What happens when a CAD software vendor vibrantly involves its customers in the development its CAD system for five years? Well, you get a new version that has around 3,500 enhancements. Robert McNeeel & Associates is a very different CAD software vendor. And they have a very different way of developing CAD software.
The company has just released Rhino 5.0 and it has already been used by more than 40,000 existing users, some for real production work. The list of enhancements in Rhino 5.0 can be found here.
According to the web site:
The Rhino 5 development process started more than five years ago with one overriding goal—to remove as many of your workflow bottlenecks as possible. That meant making Rhino faster and able to handle much larger models and project teams, in addition to making thousands of large and small improvements.
You can download a full featured evaluation from here. Mac users can download an OSX version here. The Mac version is still a WIP (work in progress) and according to McNeel is “free to anyone willing to provide feedback“.
In true McNeel tradition, pretty soon Rhino 6.0 pre-release builds will be available to all Rhino 5.0 customers. According to the company:
We provide everyone as much information as possible during every development phase. We try not to keep any secrets. All our development is open to the owner of a current version of Rhino.
While users of most other CAD systems wait for a couple of service packs to be released before they adopt a new version, Rhino users do exactly the opposite. They end up using the software for production work even before it has been released. I find this truly amazing.
I remember asking Bob McNeel why he didn’t follow an annual release cycle like other CAD vendors. He replied, “We release a new version when our customers tell us its ready. In this business it practically impossible to come up with a significantly improved and robust version of a product that is fit for production use in merely a year.“