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Why Vectorworks Is the Most Cost-effective Design Software for Architects

There are many decisions to consider when purchasing design software, the foremost of which is cost.

Software can be expensive, so it’s not a decision people tend to make lightly. Along with toolsets and licensing options, the cost of a software license is top-of-mind for any designer nowadays.  

At Vectorworks, we believe in design freedom and offering choices and flexibility to our customers. And that applies to the ways they can buy Vectorworks products. Let’s look at Vectorworks’ pricing structure, benefits from various licensing options, and how it all stacks up against AutoCAD and Revit. 

Perpetual Licenses vs. Subscription Licenses

Vectorworks has a dual pricing structure — subscription licensing and perpetual licensing.

A subscription license offers the flexibility to pay only for what you need. For Vectorworks Architect, a subscription license costs $153 USD month-to-month, or $1530 USD yearly (which saves $306 USD compared to paying month-to-month).

Subscription licenses come with 2 GB of cloud storage, unlimited basic tech support, and immediate upgrades to new versions of Vectorworks.

Perpetual licenses are exactly what they sound like. You pay once, and the software is yours forever. The cost of a perpetual license for Vectorworks Architect is $3,045 USD, which includes 2 GB of cloud storage and one year of basic tech support.

Perpetual licenses don’t automatically upgrade to new versions — however, many customers take advantage of Service Select, the maintenance plan that provides 18 GB more cloud storage and an included upgrade to new versions (which saves you from paying the up-front cost of new versions). A Service Select membership also provides access to premium content libraries, training, access to Vectorworks Cloud Services’ premium functionality, and exclusive discounts.

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vectorworks 2021 perpetual licensing vs subscription license

Perpetual Licenses Retired at Autodesk

Perpetual licensing, or ownership, is no longer an option with AutoCAD and Revit, according to Autodesk’s website. That means AutoCAD and Revit users must continue to subscribe to maintain access to their software and files.

Flexibility is a core tenant of Vectorworks. If a user wishes to pay once for a perpetual license, they’ll own the software forever and will not lose access to their files.

Network Licenses Retired at Autodesk

Along with the change mentioned above, Autodesk has switched their payment structure to require individual named licenses as opposed to network licenses based on the serial number.

In effect, the change means that firms can no longer share serial numbers across offices. Everyone must carry a subscription license to use the software. Perpetual and network licensing were retired on May 7, 2021, according to Autodesk’s website.

Cadalyst published an in-depth cost analysis of what this change means for users.

Vectorworks vs. Autodesk – The Prices

Vectorworks Architect pricing:

  • Perpetual license: $3,045 USD
  • Yearly maintenance, after initial perpetual investment: $670 USD
  • Annual subscription: $1530 USD/year
  • Monthly subscription: $153 USD/month

Autodesk Revit pricing:

  • Perpetual license: not available
  • Yearly maintenance: not available
  • Annual subscription: $2545 USD/year
  • Monthly subscription: $320 USD/month

 Autodesk AutoCAD pricing:

  • Perpetual license: not available
  • Yearly maintenance: not available
  • Annual subscription: $1775 USD/year
  • Monthly subscription: $220 USD/month

Of note, it costs a customer almost an additional $1,000 USD per year to take advantage of Revit’s BIM capabilities, capabilities that are native to Vectorworks Architect. An AutoCAD user who works primarily in 2D but is required to do 3D and BIM on a certain project may become frustrated with their limited options.

Learn more about making the move to Vectorworks

Vectorworks Licensing — The Power of Choice

In an interview with AEC Daily, Vectorworks CEO Biplab Sarkar and CRO Nicole Davison spoke about the advantageous position of being able to choose how you pay.

“We value our customers, so we prioritize offering purchasing options and solutions that make the most sense for them,” Davison said. “We’ve chosen to offer perpetual, perpetual with maintenance, network, single-user options for perpetual licenses, and subscriptions with single-user options so that we can customize a solution that’s best for our customers and their varying needs.”

Sarkar explained how Vectorworks software is a “value-priced software over time,” so customers are rewarded in value the longer they maintain licenses. “We find that these cost savings allow us to best support our customers,” he said.vectorworks price comparison to autocad and revit 

A graph of Vectorworks software pricing structure that shows cost savings over time in USD.

In line with supporting customers, Sarkar explained why offering flexible subscription licensing is important: “Subscriptions offer an opportunity to serve our community of users who weren’t necessarily best served by a perpetual license,” he said. “This could be someone who is just starting a business or freelancers who only need their design software for a few months at a time. Having a subscription is a much better solution for these individuals.”

Being Part of the Vectorworks Community

At Vectorworks, we’re constantly researching and studying our customers’ workflows, as well as asking for and listening to their feedback about issues and wishes for the future. In fact, every year nearly 70% of our new features and improvements are directly related to this customer feedback.

This means that when you design with Vectorworks, you have a voice in the product’s development.

Additionally, innovation is one of the core values all Vectorworks employees hold. To be innovative, we believe you must evolve. Our R&D team is constantly evaluating industry trends and workflow changes to keep Vectorworks nimble, reliable, and cutting-edge.

See Vectorworks' development roadmap

Overall, the talented individuals who design with Vectorworks can rely on their software to stay agile as industries and workflows evolve.

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*Prices in this article may vary by market.