Dec 16, 2015 | By Benedict

Browser-based versions of desktop applications have revolutionized the way we work with documents online. With relatively recent online services like Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online, users can edit documents over the internet without the need for any dedicated software beyond a web browser. Furthermore, with these online services, several users can collaborate on the same work at the same time, safe from the threat of bugs, crashes and unwanted duplicates. With 3D printing and its associated CAD software becoming more and more popular across a range of fields, a team of developers at SolidWorks decided that 3D modeling should take a similar course to that taken by these online word processors and other software. Those developers created Onshape, a browser-based 3D design system run entirely from the cloud.

The Onshape 3D design service launched back in March, and has been in beta testing between then and now. After 10,000 users in 150 countries dedicated around 400,000 hours to experimenting with the service, importing 390,000 CAD files and creating 325,000 STL files, Onshape is now ready for a full commercial release.

“We founded Onshape with an ambitious vision, to solve many of the big problems we saw users having with traditional CAD through the application of cloud, web and mobile technology,” explained John Hirschtick, founder of Onshape, via a detailed blog post. “We knew this would require us to build a whole new CAD system from the ground up.”

“We envisioned a professional 3D CAD system to run in a web browser and on mobile phones and tablets,” Hirschtick continued. “We also sought to build-in true simultaneous editing, branching with intelligent merging, version control, and a complete edit history of all activity. And we sought to build all this so it could scale to massive numbers of CAD users around the world, fast, securely and reliably. The goal of our beta test was to validate that our vision could be turned into a reality.”

With Onshape, “the first and only full-cloud 3D CAD system that lets everyone on a design team simultaneously work together using a web browser, phone or tablet”, multiple designers can edit the same project simultaneously, without locking one the other out. This is due to Onshape’s full-cloud architecture, which all but eliminates bugs and crashes.

“During beta Onshape achieved over 99.9% uptime,” said Hirschtick. “When a bug pops up on our software it doesn’t affect all our users because they are working on multiple servers on our fully cloud-based architecture. In fact, we don’t even have a category for crash bugs because it hasn’t been an issue.”

The prolonged period of beta testing allowed Onshape to consistently roll out new features every three to four weeks, based on user feedback and development. This process looks set to continue beyond the full commercial release, with fresh ideas continuing to force updates and new versions. “I am extremely excited about how our customers continue to react to the improvements we make to Onshape every few weeks,” said Hirschtink.

One of the CAD platform’s most valuable features is its wide device compatibility. The browser-based service can be used on almost any computer, as well as mobile devices, infrequently used for 3D design until now. The mobile version of Onshape has brought CAD to an entirely new platform, with around one in six Onshape sessions taking place on mobile devices, and with over half of Onshape Professional users using the mobile services.

The full commercial release of Onshape will be accompanied by the launch of a dedicated Onshape App Store. With this additional service, users will be able to download applications which integrate with the Onshape service an which can be used to manipulate existing Onshape projects. Some apps will integrate directly into Onshape, while others will connect to it externally, by either a Connected Cloud App or Connected Desktop App.

Materialise is one of several 3D printing specialists to develop an app for the Onshape platform, which will allow users to optimize or repair a design for 3D printing. The Materialise 3DPrintCloud app has been designed to narrow the gap between 3D design and 3D printing within the OnShape system. Pinshape has also developed an app, to bring its 3D printing services into the Onshape universe.

The App Store will see an inititally private beta launch. “Our philosophy is to provide our customers with the widest array of apps possible,” explained Dave Corcoran, vice president of research and development. “Onshape users can decide what level of integration and what application pricing and capabilities are right for them.”

“We are very proud of what we have built so far to complete our beta and reach our commercial launch, but we have a much broader vision for the future of Onshape,” concluded Hirschtick. “Rest assured that we will continue to work hard every day to to improve and expand Onshape to make it an even better tool for our users.”

Onshape looks set to revolutionize the way in which teams of designers work on 3D designs and 3D prints. Stay tuned for updates on the full release of Onshape and its new App Store.



Posted in 3D Software



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Julio wrote at 12/17/2015 7:12:36 PM:

"...a team of developers at Solid Works..." "Those developers created Onshape" That's misleading. That first "at" makes me understand that Onshape is a Solid Works product, because the developers are istill "at" Solid Works, whicht it is not. Instead you shoukd use: "Some of those developers used to work at Solid Works"

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