Software in the cloud

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Gordon

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Perhaps I am over reacting but I am concerned about all of the software operating in the cloud instead of on my computer. Recently I have been playing around with Fusion 360 and have a pretty good start. I am concerned because recently there has been a scare, apparently false, that Autodesk was going to start requiring a purchased copy. I do not want to spend a lot of time designing something which is saved on the cloud instead of on my computer only to be unable to access it a year from now. Even if I save the file on my computer it is in a format which is useless in any other program. As a retired hobby user there is no way that I am going to pay $500 per year for software that I am going to use twice a year. This is not only a CAD problem. Microsoft Office is now also a cloud based program. I am using the old 2007 version which lives on my computer. The same is true of Quick Books which I used for years. The latest lives on the cloud and I must pay a subscription fee to access my files. Here again I am using my old 2007 copy which lives on my computer. I loose some features but for the most part it does what I need. Also I can use my program in places where I do not have to be connected via WiFi.

Am I just an old Luddite or is there reason for concern?

Gordon
 

BaronJ

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Hi Gordon,

You might be an old Luddite, but yes you should be concerned !

It all about monetising everything ! Give it a few more years and you will have to pay to use anything on your computer. Notice my avatar ! I'm a Linux user and most everything is free. In fact most electronic goods, phones, TV's, modems, routers, cars etc use Linux because its open source and you can inspect, modify and sell programs that you create using it. In fact its hard to find anything that I need Windows or Mac for.
 

Gordon

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I have played around with Linux a little but but never got too deep into it. There are word processing and accounting programs but how about cad? I tried running my existing 2 D cad under Linux but it did not run well.
 

BaronJ

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Hi Gordon,

I use Qcad ! It runs on Windows and Mac as well as Linux !

I have used Qcad for several years. If you go to

https://www.ribbonsoft.com/en/

Go to the download page and download the correct version for your operating system. There is also a version that will output Gcode for CNC use.
 

RonGinger

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I have the same fear about Fusion360, but the software is so good I just suck it up and use it. I bought Alibre several years ago, but it got bought out and screwed up by the new owner. I stopped paying for support for that, but they have been re-organized and are back and even encouraging model engineers. It is very good, but lacks the CAM functions that Fusion360 has.

Linux is OK, but it lacks almost all user level software. Yes it runs as the operating system all over the place- most of the cloud is linux based, but it will never touch Windows in things like CAD and office software. The linux die-hards have been forecasting better software forever, but it has not happened.

I have a Tux, like Barons avatar right on my desk, bought back when I was a linux guy.

I think you have to just accept the fact that the world has turned to a cloud based and software subscription model. Resistance is futile!
 

BaronJ

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Hi Guys,

Whilst main stream giants desperately continue to attempt to lock people into their operating systems and software, simply in order to keep their revenue stream going, and continue producing the rubbishy software and programs, the free and open source movement grows stronger.

Also look at Tesla's recent débâcle ! Your car software can be reprogrammed and altered remotely by wireless ! No internet connection needed. Shades of 1984.

Linux is very definitely a better windowing desktop than Windows. Windows advocates only push what they can make money with ! Just look at all the problems that lots of users face. They have to pay someone to continually fix them ! At the end of the day its all about money ! Few make money out of Linux !
 

Cogsy

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I do think there are people who make money out of Linux - namely sysadmins. I've only ever tinkered with Linux but what little experience I have had wasn't fun. I once had a sysadmin chase a bug that was preventing me from installing a critical piece of software for over a day (that's a long time when you're standing behind him and twiddling your thumbs) and it eventually turned out to be something trivial like a time-out on automatic version support for the OS installed (I forget exactly). It's the little things that can trip you up so easily that I don't like. When you install a new OS you shouldn't have to worry about whether or not it will support audio drivers or wifi (or the mouse)...
 

ninefinger

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I do think there are people who make money out of Linux - namely sysadmins. I've only ever tinkered with Linux but what little experience I have had wasn't fun. I once had a sysadmin chase a bug that was preventing me from installing a critical piece of software for over a day (that's a long time when you're standing behind him and twiddling your thumbs) and it eventually turned out to be something trivial like a time-out on automatic version support for the OS installed (I forget exactly). It's the little things that can trip you up so easily that I don't like. When you install a new OS you shouldn't have to worry about whether or not it will support audio drivers or wifi (or the mouse)...
Trust me Microsoft and other big companies are no better - my 2 year old printer won't work with my pc on Windows 10 but works on my wifes pc with the same operating system - no obvious reason. There is always an example of somebody who got screwed by Linux or Windows. I could list dozens of examples of Windows updates that affected the company I work for, as a small business its hard to keep up when the software is only a supporting piece of your product.

Many times peripheral devices are left unsupported when the big guys decide to move on.

Gordon
As far as in the cloud software and Fusion 360 - I've accepted that I may be held somewhat ransom by them at a point in the future, and I'll protect myself as much as possible by exporting portable formats, as well as saving locally the native format and hoping that some savvy person will in the future figure out a conversion to the next great cheap CAD software when that day comes.

I tend to support the Linux crowd for home use and there are open source software that operate on Windows that can replace many of the current subscriptions (i.e. OpenOffice instead of Microsoft office for word processing and spreadsheets, etc. )

Mike
 

Cogsy

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I must admit I'm not a big fan of having to purchase yearly subscriptions for software but I think I might have spent more buying them outright and upgrading back in the day. Matlab is a good example, when you purchase a license you get free upgrades for a calendar year and they normally release 2 versions during the year (a & b revisions). At the end of the year you can continue to use your old version for as long as you like. However, every second year there seems to be something in new release that I can't live without and I have to purchase a brand new license. I am happy to keep supporting the developers to produce new content though, as whatever the new feature or library is, it makes my life easier.

Microsoft Excel is another one that was horrendously expensive to purchase initially, but becomes outdated. I am doing a task at the moment where I'm plotting around 40,000 data points per run and it's only reasonably recent versions that can handle more than 32,000 points. I'm much happier paying a modest yearly amount for full access to the absolute latest Office suite than having to pony up $700+ every couple of years like I used to.

In saying all that, I'm not sure I'd be happy paying for any product that didn't let me at least save my files locally. If an application goes away that's one thing but I wouldn't be happy with my hard work disappearing with it.
 

BaronJ

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Hi Cogsy, Guys,

I do think there are people who make money out of Linux - namely sysadmins.
Yes they do get very well paid, but so did the Unix admins. There isn't the shops around that support Linux, like those that support Windows !

I've only ever tinkered with Linux but what little experience I have had wasn't fun. I once had a sysadmin chase a bug that was preventing me from installing a critical piece of software for over a day (that's a long time when you're standing behind him and twiddling your thumbs) and it eventually turned out to be something trivial like a time-out on automatic version support for the OS installed (I forget exactly). It's the little things that can trip you up so easily that I don't like. When you install a new OS you shouldn't have to worry about whether or not it will support audio drivers or wifi (or the mouse)...
I agree with your sentiments ! However Linux today is a quite different beast to what it was, its improved greatly, even in the past couple of years or so.

I wonder how many remember Yggdrasil ? Developed by Adam J. Richter. I first came across Linux when my Wife bought me a book with a CD in it way back in 1991. No CD drive in many machines then and no internet as such either.

In those days you had to hunt around to get the software to compile things for yourself. Things didn't just work, you had to modify the code to suit your particular flavour of operating system.

Not like today where you can download a live CD image, burn it to a disc, put it in your machine and boot from it. Hey presto, you are now running Linux directly from the CD, without making any changes at all to your machines software. More importantly, it enables you to see if your hardware works with the particular version that you downloaded. You have several hundred to choose from.

Really those that knock Linux do not realise just how widespread Linux is !
 

BaronJ

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Hi Cogsy, Guys,

I was going to just edit my previous post, but there are a number of points in here that need addressing.

I must admit I'm not a big fan of having to purchase yearly subscriptions for software but I think I might have spent more buying them outright and upgrading back in the day. Matlab is a good example, when you purchase a license you get free upgrades for a calendar year and they normally release 2 versions during the year (a & b revisions). At the end of the year you can continue to use your old version for as long as you like. However, every second year there seems to be something in new release that I can't live without and I have to purchase a brand new license. I am happy to keep supporting the developers to produce new content though, as whatever the new feature or library is, it makes my life easier.
Qcad is like that ! Although there is the community version that is completely free of charge. I purchased a licensed edition in order to help support development.

Microsoft Excel is another one that was horrendously expensive to purchase initially, but becomes outdated. I am doing a task at the moment where I'm plotting around 40,000 data points per run and it's only reasonably recent versions that can handle more than 32,000 points. I'm much happier paying a modest yearly amount for full access to the absolute latest Office suite than having to pony up $700+ every couple of years like I used to.
Again under Linux there are a couple of very usable office suits that are completely free, as I believe Matlab is. Though its an application that I've never used.

In saying all that, I'm not sure I'd be happy paying for any product that didn't let me at least save my files locally. If an application goes away that's one thing but I wouldn't be happy with my hard work disappearing with it.
As far as CAD files are concerned, I use industry standard DFX to save all my drawings ! That way they can be used by any application that can read DFX. I also save files as JPG pictures that can be coloured and posted on forums. The same files can be saved as PDF's as well as several other formats.

The trick to protecting your drawings is to use an industry format such as DFX. Proprietary formats are just one way of tying you in !
 

goldstar31

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Classically it is 'Caveat Emptor' or let buyer beware. We know the conditions laid down by what are in essence a cartel or an oligopoly! Many are using credit to 'buy' these luxuries' half as much again for interest on a loan- which is what credit really means.
 

Gordon

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Hi Gordon,

I use Qcad ! It runs on Windows and Mac as well as Linux !

I have used Qcad for several years. If you go to

https://www.ribbonsoft.com/en/

Go to the download page and download the correct version for your operating system. There is also a version that will output Gcode for CNC use.
T
That is 2 D CAD. I have a 2 D program which I have been using for the last 20 years. 3 D programs at a reasonable price are harder to find.
 

Gordon

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Software has always been a problem. Great ideas get purchased by the big boys and killed. Case in point is the CAD program I started out with was Generic CAD. It was starting to outshine Auto Cad so they bought it and killed it. Fortunately some of the original developers resurrected it as Visual CAD and I have been using it ever since. They come out with upgrades from time to time but the older version still works just fine. What 3 D CAD needs is the equivalent to DXF so that the drawings can work across various programs. Maybe there is such a thing but I am not aware of it.

The problem for many of us hobby users is that we cannot justify the cost of the deluxe program. Many of the folks here are using a copy of what they have at where they work but that is not an option for many of us retired folks. I realize that Fusion 360 is currently free for hobby use but what happens a year form now when they change that. There is no way that I can justify $500/year for a hobby program which I use a couple of times a year. I can live with many of the deluxe features but I hate to invest many hours into learning a program and designing a project only to have it become junk a year form now.
 

xpylonracer

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The trick to protecting your drawings is to use an industry format such as DFX. Proprietary formats are just one way of tying you in !

Baron, did you mean DXF files ?
 

RonGinger

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DXF files are not really as 'industry standard' as you would sometimes like. They are close, but things like text often fail.

They are also just 2D, so some of the great things about Fusion360 modeling is lost. in a dxf.
 

74Sprint

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BaronJ - All right I'm not the only one using QCad. Have you had any luck using the 3D feature? I wish there was more symbols in the library and not all metric. I have no problem send my work to machine shops and I love the CAM feature.

What a country.
Ok I'm going to play devils advocate here. A little of my history first. When I got out of the military I got into computers for SMBs (small medium businesses). I realized that there was a need to help out SMBs that couldn't really afford to pay $120 -$250 an hour for tech support so I charged $40-$60 Hr. but, I quickly became overwhelmed and had to start picking and choosing customers. With SMBs every single dollar makes a difference. Anyway I was a Microsoft OEM partner and working on my MSCE, making computers and networking them together. For years I used to blame programers for a lot of problems not knowing what they had to deal with, so I became a computer analyst/programmer. Now I had my electronics technologist, electrician, MSCE, and a programmer. I had front to back, beginning to end knowledge.

Here is what I know, nothing happens or gets created unless there is money to be made. Yes I like Linux, my favorites are Kubuntu and Fedora but, there is still work to be done on the add on software for EDA and CAD/CAM but, they are workable. Now people let's not forget that all businesses need to make money to stay alive and to keep people employed. I'm not saying that companies need to be greedy but, some of these companies need to show a Growing profit year over year to keep their stockholders happy or the board gets replaced. Anybody that invests or has mutual funds or retirement funds is part of the problem, including me.

Years ago when not everybody had high-speed internet and storage costs were a lot higher it was impractical to have subscription services. Mind you Quickbooks and Simply Accounting(Sage) did have yearly update subscriptions for taxes and payroll updates and so did a lot of other software companies. Backups are extremely important to any business and the rule is to keep 1 copy locally and 1 off site, in case of fire or other disaster. I have restored a business from a single backup tape. The cloud didn't just appear out of nowhere it was a progression from off site backups to a another computer that used high speed internet. When the Cloud first came in it was to provide low or zero maintenance for off site backups. Problem with the cloud is that, if it has to go through your server or modem and one of them goes down, then everybody goes down. If the internet or the cloud server goes down then everybody goes down, not good.

To put everything together, the biggest contributing factor to subscription services was that high speed internet really took off and has gotten even faster. Next was that computers got faster and more powerful so people and companies weren't replacing their computers because their older computers could run the newer software, this is also one of the reasons why I got out of computers sales and support. So hardware and software companies saw their sales declining and had to come up with a way to keep profit growth growing. Hey the internet is fast now, computers can now run software live off our servers, lets come out with subscription services. Let's also get rid of free & lite software, and permanent licenses, it's a conspiracy I tell you.

I have written software for resale and I put a lot of effort into my programs and I expect to get paid for them and make a profit. I also design electronics and either sell my devices or license my intellectual property. Entrepreneurship, what a country, let's all make more money.

The Bast**ds, my notebook (laptop) is a HP workstation replacement and was not cheap but, in September of 2018 on Wednesday the day after update Tuesday, my wireless connection quit working. I contacted Microsoft and they said "we are aware of it and are working on a fix, in the meantime contact your equipment manufacturer and see if there is a driver update", and HP said "we don't write the driver for your wireless WiFi chip, contact Intel". And Intel told me "they no longer support a 6 year old wireless chipset on a 4 year old notebook and that I should consider upgrading to a new notebook", well isn't that just peachy. So I go out and buy a wireless USB dongle and then 18 months later Intel puts out a so called driver fix, well it doesn't work. Now I could write a new driver or just keep my ASUS wireless dongle, I kept the dongle, what a country.

I don't know the exact amount of money I have spent on CAD/CAM & EDA software packages but, it has to be over $5,000. I'm still looking for the perfect software for me at a low price and I have tried quite a few. The ones I like, using their trial software I can't afford. If anyone has a suggestion for really good free or cheap software I'm all ears. For hundreds if not thousands of years 2D drawings sufficed and most of my work is 2D but, I know have to progress to 3D so long as I can generate G-code for DIY 3 or even 5 axis machining.

What a country.
Ray
 

Ozwes007

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Just so you are aware, Apple run 2 operating systems, one is completely Linux based and the other(not used much at all) is apple’s proprietary system. So Big companies do make billions out of Linux. Point 2 is cloud won’t be all encompassing as two many countries have internet infrastructure that doesn’t support cloud based software. The desktop software will be around for awhile yet, albeit these days changing to app style programs.
 

awake

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Linux is OK, but it lacks almost all user level software. Yes it runs as the operating system all over the place- most of the cloud is linux based, but it will never touch Windows in things like CAD and office software. The linux die-hards have been forecasting better software forever, but it has not happened.
I must respectfully disagree. I have been using Linux nearly exclusively for many years now. The Windows machine supplied by my employer mostly just serves as a backup device - only very rarely do I turn to it to use Microsoft Word, and that only when a quirk in converting Word's formatting comes into play in a document that is shared with others.

Otherwise, I do all my work on Linux, and all of it using free and open-source (FOSS) software. Word processing, spreadsheets, presentations - LibreOffice does them all quite well; in fact, there are a number of things that LibreOffice Writer in particular does MUCH better than MS-Word. I do most of the editing of the MS-Office documents used by my organization in LibreOffice; it generally handles the MS-Office documents seamlessly, which is definitely NOT true of the reverse. (As noted above, though, there are some specialized formatting issues that are not handled well in conversion, either by MS-Office or by LibreOffice.)

What else? Desktop publishing - Scribus. Audio and video editing and production - any number of programs, from the command-line ffmpeg to LMMS, Ardour, MuseScore to Handbrake, OpenShot, Kdenlive, and more. Graphics design - Inkscape. Photo-editing - GIMP. C++ programming - Code::Blocks and the gcc suite. Electronics and PCB design - KiCAD. 2d CAD - LibreCAD (the FOSS version of QCad). 3d CAD - FreeCAD, OpenSCAD, Blender. And the list goes on, and on, and on.

It can be argued, and often is, that many (most?) of these FOSS programs are not as capable as the Windows equivalents - and that is often true. Fusion360 has more features than FreeCAD; Illustrator and Photoshop have more features than Inkscape and GIMP; and so on. But here's the thing: I rarely if ever miss those features. So much software available today can do so much more than I will ever make use of - I don't care if my program can only do 90% of what the other program can do, as long as it does the 10% that I actually need and want. And here's the other thing: FreeCAD, Inkscape, GIMP, etc. are completely and absolutely free. Meanwhile, Fusion360 is free only so long as Autodesk chooses to allow it to be free, and Illustrator and Photoshop and the rest are ... let's just say, a long, long way from being free. And some of the FOSS programs remain under continual development, and are rapidly gaining ground - FreeCAD being a particularly good example.

Interestingly, it is not unusual for me to wind up taking care of something for someone else in the office because I can do it on Linux, and they can't do it on Windows. Admittedly, some of that has to do with me being a geek, and some of it has to do with the fact that Windows users tend not to know about the highly capable FOSS software that is available. (Note that most if not all of the FOSS software listed above, though it may have originated on Linux, has for years been programmed using multi-platform toolkits, so it can run on Windows and Mac as well as Linux.) Still, it is interesting that it is so often quicker and easier for me to reformat the video or fix the graphics or tweak the photo using my FOSS software on Linux than it is to 1) figure out some way to get Windows to do it, or 2) afford the commercial program that could do the job on Windows.

Ray's point above is well taken, that "nothing happens or gets created unless there is money to be made." Definitely true ... often. But the many FOSS programs mentioned above point to an alternative, one that "shouldn't exist" - and yet it does. To be sure, many of these FOSS efforts have led to monetization opportunities for some - RedHat and Canonical/Ubuntu, for example. The 3d printing phenomenon is a particularly interesting example - so much of it developed as open-source software AND hardware designs, and even now some of the most successful 3d printer manufacturers (e.g., Prusa) remain fully open-source, and the vast majority of commercial 3d printers run on Marlin - which is still FOSS to its core.

Obviously, I have revealed myself to be a Linux and FOSS advocate, and thus everything I say is automatically suspect. :) So let me end with a very different example, one that shows both the pluses and minuses of Linux for "ordinary users":

Several years ago, my aging parents were having a very difficult time using / adjusting to their new Windows 8 machine. I was having to do a LOT of troubleshooting, both over-the-phone and in person (which required a 3-hour round trip - very doable, but not necessarily something I wanted or had time to do on a daily basis!).

As an experiment, I set up a dual-boot option with Ubuntu on their machine. Immediately they found it easier to use Ubuntu, and wound up never booting up in Windows again. Things were blissfully trouble free for many, many years ... until, last year, after moving to a different state, the hard disk on their machine began to get flaky. The problem was not particularly amenable to troubleshooting over the phone ... and now they lived far enough away that a day trip to fix the issues was no longer an option ... and the local computer gurus were of no help, because they only handled Windows, not Linux. Sigh ... we had to set them up a new Windows 10 machine, so that they would have local support if needed.
 
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BaronJ

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Hi,

The trick to protecting your drawings is to use an industry format such as DFX. Proprietary formats are just one way of tying you in !

Baron, did you mean DXF files ?
Yes ! Sorry about that, fingers working faster than brain. :cool:
 
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