Microsoft breaks NetFabb cloud repair

A simple tool many 3d printer enthusiasts and professionals use to fix problem models is the cloud 3d model repair by netfabb.  It repairs models that the basic version of netfabb can’t, and does it in the cloud, so your computer isn’t slowed down during the complex algorithms.  However, Microsoft recently took over the cloud repair site and broke it.

Microsoft-3d-printing

Microsoft announced last June they were partnering with netfabb to simplify 3d printing.  The move made sense, as netfabb is a valuable tool that is easy to use.  Netfabb giving Microsoft the burden of server maintenance for the cloud tools saves netfabb time and money.  But by ceding control, netfabb has allowed Microsoft to tarnish the service quality.

Before, cloud.netfabb would let you upload any stl and just require an email.  The new model repair tool forces you to log into a Microsoft account.  Microsoft wants users to buy into their software ecosystem just to use the tool.  The service is valuable enough that it’s worth giving Microsoft access to your usage data, but it’s a big change from the old netfabb.

Another problem is that Microsoft has made the service brittle.  When using chrome and firefox, the two most widely used browsers, the download link doesn’t work if you click any of the about links during the upload or processing then click back.  The model shows as processed, but it won’t ever download.  There’s a bug in the javascript that prevents the download from starting.  It’s great that the new service works with .obj files as well as .stl, but if you can’t download the results, then the service doesn’t work at all.

Microsoft will likely fix the download bug.  For now, when you use the cloud repair tool, don’t click anything between uploading the broken file and downloading the fixed file.  But this new system shows where Microsoft’s heart is in the 3d printing world.  It wants users to use Microsoft products.  It forces users to sign up for its Microsoft account to do 3d printing, when a simple email address worked before.  If it could, it would make 3d printing Windows exclusive, so that more people would buy Microsoft software and services.

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April 4, 2014
Categories: News