It’s Halloween week and if you’re an engineer, there are things far more frightening than the latest slasher movie.

Okay, so maybe you’ve seen scarier monsters than this bodybuilder-pumpkin-android hybrid that came from the maniacal mind of my colleague, engineer Bradley Sauln. It’s a choppy Frankenstein conglomeration of public Onshape models that he found appealing.

Brad is a talented CAD modeler capable of creating far more frightening characters. But he knows his priorities and is spending that time focusing on customers.

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But in the spirit of Halloween, as many of us prepare for inevitable Snickers-and-Skittles hangovers, we thought we’d guide you through a virtual haunted house of old-generation CAD. Without further ado, here are the 9 most frightening experiences related to modeling in clunky, file-based CAD systems and how Onshape makes them disappear:

  1. CATASTROPHIC CRASHES! – Nothing makes you wish for decapitation more than losing your work to a computer crash. It’s impossible for developers to test every possible combination of hardware and software out there, so problems are inevitable. Even just installing a new kind of software, such as an innocuous Windows update, can interfere with your CAD system. Crashes not only cause you to lose your work, but also the time required to recreate that work. (Onshape puts your CAD system in the cloud and off your hard drive, eliminating disastrous software combinations. Redundant servers ensure you’ll never lose your work again.)
  2. INSUFFERABLE INSTALLS! – It’s not uncommon for project managers to wait forever to give new engineers access to CAD. They first need to buy a new license code from their Value Added Reseller (VAR), a process that can take days or weeks depending on the VAR’s responsiveness. Then the IT department needs to provision a computer and devote several hours for installation per CAD seat. When engineers are ready to CAD, the CAD usually isn’t ready for them. (Onshape offers real-time CAD deployment. Whenever a new member is added to a design team, he or she can start working in minutes, on all of their computers, phones and tablets.)
  3. TREACHEROUS TECH SUPPORT! – Do you sadistically enjoy getting the silent treatment? Historically, the CAD industry has a horrific reputation for ignoring customers when they file bug reports or enhancement requests. Radio silence. (Onshape has a built-in Feedback tool that puts you in direct contact with Onshape Support. When you send in a request, you get emailed an acknowledgement of receipt and can track the status of your ticket anytime. Many Onshape customers report having their issues resolved within days or even hours.)
  4. INSIDIOUS IMPORT/EXPORTS! – It’s extremely rare today that a product is designed and manufactured with only one CAD system. If you’re not using the same CAD system (and software version) as your customer/supplier/partner, you can’t open their files. If you can’t open their files, your work screeches to an abrupt halt. (Onshape can import and export a wide variety of 3D file formats, meaning you don’t need to know upfront which CAD system or software version your business partner is using. Say goodbye to incompatibility issues!)
  5. SINISTER SOFTWARE VERSIONS! – Even if you and your design partners are using the same CAD vendor, if you’re using version 2017 and they are using version 2016, you still cannot read each other’s files. Brand loyalty means zilcho. Upgrade now or suffer at your own peril! (Every Onshape user in the world is always on the same software version – the latest one.)
  6. DETESTABLE DATA MANAGEMENT! – If you haven’t heard Onshape CEO Jon Hirschtick’s horror story about an engineer bodyblocking a co-worker’s car in the parking lot to get access to a locked CAD file, you need to add it to your campfire rotation. With Product Data Management (PDM) systems, only one person can check out and work on a file at a time. This is to avoid the problem of team members overwriting each other’s work, but it inevitably slows everyone down. (Onshape has built-in version control and records your complete edit history. You always know who made what edit and when. There is no need for a costly and cumbersome PDM add-on.)
  7. THE PIT AND THE PDM-ULUM! Halloween is the only time of year the Onshape blog editors let me use horrific puns, so I’m taking full advantage of this opportunity. If you recall the Edgar Allan Poe classic, “The Pit and the Pendulum,” you remember that the seemingly doomed narrator is tied down with a swinging pendulum-mounted blade about to slice him to pieces. Well, the horrors of PDM deserve two spots on this list. Although PDM systems don’t actually inflict physical harm, they can be psychological torture. (Skeptical? See this story on why a European packaging machine company scrapped its PDM altogether and replaced it with Onshape.)
  8. LOATHSOME LEARNING CURVES! – Most CAD systems are difficult to learn, don’t make their product documentation public, and make it tough to get a free trial. Training cannot be set up directly with the CAD company, but needs to go through a third-party vendor. (Onshape is easy to learn if you have a parametric CAD background. Full product documentation and many training materials are available free online. Live training can be arranged directly and not through a middleman.)
  9. PETRIFYING PRICING! – When you buy a car, the total cost of ownership goes way beyond the sticker price. The same thing applies to file-based CAD. A typical seat costs $5,000 or more, requires a $3,000+ workstation plus $2,000 in annual maintenance fees and IT services. (Onshape is modern and affordable CAD, with the Professional plan costing $2,100 annually with no additional IT costs or upgrade fees.)

Think that we’re being a little overdramatic with all the scaremongering adjectives and exclamation points? Perhaps we’re a bit guilty of over-channeling the Halloween spirit. But the pains and frustrations of using file-based CAD will still be here the day after October 31st and the day after that. Thankfully, modern cloud CAD can take most of the fright out of your workday year-round.