Here is how a CAD program could be converted to run in the Chrome Web browser:
1. Take the core code of a CAD program, such as the solid modeling kernel and the constraints manager, and then recompile the source code into Native Client code.
3. Combine the two parts.
(a) Download the data from the cloud to the desktop computer.
(b) Process the data on the desktop computer.
(c) Send a change log periodically to the cloud, with instructions on how to modify the data stored there.
This approach solves the "working on the airplane" problem, in that you can do your work on your notebook computer without Internet access, and then upload the changes once you again have access to the Internet.
NaCl also includes APIs for accessing the network, DOM, 2D and 3D graphics, and audio. The extensions are known as "Pepper" -- as in salt and pepper.
I wonder what this means for something like Autodesk's Project Butterfly or Dassault Systemes SolidWorksV6-on-a-Cloud?
NaCl will probably be restricted to the ChromeOS (as and when that happens), although Google says that Mozilla is supporting the effort. 3D on the browser will most likely take the route via WebGL (a standards based route).
WebGL is already available in the nightly builds of Firefox, Chrome and Safari. That said, it is unlikely that it will be available on IE soon enough. But that shouldn't be a big problem.
I also think that Autodesk, Dassault-Systemes and others are likely to be evaluating WebGL too right now.
Posted by: Tathagata | May 14, 2010 at 12:41 AM
That dream becoming reality would be nice, I doubt but Autodesk will ever become that open.
Posted by: Sean Doughtie | May 14, 2010 at 04:48 AM
Besides the inherent disadvantages of running a specialist product in a generic tool designed for a different purpose, why would people trust their sensitive CAD data to a company with a privacy reputation that lies in tatters?
Posted by: Steve Johnson | May 14, 2010 at 08:23 AM
Editing CAD Models online and a cloud hosted simple CAD PDM app are two different issues.
Simple CAD PDM will come first.
Editing CAD models in the cloud is a long way off in the future.
Posted by: Devon T. Sowell | May 16, 2010 at 08:09 AM
AutoCAD is working on the editing part through their Israelli acquisition of VisualTao, now renamed Project Butterfly. I have an article on it in Monday's upFront.eZine.
Posted by: Ralph Grabowski | May 16, 2010 at 08:54 AM