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 From:  Bri (CELTICDOG77)
4560.1 
Michael,

I have a question/ observation with regard to your ongoing development of MOI

You receive many many requests for specialized tools or functions to address various design issues. Almost invariably you or someone on the forum has a work around. In its present state MOI is simple and elegant by design. One of the reasons I stopped working in Solidworks was because of the numerous, confusing, often subtle use cases in many of the specialized tools. In fact, I often found myself unable to move forward because I didn't want to use anything but the tool specifically designed for the particular issue. I would then spend way too much time looking for the elusive tool. Frankly I feel its stifling and actually encourages the user to conform and thus become less involved in the design process. When I use MOI it seems that I'm much more free to experiment. If this all makes sense here's my question: How do you determine which tools are developed while keeping the UI and workflow inline with the creative user. I can't help but feel that every time I read a question like "why don't you have a button that ..." it just makes me think the user is being lazy. Don't get me wrong, I'm guilty of it myself.
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 From:  Mauro (M-DYNAMICS)
4560.2 In reply to 4560.1 
I agree with you Bri
there is a simple way to follow:make two versions of Moi
BASIC-like this one
ADVANCED-more tools (more expensive)
i think there is enough space for some more buttons without loosing easy workflow

At the end,if someone wants more..buy Rhino and all plug-ins dedicated
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 From:  Mike K4ICY (MAJIKMIKE)
4560.3 In reply to 4560.2 
Divide and conquer! That's the way to kill MoI dead. (muwahaha!) ;-)
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 From:  BurrMan
4560.4 In reply to 4560.3 
I would sum it up as, the UI has all the basic modeling tools presented in it.. "Specialty situational" tools are seperate. Dont think you are missing out if you dont have all the scripts ever made (The UI can do them anyway) They are just created to speedup/automate something for a specific task, that the UI already does.

There is nothing that any of those scripts do, that you cant do with a default, just purchased version of MoI.
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 From:  mariomarimba
4560.5 In reply to 4560.4 
hi everyone

i could not resist this somehow fundamental issue.
i am an architect and i come across very complex building types all the time.
i have classical education in engineering and architecture. with confidence i can say
that moi as a program has just about everything that professional designer or design architect need in some way.
what you need is creativity and fundamental knowledge of classical geometry that you can use as a starter and advance further .
i have seen in the past cad people not being able to do something because some particular program does not have ready made tool
for it. by using your knowledge you should overcome the 'lack of tool' . some of this big and expensive programs offer millions of tools that are just confusing and cost money. that is called commercial modern product.
it is like new car with million new gadgets that are there just to make you buy it.
so stick to moi, learn geometry (basic and advanced ) and enjoy your design life.
your knowledge should be universal and above cad software.

design friend
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 From:  Mike K4ICY (MAJIKMIKE)
4560.6 In reply to 4560.5 
Very wise, MarioMarimba!

You are correct. Any designer can run straight out of the box of a commercial program and produce what's called "Laser Sludge".
But that doesn't make that person a designer.
If you want to use a modeling program, and design things - it would be worth your while to check out a book on mechanical design or architecture.
The thoughtfulness of the design itself is what will be attractive.
(I'm not speaking from the soap box, I deal with artist daily, that believe their shirts should sell because they used their new skills in Illustrator to hack something out. Throwing clip-art swirlies and grungy borders in designs does not make it a good design.)

Take the "russian guy", 600v (http://600v.deviantart.com/)
He told me when I wrote him one time that he (up to that point) never used plug-in when using SketchUp, just the native building blocks.
And the tool array is Spartain in SketchUp to say the least - but he produced some really great retro-car designs.

However - I can't lie, I looooove new tools and gadgets. ;-)
If the NURBS Open Source library came with a variant to T-Splines, I think I'd be one of the first to act like Tom Hanks on a deserted island yelling proudly: "Fire... I made Fire... look at me!"
But maybe the new tools would simple clutter our minds and actually hinder our work processes.

Thanks to Michael for thinking rationally for us and keeping MoI's tool-set simple.
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 From:  Michael Gibson
4560.7 In reply to 4560.1 
Hi Bri,

> If this all makes sense here's my question: How do you
> determine which tools are developed while keeping the UI
> and workflow inline with the creative user.

Well, it's a tricky process! :)

There's sort of a lot of different factors that come into play.

One is that I try to focus on making more general purpose tools, ones that can be used for a variety of different kinds of situations instead of ones that are really heavily specialized for one really narrow purpose. Like you mentioned there can be some bad side effects from having too many specialized tools - one big one is just having too much UI and too many things to wade through to find the stuff that you need to use.

It's very normal though for software to move towards the direction of feature bloat over time, it's kind of the natural way that things gravitate, because of course people want new features all the time and lots of people want lots of different kinds of features so they tend to accumulate. It's something that I am really vigilant about since it is such a common problem.

Sometimes just the mere fact that I'm a single developer working on developing the new features actually helps out for this situation since my development time is really limited.

Also back when I started MoI I did not shy away from the idea of not being able to do some things until the time came that the UI for it was well thought through for the future as well. Part of this involves sometimes just saying that MoI is not the right tool for some particular job because it doesn't do that particular thing yet, and not really worrying about that being such a bad thing. So kind of taking a long term view instead of a short term view is another piece.

Another thing that helps out is that I generally have a policy that new feature ideas that add to the power of an existing feature without needing to add in a separate new command will jump to the top of my priority list.

Another thing yet is that if someone asks for a particular feature that would help out their specfic workflow if possible I see about implementing that as a plug-in that can be added just to that person's installation of MoI so that they are helped out but it doesn't weigh down the regular interface.

It's kind of a combination of various facets like these (and probably some that I'm forgetting to mention now) that helps to maintain ease of use and avoiding feature bloat.

It definitely takes special vigilance to avoid it though, it's really natural for programs to become complex over time, and often times the existing users are not really aware of how complex it has become if they've been along for the ride from earlier versions. They can be kind of like the frog in a slowly heated pot that doesn't know it's being boiled but brand new users who try to jump right in notice it right away.


But anyway this is a particularly big focus area for MoI, it's one of the things that makes MoI a bit unusual.

- Michael
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 From:  BurrMan
4560.8 In reply to 4560.7 
Rememebr if you look inside the fastest racecars, they are stripped to the bone!
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 From:  mariomarimba
4560.9 In reply to 4560.7 
michael

i can see great wisdom in your approach. often i think how can we spread it wider.
in a big commercial world we face more and more complications!!!!! and i mean it.
we are wasting more and more time on cad 'issues' instead on design issues.
lot of bad habit has been created over the last two decades. we have now armies of cad, revit and god knows
what other types of managers and specialist getting stack deeeper and deeper into resolving great number of irrelevant
issues during the design process. and than you come accross something like moi with no junk.
clear and simple topped up with this latest flow tool!!!!! o marvelous. before i say too much let me enjoy
my design experimentation weekend with moi flow.
have no worries about your direction. it is very good. keep rolling. less is more.

mario

one more time thanks for your immediate service advice as well, which you don't get for every cad package .
it is very personal service, knowledgeable one and quick.
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 From:  Greg (HORSEGUY44)
4560.10 
Just as a counterpoint (to play devil's advocate) it is also possible to become so obsessed with KISS (keep it simple stupid) that the tool becomes one in which many procedures involve lengthy work-arounds or knowledge of hidden (i.e. keyboard shortcuts or scripts) features which turns the apparently simple into a steeper learning curve.

I offer as an example (so no one thinks I'm bad mouthing MOI) Keyshot. Their basic interface is (was) just a few buttons across the bottom of the screen. Seems ideal, but it turns out that in order to refine anything, you fill your screen with sub windows that open other subwindows with lots of ill-defined settings. (And don't get me started about the necessity to buy a three button mouse JUST so you can "pan" the view!)

Although a UI interface like a 747 cockpit isn't desirable, having to search manuals, tutorials and online forums for work-arounds (or hidden shortcuts) keeps the new user away from the creative process as well.

I very much approve of Michaels desire to prevent MOI from becoming cluttered and redundant (as I found Rhino's menu choices to be) but I also don't feel like the addition of other tools or "library" subwindows (such as a junk drawer for scripts) would be such a bad thing. As a long (long) time user of Solidworks who tends to use only 25% of the available tools to create complex molded parts and products, I can both appreciate an uncluttered interface, but also value the underlying power available in having more choices (tools) to get the job done, rather than planning the final shape (which I'm often reworking as I see the forms develop) 20 steps in advance. Does that mean I'm lazy? You bet! I'll work smarter rather than harder any day! But I also like the option NOT to start at the end (with a finished concept) and hack and slash my way to a finished form instead.

If MOI is (as I get better at it) or can become that forgiving, I'll be a very happy camper.
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 From:  Michael Gibson
4560.11 In reply to 4560.10 
Hi Greg, yup I do want to make it easier in the future to manage extensions/plug-ins instead of only relying on setting them up on keyboard shortcuts.

It will probably be something like a "Plug-ins" menu on the bottom toolbar that will have a menu where optional installed plugins can be listed.

That's one of those things that I expect to get to at some point but has not really been a priority yet as compared to some other things like new modeling tools.

But having a better way to have a list of plug-ins is definitely on my radar for the future.

- Michael
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 From:  Michael Gibson
4560.12 In reply to 4560.10 
Hi Greg, also another kind of related thing that I also want to add is an extended properties dialog where I'll have a lot of space to add a whole bunch of controls for analysis modes and various things like that.

That and the plug-ins menu will kind of be semi dumping grounds for a lot of additional tools, but will only add 1 top level button to the main UI for their entry points.

So it's not like I'm 100% against stuff like that, if it only has a minimal impact on the main UI.

The Options dialog is actually kind of like that already if you want to see an example.

- Michael
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 From:  Klingbeil
4560.13 
first, i agree about your point with SolidWorks getting over complicated. i hate that program with a passion. i'm a trained mechanical draftsmen and you know software is crap when it's quicker and easier to just grab a pencil and do it on paper. i really enjoy MOI's simple and clean interface. i only discovered MOI a couple days ago by pure accident and having played with the demo, i find it to be a pleasant mix of something between Rhino3D's technical capabilities and Sketchup's simplicity.

which brings me to an idea that someone near the top posted about two editions of MOI. i would actually encourage this idea. take Sketchup as the example of success. their free version is probably about 75% complete compared to their paid PRO version. this tactic gets Sketchup into the hands of everyone and after a while it becomes their friend. i'm a member of a hobbyist group that does wargame terrain modeling (www.hirstarts.com) and Sketchup is heavily used in the community for design and layout of buildings brick-by-brick, because it's free. the caveat is that the free version is for personal, educational, and hobbyist use and if you use Sketchup for business you are supposed to upgrade to PRO. the attraction to the PRO version is that it's ability is expanded past it's proprietary file import/export and there is a slew of extra tools that would unlikely ever be used for personal reasons. this is where upgrading to PRO makes sense for business use, not to mention the extended tech support.

if you were to make a "free" entry level version, i would suggest disabling things like scripts, some of the more complex tools, and probably import/export outside of the .3DM format (unless you come up with your own proprietary file format or header for .MOI) in order to make the full version more appealing. the gimped free version gets it into their hands without any pressure and when/if they're ready for more complex things they will upgrade without hesitation, because they are already comfortable with the software. otherwise they will happily recommend it to others who are looking because they've developed goodwill from the experience. it's just a thought to increase your user base.
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 From:  BurrMan
4560.14 In reply to 4560.13 
Google is a multi billion dollar company that will give stuff away for free to try and win a few customers.. Millions of people use scethchup for free and never pay for it.

Part of the grace of MoI is you are speaking directly to the developer.

Also, there is power in being small.. Michael just did a complete 180 on his UI. Has anybody else ever seen that?

Alas, he is just one man making a living.
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 From:  Michael Gibson
4560.15 In reply to 4560.13 
Hi Klingbeil, actually SketchUp did not have a free version until after their company was purchased by Google. From what I understand the main goal of the free SketchUp version was not at all to drive sales of the Pro version but rather to encourage a lot of content to be created for Google Earth.

But I have thought some about having 2 versions of MoI, like a "lite" and "pro" version, but I don't really have enough time to develop them separately so that's something that kind of needs to wait until the single version is mature enough. I'm not quite sure when that will happen, maybe around MoI v4 it could be more feasible.

If that does happen, the lite version would likely be just less expensive, not free - I don't think it would work very well for me to put out a free version because of all the support burden that would add to me. Since I'm just a single person developing MoI it kind of puts some additional limits on what kinds of things I can do like that.

For SketchUp, Google had a much different goal in mind of trying to generate a whole lot of content. That goal along with their incredibly deep financial resources is pretty different from what I'm doing - it wasn't an issue to them that their sales of their Pro version would decrease due to a pretty capable free version being available.

- Michael
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 From:  Greg (HORSEGUY44)
4560.16 In reply to 4560.13 
Hey Klingbeil. Although my boss would be happy if we NEVER had to upgrade our seats of Solidworks (it isn't backwards compatible, so when our clients move up, so do we, and pay the price for each seat...) my issues with the new tools is more of familiarity, not usefulness or even clutter as I can chance the UI to suit my prejudices. Having seen what other people go through using AutoCAD, or ProE, I'm THRILLED to be using Solidworks. And after 10 years its a comfortable friend.

I had the chance to teach a class in Drafting at a local college and was amused at the pain level the students experience making a pencil draw lines and curves on paper, and how RELEAVED they were when finally allow (at mid term) to start drafting on the computer. Speed and ease are all a matter of familiarity and experience, and much less the specific tools. I know my struggles with MOI have more to do with my tendency to want to model as if in Solidworks (and failing because it isn't) than any negatives about the software and tools available themselves.

Michael, as a guy who LOVES to have a model shop full of cool tools, most of which rarely get used but are the BEST when a specific task comes up, I greatly appreciate your considering the various option dialogues and bins for keeping all those little specialty options and scripts close to hand, but tucked away. Thanks!
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 From:  Klingbeil
4560.17 In reply to 4560.15 
Hi Michael :)

i am aware that Sketchup wasn't always free until Google acquired it, but my point was - how many people had heard of Sketchup until they made the "lite" version free for all? their original intent of making it free to drive the creation of content had the side effect of becoming widely used by amateurs and hobbyists, which in turn causes an increase in sales for their PRO version. i fully understand your situation and i can appreciate the work you put into this great program. this was just a suggestion for you to consider to help MOI get a wider audience. like i said, i had only heard about MOI about a week ago and i only learned about it from a blog where is was only mentioned in passing. i've started telling my hobbyist friends about MOI, but the high price (compared to ~$50 USD or free) puts it out of their price range for a "hobby" purchase. i would highly encourage a "lite" version to get it into more hands. i personally plan on purchasing the full version for what i do with prototype creation in my home business.

it's just my opinion, take it as you please ;)

EDITED: 5 Oct 2011 by KLINGBEIL

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 From:  Michael Gibson
4560.18 In reply to 4560.17 
Hi Klingbeil, Eventually the free SketchUp version probably did increase sales of their Pro version, but not initially. If you talk to some SketchUp resellers you will probably find that the free version initially caused Pro sales to plummet - for a lot of work the free SketchUp version does everything that is needed, and it's easy for something like an architecture office to have something like 10 people using the free version to do regular stuff and only a couple of people need the Pro version. So at first that shift to a free version actually caused a big negative impact on the Pro version. Google has such deep pockets that they didn't really care about that, and they can afford to do things like wait out a few years for the situation to change.

But for someone in my position being just a single person company instead of a huge mega billion dollar company things are much different.


> i would highly encourage a "lite" version to get it into more hands.

Yeah, like I mentioned I think I would like to do this eventually.

But it would require additional overhead to try and branch out a "lite" version too early since it would involve maintaining active development in multiple product branches. Since I'm a single person developing MoI it's important for me to keep development overhead to a minimum right now.

So branching out a "lite" version won't really be feasible for me until some point in the future when everything that I would expect to need to go into the lite version is already completely covered in the current regular version. That might be sometime around the MoI v4 timeframe I would guess.


But also just in general a high volume / low cost per copy type thing is not really a particularly big focus for me because like I described earlier that carries a huge support burden along with it.

As compared to most of the rest of the big CAD industry as a whole, the current $295 price tag for MoI is actually extremely inexpensive and affordable already - price tags more in the $4000 range are pretty common...

MoI offers an inexpensive and also easier to use alternative to that kind of stuff.


I don't think that I would really target something so low as $50, though - I mean MoI is fundamentally designed as a productivity application that lets you accomplish some pretty advanced types of things that would otherwise be difficult to do. It's not really in the category of something like a pure entertainment app like a game, that's more what I would think would belong at that $50 price point that you mention.

I mean fundamentally MoI is intended to help you get some cool stuff made and help you get work done. For a lot of people the value of that is clearly above the current already low price tag.


- Michael

EDITED: 5 Oct 2011 by MICHAEL GIBSON

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 From:  OSTexo
4560.19 
Hello,

The fact that MoI is low three figures in a field of four and five five figure software is one indicator of it's value proposition. A zero price on a product will not bring in the right type of customers, the paying kind, it just doesn't work that way. Sketchup could go away tomorrow and it wouldn't matter to Googles bottom line. I would guess MoI sales account for a much larger percentage of gross revenue for Triple Squid than Sketchup for Google.
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 From:  omac12
4560.20 
I'd also like to point out that, even though, Google has very deep pockets they still made some changes to the free version's import capabilities removing DWG/DXF import in order IMO to strongly influence a move to the paid version for the professional users. Free or very low cost can devalue a product. While I really haven't much money I still don't like to see small companies going out of business due to products priced too low. MOI is already several hundred dollars cheaper than its peers. And frankly as I travel around the WWW I notice that MOI is more than popular enough with the crowd that doesn't pay for software. Exposure isn't the problem.
Al
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