For years, traditional 3D parametric CAD software like SOLIDWORKS has dominated the product design world. However, cloud computing is transforming the landscape, enabling new possibilities – like PTC’s Onshape, the first truly cloud-native CAD and PDM platform. 

While desktop tools focus on building geometry, Onshape reimagines the entire product development process via the cloud. It enables real-time multi-user collaboration without the threat of version control conflicts. The cloud-first approach transcends disciplines, providing designers and engineers with new and better ways to build products, including tools that allow simulations and rendering all in the same workspace.

Curious about what truly sets Onshape apart? Read the statements below to discover the realities of this innovative cloud-native CAD platform, and dispel common misconceptions skeptics often get wrong.

Project and Design Management

True or False? Onshape requires complex software installations for its cloud-native architecture.

Nope! Onshape does not require any complex software installations.


You’re right! Onshape does not require any complex software installations.


One aspect that immediately stands out about Onshape is how straightforward it makes project and data management. Instead of dealing with a tangle of CAD files, Onshape uses cloud-native “Documents” to contain all parts, assemblies, drawings, and related data. Being web-based, there are no local software installs required – designs can be accessed from any device.

Additionally, for Enterprise users, Onshape offers analytics to gain insights into project status, release processes, and work distribution across the organization.

Collaborative Design

True or False? Onshape allows multiple users to work on the same project and Documents in real time.

Yes! Onshape supports real-time collaboration.


Wrong! Onshape supports real-time collaboration.


Onshape is redefining collaborative design with its capability for multiple users to work on the same project and Document simultaneously. This real-time synchronization allows team members to see changes instantly, eliminating the need for file check-ins and reducing the risk of outdated information. Onshape offers Branching and Merging, allowing users to iterate on designs without impacting the main work. These changes can later be merged back into the main workspace.

Plus, Onshape also supports externally linked components from other Documents, with real-time notifications of updates and the option to pin specific versions. External collaborators can be easily invited to review designs and provide feedback through comments and markups, with the ability to assign tasks to specific users.

Top-Down Design

True or False? Onshape’s multi-part Part Studio allows designing multiple parts in a single workspace.

Yes! Onshape’s multi-part Part Studio supports designing multiple parts in a single workspace.


No! Onshape’s multi-part Part Studio supports designing multiple parts in a single workspace.


Onshape is reshaping relational and top-down design with two unique features: multi-part Part Studios and In-Context references. The multi-part Part Studio allows designers to create multiple components in a single workspace, streamlining the process of capturing relationships between parts and enabling features that define multiple components at once.

This flexibility doesn’t limit assembly options; users can still incorporate standard content and components from other Part Studios or Documents. Parametric linking ensures that when new parts are created in the Part Studio, they’re automatically added to the assembly.

Building Assemblies

True or False? Users can create contextual references within assemblies to capture specific design positions.

Yes. Onshape allows the creation of In-Context references within assemblies.


No. Onshape allows the creation of In-Context references within assemblies.


Onshape is simplifying the process of creating assemblies and capturing mechanical aspects critical to product function. By leveraging multi-part Part Studios, where components are designed relative to each other, assembling these parts is streamlined and automatically added to their designed positions.

For components from separate Part Studios, Onshape offers “Snap Mode,” allowing quick positioning by snapping components into place. The platform's unique mating method uses Mate Connectors – intelligent locations on all geometry – drastically reducing the number of mates needed to fully define a component, often to just one.

Frames and Sheet Metal

True or False? In Onshape, you can create and manage frames and sheet metal components within the same design space.

Yes! Onshape allows the creation and management of frames and sheet metal components within the same design space.


No! Onshape allows the creation and management of frames and sheet metal components within the same design space.


Onshape is bringing process-specific advantages to Frames and Sheet Metal design, while maintaining familiar workflows. 

For frames, users can add members to existing geometry, define orientations, and align corners, with Onshape dynamically trimming members during creation. Additional components like end caps and gussets can be added throughout the design process.

For sheet metal, Onshape enables mixing component types within a design. Sheet metal parts can be created by extruding sketch entities or converting solids into sheet metal components. The platform offers a real-time flat pattern view, updating live as changes are made – even during feature previews.

Agile Product Development

True or False? Onshape supports version and revision control with full Branch and Merge functionality.

Correct. Onshape includes version and revision control with Branch and Merge functionality.


No! Onshape includes version and revision control with Branch and Merge functionality.


Onshape is improving how design teams handle changes, versions, branching, merging, and release processes, enabling truly agile product development. The platform tracks every change made to a Document, allowing users to restore any previous state – like an infinite undo. For key moments in design history, users can create Versions, which are snapshots capturing the entire Document state.

To ideate without impacting the main Document, users can create branches from any version. Work on one Branch doesn't affect others, and multiple users can create Branches simultaneously. The Version and History graph stays current, showing which Branches have changed most recently and providing insight into ongoing design progress.

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Try It Yourself: The Discovery Program

These highlights just scratch the surface of what makes Onshape's fundamentals so impressive. Ultimately, seeing is believing when evaluating a new CAD tool.

That's why engineering professionals should take advantage of Onshape's Discovery Program. This free program provides qualified users with full access to Onshape Professional for six months, with no strings attached. Real projects can be worked on, colleagues invited, and users can experience first-hand how Onshape transforms design workflows.

Onshape represents a major evolution in product design and engineering. The unified modeling/PDM environment, real-time collaboration across the enterprise, and cloud-enabled speed are impressive leaps forward.  

Free yourself and your team from the limitations of traditional 3D parametric CAD software. Onshape represents a paradigm shift, a bold step into the future of design. While the transition may be daunting, the potential rewards are too great to ignore. Embrace the cloud, and let Onshape guide you into a new era of collaborative, agile product development.

The Onshape
Discovery Program

Learn how qualified CAD professionals
can get Onshape Professional
for up to 6 months – at no cost!