As you may have noticed, ever since Alibre announced their $99 offer, I have been making quite a bit of noise about it on this blog and elsewhere. The reason for that is I truly believe this offer is a good one for many people, especially 2D users. A perpetual license for an MCAD software for just $99 is a good thing, whichever way you look at it, especially in these times. Of course, there is no 90% discount on yearly maintenance, which is optional. But like CEO Paul Grayson said in his interview, this is like an end of model year sale. We know that everyone gets a good deal at an end of model year sale. And everyone understands that they will need to pay the same normal price to maintain their car the next year.
Yesterday, someone I know had downloaded a trial from the Alibre web site and was evaluating it. He sent me a SolidWorks file saved from Alibre Design and asked me to check if it opened in SolidWorks 2009/2010. He had SolidWorks 2007 on his computer which could not recognize it. Now, I know that all versions of Alibre Design (Standard, Professional and Expert) can read SolidWorks files, but none of them can write out a SolidWorks file. So I was quite surprised that the trial could do that. Needless to say, this person was quite pleased as well. However, as it turns out, the SolidWorks export features was due to an add-on called Alibre Translate (that costs $499) which automatically gets installed and activated along with the trial. The add-on integrates so nicely into Alibre Design that a user would not notice that it is not part of the standard package unless he disables the add-on on the Add-on Manager. I pointed this out to this person and let him know that for $99 he would not be able to write out SolidWorks files.
This person got another shock when he realized that was actually evaluating Alibre Design Professional and not Standard. The trial he downloaded was of the Professional version, complete with direct editing (push/pull), sheet metal, photo realistic rendering, etc. He said to me, “But I want to evaluate the $99 Alibre Standard. Where do I download it?” Up untill then it never struck me you could not download a trial of Alibre Design Standard. At least I could not find one. So this means that this person could not experience Alibre Design Standard (more importantly, its limitations) untill he dished out $99. Actually the product installer is the same. When you enter the key you get after placing your order the Professional (trial) gets converted to a Standard (perpetual). This also means that any add-ons which are not part of the package (like Alibre Translate) will stop working once the software becomes a Standard. I pointed him to this comparison chart where everything has been nicely explained.
That exchange prompted me to write this post to remind people who have downloaded the trial to study the comparison chart carefully. I posted a question on the Alibre forum regarding the non-existence of the Alibre Design Standard trial. As of this writing there has been no reply. You may want to keep an eye on that thread as well.
This reminds me of car dealers (at least here in India) who keep only the top of the line model on display and for test drives. They even spruce it up with all the kind of fantastic accessories. So unless you study the brochure of the model that you have written the check for and clearly understand what will be missing from the car that you test drove, you may be in for a surprise when they hand you the keys.
So when I say check out $99 Alibre Design Standard, I mean that you really “check” it.