Running a graphical and computational piece of software in an Internet browser window seemed unachievable not too many years ago. With its 3D megahit Quake III, the video game pioneer id Software, of Doom and Wolfenstien fame, showed the world that a game could be run from any browser (under the name Quake Live). The game runs as if it is installed at the local machine, and countless games have followed suit.
This innovation is finally leaking into the application and work side of software. With cloud computing becoming more popular over the last few years, various companies are capitalizing on the medium by offering everything from data storage to mobile OS services. The Canadian engineering startup Upverter is looking to garner favor with the hardware engineering community by offering a GitHub-like (community software repository) cloud-based CAD platform to design, prototype, and test projects from conception to manufacturing.
Upverter's recently released cloud-based electrical engineering hardware or EDA (electronic design automation) software is actually a collection of updated tools (from the previous iteration of Upverter) for rapid design, prototyping, and manufacturing of hardware. It includes the schematic design ECAD (2D space only) for PCB layout and footprint generation, which can be shared and collaborated on in real-time. A simulation tool allows design rule checking/debugging and verification (a pay-as-you-go service), which can be done for simultaneous projects at the same time.
Despite the novelty of being cloud-based, an all-in-one package that takes the user from concept to production is well overdue.
PCB produced from Upverter's full assembly services.
The new version of Upverter simplifies and quickens the process of prototyping projects; users can just go to the software dashboard's order button. The software tracks your design through the development process and displays a list of components that are needed (along with prices), which can be ordered directly through Upverter. Any parts not listed can be reconciled through the tool, which displays an alternative list of parts that will work for your project. After all the components are chosen, you can select how much lead time you need for the prototype, as well as a host of other options. Next you can have Upverter assemble and test the project for you, or you can do it yourself.
Upverter 2.0 has been in development for two-and-a-half years. Its creators say the idea behind Upverter is to give engineers a truly open-source platform with everything needed to design and build projects without limitations. People can use Upverter for hardware layout, design, and manufacturing, while the software can be coded through GitHub's community-based development site. This lets project developers collaborate with one another and share ideas over a broad spectrum of product development in a cloud-based environment.
Even better, Upverter is free to use; you just create a profile and then join an online community. Be warned: Using the free version negates any privacy you may want for your projects, since they are open for anyone to study or use. Those who prefer privacy can pay a $7 monthly fee (for the Awesome package), which also gets you unlimited storage. Even the $99 price for the Professional package, which is geared toward businesses, should give little reason to pause. After playing some Quake Live, open up a second tab, and design your first PCB with Upverter.