First Look: Fully Cloud-Based CAD Viewing and Collaboration with EnSuite-Cloud ReVue

Interoperability expert CCE offers free model viewing and collaboration for engineers—for now

Fully rendered view of almost any solid model without the need of a CAD program or even a download with CCE’s viewer, EnSuite-Cloud ReVue. All you need is a browser and an email address to create an account.

Fully rendered view of almost any solid model without the need of a CAD program or even a download with CCE’s viewer, EnSuite-Cloud ReVue. All you need is a browser and an email address to create an account.

It’s hard to show off your brilliant design when the people you need to impress don’t have your design software. You resort to using screen sharing on Microsoft Teams, Zoom … whatever. That may work to some extent with some people, but your design will get only a superficial viewing. The online collaboration tools we now routinely use do not suffice for engineers. Show an engineer a product prototype and they will invariably pick it up, feel it, measure it, take it apart and put it back together. That’s how a product design gets real for an engineer.

But we are in a pandemic. We are unable to share our physical prototypes physically. You could send everyone the CAD model but it’s all but guaranteed that not everyone will have access to the CAD program or be able to use it. You could share your screen as you operate the CAD program. You could use screenshots embedded in a PowerPoint slide deck—but that is hardly worthy of your design.

There must be a better way!

CCE, a design software and service company outside of Detroit, offers a solution with EnSuite-Cloud ReVue, which lets anyone view any CAD model—as long as it is in one of the following formats: CATIA, Creo, NX, SOLIDWORKS, Inventor and Solid Edge, the popular standard formats, JT, STEP, Parasolid and IGES, and a few others. Noticeably absent from the list are the Fusion 360 and Onshape formats. Ironically, showing cloud data may not be doable with this cloud-based viewer.

We had trouble viewing a SOLIDWORKS assembly, however, and got a message that assembly files were not supported. SOLIDWORKS part files were no problem. CCE assures us the shipping version (due in April) will handle the SOLIDWORKS assembly files. 

You don’t need to have the CAD application or even know how to use one, which makes it perfect for those downstream of the design process, such as those in marketing, management, manufacturing, tech docs, customers and so on.

Although you can’t physically feel the product, like in the pre-pandemic good old days, you can view it from all angles, zoom in and out, measure it, and even take it apart. And in what may be an advantage over a physical on-site design review, no one will see you floundering when you try to put your design back together. With Cloud-ReVue, your interaction with the model can be private. The rest of the reviewers will keep seeing the model in a different, common view.

EnSuite-Cloud ReVue (the name could be shorter, if anyone at CCE is reading this) works in a browser. You don’t have to download a thing to use it, not even a browser extension.

Online browsing of a model with ReVue avoids leaking a design to the outside world.

“Your IP is protected,” said Debankan Chattopadhay, head of sales, marketing and business development at CCE, as he showed us ReVue in an online demo. With ReVue, no one has access to the actual model. Your proprietary design remains that way.

“EnSuite-Cloud ReVue is the only 3D collaboration software in the market today that uses secure peer-to-peer communications to conduct design reviews using 3D digital assets directly in the browser without any software installation or need to upload/store files on any server,” states CCE. One might consider Onshape similarly capable, but perhaps CCE distinguishes itself as a collaboration application, while Onshape is a full-fledged CAD program.

CCE has a 30-year history of viewing, handling and converting between CAD formats, so when Debankan tells us there is “zero loss of fidelity” while viewing data, we believe him.

Latency was not a problem in Debankan’s demo. We look for latency, the lag between when you ask the model to move and when it does so, for example, in any cloud-based application. A slow connection, bad implementation or a large model can result in jittery movement, freezing motion and frustration, especially with those who are used to real-time interaction with their software on a local workstation. But Cloud-ReVue’s viewing of simple assembly was as smooth as can be.

A larger assembly (10 MB rotor STEP file shown) took about 15 seconds to load and a lag was more noticeable as we repositioned the view.

EnSuite-Cloud ReVue is in beta and free for anyone to use. Get it while you can. CCE plans to start charging for it, with tiered levels and a subscription plan on the horizon. At the time of this writing, it is not known if a view-only level will be free. We hope so. Stay tuned.

UPDATE Monday 3/15/2021: Added expected ability to handle SOLIDWORKS assembly files.