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Metered Billing Proposal

ChuckKeyChuckKey Member Posts: 33 ✭✭✭
edited September 2020 in General
As a hobby user of Onshape I am feeling a bit vulnerable at the moment.

At the start of this year Dassault pulled free use of DraftSight. Apparently overwhelmed by free plan users of Fusion 360 using it for commercial purposes, Autocad has announced, at extremely short notice, that it will be curtailing the free plan functionality.

Who knows when Onshape may need or wish to do something similar? Free users lost the 10 private documents quite early on, as it was said to be an administrative burden, so changes could happen any time.

Over the last 5 years, I have built up probably several hundred hours worth of (slow) work, including a substantial voluntary project for the private internal use of a charity.

I like Onshape a lot, I have been with it since beta, and until very recently I have extolled its virtues on hobby forums. I am not doing so any more because now I want other people to stay off the free plan, in case Onshape gets to the same problem of over-popularity that Fusion 360 has.

As a retired engineer I can pursue my hobby interests and do some useful free work for a not-for-profit, but there is just no way I could justify the annual cost of a professional seat.

However, I would be pleased to be able to pay for my use of Onshape, at a price commensurate with the amount of use I make.

So what could be done?

A fixed-price, low-user, non-commercial, licence is likely to be a non-starter because too many people would misuse it. It would probably just eat into professional plan revenues.

There is however an equitable alternative that is already a reasonably mature offer from numerous SaaS providers: metered billing. You pay by the hour logged-on, or Gbyte stored, or however the provider chooses. (A free SimScale account measures processing time.) I think there are bolt-on metered billing solution available that Onshape might be able to use.

The advantage for the user would be a presumption of continuity, and as a paying customer, an entitlement to service expectations, rather than having to make do with being grateful (as I am) for what I am given. In return for payment, I would like the option to make documents private. Apart from having to pay, the disadvantage for me is that I might have to plan my work and work faster, rather than spending a substantial time on line sat thinking, or just sat. (Hmm, maybe charge server time, rather than time on line?)

Advantages for Onshape are another tier of happy users who will promote the product in hobby communities where future professional users may cut their teeth, as well as some additional, if perhaps not hugely profitable, revenue. With a metered option in place, Onshape would be in a better position to be able to curtail the free offering, if that became necessary, without causing so much upset. Disadvantages are the additional running cost, probably less good stuff in the public domain, and a possibly large but low-value tier of users with service expectations. As well as hobby users, metered billing would allow startups an economical way in, as well as occasional users, such as one-man consulting engineers.

Should I make an improvement request?


  • steve_shubinsteve_shubin Member Posts: 507 ✭✭✭

    I am long retired (use to do construction & CAD work)

    I play with Onshape on my iPhone a lot because it’s hard for me to get CAD out of my system. I enjoy the whole concept of CAD.

    It’s all for my own personal use. I HAVE NOT made a single dime using Onshape. I never will see any financial gain from using Onshape

    By far, the main thing I do with Onshape is TINKER. I try and figure out how to do things with the program.

    If I see someone in the forum trying to figure out how to do something, well, then I try to figure how I would do it. If I think my solution is half decent, I may post a little GIF showing what I did. This Is my way of contributing for being able to use the program for free.

    I do tinker A LOT — because the iPhone makes it easy for me to do that. This is one of the genius things about Onshape — having it on all these different platforms. And I especially like having it on my iPhone

    I could be watching TV and listening to the news or watching a movieI, and at the same time, I’m playing with Onshape. I’m multitasking.

    Do I wanna be charged by the hour for tinkering?  NO WAY

    For the most part, TINKERING is the way I’ve learned the program as I’ve never taken any of the courses that Onshape offers.

    Tinkering works for me. I’d hate to have to shut that down because I have to pay by the hour

    And yeah, I imagine there’s other people that have learned a lot by tinkering. But I don’t know how many people are willing to pay for that tinkering because, sometimes, it can chew up the hours.

    One other thing, I don’t give a hoot if anybody sees my documents. But honestly, there’s so many docs being created on Onshape, that if you didn’t want someone to look at your doc, just leave it named untitled. I can only imagine how many untitled documents there are out there. Nobody would ever be able to find your particular document 

    Or give it some arcane name like fpaktzur and then keep a piece of paper on your desk showing that arcane name and then what it actually is about — for the purpose of being able to navigate your way back to the document latter on. Who would look for something named FPAKTZUR. Nobody. At least nobody but you.

  • ChuckKeyChuckKey Member Posts: 33 ✭✭✭
    edited September 2020
    @steve_shubin I can't argue with the value of tinkering. I am not suggesting the free plan should be changed, but it could be, any time. I am proposing an additional option for low-use users who want more certainty of continuity, and an option for document privacy, that is fair to the user and good for Onshape. It occured to me that private documents might be charged at a higher rate.

    I use arcane document names much as you suggest. You can now search public documents by part name and other things. One project I am doing for a not-for-profit is far too large to give random names to all the tabs, parts, and whatever else is searchable. I particularly did not want this project found, and somebody has.  
  • john_mcclaryjohn_mcclary Member, Developers Posts: 3,232 PRO
    I can't remember the real reason Onshape nixed the monthly sub. I used to sub the whole time, but the option to cancel and re-apply if I didn't plan on using it for a few months was a huge reason I started giving OS a real hard look. Eventually they removed that option but thankfully I did just enough that the company I work for saw the advantage for a few products and continued to pay the yearly sub. Not everyone will be as fortunate as I was. If it weren't for that I would be in your boat too, I started paying the fee out of pocket for the first year. Just to keep practicing with private documents.

    As for a 2D cad solution goes, DraftSight was always a piece of junk anyway. If you want a free version that is much closer to autodesk try nanoCAD. It's free as long as your not using it for business
  • jeff_brown304jeff_brown304 Member Posts: 3
    I'm enjoying the heck out of Onshape.  It's so well designed.  I'm particularly fond of how FeatureScript ties the whole model together in a coherent and reproducible manner.

    As a hobbyist, I'm fine with most of my documents being public.  That said, I'd gladly toss a few bucks in the tip jar to support the product!
  • shawn_crockershawn_crocker Member, OS Professional Posts: 90 PRO
    I don't like metering. I would rather just pay and have piece of mind to just use it. No surprises.
  • michael3424michael3424 Member Posts: 573 ✭✭✭
    I'd happily pay for a middle tier that would allow a few private documents, if only only to help keep Onshape solvent in a modest sort of way.  Alas, there seems to be little interest from Onshape in something like that and the acquisition by PTC probably won't improve that interest.

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