Sunglass: Two-Way CAD Data Streaming from the Web

Sunglass, a web-based CAD collaboration platform, released its first commercial version this week.

This week, during an uncharacteristically warm afternoon in San Francisco, I found myself in Sunglass. Yes, the singular is not an error. I’m not talking about the cheap pair of Ray-Ban knockoffs I was wearing to shield myself from the midday glare. I’m talking about the online collaboration platform Sunglass, whose creators happen to live in my fair City by the Bay.

In May, I was given a preview of Sunglass, still in the process of refinement. This week marks the debut of the first commercial version. What distinguishes the premiere from the preview is the two-way CAD data streaming, enabled by CAD-specific plugins (now available for Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks, and Trimble SketchUp; one for Rhino is in development).

With a CAD plug-in, you can instantly push the change you make to the geometry up to an active Sunglass project space, accessible from a standard browser (with HTML 5 support). So far, the process is a one-way stream — from CAD to Sunglass. Because Sunglass keeps tracks of different versions, the recipient can now view the updated CAD model in a browser, along with its previous version. Suppose the user interacting with the browser decided the updated version is not acceptable. He or she may revert to a previous version, in which case the geometry in the other end also gets reverted, all the way inside SolidWorks, if the user chooses. This makes Sunglass a two-way data-streaming collaboration platform.

Sunglass developers are still trying to understand users’ preferred collaboration behaviors. For example, would users like operations executed in the web-hosted sessions to automatically produce an effect in the associated CAD model? Or would they like to have an additional step for review and acceptance before such changes get populated in the CAD model? It’s one of the questions Sunglass developers continue to wrestle with.

Developers pointed out that Sunglass is superior to existing collaboration applications like Adobe 3D PDF or SolidWorks eDrawings because it is a live document, ready to accept user input and update the displayed model instantly.

According to the company, “This update brings Sunglass much closer to the current workflows of professionals using enterprise grade design tools. The back-end architecture supporting loss-less data (solids, breps, nurbs, tessellated) and assembly-part mapping, along with version history, makes Sunglass the pioneer in delivering a serious cloud-based environment for designers. Now designers can track and manage changes throughout the creation process in a way that was never previously possible — making it simple and visual to work through edits with collaborators and discuss options with clients.”

 

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