Greg Milliken, the CEO of Alibre, has been quite vocal in pointing to the arm twisting tactics used by his rivals to force users to upgrade. I wanted to know what he thought about my article “Look Who’s Bending”. I asked him the reasons why Alibre Design did not allow users to save to previous versions. His reply was encouraging.
“As for Alibre, we also do not provide the ability to save in a previous version. We don’t prevent this to force an upgrade but I will agree it can often have that effect.
“For us, it is purely about the technical resources required to do it. Believe it or not we don’t hear many complaints on it. Maybe it is because our software is so easy to keep current, in terms of cost, web deployment and so on. As our user base grows this could become a greater issue.
“As for the main technical reasons for not doing it, it is basically just a complex process that will likely always leave some group unhappy, so you can never win. It’s like the old adage by Abraham Lincoln, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” In this case some of the people will be unhappy all of the time and all of the people will be unhappy some of the time, etc. etc. In short, there will always be a lot of unhappy people. Some specific challenges relate to how future versions sometimes change the in-memory format of our objects necessitating changes to the serialization (or schema) of the model.
“I may be rationalizing it a bit, but as I said we really don’t hear many complaints on this, and I think that is a positive result of how easy it is to stay current on our product.
“The suggestion to “drop” features added in a later version to features supported in an earlier version, or to dumb geometry when that is not possible, is an interesting suggestion and probably worth looking into.”
I guess Greg is right. If upgrading to newer versions does not burn a hole in your pocket then this doesn’t become such a big issue after all. Alibre Design, a full featured 3D Parametric Solid Modeling software, is priced at $995 only (Standard version) and you get free version upgrades for an annual maintenance of $295 only (see details here). With prices like these I guess only misers need to complain.
However, I was glad to know that Greg thinks the suggestion is “worth looking into”. A reader commented that no other parametric solid modeling software offered saving files to previous versions. If Alibre does manage to offer this feature then it will be another first for Alibre, a company that has already broken the price barrier for MCAD software.