Oh now behave yourself. It’s a simple question, but one we can throw a truckload of speculation at and shake it vigorously to come up with all sorts of outlandish ideas. ya down?

Mozilla Labs launched their Open Web Tools Directory today. It’s the new central repository mish-mash of design and coding tools to aid the most hardcore web developers pour their creations onto our screens – all of them available for the price of free. Now, what happens if we apply this to the whole 3D CAD/PLM space… besides pure mayhem and ensuing violence from VAR to partner product?

Open wide
I’m not talking open CAD standards or open-source CAD. I’m talking a place where developers, from the CAD/PLM companies to the third-party pushers, have a place that centralizes apps to produce CAD/PLM related products, models and services. Sure, having an open-source for the developers would be part of it, making it a common source an even bigger plus.

Now, put it on the web
Being able to have a central location for helps that help develop offline products is one thing. But as we look at SaaS (Software as a Service) apps having a little more potential and gaining more interest, you can’t help but think of the possibility that much of the development will be happening for online development. Add the open aspect to that and you have some big change happening in the whole design, engineering and manufacturing marketplace.

Now make it all Social-ly
Ya just can’t have a warm cozy web presence without some social aspects. It’s all the rage. Kids are putting it in their soup and CAD developers in their software. The obvious benefits for something like a Tools directory is feedback from the people using the tools, not just ways to connect people or collaborate. Not a reason to use ‘Web 2.0’ (so 2006) in product literature.

Who will start it?
Maybe we’ll see some fresh faces in this area, but my hope is that we’ll see some innovation in how products are deployed and how support is extended to a community of CAD/PLM users and developers. Looking at a small segment like the Open Web Tools can bring up a lot of ideas about where CAD/PLM can be pushed. Yeah, it’s basically a list of free apps. Maybe that doesn’t make a big difference. maybe that’s how you take over the freagin’ world.

Anyway, head over to take a look at the interface (in Firefox to see the fancy Canvas action). If you’re a web developer, it will interest you. If you have no idea what the heck this is all about, you can at least appreciate the way in which the tools are presented. Is something like this out of the range of CAD/PLM development?


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.