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Mar 27, 2015


Cad Guy

Internet will soon become as reliable and as available as electricity. Remember we (bloggers and readers) have come a long way since Matt Lombard / DesignStuff days when even a mention of the word cloud used to elicit 4 letter words from him :-)

Think about platform shifts like film Cameras to digital cameras. Tech progress is inevitable.

To echo Dr. Michio Kaku's words - don't bet against technology - you will go bankrupt :-)

So in short don't bet against the internet availability getting better.


Your list is factual, but many of these "flaws" revolve around the fact that the product is in beta at this time. What I haven't gotten my head around is how these documents would move into PLM. Perhaps a third-party will contribute this?

Ralph Grabowski

Mike: Either Onshape will write their own PLM extension or else encourage a third-party to write a pipe. They have not mentioned PLM in their marketing, so maybe they see it as a non-issue, or else as a bullet point best left unmentioned until they have a solution.

Ralph Grabowski

CAD Guy: I am not betting against it. But there is reality. Only 10% of India's 1 billion+ people have access, and that is intermittent. A programmer tells me he pays for Internet access through two ISPs, to ensure at least one of them will be up most of the time.

Cad Guy

I agree with current reality. But tech curves are exponential (especially in early and middle stages). 10 years ago India had less than 10 million cell phones. Today there are a Billion cell phones - 100x increase in just 10 years.

As Jon H said in Develop3D Live. OnShape is for folks with reliable Internet. If you don't have reliable Internet then use desktop CAD and come to OnShape whenever you get reliable Internet.

BTW I am from India :-).


Well, this subscription ONLY model is very bad in the long run for the CUSTOMER! At the end it leaves You with nothing. When there are bad times and You can't afford to pay the subscription You are left with nothing - so how You gonna keep up with the software, earn money to pay again? Imagine every business decides just to rent, not to sell? Owning things ensures You can use them when times goes bad, but when You are in trouble and only rent You loose everything!


As a Certified SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Administrator, I feel that Onshape has this important advantage regarding PDM/PLM. There is only one file(Onshape Document) of a design period.That simplifies the requirement that one has to demonstrate and prove that non-authorized changes can be made the the Document. Onshape requires that the owner of the Document has to grant permissions for others to edit/Revise the Document and this is easily proven. Also Onshape automatically Saves all changes/Edits to the Document as shown in the Feature Tree.

So, many of the important requirements for real PDM/PLM are already in place when using Onshape. I predict that a proper Onshape PDM/PLM workflow will be available soon.

Devon Sowell

Ric Fulop

Dedmin you can switch from paid to free and toggle which documents you want to work on in active vs inactive mode. I actually know of a user in Canada who lost every and is homeless and was using Onshape at Internet cafes. In Onshape you never loose your data.

Ric Fulop

Ralph I think you are underestimating the impact of a frictionless browser/app system like Onshape. Google Docs has 120M users in 4 years and is growing faster than office and you still don't have a basic page numbers feature in their presentations app. Onshape is now in use in over 100 countries, most of which have average internet.

Ralph Grabowski

Dedmin: You are right: subscriptions are like renting a house. When times are bad, and you can't make your rent payments any longer, you get kicked out onto the street.


Regarding the cost of licensing: Consider a 10 year lifecycle for CAD software. For SolidWorks, it would be minimum $4000 for the initial license fee, plus $1,295/year for maintenance. Total 10 year cost of $17,000. For Onshape, the 10 year cost of a subscription would be $12,000. Factor in the burdened cost of managing licenses and installing updates, and the perpetual license doesn't look so hot. Consider the time value of money, and cashflow factors, and a perpetual license looks downright unattractive.

As for the "renting a house" analogy: rent and mortgage are not that different. Stop paying either, and you end up getting kicked out. (Even if you own your house, you can still get kicked out, if you don't pay your taxes.) In the case of software subscription, if you're in-between projects and want to reduce costs, you can roll back your subscriptions, then add them back when you need them, You lose nothing. On a perpetual license, dropping maintenance is something that can't usually be undone. CAD vendors generally try to make that option as unattractive as possible.

Ralph Grabowski

The CAD market is orders of magnitude smaller than the office software market. If Onshape is using Google's Docs numbers for its business plan, then the company might have a problem.

In my case, Google Docs is a bad analogy as no editorial staff I know employs it. Too slow and too flaky for serious writing.

Ralph Grabowski

I long ago paid off my mortgage, but here are the costs for my town:

Rent for a 2BR apartment = $10,200 / year
Mortgage on a 4BR house (at 4% over 25 years) = $21,780 / yr
Property taxes on my 5BR house = $2,700/yr

Owning is nothing like renting or paying a mortgage.

Ralph Grabowski

When switching to free mode, only five documents can still be used in a shared environment.


Please, let ME decide what's good for ME - perpetual or subscriptions ONLY!! Removing a choice is always suspicious - having only ONE choice is not a choice at all!

Jon Banquer

Onshape should allow a user the choice of running on their own private cloud.

I see private cloud gaining momentum. Synology does very well catering to those who understand the benefits of creating their own private cloud, rather than being on a public cloud.


Jon Banquer
CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

Cad Guy

Do you have private equivalents of utilities In your house? Electricity / Cooking gas?

Computing will soon be a public utility.

Think about the products you want to design not where and how the computing is done :-)

Joe Dunne


When switching to free mode. You are not limited to 5 shared documents. You actually have unlimited number of active documents as a free users. As long as they are public. As a free users, you can only have 5 active private documents. So if you are OK with public documents, you have no restrictions.

Joe Dunne

Scott Harris

One clarification... If you switch from a Pro account to a free account, you do not loose any documents or privacy. Documents are all yours and they are all remain private. The restriction is that you can only access five private document simultaneously. As Joe mentioned, you can access any number of public documents at the same time but Onshape does not make you create public documents.

Scott Harris

Steve Hess

An update on item #7 above:

Accounts are now approved in minutes and in most cases less than 1 minute.

Steve Hess


one unique power of attraction of onshape is the native capacity of collaboration and exchange.
this alone is a huge differentiator.
the calculations made above take only into account the modeling part and not the versioning / collaboration part.
I am a firm believer in the success of the solution, it's perenity and the positive outlook of onshape as a company.


Just to clarify Joe Dunne's response, if you want your documents to remain private, you have only 50MB of free storage. There is a 50GB limit for free storage but all but 5 (or 50MB) of your documents would be public. 50MB doesn't hold a lot.....

You can only export OS assemblies to STL, Parasolid or STEP - but not OS format. No obvious incentive for OS to facilitate that process, otherwise we would all keep our work locally and simply upload 5 documents to work on at once. When you take your assemblies into or out of OS, you lose all the mates etc.


James Brodhead

And what happens if ONSHAPE folds as a company? Poof everything is gone.

Ralph Grabowski

You can download your models in a non-intelligent form, such as STEP (I think).

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