Update on Fusion 360 Free Edition Changes

Lars Christensen has posted a new video dealing with the changes to the licensing of the free edition of Fusion 360. I have a feeling it will reassure some people and put others off: [U]Changes to Fusion 360 Personal License - STEP is BACK & My Thoughts - YouTube

Yeah, I saw the video before and I can see his “excuse” of misinterpretation of the requirement of the step export for makers and that they limit the stuff, to reduce missuse.

But the company is still underestimates the makers. It all sounds half baked. “You still can o tool change with CNC by editing the gcode in the file.”
“You still can export as PDF using …” “You still can use huge assembly, with just a little inconvenience.”

Makers have a workflow, too. They design, slice and print in a specific way and taking away just a tiny feature, this workflow is broken. It creates inconvenience, even if there is a way to work around using an additional step. When I design stuff I sometimes perform ten to twenty test prints and one additional step means up to twenty addition steps, so this is something I won´t want. Even if it means using a script instead of a build in function it is a change I have to spend time on to adapt my learned routine.

So, if I still can do all that with a little more afford, how does this stop misuse? That was the main reason to apply the changes and there are already supply all these loop holes and other stuff can be fixed using scripting. So it will not take long to get “fixes” for all the other parts missing.

Also removing the simulation stuff suggests that this is not used by a normal user, but the normal user helped to test and improve that. How does this fit? Well, this argument may be right in many cases anyway, but especially in 3D printing it is handy to simulate forces and see where the weakness of a part is, before even printing it, so you can fix these issue to match your requirement. They just remove it and mark it as “you don´t need that.”, which is really bad and shows how they treat their free users.

As part of a developer team working on a commercial computer operating system I can say, that is not gonna work. People use the given functions in ways you as a developer don´t even think of and having a text based programming language as a powerful tool on the backside, will get in the hands of non experienced people, too. Once a feature is out their, it will be used by someone and taking it away will cause friction between you and the (potential) customer.

Makers share. If someone does a script to (I don´t know if that is actually possible in Fusion, but it is just an example) automatically archive and unarchive parts of an assembly, then this script won´t stay with that single user. It will get out there and all those people misusing the free licence application for commercial use, will make use of that, too. Arguments like “yeah, that is to complicated for a user to do.” is not an argument that will work, when it just comes to copy a script to your computer and just using it.

What will AutoDesk do, when more and more scripts come out to add tool changing and more back into Fusion? They cannot block some scripts. They need to take that away, too. For now they tell you it will stay in there, but for how long? A year? Two years?

FreeCAD is using python, too. So what if these users add a script to do the simulation on stuff in Fusion, just by runing a script that is exporting and handling it over to FreeCAD to get a result on a button press? This is nothing AutoDesk will want as it shows people that FreeCAD can do the same for free. Same for the milling stuff. FreeCAD has a powerful milling workbench doing all what Fusion locked away behind a paywall. People will adapt and add scripts to Fusion to do their commercial job in FreeCAD which less and less afford the more the scripts advance. During that process they learn more and more about FreeCAD and one question will grow: “Why should I pay for what I can use for free anyway?”

Some so called power users will open doors for the ordinary end user and that includes the abusers, too.

And in the end AutoDesk is at the very same point as before. People misuse Fusion360 where they can (mainly the CAD part) and AutoDesk needs to do something, which the makers won´t like. They may add a private fee to the base application “to cover their expenses”, but this only can be the beginning. The free maker will in the end loose the fight and needs to pay or leave regardless what they claim now.

This step back only guarantees that you may keep your workflow a little longer.

The other way to view it is exactly what Steve Hooper said; that they discovered it was going to be too much of a burden on users, so they reversed their decision. Trying to curtail misuse is difficult, and is a fine balancing act.

I don’t believe the company underestimates anything (which is not the same as saying they never make mistakes). The idea is to make the workflow awkward & difficult enough that it becomes impractical for those trying to abuse the F360 license.

This is exactly the point; to make things difficult enough for abusers that they will give up on F360 and move on or, hopefully from Autodesk’s viewpoint, they will decide the free ride is over and they will sign up for a license.

I think it’s a very small percentage of hobbyists, what I would call “super hobbyists” who would use this feature. I have never even looked at it, and I suspect that applies to most hobbyists. That said, Autodesk is now saying, “If you use this feature you are not a typical hobby user and should pay for a license”. I bet they did a significant amount of analysis of usage data and determined that the vast majority of hobbyists never do simulation, so it’s no great loss to them.

I don’t believe for a nano second that Autodesk thinks anything is too complicated for hobbyists. I fully believe they are well aware of how clever hobbyists are. In fact, they count on clever hobbyists to help them figure out where to take F360 next. They just want to make things annoying enough for abusers that they will convert to a license.

For sure, if they find scripting is leading to license abuse, they will take measures to mitigate the abuse. How long? Well, nothing is forever. What will happen if the developers behind FCAD decide they’ve had enough? Will others take up the mantle? Maybe. Maybe not. If someone does take it up, will they be as skilled and capable as the current developers?

If it gets bad enough, you are correct, people will abandon F360 for other software. At that point Autodesk will have to make a decision about whether to continue with the product or not.

You may well be right, but Autodesk is in a difficult position. What do they do: completely ignore the abusers and let them run wild? Do they end the free version completely? Do they open source the product? Do they make the base product completely free and only charge for the very sophisticated, complex features that are needed for very advanced development? This can be an interesting option, but it runs the risk that Autodesk will put less & less effort into the base product over time, concentrating their efforts on the money making parts.
Still, if they follow the Ultimaker method, where they support Cura development but make money from selling printers, might work. The difference is Autodesk would make money from speciality features.

Like I said, nothing is forever. The open source community is full of abandoned projects, or addons that don’t work with the current version of a program because the developer, for 1 reason or another, is unable to keep their addon up to date. Even Gina has difficulty keeping OctoPrint up to date. Look at the issues she had moving OctoPrint from Python 2.7 to Python 3. It took a long time and still has issues, and she has the advantage of making quite a lot of money from donations. Her issue is that she’s mostly a lone developer and there are only 24 hours in a day. Open Source is absolutely no guarantee of longevity.

I would love to see a hobby user license for F360. I pay $50/yr for the Untangle Unified Threat Manager. I would pay that for F360 as well.