze which had been preannounced 2 times over the past 2 years as SolidWorks PDS (Product Data Sharing) and SolidWorks Connect respectively.  Topics covered:

- Re-introduction of n!Fuze and the SwYm Community interface

- How to get signed up for an n!Fuze trial

- Installation and usage of the SolidWorks Add-in

- Use and plugin installation for the n!Fuze Web Portal.

- Prequisites for n!Fuze Add-in and Web Portal

- Quick overview of the n!Fuze release notes

- Pricing

Since SolidWorks World 2010 the SolidWorks community has been introduced to the promise of hosted applications, one of which was first shown as SolidWorks PDS.  Around July 2010, news via the blog squad, had talked about the continued development of the PDS product, code named Connect.  This then took us to SolidWorks World 2011 where n!Fuze was pre-announced on Sunday before SolidWorks World had begun.

n!Fuze went into beta around April and then again in June but both were very private beta which did make it a bit hard to test with other users.  On July 1 SolidWorks put n!Fuze up on the DS Store as a released product for purchase but also allow for a 30 day trial (no credit card need).

In this episode I try to outline the details of both the SolidWorks and Web experience in order to get people interested in the trial.  I think the need for this service is growing however the experience is somewhat forign to the masses.  SolidWorks' n!Fuze project manager, John Ellisworth, is asking for feedback so I suggest if this is a product you believe could solve communication problems, get to the trial and give SolidWorks feedback, good or bad.

As far as the mobile options for this service, an iPhone and iPad app should be out "later this year" and other platforms are to follow.  ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 285 - CAD on the Cloud

CAD on the Cloud:

This podcast is a round table discussion with Matt Lombard (Dezignstuff), Oleg Shilovitsky (Beyond PLM), and Josh Mings (SolidSmack) about the pros/cons of a cloud-basd CAD platform. Topics covered:

- What is your description of CAD on the Cloud?

- Pros/Cons of the technology

- What are the real barriors for the common user/company?

- Hosted "Cloud" vs. local server farm

- How players like SolidWorks, Dassault, PTC, AutoDesk, Siemens will address migrating users from local to hosted applications?

- Payment speculation pros/cons for vendor and customer.

- SolidWorks PDS (light collaboration) and the model for hosted add ons to a local application.

Since SolidWorks World 2010 (SWW10) there have been a influx of articles focusing on the idea of hosted 3D parametric CAD applications and how they would all succeed/fail based on today's technology. Many of the major players in the CAD industry are working on various degrees of hosted offerings but most seem to be technology verification projects.

Although many of us have written about this technology, the response from the users who need these tools, in the end, to model geometry, are weary of the transition to a hosted solution delivered via the Internet. It is apparent that there are far more questions that have been unanswered than answered at this point which is why we have not seen anything launched yet.

I want to thank Matt, Oleg and Josh for taking the time and discussing their views on the topic of hosted CAD. We are in a fascinating time in the technology and the promise of more powerful applications with effortless collaboration and maintenance seems almost unattainable in today's market. There is no doubt that applications are moving to the Cloud but is CAD the right product for the move? ~Lou

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