Having waded through this thread, I think a lot of the acrimony could have been avoided if Caroline’s original post had been a bit different in its emphasis and packaging.
It would have helped to emphasize that you’re excited to announce the new “Free” web version of Sketchup, and to say a bit about how you thought this could help to introduce a broader audience to Sketchup (including chromebook users and people who are shy about installing software), and also hint at ways in which a web version of Sketchup might be able to offer unique features, like integrated cloud backups, easy shifting between computers, perhaps eventual collaboration facilitation, or render farming.
It would have helped to acknowledge that not all of Sketchup’s traditional features are yet implemented in Free, and that Free isn’t yet as fast or efficient as you would like, while also noting optimism about potential improvements on these fronts.
Perhaps most importantly, it would have helped to say a bit less about your plans to abandon development of Make. Instead, you could have said that, over the short run, you expect most of your development efforts on free distributions of Sketchup to be on the Web version, and that we shouldn’t expect much more than pressing bug-fixes for the existing version of Make any time soon. All of this is technically compatible with what you did say, including the possibility that there might never be a new version of Make. But this way of saying it would have been less shocking to the community, and would have given skeptics about Free more hope that Make will get more love again at some point. And this also would have helped to make people feel more like you would be attentive to feedback and suggestions, including the possibility that if the community speaks strongly in favor of Make over Free, you might shift some of your efforts back towards Make again.
I think many people would have responded much better, had you presented this just as a new free product currently demanding a lot of your attention, rather than as a complete abandonment of a popular existing product. Of course, many of us would be disappointed not to see our beloved Make get more updates sooner, but I don’t think many of us would have begrudged your having spent development efforts in this way, even if we’re skeptical about how well it will pan out.
Of course, it’s easy for me to say in hindsight how you could have done customer relations better. More positively, for the future, I’d encourage you to express some openness to doing some further development on Make, at least to fix glaring bugs and to try to keep it compatible with changes in technology. It makes a huge difference in morale and confidence for a community to think that a program hasn’t been completely abandoned by developers, and probably will still be operational in the years to come, even if we can’t expect many significant new features to be added. Best to give us Make fans the illusion of hope and of being listened to, even if you think it’s unlikely that many of our hopes will actually be answered.