I have been using SketchUp a few times per year, for many years. Today, when I went online and tried to download the most recent SketchUp Make so that I could try to experiment with the MSPhysics Sketchup extension (so that I could try to physically model the wirework in an animated “puppet hand” model for an elaborate Halloween costume) I discovered that the SketchUp Make product had been retired and that SketchUp Free, which does not support Ruby scripting, now the only version available to me other than the Pro version.
I am not happy. I understand that Trimble wants (needs) to make money, but I really feel that they are hurting both themselves and their customer community with this marketing approach.
There are some users whose needs are simple enough that they could get by with the limited feature set of the SketchUp Free web-based product. Some other users use SketchUp heavily or professionally, and can therefore justify its very high cost. However, there are also a large(!) body of hobbyists and occasional users in the “middle ground” between these two groups. These “middle ground” people were in many ways the people whose goodwill, evangelism, and considerable efforts (e.g. extension writing and sharing, model development and sharing) on behalf of the product caused SketchUp to become popular in the first place.
Trimble has now left many of these people without any option to use the software. (SketchUp Make 2017 is a delaying action, not a path forward.)
As an occasional user of SketchUp, it had value to me. Not as much value as it might have had to a professional user, but value nonetheless. And I would have been willing to pay Trimble some money to keep access to Sketchup and the tools that I used. It was great that Sketchup Make was free, but I would have used it even if it weren’t… as long as the price was somewhat comparable to the amount of value I was getting from it.
SketchUp was certainly worth $100 to me every year or so. I pay prices like that for, for instance, the software that I use to design printed circuit boards, or for a new copy of Photoshop Elements every couple of years, or for the software I use to create HDR images or panoramas. Lots of consumer software has prices in that range.
However, $700 is just absolutely out of the question. That’s my ENTIRE discretionary software budget for multiple years. For one product that I won’t use all that often and for which I will never use the majority of advanced features that I would be paying for. That’s a LOT of money for a hobby project, even for one that might someday become a moneymaking proposition.
Trimble may think that if it removes access to the Make version that I will be forced to upgrade to Pro, but the reality is that I simply can’t do that. For that kind of money, I will be forced to look at other cheaper alternatives (or write my own program to do what I need). And Trimble loses out on the money I would have willingly spent.
The web-based “free” version simply won’t do what I need it to do. Being able to use Ruby scripting to perform exact automated layout or to manipulate models or do simple physics simulations (as I described above) is not a “nice to have” feature for me: it is essential. These scriptability features, and the ecosystem of users surrounding them, are why I chose this program to learn in the first place: Without them, I might as well use another product. (And if I do, I will certainly stop recommending SketchUp to others in the Maker community as I did in the past.)
What is missing from Trimble’s current plan is a way for me to actually pay a price for the software that is somewhat proportional to the amount of value I get from it. As the comments in this thread indicate, there are lots of people who would be willing to pay for software which is equivalent in features to the Make product, but for whom $700 is out of the question.
There are many way to do this:
- A lower-end product like SketchUp Make, but with a cost more in the range that a hobbyist or occasional user could afford.
- A single “core” product with various add-on features or plugins which could be individually purchased if needed.
- A product whose advanced features are only enabled during those months in which a monthly fee is paid.
- Some combination of these.
What is certain at the moment is that Trimble is not getting any money from me, now or in the future, unless it provides me a way to pay a price for the software that at least somewhat corresponds to the value I get from it. That will not happen with the current product plan.
Please provide a lower (but not necessarily zero) cost version of Sketchup, which non-professionals can use, which still supports extensions and the SketchUp ecosystem.