Amid a great amount of excitement and speculation, Onshape finally makes its first public appearance when the cloud-based CAD product opens today for public beta testing. Now everyone can see for themselves what all the hubbub has been about.
The company behind the product is backed by multiple ex-SolidWorks employees and is spearheaded by SolidWorks founder, Jon Hirschtick, now founder of Onshape. The talented team behind the product is part of the reason why the product is getting so much attention and sparking considerable curiosity among the user community.
The other “part” is that it’s the industry’s fist fully fledged, cloud-based CAD product. No downloading of software involved. No renewal of licenses required. No IT support needed. You can run it on a tablet or smartphone; no expensive souped-up workstation required. And, the biggie: it’s free. Yes, you heard right, but more on that later.
Over the last six months, over a thousand users in 52 countries have put Onshape through its paces in pre-production testing, many of which are now shipping products that were designed with Onshape.
What is Onshape?
OnShape is the first full-cloud 3D CAD system that can run on most web browsers on any device (tablet, smartphone, computer). Regardless of what platform you’re running Onshape on, the performance will be the same since you are utilizing cloud-based computing resources with thousands of cores available; not on-board computing. In addition to device independence, this ability also means that all users will always be working on the same version of the software, eliminating the often encountered issue of incompatibility.
With former SolidWorks developers behind the wheel at Onshape, users need not worry about the interface; it’s intuitive and browser-based so even first-time users should be able to pick it up relatively easily. The system uses familiar parametric and direct modeling techniques and file version control is inherent in the system. Just as Google Docs constantly save, so does Onshape. Being cloud-based, Onshape will constantly be improved upon and users will instantly have access to all updates.
Easier Collaboration, anyone?
To me, one of the coolest things about Onshape is the way it handles data management. Teams can access the same documents simultaneously while directly working on the same part or assembly. All design participants can make–or watch others make–design changes in real-time directly on their own computers, tablets or phones. To differentiate between users, simple visuals indicate who is who during design collaboration sessions.
Once updates are made, team members can choose to merge these “branches” of the design and save only the designs selected as the best, though all previous versions are also saved for future reference.
Is it really free?
Short answer is yes, but you will be limited to 5 GB of data. Upgrade to the Professional subscription model for $100/month, which enables users or teams to go over the 5 GB of data storage on their Onshape Cloud account. Curious? Give it a test drive yourself by signing up for the beta version here.
Read more about the reasons Jon Hirshtick believes the industry is ready to move beyond file-based CAD systems in our two-part Q&A: Jon Hirschtick on the Future of CAD and Jon Hirschtick on the Future of CAD: Part II.