Reusing 3D CAD data to create technical illustrations is one of the most cost-effective ways to enhance your technical documentation. You not only avoid the hassle of creating technical graphics from scratch but also retain the engineering information within existing CAD files, giving product end-users and technicians all the context they need.
While there is software that transforms engineering CAD data into technical illustrations, many technical communications professionals rely on browser-based plugins to process 3D content. The idea is that if a technician wants to view a technical illustration through his mobile device, the browser he chooses will render the content.
For a time, this process worked fine, but it’s essentially a jury-rigged solution, given the fact that technical illustration software can perform this function. If you’re still relying on plugins, here are three reasons to stop:
1. System security
Browser plugins are often less secure than the browsers they’re used in, with hackers and other bad actors using Flash and Java to attack vulnerable systems. Because everyone uses the same Flash and Java plugins regardless of operating system or browser, an attack on a plugin could affect any browser and operating system.
In short, requiring plugins to consume your 3D illustrations puts every system at risk.
2. Ease of use
Because plugins aren’t automatically included with browsers, all the field service technicians in your organization are individually responsible for downloading them. Sending a mass email to all of your service personnel to download a plugin is no guarantee that they’ll actually do so.
Plugins also introduce customer experience issues. If your customers frequently view technical illustrations to learn how to use your products, they’ll have to download 3D rendering plugins to multiple devices. Global Web Index found that the average digital consumer has 3.64 devices.
Another issue pertains to stability, as plugins may cause browsers to crash. Imagine watching a simulation of how to install a car battery on your phone only to have the animation cut short by a browser crash.
3. Cross-platform support
Plugins don’t usually adhere to open standards. Whomever writes the plugin gets to decide which platforms and browsers it will support, so a plugin may work on one browser but not on another. This makes global support very difficult, as there is a large variety of systems available, and requiring that all your vendors and customers use the same one is not realistic.
To foster scalability and adoption of your 3D content, look for an illustration and delivery experience that is platform-agnostic and doesn’t require plug-ins. To learn more about technical illustrations that empower service, check out the infographic below: