So, 14 months ago, I previewed much of this current scenario. My first ask was about how to implement plugins in the cloud to which I was told SU was actively pursuing a strategy. Didn’t happen (yet).
At the time, I wondered why the focus on cloud UNLESS it was to be a focus of migration:
There I also reference the cost and expense of the cloud port:
Porting to the cloud an application of this scope is an immense task. OnShape raised $80,000,000 for their company who already had experienced CAD developers, with much of it targeted toward the OnShape Cloud Platform. This is NOT trivial stuff.
Now I know SU doesn’t compete with OnShape functionally, but it does provide a realworld working example of how a top-tier 3D app can function as a true professional tool in the cloud.
I later defended Trimble’s SU2cloud strategy:
and offered ideas to get there sooner than later in order to get more time to perfect the cloud based version-- as it’s clear getting plugins in the cloud is non-trivial.
I also predicted my own personal belief regarding the actual ability of SU to be improved by Trimble from a functional standpoint (based on last years complete few improvements):
So, here we are a year later, and mostly I’d say my prognostications have come true. As mentioned in the previous threads, Trimble has not shared with us their plans to move to the cloud, but evidenced by their complete lack of any sort of significant features to the Desktop App in the new “upgrade,” one can ONLY conclude (as I did last year) the effort is going into refactored cloud development.
Let me be perfectly clear on this point. Trimble is a private company. Trimble owns 100% of SketchUp. Private companies should always act in their best interest. And… Trimble’s business is NOT primarily supported by SketchUp.
So, my question to Trimble would be: Why don’t you publish your roadmap? It would seem it would be in your best interest, especially after 2 years of such stagnant development in the “flagship” product, to let your primary SU users (the Pros-- the ones that matter most to Trimble) know what your plans are. Transparency here, especially in this solemn moment-- would seem to be your friend.
Let’s look at the scorecard:
- You have an aging product which is crippled by it’s architecture. In this day and age of super fast GPUs capable of rendering millions of polys in split seconds, your product grinds to a halt when virtually every other poly modeler is excelling.
- You clearly have no answer to this problem, and you rightly understand it would be throwing good money after bad on a sunsetted architecture with no future. That is why there are few if any new features.
- You depend on the graciousness of plugin developers to rev this existing shell into the future. Unfortunately, these stellar programmers are not GUI experts and they have no standards or interfaces to guide and let them seamlessly integrate their designs into your application-- so it all becomes a hodge podge of panels, colored buttons and modal/non-modal interfaces.
- You have 3 different code bases, all sharing a bit of code (at least) for SU that must be maintained. Mac, Windows, and Cloud. Please don’t tell me they are all the same-- I have links all around here which refute that. I know, that IS expensive and an ongoing concern, even with automated build processes, and especially when they need to be updated so often based on new patchwork fixes on an old architecture-- or even OS updates.
- And now you’re going to a subscription based model without a reasonable customer value proposition. You have no roadmap or plans to actually fix any of the above problems. It can appear to some of us customers you’re getting ready for a big shift (or tapping out) and want a last cash grab.
So, in the interest of your company, you should do what’s right for your shareholders. And providing a layer or two of an authentic road map describing what your plans are to those who still choose to follow you, would make sense to me. Otherwise, we’re left to the scenario planning and extinction theories which will continue.
I know we all love SketchUp. But it’s now so long in the tooth, and I believe new serious customers looking for a real 3D app that can grow with them will take a pass.
Trimble, it is in your hands. But remember, your customers have a voice-- and in this day and age, that is a non-trivial fact.