Trying to decide which version to purchase

I use SketchUp for landscape design, and want to purchase either Pro, or the classic license since its a one-time fee. I’m just wondering if I get the classic is it basically the same as getting SketchUp Pro 2020, or an older version, or??? Does it come with all of the functionality and features that Pro has?

The desktop application is the same for Pro and Classic, other than a couple of extras that come with Pro. With the Pro subscription you get unlimited cloud storage, as compared to 10 GB with Classic. Pro subscription has a geo location feature where you can import higher zoom level tiles. You also get AR support in mobile, ad VR and mixed realist headset support. There isn’t a way to add those things to Classic.

On top of that you get the Shop version of SketchUp included in the Pro subscription. This page shows a comparison between Classic and Pro:

https://www.sketchup.com/products/pro-classic

You could think of the $299 per yer subscription for Pro as being made up from $120 of maintenance & support, $119 for Shop, $120 for unlimited cloud storage, $10 for AR support. That alone makes $299 be a reasonable deal, but the VR and Hololens support used to cost $1500 on its own, so that adds more value to the packet. And you don’t pay an initial $695.

The main advantage of Classic is that it’s a permanent license, if things change and you can’t justify paying for SketchUp anymore, your current version of SketchUp would continue to work, with the Pro the program would no longer work if you stopped paying for the subscription.

3, 5 & 10 Year expenditure comparison using current pricing

Abbreviations:
M&S: maintenace and support
PUR: purchase
SUBS: subscription

SU Pro Classic (perpetual) licence:
3 Years ($935): $695 (year 1: PUR) + 2x $120 (year 2 & 3: M&S)
5 Years ($1175): $695 (year 1: PUR) + 4x $120 (year 2, 3, 4 & 5: M&S)
10 Years ($1775): $695 (year 1: PUR) + 9x $120 (year 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9: M&S)

SU Pro subscription (non-perpetual) licence:
3 Years ($897): 3x $299 (year 1, 2 & 3: SUBS)
5 Years ($1495): 5x $299 (year 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5: SUBS)
10 Years ($2990): 10x $299 (year 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10: SUBS)

Think carefully if the carrots being offered for the extra money is something you really will use and if it is worth it, this is something you have to decide for yourself.

Higher resolution aerial maps? Good one, except there is also extensions that will do that for you, yes they are paid but the one I use ( OOB TERRAIN ) currently costs $9 (perpetual licence) and works very well.

Not to mention, as mentioned, if whatever reason you choose not to renew your M&S or SUBS (say a global economy crash as is the case now), you will not contravene licencing terms with the perpetual licence as it will keep on going as long as the OS and hardware will support it (lots of people still using SU8Pro, which is 8-10 years old I think), with the subscription licence you run out of use and it stops working no matter what OS & hardware you’re on.

Personally, I have no use for the carrots being dangled for subscription, besides I do not support subscription software in any event.

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Thanks for your detailed analysis, Julian. I’m sure that will be helpful to others as well. As you can see, our subscription pricing is cheaper for the first three years, then modestly more expensive after five years.

I think this simple analysis is one quite a few people are doing, and I’m sure since you’re looking this closely at our offer, you have done a bit more analysis internally to your business as well. Just a few additional points for folks who might follow this thread in the future.

Depending on where in the world you live, the cost associated with a subscription is accounted for differently than the cost of a perpetual license. Perpetually licensed software is a capital expense on your taxes, where a subscription is an operating expense. Remember to consider depreciation vs amortization on your taxes.

Additionally, if you have to scale your team’s usage up or down, subscriptions will save you money over perpetual licensing. If you buy an extra license for a contractor you hire to help out on a project that lasts less than five years, you will have paid more to support that contractor than you might with a shorter subscription term. If you let that contractor go before you have hit the four year break-even point, you are leaving unused value on the table.

Projecting forward, I think it is a safe bet that the internet will become increasingly wrapped into everything we do. Which means more and more of our offerings will be services, not discrete compiled code that lives in isolation on your computer. Cloud services require servers and bandwidth, and those take continuous attention from us to maintain. Which means we have recurring operating expenses that have to be shared with our customers. We can’t sell something once that we have to pay to maintain over and over again.

I’m gratified that you are planning your SketchUp usage on a ten year horizon. I think we really must have built a tool you love if you are thinking that far ahead. And I assure you, we’re planning on being around that long as well. Subscription licenses align your needs closely with our business operations. With a perpetual license, we only have to convince you to spend your money once. With a subscription, we have to earn your business every year, over and over again.

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Colin is exactly right, but I would like to add some additional considerations for you as well. Classic licensing is appropriate for folks who want only the core SketchUp modeling tools, and who see value in paying for about four years of software cost up front. If you don’t need anything but basic SketchUp modeling functionality and paying the full cost up front makes sense on your books, Classic licensing is your best choice.

On the other hand, if you are just getting started with SketchUp, a lower up front expense might be a safer option for you. Even if you are sure you are going to be using SketchUp more than four years from now, a subscription allows you to scale your use up or down with more cost efficiency.

And as we move into the future, more and more of the stuff our team works on will be built on the power and scalability of the cloud. Tools which are more collaborative by design help everyone in the AEC industry, and collaborative services mean increasing reliance on the internet and cloud services. If you want to take increasing advantage of things like Trimble Connect and SketchUp for Web you will only be able to get them on subscription. You may not be using these things today, but within the next four years you surely will be using them or something like them to manage your LA projects with the teams of folks with whom you work on them.

I bought my licence back in SUPro7 days if I recall correctly, so yes, SketchUp is something I’ve seen using over a number of years and am rather passionate about. Of course back then SketchUp was revolutionary in the 3D arena, today less so.

The quip about having to earn our trust every year with subscription may be so, but it also holds true to the same extent for the people renew their maintenance year-on-year. However, if you’re locked into a subscription then that’s it, if you want to work using the software (and the files / information you’ve created using it) you have to keep on paying even if it isn’t actively being developed the way one would expect; while if I have a perpetual licence then I can support the software by method of annual maintenance fee payment) as long as it is developing actively - if it doesn’t I can keep using the last version I have until such time as it no longer works on the OS / hardware available at the time. So, by analysis, it is really the other way around to what you stated.

Given that in parts of the world internet infrastructure is poor to nonexistent in certain areas, necessitating mobile data connections (which are limited and data relatively expensive) where possible (generally covers greater areas than other internet infrastructure), I beg that you keep this in mind.

Building a business model around online service providing then complaining about the costs (or using that as a driving motivator) is nonsensical. Like buying a 6 liter V8 and complaining about gas mileage, at purchase you knew it would chug the fuel down…

Extension Warehouse isn’t functioning normally, hasn’t done so since the upgrade early in the year and some search functions (filtering extensions new to old) isn’t working as it should for close on a month now, things like these don’t build trust. Neither is not updating software for a year (SU2018) but I have to commend your efforts in this over the last versions (SU2019 & SU2020), please keep this up.

Julian, thank your for this info. I have a few more questions.

  1. If I buy the classic license I understand I can upgrade for I think around $120/year. Do these purchased upgrades expire after a year and the program returns to its original form if not renewed?

  2. If the purchased upgrades are mine to keep forever, will I be able to just download and access the version corresponding to my upgrade in the future, if say, my machine was stolen or damaged and I hadn’t backed it up?

3). Does the classic license include all of the features I expect it to: 3D warehouse, extension warehouse, geolocation, layers, outliner, style mgr, etc?

Thanks again.

The $120 does two things:

  1. Maintenance, meaning that you get bug fixes releases and other updates for the next 12 months. Some software companies do a integer based upgrade policy, if you bought 1.0, you’re entitled to 1.x, up to 1.9. When 2.0 comes out you pay for an upgrade. SketchUp is different, you’re not specifically paying for the update to a later version, you are entitled to a major update simply because you were under maintenance and support at the time it was released. The newly released version becomes your permanent licensed version. Existing versions already installed on the same machine continue to work, but when you activate the latest version, the previous version you were using can no longer be activated on a new machine.

On the question of downloading the last version you were licensed for in a few years time when your computer is stolen, on our own downloads page usually has the last three versions. Currently that has been extended to include 2017. So long as there is a classic license server you would be able to install your last active version on a new machine, and activate it with the appropriate license for that version. If you have lost your license you can retrieve it from the license manager page.

  1. Support for the next 12 months. That includes what you get for free here in the forum, the email support that Shop users also get, and phone support. The phone number is included in your support renewal email, as well as in the license manager page next to the licenses that are currently under support.

The classic license use of the desktop application currently includes all of the same features that a subscription license would get, with the small differences that Trimble Connect storage is 10 GB, and with geo location you have to zoom to the desired level before importing, getting a smaller area in one go. Subscribers have unlimited Trimble Connect storage, and can go to a less zoomed in view of geo location, and yet still import a more zoomed in set of tiles in one go.

Some of what John said implies that in the future there may be other improvements in the desktop application that only work if you are a subscriber. For now I think the only differences are the two that I mentioned, for the desktop application of SketchUp. With SketchUp Viewer, subscribers do get VR headset support, that classic license users would not be able to use.

Once you have upgraded your perpetual licensed application, the upgraded application remains licensed in perpetuity. We can’t guarantee that cloud-based services inside the application (like 3D Warehouse, Extension Warehouse, Trimble Connect or Add Location) will continue to work forever, but we will make every reasonable effort to maintain backwards compatibility where we can.

Probably, depending on how far back you want to be able to go. We will keep old builds available for download and re-activation for as long as it is practical for us to do so. Realistically, since we incur expense to support these old downloads, we only keep the current version and the three preceding versions available for download.

As computing platforms mature, it becomes more and more apparent that software isn’t something you can build once and then sit on forever. Everything about your computing environment is changing all the time. Your operating system, peripherals and their device drivers, and the services available through the internet; all are developing rapidly and require constant care and maintenance. Keeping up-to-date on the latest build is really important, and that is what a subscription will guarantee for you.

In includes all those features which we can build into the client application. Service offerings like Extension Warehouse, 3D Warehouse, Add Location and Generate Report are based on cloud services. They all work today, but we can’t always keep them working in older builds as things change in the world around us. Layers, Outliner, and Styles are the same in Classic or Subscription licensed versions of SketchUp Pro.

We’ve been careful to maintain full file compatibility between paid and free versions of SketchUp. Unlike some subscription offerings you may be thinking about in comparison (notably those from Adobe or Autodesk) cancelling a SketchUp subscription does not cause you to lose any access to your models. You can always open any SketchUp model ever made with SketchUp Free, and models stored on services like 3D Warehouse or Trimble Connect will remain available to you as long as we can keep the lights on with those services.

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Hm. Not sure what you’re experiencing here, but I’m not aware of any service problems with Extension Warehouse. Probably not relevant to this thread, but I would be keen to hear more about what has been troubling you. Do you want to spin up a separate thread to explore this topic further?

Edit: I understand the issue for you may be that you can no longer easily find a list of ‘all’ published extensions by typing a wildcard into the search field? Testing just now, typing an * into search returns 782 results. I think that is the full list.

Using free is all well and dandy, unless it is for commercial application (ie. the main reason why people buy Pro), sooo… unless anything has changed in the Free licencing terms and conditions… ? Not to mention it (Free) is online only, thus no use of extensions.

Please see this thread.

  1. It doesn’t revert. You can keep on using (installing / reinstalling) the last version you had active maintenance on. Note that if you activate a newer major release version then you cannot activate the older versions again thereafter, however if you keep them installed they will run happily side-by-side with other SU versions.
  2. Rather implement a good backup regime. Only the last 3 major versions are available for download from the SU website, there are some other sources though but unless you’re familiar with the website and or community rather give it a miss and revert to your own backups. My machine data is available on three sources, all three physical (the actual machine and two backup drives in different locations) and not cloud based.
  3. Classic has all you will need. The subscription has a few more carrots dangled (that the classic licence doesn’t) but you can get along just fine without them, especially so if you’re a one man show or small group of people.

Don’t drink the subscription coolaid.

I think it is unfair to say that, to little information of the roundabouts of the OP. It might be enough for you, though.
I get a lot of questions why ‘I cannot use the Viewer’ etc.

You have your opinion, I have my experience. Every single person I’ve physically met (using SketchUp) doesn’t use it to it’s full potential, I can’t think of any that even use Layout, let alone Trimble Connect or the 3D viewer headset support. Online the amount of Pro users using the 3D viewer headset is dwarfed by the regular everyday users. So, while you think it is unfair, as a cross section of the users it is safe to say that the OP should be just fine without the viewer.

I doubt if anyone uses more than 10% of their computers or smart phones potential.

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My experience has lead me to my opinion, for that matter…