Message 1 of 18
Message 2 of 18
I have suggested before and I'll suggest it again, there is a huge potential upside to giving away free 3D CAD software with full output capability.
Want to boost user base from 1,000's yo 10's or even 100's of 1,000s? let em have older versions free or entry level current versions.
Who ever does this first in a serious way could win. Those that don't could lose!
So Bob, how is the discussion going?
Message 3 of 18
Then there are the legal and IP issues. I don't suppose Lego or indeed the makers of Halo are too please with being associated with weaponry or unlicensed toys or design? Who do you sue when the new wing spar you 3D printed on your Makerbot (the 3D printer in the video) for your Open Source RC plane, breaks, making the plane crash to earth and takes out little Joey riding in the park on his bike so he ends up in hospital for a month? You because you made it? Makerbot because they made the machine that made it? The material supplier? Everybody who contributed to teh open source RC plane design?
As for giving software away so that consumers can make their own stuff I think it actually does affect the professional market. It devalues the contribution that a professional designer or engineer can make, in much the same way that now everybody and their dog is a creative graphic or web designer because they have access to WordArt and a WordPress template! Besides giving stuff away doesn't work. Others have tried it and all it does is force down the value of the product. Look at Alibre. Their prices yo-yo all over the place and they have now settled on a "permanent" $97 for the base version. Give something away for free and it is the professional user who pays to support it. Make a no brainer purchase and you might get some market, but you also get a ton of other issues relating to product support and distribution, not to mention a core of "annoyed" long term users who did pay full price.
As Spidermans uncle says - "with great power comes great responsibility"
Message 4 of 18
Our problem with giving away free software is simple... it isn't free for us.
Our Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) are prohibitively high and therefore any viral push with "oomph" would cost mucho dinero (forgive me... I'm learning Spanish).
We are coming out with a new Innovator Lite product that will lower the price to a manageable credit-card purchase.
Message 5 of 18
On cost of cad and just rambling on.
I have a seat of Alibre Design. I have a seat of VX Machinist and SE Classic. There is an odd mix of capabilities with the three and if I could just take the best of the three and get it all in one program. It used to cost over $150,000.00 for less than the capabilities I have now and so the price has and is coming down steadily for cad and cam. I too would like free but I want the company that I hire to write my cad programs to be there tomorrow. I have been to the SE headquarters in Huntsville and I see for myself the partial costs of software developement and have no idea of the additional costs I can't see.
Do I think that VX and SE are worth full ticket prices? Possibly. I tend to research what is out there and if I am interested in something make a deal and have never paid "retail" for any program except Surfcam back in 2002 before I knew better. Bob is right free does not work. But a shrewd buyer can drop his up front costs by as much as 60% if they try. Alibre may well be the first cad company that turns "free" into a sucessfull business model as that is just what they started with a few years back to get people interested in their product but the key thing to remember here is that it never was free except for the seriously crippled version. Prices have been all over the map since then and the reasons for this are all conjecture as we are not privy to their finances. What I do know is that there are a ton of users of mid and upper range modelers that have bought Alibre just to see what it is all about and if they can do enough in Alibre to get by the big ticket guys are going to lose customers or have to reduce prices to keep them. Alibre for roughly $1,000.00 gives me a better overall MCAD package than VX because they will do sheet metal where VX has a crude sheet metal funtion just so they can claim to have sheet metal. But that is the only area where they prevail. Sadly as most machine design does involve sheet metal VX would lose here and could have lost me permanatly as this is the principal reason I bought other software. For serious 3d VX and SE are so far ahead of Alibre that there is no competition from Alibre but then again most work out there is not complex 3d. SE blows VX and Alibre out of the water for MCAD and you can build a factory and the equipment in it with SE and imported files especialy assemblies can be easily and reliably dealt with. VX has very good 3axis cam [no lathe though bad bad bad], SE has none, Alibre has watered down Visualmill. So for actual design to machining VX wins here if you can live without the MCAD capabilities of sheet metal and lathe.
I guess as I write this I am looking at my experience with the three and it is a mixed bag and reflecting on the costs associated with these I have to say that with the exception of machining I can do 100% of my design work my current customer base demands in Alibre Design Expert [$1,000.00 not $97.00] and it is a heck of a lot cheaper up front. It takes longer to do things there though and my hours of time are a cost too so now it is not such a bargain any more over time. SE Classic with routing modules and 3D milling NX Cam express will set you back about $22,000.00 if you pay full ticket and run over $3,500.00 yearly for maintenance. You can build a factory here . VX Machinist will cost around $6,500.00 I think and I am not going to bother to double check this and $1,500.00 yearly. Great 3d modeler with average to below average MCAD capabilities, very good 3d machining tool paths with a poor tool library and more difficult than should be 2d tool paths but when compared to many other machining packages is a great deal for what you get and has a modeler to boot which programs like Mastercam or Surfcam at $10,000.00 plus for 3d milling have yet to include . Alibre will set you back $4,000.00 for Cam expert that will give you their Design Expert package free and milling up to 4th axis with 5 axis indexing and without having tried this package to know truly what the pluses and minuses are but looking only at the features offered is far cheaper than VX with a better tool library. I have to admit that at $3,000.00 for annual fees for the use of VX and SE I think long and hard about trying the Alibre Cam expert package and this is what VX and SE and all other mid range modelers need to worry about with many users and a poor economy. The problems of moving legacy files from one cad program to another is not stopping people from switching any more. And if we do switch and can get by how will they ever get us back? But free, it would be nice but never happen and some day you will have to unlock that wallet and dump the cash out. I certainly don't give my time away and neither should cad companies.
Support is an interesting aspect of yearly fees and having spent lots of my own money over the years find that complaints from users over serious problems can and will be ignored as cad programs look for new customers with NEW NEW NEW features oh joy and spend your money there. Look at the forums for various programs that are not cheap and there are lots of problems that are not fixed somtimes for years but the yearly fees never stop. I have found this to be true with VX and the oldtimers with SE tell me the same things happen there and my experience so far tells me this is true. It does not matter that we are paying professional level fees we still have software problems. So now we have an annoyed user base that is spending professional levels of cash but still unhappy.Yeah we can pick up the phone and call but support can't help defects in software and that is the chief complaint so do I care if Alibre has problems? Yes but if it costs a lot less to have them and I can still do my work it is not so offensive to have to deal with compared to having problems for years and spending lots of money to have them.
Just as an aside here I got to thinking about what I had posted earlier and wanted to say that insofar as VX goes and problems V14 is by far the best release of VX since v9 when I started with them. My big complaints now are lack of capabilities and not current capabilities that don't work right. SE is the only other program I have seriously used for any length of time and the response time there to problems is a bit slower than VX. I will be interested to see VX's take on direct modeling and how reliable and versatile it will be and hope they take extra time if needed to do it right. What SE released was powerfull but premature and there are still lots of quirks to be worked out a year and a half later.
Message 6 of 18
Once a disruptive technology takes hold though anything is possible. What if the software was free, but you didn't own it? It ran on the parent companies servers and you paid a yearly fee to use it? Saas (Software as a Service) is like a subscription-based service. There's basically 1 version that you check out and run, but it's always the most recent release so you've always got access to the latest and greatest the company has to offer. Super-quick incremental upgrades as code is written,tested and launched. Next time you fire up your machine you've got it. No waiting for a new release or upgrading to the next major release version. Hardware is already fast enough and likely internet speeds are there, although quicker is better. You're basically just running a dumb-client that is networked to the server, it's just that the server is on the internet.
Gmail and Google Docs are a good example of this. MS is coming out with online versions of it's Office products to compete.
"The article was nice until they started in with the sales spiel for China." - totally agree there, that has problems in and of itself, not the least of which is that shipping manufacturing overseas has killed our industrial base. The nice thing about the article though is it focuses on the niche markets where you really don't need to do the volume to make it feasible. The lego weapons was a good example. Small, highly specialized niche market but enough work to be able to source the work locally and still make a tidy profit. Lean manufacturing at it's best. Same with the open-source cars. They are nimble and quick and are able to tap a HUGE resource in designers willing to design for free essentially under the guise of a "contest". The winners there are the companies producing the product. The Threadless t-shirt example was a good one. They get their designs for free from their community and the community votes and tells them which shirt designs they'd most like to buy. So in essense they aren't producing a single shirt until they know they have a ready and willing market to produce it.
Imagine a site where your customers designs widgets in CAD and give you the files for free. There is a community of hundreds/thousands/etc keeping tabs and voting which widget they want produced by you for them to purchase direct online. You get the design work done for free, machine the product and already have a customer base ready and waiting to buy in high volume numbers. It's a great model, you just have to find a niche to support it.
Anyways, interesting stuff. It's always fun to see what's just around the corner and try and predict where things will go.
Message 7 of 18
Operating on the cloud or SAS brings insolvable problems to bear. SAS will give you the latest version but along with that comes the problem with buggy software and you just have to live with it til it is fixed. If it shuts your business down thats just to bad. If you have a perpetual seat you have the perogative to use any version. If I really wanted to I suppose that I could reload back to V9 with VX if I had a problem with their current release since I have been a subscriber since then. SAS tells you what you are going to use with no recourse. Recently SWX had a serious problem with a conflict with a photorendering ap and the end result for some users was that their computers were basicaly wiped out and no files were saved and a complete OS and programs reinstall had to be done. How many others would have been stuck if SWX was SAS will not be known as many of the users were not on the absolute latest and greatest. And no SWX did not catch this before it was released and discovered by the victims.
Unreliable data transmission. If my program and infrastructure is in house I never have to worry about the vagaries of bad choices by other companies overselling their capacity making me stand in line waiting for time on their servers or crummy internet connections.
Who really owns the data you create if you have to rent something each month or have to store data on their servers to be able to use it. Permanant seats give users permanant control.
If you can't copyright or patent intellectual property that means that any of these t-shirt people or widget designing people or your competitor can use these designs and may the cheapest producer win. And if you are asking others to do your designs who will own this new idea or concept, not you for sure.
There is economy of scale. Yes the car mentioned looks cool. But the big factories are building cars for as little as 1/4 the price tag of this one for those who have to worry about money. The way they do this is through proprietary manufacturing and design, the only way they can reliably control the outcome.
I do have some "free" designers that help me on occasion though. They are the engineers at some of the companies I do work for and quite often I have to sit down and tell them why what they have proposed has problems. These are trained people and I just can't imagine giving designing over to whomsoever wishes to without tons of problems. I would venture a guess that all of the designers of this car for instance are working professionals with a significant amount of time or both time and money in design software from various cad companies in their real life and the only way they are using provided software with designing this car is with prior knowledge from their workaday software. Serious design work will never be free in any area as it takes to much time to create the software to design with and time for others to learn to use it and we all expect to be paid for our efforts.
Message 8 of 18
the issue for VX ,as I see it, is how do you increase user base substantially. How do you do it a downturn climate? How do you do it all?
Software is perhaps one of the few products than can be distributed for pennies. So regardless of manufacturing opportunities, China etc etc. how do you get people using and liking your software?
The advantage an older product has is older versions. I have been productive with VX for since release of V10 and only now really use many of the advanced features. VX has grown considerably in that time an so has my knowledge, but now I am committed to VX on account of the huge time investment in hybrid modelling.
So the how to get 1000's of folks underway with a package that will meet their needs for the first 12 months or more? AND encourage them to stick with it.
IMO 30 days is too short to 'trial' CAD software. If I only have a 30 day option I might not be bothered, but if I had 120days, that's a standout invite and by the end of that time I might have actually learnt enough to feel confident in making the commitment and I'd be hooked. Thats 120 days I am less likely to try something else. as long as the first couple of hours are sweet. Now imagine I has a full 12months....
The issue is not about can the software do what I want, rather, can I learn it on my own, enjoy the process AND get useful results.
This means good modelling tools, simple drawing output (decent templates) and good assembly tools.
VX is right up there in the simplicity to install and run, way above SWX, PTC etc. with their mindbogglinglarge [sic] installs. In fact it's ahead of some A'CAD Open Alliance 2D stuff.
Anyway just a few thoughts...
Message 9 of 18
I see both sides of the argument. Daily I use software products from Adobe and Google, both at opposite ends of the spectrum. They both do what I want them to do, but with totally different methodologies and company mindsets. One is not necessarily better or worse, just different. At the end of the day they both allow me to do the work I need to do.
In a production environment, I can see where uptime and consistent results from the software are of more importance than bleeding edge code. Easily solved with SaaS by using version forks. You're happy with v9, run that. If you want to run v15beta maybe you have access to that. It's more just logistics than problems with implementation. This is just a theoretical idea, but you have to ask what's the technology gonna be in 5 or 10 years. What's the delivery method?
"IMO 30 days is too short to 'trial' CAD software."
Somehow that has seemed to evolve into the de-facto time period for software trials no matter what it's for. I think it's based on sales cycles and turning "trial" users into "actual" users. If you had 12 months why would you ever buy the software? When the 12 months was up, the next version would likely be out and you could just say you want to demo that for another year and you've had 2 years of free software. It goes back to the open-source vs for-profit business model. Either give your product away or charge a fair market value. Somewhere in between usually leaves the customer and the company unhappy because neither one really gets what they want.
"VX is right up there in the simplicity to install and run, way above SWX, PTC etc. with their mindbogglinglarge [sic] installs. In fact it's ahead of some A'CAD Open Alliance 2D stuff."
Interesting to know based on other software experiences.
Message 10 of 18
"The British Council commissioned Charles Leadbeater to think about the cultural implications of "cloud computing", i.e. when the network, rather than the PC, becomes the computer."
Message 11 of 18
When I look at what is in my shop from the workstation, software, Faroarm to the cnc mill I can't help but think that no one with any amount of money could have had what I have here 25 years ago. I expect that advances are going to be even more rapid in the future and I read of things like current research from microsoft studying using electrical activity in the brain to control PC's. But there are always people out there willing to part you from your money with either unproven software or infrastructure. As of right now and for the forseeable future if you want to work for defense or other sensitive fields of endeavor there is no way to be secure online and no promise to deliver that has been found to be true. Think banking, medical and retirement/investor account hacks and data theft here and apply it to the bogus promise of online security for your stuff. And there is no capability for reliable large throughput with any ISP in the world to be capable of handling this increase in data much less do it reliably with even their current load. A customer of mine for example has PLC's everywhere in the plant. There are times that they have problems and so online they go to get answers from the IT corporate guy who does remote diagnostics. Now I watch the plant idled at times at a cost of over $4.600.00 per hour while they fiddle fart around with their lousy ISP's slow data throughput and dropped connections.
I looked at the price for VX Innovator today and see it is $500.00. I can't imagine that this is a serious barrier to anyone who wishes to learn about VXand you get support to I believe. Alibre Proffessional is the same with sheet metal but lesser abilities for modeling. Now with Rhino you have an interesting twist to the trial period and it is that your are allowed 25 saves before you must buy. You could model for a year and learn as long as you don't save and this allows plenty of time to learn and protects Rhino to as if you start using it for work you will quickly go through 25 saves. Perhaps this is something for VX to consider. But free? No one provides anything I use in my business to me for free. I don't expect anyone to seriously ask me to provide services to them for free either as I am not a charity. I shop for as good a deal as I can get and decide then yes or no. Not one company writing serious cad software does it for any other reason than to make a profit. IF they do a good job the customers will come.If they don't the market will speak and they will fail as a business. But what is that old saying, you have to spend money to make money.
Message 12 of 18
I would like to add a word of caution about using Open Source software, which is often "free". There are a lot of crazy people out there determined to make your computer life a misery. There are probably very few people that have not had a virus or spyware scare at sometime during their computer ownership and the internet has made things a lot easier for viruses to find their way to you. Now, most of us are using some sort of free software. Even when we source that from well known names, we can still be hit by problems later - the recent scare with the Mozilla FireFox browser (fortunately not as bad as Mozilla first thought), is a good example of this. When it comes to Open Source, there is the potential for great danger, because it is easy for a "code time bomb" to be included in an application. The software is (usually) distributed by the good guys, but just remember that the bad guys are in there too.
What can you do? Nothing much, but limiting your application collection to what you really really need would be a good start and yes, a commercial application that you have to pay for is often a better bet. Apply a bit of common sense and take your time when choosing applications. Don't be lazy about backing-up your data either, because if you do one day "lose" your PC, that's nothing compared to losing your work!
Message 13 of 18
At present the qihu360 business began to grow up, in October 2009 launched its own anti-virus software(360 anti-virus), and is free of charge, users can freely download, at present China has more than 100 million users in the use of qihu360 anti-virus software, I would like to ask, Everyone is free to use their products, who buy Kaspersky, Nod32 anti-virus software?
Their customers continuous growth, The Kaspersky, Nod32 users fewer and fewer. one day, they will disappear in the Chinese market.
So, on the opposite of the free, in fact, it is not free.
In addition , the industry is different, so not any kind of product can be free, such as cad/cam software industry, can not be free, after all, the CAD/CAM Software industry more professional.
There are my personal views.
Message 14 of 18
Message 15 of 18
Originally posted by: mudcrab
Quote form elsewhere:
"And Alibre says it can no longer include Alibre Translate with its lowest cost Alibre Design Standard software, "due to new requirements" by the provider of the translator (Datakit)"
Good thing I bought mine earlier this month.
Message 16 of 18
Message 17 of 18
Our industrial revolution here in the US is over! What we in the US have done with our industrial revolution was create tech. This tech is now empowering the rest of the world. Their industrial revolutions will make ours seem meager, as we provided the highest end tech for advancement that we had to create in order to advance our selves as a nation. This tech has been free to the world market. Without discretion..
I hope the Software I'm still paying for, will continue to be developed here in the US by Americans, sorry. But we need all we can get at this point. And I still owe about 3K..! :-) (where are the widgets??)
ZW Soft needs to understand about VALUE ADDED. Something that the Chinese, oops I said it, care or understand very little about! The rest of the major software producers in this industry seem to understand this. They don't abandon product as EOL for the sake of a new version name!. Some companies in the industry don't even do major version changes for long periods, they do service packs some are fee based some are not..
This is how ZWSoft will build their supply chain in the US and become what we all want, a major player. I don't want cheaper software, I need to able to afford the software I want, cheap software is easy to find and free software even easier. No value there.
Well PKWare maybe! :-) (again, where are the widgets??)
I think this is all on topic.
Message 18 of 18
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