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HOOPS Communicator Vs. Autodesk Platform Services (Formerly Forge): A Side-By-Side Comparison

Harry Lees • 
June 12th, 2023

More and more, developers are moving to web-based services for 2D and 3D visualization and interaction. These allow you to quickly show off designs to colleagues, clients, or anyone else with just a web browser. The tools in this space offer a huge array of capabilities that may or may not be well-suited to your specific development needs.

One of the original developers of HOOPS Communicator was among those who shared some insight into this market, the products in this space, and who they are right for. In this piece, we will focus on two popular, capable offerings: HOOPs Communicator and Autodesk Platform Services.

We share our perspective on the pros and cons of each product, and a broad overview of their features and who might be a good fit for them. Neither is right for everyone, and both are better in different areas of this development space.

Who is HOOPS Communicator Right for?

HOOPS Communicator is a development platform for building high-performance web-based 3D engineering applications, designed to offer a variety of visualization capabilities primarily for engineering application developers.

Features Overview

An easy way to highlight who HOOPS Communicator is right for is by discussing how it is usually sold. As an SDK, it is always solid in a package with HOOPS Exchange, as HOOPS Web Platform. In one sentence, the Tech Soft 3D offering is best for those looking for premium, scalable, fast web visualization capabilities capable of handling difficult use cases. It is fundamentally made for developing web-based, 3D engineering applications.

HOOPS Web Platform is designed to offer developers support for detailed customization from a development standpoint while leaving the door open for implementing more advanced functionality. This is something that is echoed through the rest of the major benefits of the HOOPS Web platform. It is not a SaaS solution, Tech Soft does not provide any hosting.

On the plus side, this means you retain control over your data, and can integrate directly into your own server backend, independent of the framework and infrastructure you are using. This can be more difficult to set up in some instances and may be less convenient, depending on your needs, capabilities, and experience levels.

HOOPS Communicator, when compared to the Autodesk offering, is right for those who are expecting to grow quickly, work with large, complex files, or who are going to translate a lot of files. With its seamless integration with HOOPS Exchange through the Web Platform offering, users can more easily build out full applications that can import the 30+ CAD file types HOOPS Exchange directly supports.

You can quickly compare the supported file formats of both HOOPS Communicator alone, and in its common package offering, using this product overview.

Whether sold by itself or in HOOPS Web Platform, HOOPS Communicator is suited to a massive array of markets. Web application developers for CAM, CAE, EDA, and Additive manufacturing, along with AEC, PLM, MaaS, and Metrology will all find this to be a good fit for their projects.

The core purpose of HOOPS Communicator is to allow visualization in a web-based format. In the spirit of this, the best way to have a look at what this offering can do for you is to use the Demo Viewer offered by Tech Soft 3D.

Bottom Line:

HOOPS Communicator is sold not as a SaaS offering but through a Strategic Technology Partnership model. It is well-suited to those working with large files, and offers comprehensive engineering-focused capabilities out-of-the-box. This is a great option for those looking for a premium-level solution to their engineering-specific visualization needs.

Who is Autodesk Platform Services Right for?

Autodesk Platform Services, as might seem somewhat obvious, is a great option for those who spend a lot of their time working within the Autodesk ecosystem. This is where this product excels. If you have done research on this topic in the past, it is essential to know that APS was, until recently, called “Forge”.

For those frequently working with Revit, DWG, and Navisworks, or Inventor, APS is going to be a strong candidate for your web visualization needs. Autodesk owns these formats, and so their support of them is near-flawless. You will likely see faster support for any changes made to these or other Autodesk formats than other web visualization SDKs can offer.

One of the most important considerations when deciding if Autodesk Platform Services is its pricing structure: APS operates on a cost-per-transaction basis. This can be extremely appealing to younger developer teams, especially startups, and those using this for prototyping use cases. If you are a relatively new team working in the Autodesk sphere and have a good understanding of how much you will use this service, this is invaluable.

Autodesk will fully host your web visualization needs, and, as a result, you will have no need to set up cloud infrastructure to support it. Once again, this is appealing to teams earlier in their lifecycle. For some, this can be a concern: many organizations are hesitant to give up control of their data. Like the pricing, this can be either a strong plus or a minus, depending on what you and your development team are working with.

In summary, Autodesk Platform Services offers its web visualization capabilities as that: a service. This lends itself to a very different structure to the Tech Soft 3D offering and is crucial in determining if this is the right product for you. They offer a host of APIs, that can be toured here, under their solutions tab.

Bottom Line:

Autodesk Platform Services is a fully hosted, SaaS model solution for those looking for web visualization capabilities. Its pricing model is fundamentally different from that offered by HOOPS Communicator, and each will be suitable for different teams. This is a fantastic choice for those who operate mostly in the Autodesk ecosystem.

Head-to-Head and More Resources

A direct comparison of these two offerings shows two capable products tailored to fundamentally different types of developers. By understanding the niches these powerful tools fall into, you are now better able to decide which is better suited for your use case.

ProductHOOPS CommunicatorAutodesk Platform Services
Primary Use CaseEngineering-Specific web visualization application developmentAutodesk-related web visualization
Price StructureYearly Partnership Fee + RoyaltiesSoftware-as-a-Service (SaaS)
HostingProvide your own HostingAutodesk Hosts
Best ForThose with large model visualization needs, those looking for a deeply customizable vendor-neutral platform for writing engineering software on the webHeavy Autodesk Users, those who favor a pay-as-you-go model, organizations who require their vendor to host their web visualization

Autodesk Web Platform Services is perfectly suited for those who frequent the Autodesk-owned formats, and who operate primarily in their ecosystem. This is a cost-per-file model, which can either save you money or rapidly price you out, depending on your circumstances. It can be easier to get started and is often best for those working with smaller or fewer files. Below you will find a quick overview of APS and what they offer as a whole. For more information on Autodesk Platform Services, check out their YouTube Content.

HOOPS Communicator is a web visualization tool rarely sold alone, excels when supporting advanced workflows and large, even huge models. This comes at a higher annual baseline cost for developers. Its integration with HOOPS Exchange is core to understanding the value offered by the SDK. Below is a video that goes into far greater detail as to the capabilities of HOOPS Communicator and what it can do for you.

If you have read this and decided you want to explore a more DIY option for your web visualization needs, check out this post comparing HOOPS Communicator to Three.js

Whether you go with HOOPS Communicator, Autodesk Platform Services, or another option, you will be investing a huge amount of resources. By outlining the features you want along with the limitations and quirks of your use case, you’ll be well-placed to make the right move for you.

Finally, evaluate HOOPS Communicator for yourself as part of the HOOPS Web Platform for 60 days here. This is a no-commitment option for those ready to take the next step in informing this crucial decision in your application development process.

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