As part of a continuing effort to flesh out its 3D design story, Sunglass has officially released its API (application programming interface) -- the goal being to get developers to build add-ons that extend the capabilities of its collaboration platform.
Released to the public in June, Sunglass has positioned itself as a "Google Docs" for 3D objects, essentially delivering a cloud-based collaboration platform built around the premise of 3D modeling. The idea behind Sunglass is to provide professional engineers, architects, and designers with an easy, cost-effective way to share files, as opposed to where most design collaboration happens today -- tied to a desktop and stymied by expensive CAD software, according to Nitin Rao, Sunglass's co-founder.
Via its newly available API, Sunglass adds direct integration with desktop software tools, including SolidWorks, SketchUp, Processing, and Rhino.
What Sunglass is not, Rao told us, is another 3D modeling tool. Rather, the firm sees itself as a hub around 3D modeling, serving as the bridge for sharing 3D product design data and for managing version control for engineers and colleagues working across different systems. "We manage versioning even as people work in different software and file formats, possibly on different devices and locations," Rao said. "We focused on interoperability and being a way for fast, easy collaboration."
Unlike existing enterprise product data management (PDM) or product lifecycle management (PLM) systems that aid in version control practices, Sunglass doesn't require users to work through lengthy protocols for naming files or other complex processes. "Our interest is being a facilitator of collaboration, putting the design back in the design process," Rao explained. "Our hope is that people don't have to worry about things like file formats and version control, and they don't have to spend thousands of dollars on expensive systems."
With the release of the Sunglass API, Sunglass is aiming to make it easier for other 3D tools to plug into its collaboration environment, as well as fostering the development of an ecosystem of tools built up around its platform. Initially, the API delivers hooks into major CAD tools like SolidWorks, Rhino, SketchUp, and Processing, along with storage utilities Box and Dropbox. This allows for a seamless path for importing 3D models from those programs directly into Sunglass while making it easier for users to add projects or to initiate new collaborative sessions in the cloud.
After installing the plugins, Rao said users will be able to upload models to Sunglass from within these commonly used desktop applications to instantly view, annotate, and edit 3D models with collaborators that could be located anywhere around the world.