Autodesk messes up Raster Design 2010 licensing

Autodesk messes up Raster Design 2010 licensing

I was horrified to learn (in this Autodesk Discussion Group thread) that Autodesk has changed the rules as far as the way Raster Design licenses are handled. It’s quite possible that Autodesk has also done this with other products that I’m not yet aware of. If so, please comment and let me know.

If you’re not familiar with Raster Design, it’s an Autodesk add-on that adds raster handling capabilities to AutoCAD and AutoCAD-based products. The change that has been introduced is that the licensing method of AutoCAD and Raster Design now has to match. That is, if your AutoCAD is standalone, the network version of Raster Design won’t run on it, and vice versa.

Why does this matter? Let’s say you’re a CAD Manager in this scenario:

You have a hundred AutoCAD users, half of which are full-time users with standalone licenses and the other half who are mainly part-time users with network licenses. Let’s say that some of those users (of both types) have a very occasional need to use the features in Raster Design. You bought one network license of the product a few releases ago and have everything on Subscription, just the way Autodesk wants it. So far, you’ve been able to provide the Raster Design option to all of your users. Only one user at a time can use it, but as use of the product is pretty rare, this hasn’t been a problem to date. If demand increased, other licenses could be added as needed.

Now, with Raster Design 2010, this is no longer possible. Your network license will not be available to your standalone users. You have the following options:

  1. Buy 50 standalone licenses of Raster Design 2010 for your standalone AutoCAD 2010 users, i.e. spend a huge amount of money on software that will go unused more than 99% of the time. Oh, and commit more money to maintaining that software with Subscription.
  2. Convert all your AutoCAD licenses from standalone to network. This is not a free service. Last time I looked, it cost about 20% of the retail price of a new seat. That means you will need to waste a huge amount of money changing your AutoCAD licenses to work in a way that is an inferior match with the way you do business. If you’ve already provided AutoCAD 2010 to your standalone users, you’ll need to uninstall them all and reinstall them as network versions. Won’t that be fun?
  3. Upgrade neither AutoCAD or Raster Design to 2010 and stick with the release you’ve got, i.e. waste a large amount of pre-paid Subscription money.
  4. Do without Raster Design altogether, i.e. waste the money you’ve spent on the product purchase and Subscription. In this case, you’ll probably need to put some time, effort and further expenditure into investigating and buying third-party alternatives that have a sane network licensing policy. Who said Autodesk is hard on its third-party developers? Look, it’s actively drumming up business for them!

Wow. This, in an environment where people are looking to save money. It doesn’t matter what efforts the Raster Design developers have put into improving the product. Raster Design could do twice as much stuff, twice as well, in half the time, while looking prettier and playing a tune. For many customers, this licensing decision has rendered the product unusable, so none of that stuff will matter. Why did you bother, people?

It’s such a spectacularly stupid move that it’s hard to comprehend that anybody within Autodesk could even seriously contemplate the idea, let alone allow it to get through to the finished product. Here are my top ten reasons why this is dumb even from Autodesk’s point of view:

  1. It adds another unnecessary pain point to CAD Managers. These are generally the people who are currently working out whether to upgrade, pay for Subscription, or stick with what they have and pay Autodesk nothing, so they are the people Autodesk should be most careful to avoid hurting.
  2. It will discourage some people from using the current release of the products.
  3. It will discourage other people from keeping their Subscription current.
  4. It will encourage some customers to ask for their money back for Raster Design, Subscription or both. If this is refused, it could even lead to another bad-publicity court case.
  5. It is a negative example people will use when deciding whether Autodesk can be trusted to do the right thing by its customers, once they are all tied into Subscription.
  6. It will discourage people who may have been interested in Raster Design from buying it.
  7. It will discourage people from investing in any other Autodesk add-on software in future.
  8. It will increase the perception that Autodesk doesn’t care about its customers and is always looking out for sneaky cash grabs.
  9. It will increase the perception that Autodesk is clueless about how its products are used in the real world.
  10. It distracts from the generally positive news about the AutoCAD 2010 product family. I’ve got some nice things to say about AutoCAD 2010, but I’m writing this instead.

Autodesk, this is a particularly nasty anti-customer move, and that’s the polite way of putting it. I stongly advise you to reverse this decision. I don’t care if you’ve made it technically difficult for yourself to do so; just do it. Please.

Disclosure: the above scenario is not a million miles from the situation in which I find myself. So it’s something that directly affects me. But it’s something so dumb and annoying that I’d still be ranting about it, even if that were not the case.


  1. There is just no way this was a conscience decision. This HAS to be a mistake, right? I mean it makes no sense. Have anyone seen anything official from Autodesk? Have you asked Shaan?

    BTW: I’m in the exact same boat as you. I suspect a majority of ARD users are in the same boat also.

  2. No, I haven’t asked Shaan, stuff like this isn’t really his area. I don’t have my own copy to confirm yet, but that thread quotes the Raster Design documentation, people are reporting confirming it with their resellers and it seems to be legitimate. There’s a question now about whether this applies to all 2010 products. If so, that’s a disaster of the first order.

  3. E. Winter

    Well what’s the reason that Autodesk do this?
    I can imagine that they want tot have a straightforward product line. Like they have now.
    I even think ARD will eventually only be available with Autocad. And not be sold seperately anymore. Just as other products like C3D, Map3D.

  4. Gregg L.

    Clarifications, corrections, and/or suggestions:

    1) The only new requirement is that the licensing method has to be the same, not the count. You can have 500 AutoCAD and 3 Raster Design licenses.

    2) Since network licenses can be ‘borrowed’ or ‘checked out’, there is no need to have separate standalone and network licenses.

    3) While network licenses do cost more than standalone, the key is that you never convert them in a 1 to 1 manner. Typically, the initial conversion is about 70-80% of the number of standalone licenses. Most customers save more than 20% annually when switching to network licenses when they have any appreciable number of standalone licenses.

    4) By moving Raster Design to a network license engine, the job of the CAD manager is actually simplified for many reasons and will allow the CAD manager to actually monitor usage and reduce costs. This can’t be done with standalone or mixed license models.

    5) Autodesk can provide assistance with the conversion of large numbers of standalone licenses to network licenses. Therefore, a customer does not necessarily have to re-install. Additionally, the included distribution mechanism can make the install as simple as a double-click with no user interaction at all, or the re-install can be done with a distribution system such as SCCM.

  5. Brian Thomas


    I am the one who posted the original thread on the discussion group. You did a great job on your article. It explains the new rules and scenarios in a way anyone could understand, except for gregg L, sounds like he didn’t understand your post. I don’t know if my company is in the majority or minority. We have 9 users who use AutoCAD 8 hours a day so we have 9 stand alone licenses of AutoCAD. We all don’t use Raster Design so we have 4 network seats. Still waiting to hear from our reseller as to what the next course of action is. I’m going to attach the readme file that came with my raster design to my post on the discussion group. If you don’t have your DVD of Raster yet, I was able to download raster since we’re on subscription.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.