Branching and Merging

Incorporate new ideas faster, exploring more CAD designs in a more collaborative way.

CAD and PDM for Agile Teams

Onshape enables a new paradigm of working for CAD designers, where multiple engineers can experiment simultaneously with design variations without fear of disrupting each other's work. This enables fair collaboration and conflict-free environments where the best ideas win.

Branching and merging workflows enable teams to be more agile by allowing experimentation on different design options without compromising the ongoing design effort. As ideas on different branches mature and become viable, they can be selectively merged back into the main design branch.

Key Features

Cloud-Native, Data-Driven

With a unique cloud-native architecture, Onshape delivers a data-driven, built-in PDM solution. Unlike legacy CAD software, exploring designs in Onshape does not result in multiple copies of files, so you never have to deal with the file-management hassles of duplication, or moved or renamed files.

Unique to Onshape, branching and merging works without forced PDM check-in and check-out restrictions, enabling teams to safely work faster in independent workspaces without ever having to wait for CAD access.




In Onshape, you do your modeling in workspaces, regardless of whether you are working with parts, assemblies or drawings. The process of creating a new workspace from a version of your CAD model is called branching.

A branch is not another file or a copy to maintain. Rather, it’s a pointer to the original CAD model version where the branch originated.

Team members can explore alternative ideas without affecting others by creating branches and selectively merging the best elements from multiple designs back into the main design.

Selective Merge

When working with lots of branches and changes across many different Part Studios, assemblies, drawings and other tabs, it is sometimes difficult to know exactly what effect a merge will have on your Document.

When you start a merge operation, Onshape will provide you with a new interface to help you understand the effects of merging one branch with another. This will make it possible to allow for selective merge operations at the solid or surface level.




Compare is a powerful tool that gives the designer a visual depiction of what’s different between two models, in addition to a list of feature differences, enabling designers to quickly identify what has changed, when and why.

Onshape allows you to compare two moments in history, two versions, or even two branches. Additionally, you can compare imported parts, stock parts and various configurations of parts and assemblies.

Once changes between branches of the design have been identified, they can be merged back into the main design and team members see the updates live.


Onshape turns conflicts into opportunities for creativity, offering collaboration tools to help teams identify, discuss, and think through solutions.

Trying to merge designs with conflicts using file-based CAD is a very manual process, fraught with the potential for human error. Onshape automatically handles merging with just the selection of the two desired branches.

Onshape will never break your assembly, and you can always restore to an earlier version of your design at any time.


How Onshape’s Cloud-Native PDM is Transforming the CAD Industry

Learn how Onshape’s built-in, cloud-native PDM system is not only cost-efficient, but is also transforming the way CAD design data is managed, accessed, and stored.

eBook Cover

Learn How Easy it is to Branch and Merge Designs in Onshape.

Got Questions?

For more answers or to ask a question yourself head over to the Onshape Forum.

The ability to branch and merge is a unique capability of Onshape that enables designers to take their designs in different directions, and perform experiments and analysis on designs without impacting the “official design” effort. The designer works in their own separate workspace with each design branch. If the changes made in that branch  are viable, they can be selectively merged back into the main design.

Taking designs “offline” with solutions such as “Pack and Go” were sufficient for legacy file-based solutions. However, there were many drawbacks to this approach. In a data-driven solution, external stakeholders are provided secure access to the design data. Within Onshape, suppliers can participate in design, costing and review activities. Since the data is always up-to-date and all changes are recorded in the Document history, it is easy to track changes made by any external stakeholders and no “Save As” is ever needed.

Onshape identifies all possible geometrical conflicts at the feature level prior to merging geometry changes from a branch, and will not make changes to features that have conflicts. In addition, Onshape notifies the user and highlights possible conflicts in red so that they may be resolved prior to the merge operation.

Onshape creates a default workspace or branch that is called Main, and is used as the workspace for the main design. All other branches derive from the main branch and can be merged back into it.

Onshape maintains a detailed history of every action that occurred within a Document. Having this history allows a designer to go back in time and undo any changes at any point in the timeline. Operations such as merge happen at a specific point in time, so the user can revert the design back to any point in time prior to the merge.

Jack Elston headshot
Jack Elston Founder and CEO Black Swift Technologies
Black Swift Technologies logo

“With Onshape, we can have a baseline design for the payload scaffolding, and from there, we can create all sorts of different payloads that branch off in different directions. If we like an improvement in one of those branches, we can easily merge it into all our other versions. Having a background in software development, I’ve always found this kind of workflow much easier.”

Read the Case Study >>

Branch. Compare. Merge. Repeat.
Become more agile today with github style version management.