Top 10 Tips for Enabling Real-Time CAD Collaboration

Onshape’s real-time CAD collaboration features enable multiple engineers to remotely work together across different time zones as if they were in the same room. Onshape’s unique cloud-database architecture empowers product development teams to work from anywhere, anytime and on any computer, tablet or phone.

Cody Armstrong, Onshape’s Director of Technical Services, recently shared some of the most powerful benefits of using cloud-native CAD and data management in the webinar, “Top 10 CAD Features that Enable Real-Time Collaboration“.

Let’s take a look at the webinar’s top tips for fully taking advantage of Onshape’s built-in collaboration tools.


1. Sharing Tools

Onshape offers simple sharing features which make distributing designs across production teams easy. In the top right corner of the Onshape menu, a Share button enables you to invite collaborators into any given design. The Share feature allows engineers to simultaneously work in the same Onshape Document without having to email files back-and-forth or upload design versions to a file-sharing site like Dropbox or Google Drive. Owners of a Document may extend sharing permissions to collaborators and stakeholders with varying levels of access, controlling who can view, edit, copy, and reshare Documents. These security permissions can be changed at any time. Onshape’s Sharing tools also enable real-time collaborative feedback on projects. New edits instantly update, eliminating the need to repeatedly save and send uncontrolled email copies back-and-forth.

2. Creating Onshape Teams

Creating Onshape Teams is a useful way to organize collaborators in Documents. Teams may be organized by employee roles or groups within a product design team. Document owners may create a Team by utilizing the Share dialogue and Teams tab. Creating a Team is an efficient way for a project manager to communicate directly with specific people to coordinate various tasks.

3. Link Sharing

Link Sharing allows non-CAD users to view a product model in real-time. Onshape Document links can be viewed by any intended recipient, even if they don’t have an Onshape account. When sharing a link, all tabs within the Document are also shared.

4. Follow Mode

With Follow Mode, users can now easily follow along with a design presenter in real-time for live design reviews and training sessions. The feature lets teammates add suggestions with live commenting tools, improving efficiency and collaboration.

To start watching the design presenter’s screen, a follower may double-click their social cue to follow along in real-time. This mode leaves the user in the same position or orientation as the collaborator when they leave the Document, saving a point of interest so designers do not have to relocate a specific part when logging back into Onshape. Follow Mode is a useful communication tool for colleagues to identify and solve potential problem areas together.

5. Live Comments

Live Comments are an effective way to communicate with collaborators in Onshape Documents. All Comments are automatically saved and may contain text, images, or links, eliminating the need for back-and-forth email chains. To use Live Comments, click the plus sign located on the top right corner of the screen, add a subject, and begin adding content to the Comment section. There is also a right-click menu option that allows designers to tag and identify various part entities within a drawing. Collaborators may also tag other users in the Comments section. Email notifications are automatically sent to users who are tagged.

6. Assigning Tasks

Tasks may be assigned to individuals or teams within the Comments field in Onshape. Tasks are arranged together in a to-do list, which provides a helpful starting point for designers beginning their workday. Assigned Tasks show up in the Action Items tab and a text box will appear when a user tags another collaborator. The notifications will stay open until the person who is assigned the task marks them as complete.

7. Markups

Onshape’s Markup feature allows users to “markup” their designs with specific notes and share the altered image within a comment. Located in the bottom-right corner of an Onshape Document, users will see an option called “Markup Mode.” Users can find many different tools for marking up drawings when offering feedback to teammates. Users may utilize this tool for design releases, either rejecting or accepting a drawing or design. Markups remain part of a Document’s revision history, which eliminates the need to save screenshots.

8. Adding Images to Comment

Images allow users to convey information very quickly within a comment in an Onshape Document. Users may browse a given image, import the image to Comments, then assign the image to a specific task where another collaborator may review it. Onshape’s Comments feature supports several image file formats including PNG, JPEG and more.

9. Action Items

After a task is assigned to a collaborator, it will appear in a tab called Action Items. The Action Items tab is a place where collaborators can manage their tasks and mark them for approval once finished. Tasks that are marked as “completed” will no longer show up in the Action Items tab. This feature is a great starting point for users when logging into Onshape as it organizes a user’s assignments into a helpful to-do list.

10. Tagging Entities with Comments

Tagging Entities with Comments allows for more organized communication within an Onshape Document. Although Markups are an efficient tool for organizing comments, Tagging Entities can streamline communication even further. Specific entities within a drawing including edges, features, parts of an assembly, and individual faces, can all be tagged in the Comments section. To tag an entity, right click on a specific body within a drawing, and add a comment. Tagging parts of a drawing will eliminate any potential confusion in regards to what designers are intending to discuss.

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