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Vectorworks abandoning perpetual licences

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On 8/4/2022 at 8:18 AM, digitalcarbon said:

Not sure where this next comment should reside...here or somewhere else.


Had some trouble trying to get some gears to mesh & spin altogether in Onshape.  

Sent a message to tech support last night & gave them access to my project.

This morning I get an email saying "all fixed" so my gears now work.


Does everyone understand the magnitude of what just happened?

My subscription/cloud cad system comes with a "pit crew".


I want my architectural cad to work the same way.




I've done this with SS many times. They have a FTP site for uploading files (or you can just send them a Dropbox link).

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56 minutes ago, Mark Aceto said:


That's 2 apps lol. There's not going to be an Affinity photo that takes the place of Spotlight / Designer / Braceworks / ConnectCAD in the next decade or more. A competitor to any of those apps doesn't even exist today.


My point was if VW had come out with a Steve Jobs-style announcement:


"VW costs this much... BW costs this much... CC costs this much... The other guys cost this much... Well, we're combining Architect, Landmark, Braceworks, ConnectCAD... and starting today, you can have all of that for $99/month."


That would create incentive for users sitting on 2018 licenses or passing on Service Select to subscribe. Same with users paying through the nose for Revit or AutoCAD. That would increase new users, and get all users on the current version. The rising tide raises all boats... 


To be crystal clear, what I'm saying is that other than some discounts this fall, there was no good news to come with the bad news. The only good news was, "If you're already a SS member, nothing will get worse for you." The promise of a higher quality app isn't the same as what I described above. It's just the status quo minus something that was taken away (perpetual licenses). That's why the reaction has been, "This is a cash grab." It's a poorly executed transition, and it will be interesting to see how all this pans out a few years from now.

I was referring to your Adobe example with the Affinity comparison.  If there isn’t a value comparison and example if a competitor challenging the big dogs there for you, I have nothing further to offer.


Revit was once a startup that challenged Autodesk and Vectorworks…

Frank Gerry partnered with Desault to develop the software his firm needed.

it’s foolish to think it’s not possible for something else to come along in the highly lucrative AEC space.  Maybe less likely in theater and events due to the market size.  It will happen, especially if a recession created surplus time for people to work on it.

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17 hours ago, Mark Aceto said:


I've done this with SS many times. They have a FTP site for uploading files (or you can just send them a Dropbox link).

Unfortunately SS can't fix things that are actually wrong with the software, which is what causes most of my problems, hence SS has never been of any value to me and I've only paid for it where promotional pricing has made it the cheapest route to an upgrade.


Additionally some of the things it's supposed to offer, such as rendering animations in the cloud, are unreliable.


I totally recognise that the technical support would be valuable in certain scenarios, such as in a big office where you don't want to employ someone most of whose time is spent troubleshooting VW issues that *can* be fixed with expertise and advice. Which is why it makes sense to offer it as an additional service that some might want to pay for.

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4 hours ago, line-weight said:

Unfortunately SS can't fix things that are actually wrong with the software, which is what causes most of my problems, hence SS has never been of any value to me and I've only paid for it where promotional pricing has made it the cheapest route to an upgrade.

How did @digitalcarbon’s point about sending the developer a file for them to fix overnight turn into SS fixing bugs?


Seems like a lot of the stuff I’m saying is getting taken out of context and twisted around to start a flame war, so I’ll see myself out.

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12 minutes ago, line-weight said:

What's attractive to existing users? The option to pay the money to upgrade only once they can see that the upgrade is providing stuff that's useful to them. And that's what's about to be withdrawn.



As an observation, I've often wondered what the perk is for longtime users. There are often specials (eg. add a new license at a discount) which aren't really beneficial for a one seat business. I see much more benefit given to new or returning users (usually in August before the new releases). I don't think there's ever been an offer that made sense to take advantage of for my small business and longtime user / service select subscriber. I've been using Vectorworks since Minicad 5. I think I do get a price from a long time ago locked in when I renew but I'm really not sure what that discount is since its not really advertised as a promotioin.


That said, I do understand the need for Vectorworks to have a predictable cash flow just like I like to have for my own business. My excitement with Vectorworks is still high enough to keep me using it.... and upgrades to basic tools/commands would help keep that enthusiasm.




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I've been contemplating the VW pricing for some time and might as well air my thoughts in this thread as I'm interested in everybody else's views. I'm on the subscription with service select so this change doesn't really change anything for me, so that's where I come from.


Now, my thoughts have been circling the fact the Vectorworks is so cheap compared to other software in the field. AutoCAD/Civil3D/Revit all cost way more, especially in the long run, and might also need some plugins on top of that. The engineers sitting next to me pay license fees somewhere around 20 times more than I do for their software. And can't charge much more for their work. There might be cheaper software out there and I haven't really done extensive research on it but this is my view.


So VW might offer lower licensing fees but the drawback is that the software seems to cause me constant headaches with glitches, bugs and weird workarounds. I feel like the price sort of reflect the quality. In the end I've still chosen VW as my main tool as I can't find any better software out there, but I would switch in the blink of an eye if I found a better solution for my work. Price is second to good tools to me, and I understand this is different to many of us. I'm in a fortunate position in some ways.


So in the end, I feel like VW might not be very cheap after all, considering it's flaws. On the other hand, if they stepped up their game, sorted out multiple issues and introduced way better landscape/civil tools (although not many might be needed) I would happily pay many times the current license fees and be completely happy about it.


Obviously I'm not in a position where I can see the future of the development for VW, and wouldn't make any assumptions from this change in licensing, but my hope would be that if we pay more for the software, we get better software. Keeping my fingers crossed on this one 🙂 

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Many providers are quite good at obfuscating their "real" prices so it can be difficult to do quick comparisons.


But it looks like this change brings VW to a price that's not loads less than Archicad? And archicad still offers a perpetual licence option


Certainly still cheaper than Revit.


I think more expensive than Bricscad (which is one of the alternatives I've had half an eye on for a while) which offers a perpetual licence option


Sketchup remains much cheaper  (I recognise not comparable in many ways but could be a viable option for some people)


I would be happy to pay somewhat more for Vectorworks in exchange for it stepping up its game but not "many times the current fees".


And I would appreciate the option to pay somewhat more (perhaps a little more than the subscription cost) to retain a perpetual licence.

Edited by line-weight
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Me again.


Just when I thought I was out... 




Found this email in my inbox this morning:




Without bias, I'll let everyone else decide how these rates from Maxon (also Nemetschek) compare with VW pricing.



  • ZBrush was acquired and added at no cost to customers
    • We need more of that, and less of Braceworks bending us over a barrel
    • Just include ConnectCAD in Spotlight for crying out loud
      • That's not to mention users have 3 confusing cable tool options to choose from in a paradox of choice
  • $149 is the most expensive all-in monthly plan for Maxon
  • $328 is the most expensive all-in monthly plan for VW
    • Same products as my VSS plan which is significantly less
    • Imagine spending 30-40k (after tax) on VW over a decade









Edited by Mark Aceto
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Just have to say at this moment: It's 6:05pm where I sit, waiting for VWX 2022 to do…something. Attempting to edit RT texture, clicked on "edit reflectivity shader…" and boom—nothing. VWX froze like the carrot in Olaf's face. No spinning wheel of death (!), the app is locked tight.  MBP M1 Pro Max 32 gb.

Hard to rationalize spending what I already spend on this product to relentlessly have these experiences. 


Edit—I also cannot stress enough how detrimental to creative flow it is to have to stop in the middle of those moments to (hopefully) solve a software problem, whose most minimal effects likely to be a reboot & just as likely a convoluted process of analyzing, seeking counsel, finding solution/workaround and THEN getting back to that magic moment, ha.


Hard to come to VWX with joy any more.

Edited by mjm
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@mjm Sad to say that I recognise all of that. I've been using macs all of my life and it's been a joy for most of the time. Freezing computers has been a thing of the past for me for probably 15 years or more and those spinning beach balls are now more common on the actual beach 🙂 With Vectorworks my whole computer can completely freeze up all of a sudden, haven't seen that for a decade before this. Individual software crashes are common. I realise my my hardware might be a little on the shy side though. On the other hand, I've been able to create some delivarables that just wasn't possible before. Can't live with it, can't live without it, as they say.

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3 minutes ago, Christiaan said:

Given that Vectorworks is offering more stability by switching to subscription pricing I don't think these comments about stability and pricing are an argument in favour of the status quo pricing structure.



The claims that the changed pricing structure will significantly improve stability are only that - claims.

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Sure, and claims I'm happy to take at face value. Those claims could turn out wrong, but I think they believe that they can make a more stable product by offering more frequent updates. Indeed, getting rid of the major release cycle and providing more frequent updates is something I've asked for myself over the years, for this very reason.


So when VW says 'we're going to change our pricing structure so we can provide more frequent updates, so we can make a more stable product' it doesn't make a very good argument to cite existing instability as a reason to stay with the current pricing.

Edited by Christiaan
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I did a bit of fishing to see what I've said on this in the past and here's a comment of mine from 2018 in the beta forum. I made this comment after discussing a couple of bugs with an engineer and realising that he couldn't focus on them because he'd been moved onto features in the next annual release:



Clearly the whole bug squashing process needs modernising and I'm sure that's going on in the background as quickly as possible, but it seems to me that one of the biggest problems is the annual release cycle.


Engineers are now focussing their attention on v2019 and can't even deal with these bugs if they wanted to. They may or may not be fixed in v2018 SP4 but in all likelihood they will carry over into v2019. And even if they are fixed in SP4 (and not carried over to v2019), we'll soon be upgrading to v2019 and that is likely to have its own set of difficult bugs that may never get resolved. It's a vicious cycle.


All because of an arbitrary annual release cycle?


Edited by Christiaan
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You could argue that this problem isn't so much the product of major release cycles but of pressure to provide new features. Which will exist with or without a major release cycle. But even if it is primarily the later, the major release cycle takes this problem and supercharges it.

Edited by Christiaan
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@Christiaan I sure hope you're right! But is it possible to completely move away from major cycle releases regardless of licensing model? Looking at Autodesk I believe they still stick to major releases every year, while using a subscription model for licenses. Without having to much knowledge of software development it seems that new features might need to be tied to file/model format. Like a .vwx 2021 model vs. a .vwx 2022 model. Doesn't this mean that major release cycles will still be needed?

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