Back when Easel Pro was announced and Inventables was accepting community feedback on this the concern was that the free version was going to become just demoware for the Pro version which would characterized by all the non trivial features being added to Pro and not free. Here is what Zach told me:
Inventables hadn’t anticipated the extent to which people would buy an X-Carve and create a business focusing on its use - this was a success beyond their imaginations. So the goal of Easel Pro was ONLY to try to appeal to those customers and get some of that revenue stream, NOT to convert hobbyist users to a paid version. This is something I can’t begrudge them for, but if true it means the arguments given above by TomP don’t apply assuming that Inventables was being honest at the time.
The problem is how Inventables decided to do that and I raised these concerns at the time. Other companies who have created a successful free vs pro paid system without alienating large quantities of their users did so by not differentiating based on tool use features, but by adding value on the pro end that hobby users really wouldn’t miss or care about. These are often collaboration/versioning/data management features. Another possibility I mentioned at the time would be that a Pro subscription would get you access to a guaranteed in-stock set of spare parts (no backorders) which would ship out the same day. But those were just some sample ideas.
Instead Inventables chose a carve feature based approach which was always going to create an us verses them conflict between free and pro and this was always going to provoke this kind of alienated discussion whenever a new feature is announced. The 4 free days of “pro” feature use per month was just an awkward patch to try to get around that.
Steve I follow your train of thought, and I agree with some of it, but at the end of the day what you paid for is the hardware as far as I’m aware of. Everything Inventables does on the CAM software side is probably best to be regarded as a bonus.
It’s a meager bonus maybe, but for some people it’s enough to do 90% of what they want to do. I get that you feel frustration because the tool you have been using since you bought your machine is not evolving the way you would want it to. I myself have my machine (S02 actually) since before Easel was even developed. I had to learn using MakerCAM, which has no active development whatsoever, and moved on once I felt that it was limiting my workflow.
Because I never relied on Easel (and I don’t want this to be taken personally) it comes over a bit as looking a gift horse in the mouth. I feel like its just there for those who have use for it. Those that don’t: there are good alternatives at various price points that might be a better fit. I never looked back ever since I found mine.
A small sample size but here are some individuals requesting this exact feature and stating they’d be willing to pay for the functionality:
I personally believe Inventables is doing a fantastic job responding to requests from their users and they have continued to roll out changes/improvements to the free version as well. Easel still is included as free software when purchasing a machine which is a huge bonus for a lot of users. Easel Pro doesn’t include as many features yet as I thought it might be this point, but it’s very easy for us to say “just add this” or “just add that” and not realize how time consuming some of this enhancements might be.
I am glad they give the free days for Pro and once I feel it’s worth it, will consider a subscription. In the meantime, Easel satisfies the majority of my needs for most jobs. Keep up the good work, Inventables!
Four days a month was selected based on useage. I seem to remember a discussion on this topic. I’m happy with four days and I use the xcarve all the time. I don’t need pro version everyday. I’m happy with this. Inventables did not have to do anything
So you’re saying he was lying when the CEO of the company told me otherwise?
And BTW I bought the X-Controller during the prototype run just a few months after I had bought the original machine with the old controller.
I doubt that, but he’s running a company that has grown to do a lot of things. I told my wife I was going to get milk and somehow ended up coming home with a sheet of plywood and bananas. @StevePrior, you’re a smart guy. You know business models evolve and there will always be winners and losers in that. I don’t think they’ve done anything unfair. I agree that it’d be great if all of that pro stuff was free, but I don’t hold it against any individual. BTW, you use F360, so you have it all anyway.
Well done Inventables, keep up the great work. Your machine is phenomenal at a ridiculously low price point, all capabilities considered. Your customer service is literally the best I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.
You wanna charge for the extra features in your CAM software? Charge away.
When Easel Pro was announced I think a lot of us felt upset because we had stuck with Easel while it was being developed and put up with its problems while all the while features like V-Carve were being discussed as being worked on. Then all the sudden that feature was part of a new paid tier when that hadn’t been talked about the entire time it was “coming” someday. Also when Easel Pro was announced there was resentment that the real new features would only be added to Easel Pro and free Easel would become demoware and we were asked to believe that this wouldn’t be the case. So now it’s a year later and what we were told wasn’t true was in fact true. And instead of being somewhat honest that the business model changed and as you say there were losers in that, the features are being presented as “pro” features when they’re really not.
The fundamental difference between the hardware and the software in this case is that the software is being shipped as a service so there is a constant desire to improve it so it will continue to be a draw for new customers - the people who already bought get the benefits of the improvements too but mostly as a side effect. For software that’s not delivered as a service that effect isn’t present. That’s also why hardware changes aren’t the same because there’s a direct incremental cost in delivering it to a customer and you’re trying to use that as an example was really just a red herring.
Steve - I did a bit of stalking. You posted some shop pictures back in 2016 - nice space. Wish mine was half as clean and organized. Here’s what’s catching my attention - you have thousands of dollars worth of tools, but they are ALL manual. With the exception of the X-carve, there’s little to no continuing cost to keep the equipment running outside of normal wear and tear.
Here’s the world I come from - I’m typing this on a computer that’s loaded with close to $15,000 worth of software. There’s two more workstations in the shop that are probably over $12,000 each. You know what I get for roughly $40k in investments? A bunch of post cards every time a new major revision is released, offering me discounted prices for upgrading early. I’m NOT a subscriber to Easel pro for one reason - I’m not a fan of subscription services. I would much rather pay a couple hundred bucks for current version and pay again to upgrade when enough features have been added to justify the upgrade cost. I’m running one particular piece of software that hasn’t been upgraded since 2007 because we use it to run output on a single machine, and while the new versions have significantly better design features, they don’t output any better than the old version.
$25 a month is peanuts for software. It works out to $300 a year. My thermal printer (that one piece of equipment I referenced) is driven by a $5400 piece of software. If I were to purchase the 4’ x 8’ flatbed router that company offers it’s a $92,000 piece of equipment, and it requires a $1600 upgrade plus a $2300 add-in package for my existing software that ISN’T included in that price.
Why do I mention all of this? Because you purchased a CAD/CAM device. That x-carve is a taste of my world - a world in which you pay to play or you go home. If you don’t want to pay, then continue to use the free software and appreciate the fact that it continues to be upgraded - at no cost - on a fairly regular basis. If this isn’t acceptable let me know when your machine goes up for sale. I’ve got a fair bit of time on mine, and could use a good parts machine.
I’ve closed this thread. We want the forum to be a collaborative and welcoming space, but this thread has gone off-topic. We also want other users who are interested in learning about the Raster Toolpaths feature to be able to do so.