A new player in the 3D collaboration space is on the scene with a site that steps up sharing, syncing and neck slappin’ your project management effort with the blazing efficiency of a web-based collaborative environment. TeamPlatform it’s much more than meets the eye. We had a chance to use it and talk with Scott Anderson about what TeamPlatform is bringing to the office.
As the name implies, it’s a platform for… your team. Now, you may use Dropbox, Box or email to communicate your design or organize project notes. That’s the standard nowadays it seems. If you do use one of them, picture it in your head and then imagine a boot coming down and crushing them. That boot is TeamPlatform. Strapped with access control, desktop sync, 3D (WebGL) previews, file level comments and revisions, template driven workspaces and more (phew.) it’s a complete team management and collaboration platform for the entire design process.
The TeamPlatform crew comes out of Rapidform, a 3D Scanning software provider. TeamPlatform’s CEO Simon Bae, Cofounder Randy Jung and Business Development Manager Scott Anderson we’re all previously at Rapidform. TeamPlatform started as a project within Rapidfrom, who is now a happy customer, and then spun out as a separate, independent start-up.
I’m very impressed at the level of functionality and thoroughness with TeamPlatform. They seem to have thought this out and judging by their background, they’re familiar with the frustration that goes into managing projects and files. In my opinion, they just one-up, back-slapped every 3D software developer out there who’s attempting to bring proprietary data format, cloud-level file management into the fold.
The TeamPlatform Dashboard
The only thing competing at this point is Autodesk PLM360 that brings in a lot more features for the lifecycle, albeit at a $75/user/mth price for (nearly) the same features you get for $25/user/mth with TeamPlatform. One thing lacking (that I’m sure they’re considering) is integration with various 3D software packages. That and pizza configuration (see interview below.)
Interview with TeamPlatform’s Scott Anderson
What’s the TeamPlatform elevator pitch?
In a word, we are providing SAAS integration for 3D engineering projects which have the most impact and are best suited to distributed collaborating groups of people.
Ok, now, TeamPlatform handles a lot of different aspects of Project Management and collaborations. What are the muscly bits setting TeamPlatform apart?
TeamPlatform has quite a broad focus (ex: engineering services, product design, technical sales), and commensurate with the tools needed for these types of activities, our toolset is far from narrow. Despite the requisite girth of integrated functionality, and for all of the capability that has been purposefully jammed into TeamPlatform, a persistent theme is Simplicity, Consistency and Purpose. It is easy for a first-time visitor (it could be a sales guy or an engineer) to jump into a workspace and get involved, be it downloading files, tracking a schedule or leaving a comment.
TeamPlatform is completely cloud-based correct? Can you really handle all the different types of CAD Data?
When data gets on the Cloud, we use the Cloud. For example, we compute just about anything that gets posted onto TeamPlatform. Compared to Box (or FTP), videos get compacted and are rendered, photos are zoomable (and compact), and 3D files load in seconds and can be viewed in the browser. Many of our initial users have been heaviest into SolidWorks (2008 – 2012 I’d guess) and TeamPlatform has seen a fair amount of 3D Scan Data. We expect these file types to persist because of the size of the SolidWorks community and user base and because of our roots in 3D Scan and a lot of 3D Scan users roots in SolidWorks. We are supporting other major CAD packages (CATIA for instance) as compatible with our 3D cloud computing engine, and traditional document files like PPT, PDF, XLS, RAR are computed when they get to TeamPlatform as well.
The 3D file loaded into the browser (uses WebGL – no plugin required.)
But you can sync all this schtuff as well, correct? From the desktop? Just like Dropbox?
You bet. Because of the installed Sync Client (it is more than just a Sync; the Client gives quick access to file previews, provides comment entry, finds local files (ex: by navigating assembly structure), and enables past versions to be restored), TeamPlatform cannot be considered purely Online SAAS because of the integrated Sync Client. Large files can be brought in, or taken out of TeamPlatform easily via web upload/download or through the Sync. It’s common to use web-upload (http upload) for files 300MB or larger without a hitch.
What doesn’t TeamPlatform do?
We’ve kept some tools out of TeamPlatform that we feel are not meaningful integrations to our tool. I like to joke that we don’t offer a pizza configuration and ordering wizard within TeamPlatform and we use the same logic in explaining why we omit other well-known online collaboration tools such as live webmeetings or online video/voice chat. For example, Gotomeeting/WebEx provide great services (as do Skype and Hangouts). From our perspective, if we integrated web-meetings into TeamPlatform it would be nice, but the advantage of an integrated web-meeting in TeamPlatform vs. using a standalone web meeting tool like Gotomeeting or WebEx is not clear. Integration is not crucial to the success of a project, it adds a layer of complexity that can be found elsewhere, and it is a form of untraceable communication (unless it’s recorded), so it’s not integrated.
You have a simple price structure – Free and Team. What are the difference in the plans?
Some of the differences in TeamPlatform’s paid plans include a Domain, branding and administration. Where this really comes into play is when multiple projects start getting strung together and more storage is needed because of the data-size of the projects. Additionally, when working on multiple project in similitude, paid plans provide some people-management organization that makes it easier to keep track of different groups of people. The paid trial doesn’t require a credit card and you can work with anyone using either a paid or free plan.
Is it ready for people to use?
We will always need to do some work here and there in the product (such as UI and landing page refinements), but the core, planned functionalities are present and running smoothly. The software has been used in full production settings since the beta period and of course now into release.
So, to sum of the features?
Permission/Access Controls for an Integrated Online Toolset
- Audit Trail & Administration
- Big Cloud Storage with Big 3D files
- Handle Multiple Workspaces in Parallel
MultiCAD 3D Previews (requires WebGL)
- Navigate Assemblies
- Can be used to Manage Assemblies
- 3D Scan Data
- People have the option to skip downloads, and instead focus on the story of the project directly from the browser.
File level comments
- Versions and revisions are tracked
- File Previews persist in past versions
- Sync Client –which provides like Box.net or Dropbox.com or Sugar Sync
- Plays a big role in project success
- Comments, everywhere
- Streams and Notification, are controllable so there isn’t inbox overkill
With any account, free or paid, you can Team-up
- Individual (free) Accounts can and work with Domain (paid) Members; Domain Members can work with Individual Accounts.
- Reasons to pay for a domain: Branding, Tools making people management easier, More Storage for more workspaces.