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A360 Viewer vs. Glue Viewer

“What is the difference between A360 viewer and Glue viewer?” This is a question that I receive every once in a while. (Here we are using word “A360 Viewer” as View and Data API, and will use both forms interchangeably in this post.) As a developer who is planning to develop a new web service and looking for a viewing capability, it is important to understand differences.

In this post, I'm going to write about some questions and answers comparing two viewers. I should note that both technologies are continuously evolving (it is more so as both are being developed under agile methodology). Some part of what I write, especially about what you can/cannot do technically, might change as a new sprint releases come out. Some of comments I make might be subjective. For example, which is "better" is, of course, depends on what you are trying to do. I also don't want to limit people’s creativity over the usage of technology by defining intended usage; we always love hearing about application areas that we never thought of. With this lengthy disclaimer, let's talk about the two viewers in comparison.

Q1. What are the differences between the A360 viewer (or View and Data API) and the Glue 360 viewer?

A1. A360 viewer or View and Data API is a platform technology. It is intended to be used as a component by 3rd party developers as well as other products within Autodesk; while Glue viewer is purpose-built within the context of BIM 360 collaboration in construction field.

View and Data API is completely browser based. Any modern browser that supports WebGL works with A360 viewer. No need to install an additional component. Glue viewer requires a small piece of component module installed on users machine.

View and Data API offers more realistic looking rendering. A360 viewer is used in manufacturing, where realistic rendering is required. 

The viewer portion of View and Data API is written in JavaScript and is open source. It has more option to customize.

View and Data API is stand along. No obligation to use specific products other than the storage location. Glue viewer is only accessible for BIM 360 Glue customers.

View and Data API does not handle aggregation of models. With Glue on the other hand, you can merge multiple models from various sources, such as Revit, AutoCAD and Navisworks.

Using View and Data API, you can search property or meta data from the model.  

Glue Product has features for clash detection and integration with other BIM product portfolio; e.g., sharing models with Field, Layout, and directly opening a model from Navisworks desktop application. 

Q2.  Object level property access: can we read the content from a file, object per object, in a way so that we can find the parameters for the objects and maybe adjust them through the API?

A2.  With A360 viewer, you can access property data using API. You cannot access the original file. Translation service, which is a part of API, creates searchable data set. You cannot modify data directly in the uploaded file.   

With Glue, you cannot access property data from the file. You can only get properties of user selected objects. Being able to search, query and access object data is a wish.  

Q3. Are there possibilities to communicate with the model? For example to highlight an object, to color an object, and so on…

A3. With View and Data API, it is possible. With Glue API, when a user select an object, it automatically get highlighted. You cannot change color. Again, this is a wish.    

Q4. Is it possible to use the A360 viewer for models uploaded in Glue 360?

A4. No, not directly. You can download files from Glue and upload to A360.  

Q5. Does the viewer support Object Enabler (OE) by 3rd party?

A5. Currently, View and Data API does not support OE.  Glue supports OE. You will need to request to get it deployed. 

I hope this gives you ideas when evaluating viewers. I intend to add more as I hear more.