When Onshape came out swinging earlier this year, it was speculated that whether users chose to use the new full browser CAD program or not, it would change the greater landscape of MCAD pricing and licensing structures forever. Needless to say, Onshape sent a ripple through the industry that acted as a wake-up call for those who otherwise might have been resting peacefully on “old and reliable” rather than staying fast and innovative.

Just a couple of months ago at the SolidWorks 2016 Launch Event in Boston, newly-minted CEO Gian Paolo Bassi demonstrated running the latest edition of SolidWork directly from a browser – specifically, a browser on a MacBook Pro. Although there is still no mention of what this means for existing SolidWorks users who have supported the company for years, motivated users can achieve the same effect through a FRAME subscription for $10/month. So while the showing was nice, it didn’t necessarily answer any questions.

With 2015 coming to a close, Autodesk has nudged their way back into the “CAD in the Cloud” circle with their interpretation of what a full browser CAD user experience should be in the form of Project Leopard (AKA “Fusion 360 in the Cloud”).

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Despite some updated toolsets and configurations, those already familiar with Fusion 360 should have no problem picking up Project Leopard as Autodesk continues to roll out beta access over the coming months:


But although some users might be quick to note that Fusion 360 is, in fact, already a Cloud-based CAD system, it is not, however, a full browser CAD system. The difference here is huge – and although Onshape claims to be “the first and only full-cloud 3D CAD system” – lessons in hardware development (particularly with fast-updating smartphones and tablets) have taught us that it doesn’t necessarily come down to who was first; many people will eventually only care about who does it best.


So while the move to full browser CAD makes perfect sense as today’s modern workers continue to eschew stationary powerhouse workstations for mobile razor-thin laptops and tablets, the real question – one of the only questions that people care about – is pricing. In the meantime, you can head over to Project Leopard to sign up for beta access.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.