Eye candy, or data vs. documents

Yesterday, my colleagues and I sat through a webinar presented by Adobe on 3D PDF. I gotta say, I feel really sorry for the poor folks at Adobe who scheduled this thing. On the original date, they had "technical difficulties" that forced it to be rescheduled for yesterday. Yesterday's presentation could be said to have been just short of a disaster for them as the demo couldn't be seen. Hey, this happens to all of us.

But there was enough content (just barely) to get me to thinking about the real differences among the approaches our competitors take to leveraging 3D information.

The fundamental model of Adobe 3D is…drum roll, please…a document. Surprised? Not really, I am sure.

What we could see of the demo showed… "get it into a portable document format, then collaborate on the document".

That's OK if the metaphor for delivering Product Information Everyware is a document, which of course in a web world it isn't.

Certainly users want data that can be securely shared, easily manipulated and put into context that make sense for them. Forcing users into a document model is bound to fail because the document is far from an ideal metaphor for either real work for for sharing. Videos aren't documents. BOMs aren't documents.

But here's the catch…it's all eye candy when you see the demos. Users tend to get focused on what they see and not on the fundamental assumptions the product makes. Everybody provides products that can view, explode, markup and rotate parts. Everybody can insert into an Office document. (But not everyone can provide the creation of Product content associative to the CAD model and integrated with enterprise systems).

It's up to you to look beyond the admittedly amazing stuff you see on the front-of-screen and think hard about the implicit metaphors at work in the products you select to deliver 3D design data outside engineering. Putting everything and everyone into a document mode is obviously limiting, though you aren't ever gonna hear Adobe say that, of course.

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