Another bridge just went up in the collaboration space. This one is called Share3D. It’s built by QuadriSpace, which offers a series of CAD-to-3D PDF publishing packages. The Share3D app, available for both iPhone and iPad for free, is designed to work in conjunction with the company’s cloud-hosted offerings and the desktop product.
Several products from the Share3D line — the iPad app, the cloud services, and the desktop client — come together to form a collaborative environment for project team members working on different devices, in different places. This is the model driven by what some are calling the BYOD (bring your own device) policy now gaining acceptance in the design and engineering professions. Other vendors like GrabCAD and CadFaster are also banking on this trend. (GrabCAD skips the desktop client but allows desktop machines to communicate with online content and iPad through standard browsers.)
Share3D is offered at three different levels:
- Free: 3 projects, up to 5 participants per project ($0)
- Standard: 25 projects, up to 25 participants per project ($29 per month)
- Professional: unlimited projects, unlimited participants (price unpublished)
There is, however, one distinct difference between the Share3D version and others. Share3D subscribers get access to the Free, Standard, or Professional edition of Publisher3D that matches their plan. The Publisher3D product would allow Share3D subscribers to export 3D PDF files with markups and annotations.
Brian Roberts, founder and president of QuadriSpace, pointed out, “[With Publisher3D], subscribers would be able to publish step-by-step instruction manuals, custom bill of materials, exploded views, and upload them to the cloud.”
Share3D comes with what the company describes as email in the loop — automatic email notices with screen captures sent to project participants when someone annotates or comments on a shared file. Roberts explained, “The real power of it is that users can simply reply to the automatically generated email and it will be shared just like any other comment. The benefit here is that everyone can participate, using the same work process (email) that they have always used and don’t even have to log into an app or the website.”
A similar email-integrated collaboration could also be found in Vuuch, a social collaboration plug-in available for Autodesk Inventor, SolidWorks, and a few CAD software titles.
The Share3D app uses a lightweight 3D XML format to facilitate viewing and markup among collaborators. It’s not intended to accommodate editing native CAD files.
“We never put native CAD files in the cloud,” said Roberts. “It’s added security, since we’re not putting your SolidWorks or Inventor files in the cloud.”
When lightweight desktop apps with viewing and markup features dominated the collaboration space, collaboration was confined to PC-to-PC communication. But the rising popularity of mobile devices and cloud storage have irreversibly changed the trend. The collaboration framework today needs to accommodate desktop software, mobile apps, and browser-accessible cloud storage.
QuadriSpace’s Share3D is another example of that multi-device workflow.