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Vectorworks Service Select cost

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I've seen Phil Hunt's post and I do sympathise although I wish my renewal cost was as low.

In my case I'm being invited to renew my VSS contract for a VWAR and a VWDR licence. I'm a one person architectural designer using occasional freelancers in the studio, and we seldom find the need to go into 3D. The want nearly £1200, that's a huge amount which I doubt I'll be able to fork out.

I also doubt that I'll find any of the improvements of much business value to me, for years we have been waiting for basic improvements to the 2D drawing functions particularly for custom folding doors which are used in 90% of UK ground floor rear extensions, and in the awkward stair tool.

I've been using Vectorworks since Minicad, it's a brilliantly easy 2D programme to use, however this is too much. I'm not really willing to down grade either licence to loose the Renderworks as of course I paid for them already.

Does anyone else have the same issue with VSS renewal costs? I'm wondering if there is an alternative, more economical solution as I feel that individual designers are being squeezed out a bit. To be honest I would be happy to pay a partial upgrade fee just to be able to have custom folding doors and a better stair tool.

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my actual cost has just come through £580.00

what gets me is the secrecy of the upgrade improvements from 1 verson to another


i work for one of the largest motor manufacturers in the uk

if they make upgrades to a model version they are the first ones to shout about it

as they know it will improve there sales

why can't vectorworks be more transparent in there upgrades so we the punters

have a choice to upgrade each year or not.....

the only reason i pay for VSS is to get the upgrades to the 3d modelling sector

last year was a waste of cash

the sub d was clearly not thought through or developed enough and whoever put the training videos together clearly struggled to explain the tool i don't need to model a circus tent or a chair every day

come on....tell us what we will be getting in out upgrades ahead of time

i don't mind paying £580.00 if i'm getting £580.00 worth of improvements


just post all you improvements so we the customers can agree or comment

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just post all you improvements so we the customers can agree or comment

I commented on Sub-D well ahead of time - nothing happened.

I asked by pm twice to be involved in the SU to VW process - nothing happened.

Surely it makes sense to tap into a huge well of free experience and gain loyalty at the same time.

Win Win as they say.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

The specific pricing I cannot speak to, it is controlled to start with by Vectorworks Inc directly but it can vary greatly depending on the distributor, exchange rate of local currency against the US dollar, and a large number of other factors. Apologies for such a vague answer, but it's one of those rules I can't bend.

However, the concept of being more open with feature development and taking advantage of the regularly offered feedback from users is one I can address.

For anyone who may be confused by why there is concern about the Service Select program's pricing when we still offer the straight up purchase option of upgrading it once a year if you wanted it, it is because to purchase an update right out each and every year without agreeing to a Service Select subscription is prohibitively expensive by comparison.

Don't quote me on these numbers exactly, they're ballpark, but a Service Select upgrade cost over the course of 4 years is something like 60% of the total price you’d pay to buy single upgrades each year for 4 years of the same license. This huge price difference over a period of time is why users are so concerned with what a subscription costs and what you get with it, if you upgraded each year it’s an insane savings in cost and even if you only upgraded every other year or so the savings are still significant.

Software Sales Models:

The first part is a very new area for software development. In the past the traditional model was sort of like buying a new car outright. You are presented with a list of features and if you liked what it did and how it looked, you bought it. You then used it for as long as you felt it served your needs, or until the new model offered something you felt you wanted. Then you traded it in towards the new copy. (This analogy has some holes in it of course, but the basic idea holds)

Now we have large software companies like Adobe and Autodesk offering (or in some cases, offering ONLY) subscription based models where you have to continuously pay or the software-as-a-service actually stops working. (I disapprove of this model personally.) Fortunately, management here also tends to agree, so our current model is something to the effect of paying for the subscription, but if you were to stop, the software would work in its current state perpetually. All of our licenses are functionally perpetual, barring any OS compatibility issues that come a few years down the line that might stop you from using older versions.

To me, this fundamental change from the "Buy a box of software" model to the "subscribe for constant updates" also calls for a change in how we discuss and reveal new features. In my view, if we are asking users to commit to a multi-year relationship with us, we should be willing to at the very least supply a general roadmap of what specific areas we intend to improve in a given version. As it stands now, users have no idea what the next versions will bring until about 4 months ahead, and even then they only see a few key features and only for the next version, not the next 2-3 that would be covered by a service agreement.

I have a few specific answers to why we do not do this currently:

1) The feature list for a version of Vectorworks is subject to change at a moments notice. In my time here I've seen major features cut or added weeks or days before a release for a number of reasons. There would be no way to guarantee that "X Feature will be included in Y version of Vectorworks" for any sort of long-term agreement and I think that would lead to a lot of bad blood between us and users who felt something we stated 2 years prior was ironclad.

2) We are still trying to decide how we want to proceed. The older model of buy-it-once-and-done is almost impossible to maintain in the modern tech environment. So many changes happen so quickly that need to be adapted to that a single release out of the box can no longer be expected to survive 5+ years of technological progress like it could in the MiniCAD era.

We know we don't like the models being pushed by Autodesk, where users are handing in their perpetual licenses in exchange for contracts. We know that software-as-a-service where you basically need to log in to a constantly maintained account where your software is installed on a virtual machine that you run in a browser is not a great solution for everyone, but still useful to some.

We are very much looking at how others in similar industries are handling this transition, but we have always prided ourselves on being a single jack-of-all-trades tool and we want our licensing to reflect this same belief. We want options that suit everyone.

Expert Feedback:

In this area, I have recently been given a lot more responsibility. One of my main duties is to capture complex feedback and expertise offered by our users on highly technical topics.

The first steps of this which you all will be seeing the first of in the coming months, involve bringing tools online that make sharing information much smoother. We have a lot of older systems in place (this community board, the bugsubmit form, the support portal, etc) that cause unnecessary headaches in the collaborative process and they are first on the list to be upgraded.

Once those are in place, and once various other systems internally get their upgrades, we will be well-suited to taking complex feedback through a number of avenues and directing it to the various engineers and managers that it needs to get to. This isn't my only job these days, but it will be the core of most of my future work. I want more users both brand new to the application and seasoned veterans to be able to contribute much earlier in the development process, the earlier the better.

Sorry for such a lengthy post and for not being able to get more specific, but I wanted to make sure you all are aware of how very seriously we take these topics and that there has been a huge amount of discussion on both fronts internally.

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More or less agree with everything in that post Jim.

Hopefully not going off topic too much but as an education user I strongly believe you need to address us more than has happened in the past. Autodesk have got it a lot more right for education users and you guys have erm... got it wrong.

Students are the future of VW and Educators are your evangelists - talk to us and listen to what we have to say. I sell VW to hundreds of students every year even though you make it difficult for me at times.

Without going into masses of detail now I would be happy to submit feedback on this subject via a new process in the future.

thanks for the interesting reply.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Please do! I agree, the future of our company depends upon constantly acquiring new users, and the best way to do that is through investing in education specifically. Not just the content we supply for people to learn Vectorworks with (which is also something I focus on) but also how we get the software into the hands of students and teachers.

Feel free to start another thread or bump a previous thread with it when you have a chance since it is a bit of a different topic.

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I'll add emphasis to that request re: education support. The single greatest drawback to using VW is the scanty base of trained users as potential employees. It's made me think more than once about switching to ACAD, the cost of training and the lack of choice in the potential employee pool is daunting.

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I'll add emphasis to that request re: education support. The single greatest drawback to using VW is the scanty base of trained users as potential employees. It's made me think more than once about switching to ACAD, the cost of training and the lack of choice in the potential employee pool is daunting.

I beg to differ on this.

A few years ago a client purchased Vectorworks and I went on a 3-day Vectorworks training with that client's staff (lots of info left out here for brevity), some of them already had experience with AutoCAD.

The one comment that the trainer made when we were discussing how they were doing was that these people were different from most users he was training. They did not think in action steps to be taken but in solutions.

e.g. he didn't have to tell them that they had to draw a rectangle first, then extrude it, then draw a circle, extrude and subtract from the extruded rectangle to create a hole.

Because in AutoCAD the way of doing this is basically the same, so they knew already they could do it similarly in Vectorworks.

Yes, there are some differences that require getting used to, some things work differently or require workarounds but with good tutorials that should not be a huge problem.

Yes, it would be nice if there would be more people with formal training in Vectorworks, but a good (Auto)CAD user should be able to pick up Vectorworks fairly quickly once he/she understands some of the fundamental differences (classes/layers, use of page/scale) and some tools being a bit different.

The big key is having some good tutorials that are easily available/to find. That is where Vectorworks has definitely to work on. The help file has improved over the past few years, but there is still too much information missing (i.e. what is there sometimes leaves out some of the finer details which can make users still run into issues that puts them to a grinding halt that could easily be prevented with some more info being present)

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
think vector works should organise their training videos to match something like this:


and it should be free, maybe more complex tutorials for VSS ?

Like these?


Or was there something you feel the Getting Started Guides lack compared to those?

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Thank you for your helpful feedback as ever Jim, we are all very grateful to you and well done on your new role.

I would like to just pull this thread back on topic and wondered if you have any comments on my specific concerns re pricing? The VSS costs might not be a problem for organisational users, but I do feel that there is some frustration amongst individual users that there is not a business case to spend so much money each year committing to an upgrade when they don't use the full capacity of the software, where the improvements to existing tools requested on the wish list are not announced, and in some cases where the improvements will not provide them with any business payback. I guess that it could come down to whether VW want to keep all users loyal or not?

I love Vectorworks and would be willing to upgrade in 2017 for a reasonable cost if I knew that it would speed up my 2D workflow and that it included things like custom folding doors and a user friendly stair tool.

On pricing it seems like I need to go back to CU in London to query.


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Not sure if it would be available in the UK... perhaps you could go back to one license and rent an additional license for a limited time e.g. when you have something join you for a project. That should cut your VSS costs in approx. half, but it would probably cost you giving up a license or force you to sell one to go back to a single license.

In how far this will actually be cheaper than VSS for two licenses as you currently have, that is something only you can calculate based on expected rental time at the given costs.

Very few people use all functionality of most software so there will always be complaints about things being not needed that could be dropped. E.g. I'm hardly if at all using the plant tool but it doesn't bother me to pay for it as there are other things in VW that I use but others may not, so the burden is probably shared more or less equally in the long run.

Regarding VSS being worth the costs for small users, I think it is in the long run as for now there have always been enough improvements no matter how small or big that were usable for me, some years more than others.

However, the latter does not mean I've nothing left to wish for. :)

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I use to upgrade every 2 years, taking advantage of the buy XX get xx+1 free available during a small window just prior to the next version coming out. That halved upgrade costs at expense of falling behind every other year - not a bad thing.

Don't know if it works like that any more. But I just let my VSS slip. Will reevaluate Aug/Sep 2017 and see about buying VW2017 upgrade from 2016 and getting 2018 free.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

The main reason I've heard of to not let it lapse, is that if the subscription cost goes up after you cancel, when you come back you have to pay the new price yearly, you can't keep the same lower price locked in from purchasing it earlier.

This may not be a huge deal depending on how many licenses you own and who your distributor is, but make sure to clarify if that might happen to you with whomever your sales rep is.

I have lots of users that only upgrade every other year still to reduce the time impact of adopting new features, it's a perfectly reasonable system, just make sure you have a salesperson verify those numbers for you if you've already had a subscription for a long time.

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This goes back to the original post about costs and expanding the user base. What about a very, very, basic 2D version of VW that allows users to add on packages like Lego? I know that might take the software down the subscription only model but maybe not.

Think of the Cable TV users who wanted more choice rather than "bundled" packages. Often one had to purchase just to get a single channel. Now one can just stream stuff you want and the heck with the cable packages.

I know there are several packages now (see my info at the bottom) but switching from the old Cable TV model we now have to more like the streaming services may set VW apart. To really overwork the analogy, as sales technique, VW could offer "Limited Time Offers" where one can download functions & use them free for a limited time.

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the reason i paid for vss last year was for marionette and subdivision

non of which i have used......

i have put my trust in vectorworks to deliver for 2017

i just hope i have made the right decision.....

i would like to have the spotlight module but not only is it expensive i have to also increase my vss costs

jim i doubt is they will take up your suggestions but if you could rent a module with a time limit to complete a specific project i would certainly consider

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