« SpaceClaim Demo/BetaFinally! | Main | My Visits to the Hairdresser »

Oct 25, 2007



about 20% of downloaders use the software.

And people wonder why Spaceclaim was reluctant to hand it out. Even people who clammor for demo copies of software really don't do much with them. You make the good point that people tend to lose interest if they have to teach themselves.

I typically download something and use it for an hour or so. I use a free copy of Rhino once a month or so, usually as a translator. Free MOI is more of a curiosity. Free Spaceclaim helps me make pointless speculation about things I don't fully understand on my blog.

The best way to learn something is to sit with someone who knows it so you can ask questions. Self teaching generally doesn't amount to anything more than playing.

Downloadable demos are way overrated.

Jeff Waters

Ralph, this is good stuff. I'm just wrapping up a 3 part series of posts on this issue as applied to upfront CAE software selection. In my experience, evals (particularly free ones) of engineering software are a waste of time or worse...

You might enjoy:

Ragnar Thor Mikkelsen

I have 10 or 20 times as many registered users of Alibre Design Xpress as I have paying users. I think it works OK. People get to try the software for real and can decide if they like the feel of it. Then they can upgrade when (if) they need more advanced features.

Deelip Menezes

Matt said: "Free Spaceclaim helps me make pointless speculation about things I don't fully understand on my blog."

The SpaceClaim trial is meant to downloaded by people who are prepared to spend their time and bandwidth to determine whether the software will help their company. These people have better things to do than making pointless speculation on their blogs.

If Matt thinks that "downloadable demos are way overrated" then why does he ask people to download a sample lesson of his SolidProfessor video course?

Jon Banquer

Free software puts a premium on documentation. Most CAD/CAM companies do a horribly poor job of documenting their CAD/CAM software. Despite numerous requests to provide extensive example based tutorials that show how to really make best use of the power of their software it falls on deaf ears. Based on these FACTS is it really any wonder that the adoption rate of free software is so poor?

The unquestionable success of SolidProfessor and myigetit shows that many users wish to learn with video and go the self-taught route. I’m one of the many users who knows that this is the wave of the future rather than paying for outrageous VAR training and being forced to take that training at the VAR's convenience in their offices.

When CAD/CAM companies start to realize that they can’t cut corners on quality training materials like they have been doing and getting away with for so long then and only then will they see more users of free software actually give their products the extensive test ride that they wish users to take.

Jon Banquer
San Diego, CA



I don't ask people to download a trial. SolidProfessor folks offer that on their site, but that's not from me. I just ask people to buy it, and its up to them.

Also, there is a bit of a difference between "entertain me" videos that you watch passively and actively participatory software. Teaching yourself basically means reverse engineering the software, and in most cases, its just too difficult/time consuming.

When I got the software from Spaceclaim, I made sure to do a webex with the guys to get me rolling with it.

There is also a difference between using free software as free software and using it for evaluation. I worked at resellers for years, and free evals were always just throwing software down a hole. Having people come into the office and sit with you asking questions was the best way for them to evaluate it and also the best way for me to make a sale.

Mike Mattera

As a reseller of Cam software for the past 20 years, I can tell you that most people will never use an evaluation and get anything good out of it. We hated sending out an evaluation of our product and it wasn't because the software wouldn't do what it was supposed to do. Everything you will ever do will require a certain amount of basic guidance. With a little guidance and an understanding of the basic "rules of use" a person could do some useful work and feel like they've made progress.

The problem is, How Much Time Do You Invest In a Guy Who Hasn't Bought Anything Yet? I've always felt that if they're serious about an evaluation, they should sign up for a class. That way they get pointed in the right direction and I get some compensation for the additional time I'll be spending answering questions.

This is the main reason I started developing Video Training CD's for CAM software. Now I can install en evaluation system and drop off the training videos on how to get started. So here's the new problem... Try to get them to watch the videos.

I agree with Matt (above) "The best way to learn something is to sit with someone who knows it so you can ask questions". Even if you need to pay for their time. Isn't is cheaper to pay several hundreds dollars for personal training or training CD's, rather than spend $15K to find out you bought the wrong package. It's certainly cheaper than spending 40-60 hours of your own time, to pick at some evaluation package.

Now my rule is to first search and see what kind of training material is available for the system. If you cant find anything, that's not good. If you find something, buy it and see for yourself if using the system makes sense to you.

Mike Mattera


Jon Banquer:

You report that users prefer trainning onsite. I agree with you, but it is the boss that have to paid for the trainning that is not so open.

Also i realize that going on site for trainning we are interrupt making the trainning not so efficient unles i spend 2+ days at customer.

Also if i spend more time at customer site i will end up making job so this turn into subcontracting instead or trainning :):)

Best solution trainning at VAR location with customer stuff.

On another topic, self trainning is a good way but again it show general use of software. Having someone near you to coach you is a more effective way after traning your self.

At the end thing will gobakc to student teacher relationship in person. :):):)

What can we say the old human contact is their to stay.


Of course free CAD trials are good for users and it puts the ball in the CAD salesman's court to make sure the user is satisfied with the software. SolidWorks VARs often ask the user to pay for training before a trial copy is given, that puts all the weight on the customer. That would be like having to buy a tank of gas to go for a 10 minute test drive at a car dealer. No way. Maybe we should compile a list of free CAD trials.


I think the best way to monitor free sofware useage is to incorporate value ads in a complimentary email communications and then measure responses. AllyCAD ( www.allycad.com )offers a freeware version and has seen successful trial periods flourish into upgrade purchases on this basis.


Hi Ralph,
as you pointed out download numbers are more useful to compare "success" of free programs with other vendors that a real measure of this success. Since we released free2Design we also released 2 upgades (the last one yesterday) and we can't reset the number of downloads for technical reasons, so the number you see includes those that did multiple downloads to upgrade theyr copy. Moreover we do not require as mandatory the registration on the site to activate and the software (at least since the 2007.1 release, but we encourage this step in order to get access to the community services). Nevertheless, even if the number of registered people is a more accurate indicator of program success than downloads as you say, in the case of free2design it is possible to request multiple licenses (that is enable multiple computers) using the same registered user's credentials. If you add the fact that the license never expires (thus users are not obliged to upgrade to keep their software alive) you may understand how difficult it is to really measure the success of a free program simply by numbers.
About training, among the community services we offer, there are free online training sessions, where users have the possibility to talk with our customer care people and trainers. We think this is a very nice feature offered by a free product, but users seems to be shy in using this tool and prefer to post requests on the support forum, download the self training material or send requests to the "contact us" e-mail.


i want to download free catia software for education purpose.so please consider

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


Search This Blog



Thank you for visiting!