A license to design

Editorial Type: Software Focus Date: 2020-08-01 Views: 1,791 Tags: Construction, CAD, Vectorworks PDF Version:
Software subscriptions are growing in popularity as they meet the needs of both software developers and their customers, according to Vectorworks CEO Dr. Biplab Sarkar

Why do architectural studios adopt one particular application rather than another? I suppose there are a number of reasons - familiarity with an application having used it at university or at another practice, or because it met the needs of the projects it was intended to be used for, or it viable under the financial constraints of a new design studio. Whatever the reason, once a practice starts to grow and take on more staff or the scope of its work widens, all subsequent software decisions revolve around the key architectural package.

That's why the initial decision has to be soundly based and why the needs of both the customer and the software provider are conducive to forming a long and fruitful partnership. As a customer you need the developer to maintain the software to a high standard, to incorporate the latest techniques and technologies to meet the challenges of an evolving industry, and to provide support and advice whenever it is required. To be able to do that, the software developer has to be able to guarantee sufficient commitment from its customers to pay for the development and support.

A range of software licensing and maintenance options designed to handle this have been adopted by software developers. The requirements for design studios vary though, and a degree of flexibility has to be built into the system to enable it to share licenses between architects and designers if they are not being used to their maximum, to use the same license for both office and home use or to acquire licenses on a short-term basis to handle projects with a limited duration.

Increasingly, though, a software subscription is seen as an alternative to the existing software licensing and maintenance options. Nicole Davison, VP of Sales at Vectorworks explained, "We value our customers, so we prioritise offering purchasing options and solutions that make the most sense for them. With this in mind, we've chosen to offer perpetual, perpetual with maintenance, network, single-user options for perpetual licenses, and subscription with single-user options, so that we can customise a solution that's best for our customers and their varying needs.

Additionally, our philosophy is to reward customers for their longevity commitment. A customer who commits to the long-term by purchasing a perpetual license and staying on our maintenance plan always receives the lowest price for our product."

Her comments were echoed by Vectorworks CEO Dr. Biplab Sarkar. "Historically, our goal has been to maintain cost of ownership lower than our primary competition. Vectorworks is a value-priced product over time, and we find that these cost savings allow us to best support our customers. Continuing to offer versatile purchasing options to our customers around the world allows us the flexibility to challenge our competitors who have limited offerings."

Vectorworks customers now have the option to choose between perpetual licensing and subscription terms that fit their business requirements best. "In fact," Dr. Biplab added, "the option is growing in popularity with Vectorworks customers, particularly in the entertainment industry, contractors with fluctuating workforces and architects who like to budget by project."


There are, basically, two types of Vectorworks licenses: subscription licenses that renew both monthly and annually, and a perpetual license with an optional yearly maintenance program, Vectorworks Service Select, that offers a free upgrade every year and additional services such as access to additional content libraries, discounted training, expanded cloud storage, premium tech support and much more.

Licenses can be shared between architects when necessary, if they meet the requirements of the End User License Agreement (EULA). For the single-seat license series E, Vectorworks can be activated online for two computers (workstation and mobile/home) but can only run on one machine at a time. The Internet authenticated network license series G can be installed on multiple computers and will run on as many machines as the user needs, depending on the number of seats allocated in the Site Protection Server (license manager).

Users of Vectorworks will already know that the software comes as a series of products that focus on particular sectors of the market, with individual Vectorworks subscription license options for Fundamentals, Spotlight, Architect, Landmark, and Designer. Additionally, both Spotlight and Designer can be purchased with the inclusion of Braceworks or ConnectCAD, as well as the combination of Braceworks and ConnectCAD together. Design resources like Marionette, the Vectorworks Algorithms-Aided Design (AAD) tool, are built into all the modules of Vectorworks.

Sarkar was particularly keen to highlight the levels of support available to Vectorworks customers. "All Vectorworks prospects are entitled to our technical support for 30 days, which is the length of a free trial, and have access to all of our support platforms such as Vectorworks University and Forum, which they will find online." All software purchased directly from Vectorworks, he explained further, offers free tech support via phone, email, or fax for 12 months from date of purchase. Users who then opt to become members of Vectorworks Service Select have priority access to technical support professionals.

When asked which licensing option is preferred, Sarkar was quite adamant. "A perpetual license with maintenance included (Vectorworks Service Select) is our most popular licensing option. A perpetual license means customers own the software forever, and you can use it as long as your operating system remains compatible. Customers who aren't on maintenance can upgrade it for up to three years at a discounted price."

"Actually, Vectorworks Service Select is the best way to get the most out of Vectorworks software," he added. "Our members receive an immediate upgrade of new product releases including Service Pack updates, priority technical support, and early release of all content through our Resource Manager. Further, members receive special member-only features in Vectorworks Cloud Services such as Photos to 3D Model, cloud rendering, and more."


Additional support is also given to new customers who are immediately enrolled in one of our Vectorworks onboarding programs. This ensures that there is a smooth and successful introduction or transition to Vectorworks by providing appropriate resources, training, technical support and communication channels - and access to training is, of course, available 24/7 through Vectorworks University and the Forums.


Monthly and annual subscriptions are both available, allowing customers to subscribe for as long as they need to cater for special projects or temporary staff. Monthly and yearly subscriptions are automatically renewed each month or year, unless customers opt to cancel up to four days before the renewal date to avoid the charges for the next billing cycle. If you are able to plan ahead for the whole year you could save a bit of money. Yearly subscribers will only pay for 10 months and get two month's subscription cost free.

Sarkar said that not only is a Vectorworks perpetual license offer a better value compared to subscriptions, but it is a better option when compared to their competitors.


Handling the subscription requirements of a busy studio is quite straightforward, compared to the demands of a practice migrating its core design applications to a new supplier. It's a decision that can't be taken lightly and demands the full support of the new supplier throughout the necessary upheaval. Besides the staff having to acquaint themselves with the new software, there will be numerous projects either in progress or completed and filed away having been created using the previous applications.

"During the onboarding assessment," Sarkar explained, "the customer success team will craft a plan to assist customers migrating from other applications, helping them to import files, develop templates, standards, and new workflows to guarantee the success of new customers when moving to Vectorworks. This can extend right up to the offer of a customer consultancy service if firms require a more hands-on approach".

Vectorworks provides a couple of licensing options for individual groups, such as those in education. These include the single-seat license series E for individual students, which they can download and manage through the Vectorworks Student Portal throughout the duration of their education. Vectorworks offers a free network lab license for educators and educational institutions.