On Cadalyst.com, Kenneth Wong reviews a new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application from Vancouver-based AfterCAD, called AfterCAD Online. Essentially, it is a service for sharing, viewing and commenting on CAD files. Nothing new in that, of course, but this one includes the capacity to display and manipulate 3D files. Publishers of CAD files can sign up for the service, which costs from $39.95 a month, and then share their files with fellow collaborators – who can access the files freely via any standard web-browser. AfterCAD Online allows full rotation, enabled by an open-source rendering engine OGRE.
Competing pure-SaaS drawing viewer products include Autodesk Freewheel and a new product from SolidWorks Labs called Drawings Now (both currently free). Kenneth also mentions Informative Graphics‘ Brava!, which he notes is a thin-client solution (requiring download and installation of a small file to communicate with the other software components hosted elsewhere), and he could have added another viewer widely used in the AEC sector: AutoVue – though these are both 2D viewers.
Meanwhile, the 3D market is growing. Brava! now has a 3D/2D stablemate called Myriad and the 2D version of AutoVue (now owned by Oracle following its May 2007 acquisition of Agile, which acquired Cimmetry in 2005) has a 3D counterpart: AutoVue 3D Professional Advanced.
But if pure SaaS offerings like AfterCAD Online catch on, Kenneth says, thin-clients may eventually thin out.