Spoon-fed CAD

SketchUp on Spoon

Although the Spoon website has apparently been around now for a few months, I just recently discovered it and I must say I like the concept. The idea is for a web service (Spoon) to deliver software to your computer from the cloud and then run it in a protected environment without requiring to actually install it on your computer. All you need to install is a small plugin. After that, all it takes is a click on a button on a website (the button for SketchUp should show up below this article) to start the software.

I can see many benefits of this approach. Software companies get their software “out there” faster and users can test software without having to worry about their computer’s settings. Personally, I like the idea that I can run software in a computer lab without having to worry about maintaining updates and even installing the software.

Here’s how the Spoon website describes the technology behind this service:

Spoon applications run in isolated “sandboxes,” enabling multiple applications to run side-by-side without conflicts, dependencies, or modifications to the host PC.  By emulating core operating system features in user mode, Spoon allows legacy applications to run on Windows 7 and locked-down desktops.  Spoon virtual applications can be deployed in standalone executables and MSI packages, in private clouds using Spoon Server, or via the Web at Spoon.net.

Autodesk has been trying something similar now for a while with their Project Twitch, which provides a no-install option to evaluate software. If I understand their concept correctly, though, they run an instance of the software on their server and then give the user simply a “viewer” (like remote desktop) that allows for interaction with the software. This method clearly makes sense for Autodesk’s large applications (1 GB+ installation requirements) where streaming or temporary downloads would likely be inefficient. More recently, Autodesk has started offering Project Vasari as a 1-file no-install software that is also based on Spoon technology.

So what software does Spoon offer? Here’s in their own words what kind of software is currently available on their site:

Spoon has partnered with leading software developers and publishers such as Autodesk® and SourceForge to provide free web-based access to their desktop application portfolios.

Cloud-enabled applications on Spoon include graphically intensive CAD applications such as Autodesk® Design Review and Inventor® Fusion Technology Preview; communication tools such as PuTTY and WinSCP; educational applications such as Core Learning’s Core Mind Builder Pro and Crayola® Art Studio; massively multiplayer game clients such as Second Life; hit game titles such as Namco Networks’ Antiques Roadshow and Alawar Entertainment’s Farm Frenzy 3; and development tools such as DrJava and Eclipse.

You can try out several CAD apps this way already (SketchUp, IntelliCAD and Autodesk’s Design Review). Just go to http://www.spoon.net/CAD and pick the app you need.

P.S. (1/17/2011): I was just notified that SketchUp has been removed from the Spoon website while Google and Spoon duke out some license issues. Hopefully it’ll be back soon. In the meantime, you can try out IntelliCAD this way:

As long as you are using Windows (Mac isn’t supported yet), you can start IntelliCAD directly by clicking on the button below:

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