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Software for Small Office?

farwest1

I'm a one-person office since about a year and a half ago. Now that I'm out on my own, software has become surprisingly expensive.

I can't really afford the CreativeSuite 4, though I use Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign on a daily basis. I'm still using old CS versions "borrowed" from my last office—and I'm missing what seem to be some essential plugins, so they run badly.

I also lost my ability to use FormZ (the modeling/rendering program I know) since I left my last office. I had to leave my dongle there. A new license and dongle costs $2000.

Vectorworks, which I use, is also expensive. I've continued using the serial number from my last office, but this can't go on forever.

All told, the software that I used daily and took for granted in my last office is probably worth about $8000.

Are there any solutions to getting this software cheaply for solo practitioners? Without it, I feel like both my arms are cut off and I'm blind—i.e. I can't really practice well. But I also can't swing multiple thousands of dollars right now.

(I'm also really uncomfortable with cracked software—partly because I just feel guilty using it, and partly because it's extremely unstable. Any legal solutions for a small practice?)

Thanks!

 
Feb 14, 09 3:51 pm
outed

farwest - we just had to suck it up and purchase copies as best we could. we ended up having to finance our revit licenses because we couldn't pay for them out of pocket.

the only 'legal' route (and i'm saying that tongue in cheek) is to purchase educational copies of the most basic software. the adobe products are still fairly expensive, but far less so than retail. try to find a place that doesn't make you show a current i.d. that's the only place we found cheap, legal copies.

Feb 14, 09 4:01 pm  · 
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randomized

try going for freeware alternatives like GIMP or Blender,QCAD etc. next to Open-Office to replace MS-Office of course, they might be new to you and will take some time to get into them, but they are free, or switch to a cheap alternative that is capable of a lot of the functionality you need, like Rhino, you can use that for 2d as well. maybe try becoming a part-time educator that gives you the right to have educational editions or the use of staff software for free.
and legally I think "borrowing" old versions or not your own serial is the same as using cracked versions, so if you are already on that path, just go for the up-to-date cracked ones and keep your fingers crossed. good luck

Feb 14, 09 4:23 pm  · 
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Sean Taylor

Learning to use a new software has its own costs.

Feb 14, 09 5:16 pm  · 
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nmiller.arch

For modelers, Rhino comes in just under $1000 for a commercial license. Sketch-Up Pro is only about $500. You can definitely get some bang for your buck with either of those.

As far as cracks go...maybe purchase some essentials (a modeling/drafting program) and crack the rest with the intent to buy legit licenses as money becomes available. This is not the most "moral" or legal way to go, but you have to do what you have to do.

Anyone have any stories about a CAD software company going after a small one man show for a pirated license?

Feb 14, 09 5:52 pm  · 
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blah

Farwest,

Ebay is actually a good place to look for software. I bought Vectorworks 2009 for $600 off the regular price. There's a couple of Archicad licenses on there for 1/2 price. These are all legit copies.

Rhino is pretty amazing. I am learning it right now.

Feb 14, 09 8:16 pm  · 
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blah

If you're on Mac, there's a program called Cheetah that has a half-decent renderer in it.

It's $100.

http://cheetah3d.com/

Feb 14, 09 8:17 pm  · 
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mookie

for 3D, if you don't want to spend money - use SketchUp, no need for the Pro-version really, and look into Kerkythea (also free, all sorts of importable add-ons, lighting, skies, furniture etc), you can get some good renderings if you invest some time in it - very easy to learn.

SketchUp is definately not the best modelling programme, but as long as you make some effort in making a precise model, you can make some decent illustrations.

Good luck!

Feb 14, 09 9:01 pm  · 
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Antisthenes

you defiantly will have DoubleCAD because it is free commercial use and better than autocad in every way.

to be legal learn inkscape and gimp?

Feb 14, 09 10:21 pm  · 
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farwest1

OK, here's a side question. I use, and have always used, macs. But the only decent modeling program for macs seems to be Formz (I do know Sketchup, but it's not cutting it for me. I'm looking to do more "photoreal" renderings.) In school, eight years ago, I knew Rhino.

I'm thinking about getting back into Rhino. I'd like to use either Bootcamp or VMWare Fusion to run windows on my MacBook Pro.

How much of a pain in the neck is this? Also, are there easy and cheap ways to get Windows? Also, should I go with XP or with Vista and its service packs? I'm totally new to the Windows world, so any help would be appreciated.

Feb 15, 09 1:38 pm  · 
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Carl Douglas (agfa8x)

there's a mac-native version of rhino in active development - you can play with a pre-release version at mcneels website

Feb 15, 09 2:04 pm  · 
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blah

I use XP with VMware Fusion and it's fine.

What do you model?

Artlantis, Cinema4d and Maxwell are Mac rendering options. You can lot out of Cheetah.

This was rendered in Cheetah and Cheetah costs $100 and is faster than anything else on the market PC or Mac:




Feb 15, 09 2:07 pm  · 
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nmiller.arch

I am a Mac user and use Boot Camp with Windows. Works great. I'll do modeling, drafting and rendering on the windows partition and do other presentation related stuff (adobe design CS3) on the Mac. Works well for me.

I tried Parallels, VMware, etc... but the method eats up memory and everything runs slower than if I were just boot straight into windows. I think Rhino for the Mac OS is showing promise.

Feb 15, 09 11:39 pm  · 
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FrankLloydMike

what's wrong with Renderworks? Do you have that with your Vectorworks? From my experience, it's just about as good as FormZ if you work the lighting and materials well. Also, I find the interface much better, and the fact that it's all in the same program makes it much easier. Not sure if you have it, and if not the upgrade probably requires upgrading your Vectorworks, too.

Feb 16, 09 9:32 am  · 
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Antisthenes

there is absolutely no point not to have a windows side to every new mac (with bootcamp) but if you are os-EX only there is irhino3d.com as said

also take a basket weaving class so you can get it at edu. price (avil. for full com. work) if you go that route. the mac way is free for now.

Feb 16, 09 10:39 am  · 
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flipside

Farwest/ Make-

Be VERY careful about ebay.

I was President of an AIA Chapter in PA and autodesk served legal notice of a one man spinoff who broke off on his own- much like Farwest- and purchased software on EBay. He was an officer on my board.

This was dumbfounding to not only him but almost everyone in the chapter. He was really socked with legal fees, fines, a requirement to purchase a new license and, to add insult, could not recover his money back from the EBay seller. It all ended up costing far more than a license from the website, not to mention the time and angst. It was picked up, I believe, because Autodesk monitors EBay!

Apparently most software is technically non transferable.

Feb 16, 09 12:18 pm  · 
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Antisthenes

all the more reason that it is good DoubleCad was released last week

Feb 16, 09 12:28 pm  · 
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flipside

Joel wrote an article on the chapter newsletter of the experience- it is halfway through the pdf.

My earlier posting (and memory of the event after several years) was in error- the problem was Joel puchased a pirated version on EBAY. Still the article is worth reviewing

http://www.aiacentralpa.org/news/newsletters/winter2006.pdf

Feb 16, 09 12:33 pm  · 
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blah

Flipsiide--

Both Vectorworks and Archicad are transferable. My transaction to upgrade 12 to 2009 with Nemetschek was simple and quick.

Feb 16, 09 12:42 pm  · 
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flipside

Super.
Did not want to be alarmist, just wanted no one to go thru what Joel went thru.
Going out on your own- especially now- is complex enough without Autodesk Weasels...

Feb 16, 09 12:46 pm  · 
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Antisthenes

i wish AIA would shun autodesk, forget the sponsorship it causes sectarian division in the profession. being more platform neutral is in their best interest.

Feb 16, 09 12:51 pm  · 
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Emilio

Gotta agree with Anti on this one...just checked out the DoubleCAD site and the interaction with both AutoCAD and Sketchup is hard to beat. And if you don't care about the extra features, the duo of the free DoubleCAD and Sketchup can get a small office production started for a price that really can't be beat.

Feb 16, 09 1:06 pm  · 
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outed

flipside - there is a pending lawsuit against autodesk for exactly the issue you're referring to. a comic book store owner, who was selling used autocad copies on ebay, was threatened by autodesk to remove them. he turned around and sued autodesk in federal court, claiming that the resale of the software didn't violate autodesk's copyright protections.

so far, round one to the little guy. not sure where it is in the system these days (this preliminary ruling came out late last year). the store owner is being backed up by some deep pockets in the non-profit arena, seeing this as a way to establish case precedent on how copyrighted works are able to be used/resold/etc. expect it will reach the supreme court eventually.

in the meantime, he's stopped re-selling the software openly, but more for economics, not because of autodesk.

anti - forget the aia trying to kick the autodesk habit. too big, too powerful.

in general, because my wife is involved with ip issues for her work constantly, i'm all for purchasing authentic copies of any work/software/etc. legally. doesn't mean you have to pay full retail - buy something used, get someone to let you borrow a license (trust me, there are plenty of firms who might lease you a copy of revit for 25 a month right now, which is far less than getting it new or even through a educational source), go the education route - just don't pirate. you really are stealing from the creator of the product, even if they belong to a large, faceless corporation...

Feb 16, 09 1:16 pm  · 
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blah

"Going out on your own- especially now- is complex enough without Autodesk"

Very strange.

Can anyone here think for themselves?

Feb 16, 09 1:40 pm  · 
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flipside

Re read the post.
Autodesk WEASELS.
I was saying its hard enought to go out on your without being threatened by autodesk lawyers

Feb 16, 09 1:52 pm  · 
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blah

Why are using pirated software?

If you cannot afford it, you probably cannot afford to be in business.

Feb 16, 09 6:16 pm  · 
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Antisthenes

maybe is he is a member of the Pirate Party, maybe nobody is going to turn him into BSA because he has no disgruntled employees, maybe BSA layers cost to much and they see no return even if they win a court case. or there is a trap that adobe/ms set that prevents his mind from being able to grasp any other programs that are alternatives even if more powerful?

Feb 16, 09 6:25 pm  · 
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