Autodesk has a cloud infrastructure for its software, and so I wondered if it is possible to use a third-party cloud service, such as SugarSync or DropBox. (I have accounts with both, but use SugarSync since it has the advantage of optionally restricting shared folders as read-only; DropBox doesn't.)
I found that SugarSync works just fine: I could save a drawing in desktop AutoCAD and view it on AutoCAD WS.
Here's how I did it:
0. When you sign up for SugarSync, you designate a SugarSync folder on the desktop. Any file in this folder is uploaded to the cloud any time it changes. (The same applies to Dropbox.) Uploaded files are overwritten, so you would need to save revised drawings by incremental names, manually. (AutoCAD WS keeps track of revisions.)
- In desktop AutoCAD, I opened a drawing from the SugarSynch folder, and then made some changes.
- I saved it. (Performance note: smaller DWG files sync -- upload to the cloud and download to all your registered devices -- faster than big DWG files, naturally!)
- I switched to my Android tablet, and started the SugarSync app.
- I tapped the icon that represents the SugarSync folder on my desktop computer: My Devices, Acer7, SugarSync.
- I selected the DWG file. SugarSynch then downloaded it, from its cloud to my Android.
- Once downloaded, SugarSynch asked me which app should complete the action. I selected AutoCAD WS.
- The DWG file appeared in WS's list, and I opened it. I noticed a substantial delay before WS opened the file; I figure this was due to WS sending the file to Autodesk's cloud. (Internet uploads are 5x slower than downloads with my ISP.) Subsequent loads were faster.
Android and iOS devices have limited amounts of storage space, and so sync services tend to download files on-demand, rather than update all in the background as on desktop versions.
Here are some of the pros and cons I found betwen using SugarSync or Autodesk's cloud:
- Autodesk's cloud is integrated into WS, and presumably will be in its desktop software in the future. This means you don't need to switch between WS and an external app, like SugarSync; the synching is done inside WS with Autodesk's cloud servers.
- Autodesk limits non-subscribers to 1GB of cloud storage. SugarSync starts with 5GB free, and allows you to earn another 3.5GB free through referrals.
- Autodesk limits paid subscribers to 3GB of cloud storage. SugarSync seems to go up to 500GB for paid customers, and perhaps more for business customers (it was hard for me to figure out).
- AutoCAD WS on the Web has a cool feature that lets you visually see the history of drawings, as they looked in earlier versions.
- Both SugarSync and WS on Android limit the sharing of drawings through an email message; no other options are available. Both let you assign permissions to folders, but WS has more options.
Historical note: We saw this integration the first time the "cloud" rolled around (a.k.a. the Internet bubble of the late 1990s), when Autodesk added commands that allowed AutoCAD to save to and from URLs and ftp sites. Later, the functions of the URL commands were integrated into the usual SaveAs, Open, and other file-related commands.