It’s a difficult time for the world as of late and the CAD community is one of the many industries severely impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic. For those of us who are able to work from home, the transition to remote work might be a bit daunting.
As a response, several CAD companies are handling the situation as best as they can and are facilitating fast-tracked distributions of their remote and cloud-based licenses. In this article, we’re listing some guides to avail of the more prominent home-use software licenses available out there.
But first, let’s get some preliminary factors out of the way first. Before we can think about securing licenses for our work-from-home setups, we need to first consider the following:
- VPN – a VPN, abbreviated from Virtual Private Network, is a way to essentially turn your projected IP address online into that of a secure server. It basically makes your computer think that it’s in a different location. It’s useful for privacy issues and for remaining anonymous online, but it’s also utilized in allowing IP-based software licenses normally used on work desktops to run on home-based machines for remote working setups. There are plenty of resources that can help you figure out the best VPN service for you.
- License types – Each CAD program has a different set of licenses depending on their intended market, but what you should really worry about are the more restrictive proprietary licenses. We’ll be listing down the license types that permit users to work at home during the COVID-19 lockdown, but if you’re looking for a more permissive solution, there are a bunch of free-to-use CAD software that you can download and use for the time being.
- Hardware – Home-use software licenses are moot when the computer you’re working on can’t handle the programs you want to use. Always be sure to check the program’s minimum requirements and if they have “light” versions that you can use in case your home desktop or laptop just won’t cut it.
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Autodesk has one of the more extensive online resource centers even among the companies we’ll be listing down today, so it would be relatively easy to handle the intricacies of securing a home-use license.
Autodesk has something called ‘home use rights’ that lets users install Autodesk products at home for business, personal, educational, and training purposes. Autodesk has an extensive list of the products that are eligible for home use, but all you need to know is that in general, network-only products as well as educational and NFR (Not For Resale) products don’t have home use rights.
Multi-user access vs. Single-user access
If your product runs on a network license with multi-user access or a maintenance plan, you have to request a license from the server. Otherwise, you’ll have to borrow an Autodesk license. Note that only the administrators on eligible accounts can request licenses and they can only request one home-use license per subscription regardless of the number of users who are sharing that subscription.
On the other hand, products with single-user access don’t need a home-use license to be installed on any home-based work setup. It’s simply a matter of installing the software on the home computer and using the subscription’s existing serial number to activate and sign in into the user’s Autodesk account. Only one instance of the software can be running at any given time, so try to keep that in mind when using the product.
Dassault Systèmes is working with their resellers to make sure their users would still effectively be able to use Solidworks even despite office closures due to COVID-19. This becomes especially easy with the company’s 3DEXPERIENCE platform that makes use of cloud collaboration to run their products.
To figure out how to let Solidworks run from your home computer, the first step would be to find out what license type your software subscription has. Run the software and access the main menu. From there, click on ‘Help’ > ‘About Solidworks’ > ‘Show Serial Number to see your serial number. If your serial number starts with 0000, 0001, 9000 or 9001, this indicates that you have a commercial standalone license. If it starts with 0010 or 9010, you have a SolidNetwork License (SNL). Acquiring a home-use license for these two license types are slightly different.
Standalone vs. SolidNetwork License
For standalone licenses, there are two options:
- First, you can go through a method called ‘Deactivation’ and then reactivate the license on your home computer.
- The other option is to use ‘Online Licensing’ which would require a user to go through user login rather than associating their license to a specific machine.
For an SNL, there are two options:
- You could ask your IT department to setup VPN connection that you can check out your license through. This will let you access your office license from home but will slightly be slower during launch since it’s going through a VPN connection.
- You could ask to borrow a Solidworks license for 30 days. You could also opt for other term licensing options if you need to use the program for more than 30 days.
ArchiCAD’s answers to the work-from-home setup are various options for acquiring temporary licenses that let users access their products from home.
In addition to that, Graphisoft has also released an informative video to help their users adjust to remote working, ensure continued work efficiency, and discuss software solutions for better online collaboration:
Emergency licenses and BIMCloud
Graphisoft offers temporary 30-day ArchiCAD emergency licenses to assist users who need to work from home. Emergency licenses are eligible to any user who has an active license for ArchiCAD 17 or newer, and ARCHIPLUS membership, a stable internet connection, and an emergency license activation code.
Alternatively, ArchiCAD has BIMCloud, a cloud-based software solution to facilitate remote team collaboration among ArchiCAD users. Temporary free 60-day BIMCloud emergency licenses are available on Graphisoft’s website.
Vectorworks has really focused on free online courses and training to assist any users who might find it difficult to adjust to the status quo brought about by the pandemic. They’ve compiled most of their resources online and are constantly updating these as new information becomes available.
E Series licenses and free courses
Vectorworks has given every user one additional E Series license activation to help their customers work from home better. They’ve also mentioned that users can contact their local Vectorworks’ partner or reseller for help and for access to a temporary 30-day license.
Additionally, all of Vectorworks’ Core & Intermediate Concepts courses, which are normally only reserved for Service Select members, are now being offered for free. You can even avail of free Vectorworks virtual training until June 30.