I just wonder if OnShape is going to catch up with Sketchup if Trimble executes its strategy as laid out by Mark. What Trimble is missing, is what made Sketchup the #1 3D modelling software: the average Joe could try his hand at a first-rate 3D software that was simple to use! If he got good enough, he could go to Pro to get additional features.
What you are proposing, is actually splitting Sketchup into 2 different products that work two different ways, with two entirely separate performance types. That is what Mark is missing from what the original poster is trying to convey: This is not about just bumping up the performance of Free: it is that Free is entirely different, and deeply flawed. Sketchup Make never was like that. It was free, fast, easy, dependable, and Wow! could a guy make some cool stuff! That is what made it attractive.
I started with Sketchup. I have started using OnShape, which also has a free version. Their free is FULL-BLOWN parametric modeling. All the actual modelling tools (including the Boolean ones like Subtract which are reserved for Sketchup Pro) work in the free version of OnShape. Sketchup’s rudimentary dimensioning can’t even touch OnShape’s, where you can drag the dimension around, enter something in it, and if it is constrained, change the size of the model from the dimension! Actually, it is SolidWorks, full blown, plus some, and for free.
OnShape prevents professionals from misusing the free version, by making it that you cannot have a private document. You can have as many public ones as you like. I totally get the need for software vendors to make a living, and prevent misuse of a free version of their product.
Given the questionnaire I received a while ago, Trimble is looking for return on investment from Sketchup, and are going to push the price to hit the sweet spot of maximum revenue. Which I get. I would anticipate somewhere around $1000 dollars, as getting any more expensive than that is going to push people to SolidWorks or Inventor. However, like Guitar Center, if you let people come in when they are kids and strum a professional-quality guitar for free, guess who they are going to come to when they are grown up and ready to go pro? Yep.
And why does AutoDesk let university students use their full-blown software for free? Yep–guess what they buy when they are graduated?
But Sketchup is not worth $1000. They have major and fundamental issues, like the dimensions, that have to change if they are going to compete with the big boys. I mean, when you zoom out, and your dimensions become a cloud that obscures the model, this is in no way in competition with Inventor, Solidworks, etc.
But Sketchup hit a huge niche: the need for affordable modelling software for those who don’t need the functionality of SolidWorks/Inventor.
So, my 2 cents worth is that Trimble revamp Free to be like Make–fast, lean, local, and robust. Sure, give print-outs a watermark to force people who are not being honorable about using Make solely for non-commercial work (which is probably the root cause of all this, not Trimble) to get the professional version in order to submit their work for commercial purposes. Sure, disable or limit features that more advanced users would want. But keep enough functionality for amateurs to get a feel for it first-rate modelling, but not enough for commercial users to be able to use it for commercial work. Change the Free version to be like the Make version–that is local, not chained to the Internet, fast, and working sweet! Free is a better marketing name anyway…
Personally, I think this would do the trick:
The Free version:
- Enable the Eneroth Solid Model tools
- Limit to 3 scenes
- Limit to 3 layers
- Limit to 3 styles
- Limit to 10 plug-ins
- Limit file size to…20 meg? Whatever is about the point where a truly commercial project would begin.
- Disable most rendering tools plug-ins, as they are needed for presentation to clients and would be appropriate for commercial work.
The “Shop” version:
$175 permament license, $25 per year for upgrade rights.
- Limit to 5 scenes
- Limit to 5 layers
- Limit to 5 styles
- Limit to 15 plug-ins
- Limit file size to…40 meg? Whatever is about the point where a truly commercial project would begin.
- Disable only the most high-end rendering tools plug-ins.
*No watermark on print-outs
The Pro version:
$812.84 permament license, $96.84 per year for upgrade rights.
*No limit on scenes
- No Limit on layers
- No limit on styles
- No limit on plug-ins
- No limit on file size
- No limit on rendering plug-ins.
That way, you welcome people by providing what Sketchup what it is–awesome, free, fast, robust 3D modelling; the opportunity to get good at something without spending an arm and a leg…yet at the same time give the shareholders in Trimble their due return on investment, by making it pretty much impossible to use Sketchup for serious commercial work. Let the guy who starts something in his garage be able to have something affordable on a really tight budget, that can be used for “light” commercial work while he gets his business up and running. When he “goes pro”, Pro is there and ready.
And fix those silly dimensions, if you are really going to “go pro” with Sketchup.
My two cents worth.