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The Value of Trial Software

March 13, 2010

So you want to get into the 3D game, but you’re undecided on software. Before plunking down sometimes a big chunk of hard earned cash, do consider the value of trial software. Many entities offer a free unrestricted 30 day trial, and some even offer an open ended trial, where you can take an unlimited amount of time to learn, it’s just that saving is disabled on the otherwise full featured product.

When getting trial software, I do believe in employing a strategy for learning. Download the trial when you have the proper time to address it. How many of us have downloaded a trial package only to finally open it and explore it on Day 29, just before expiration? I know I have.

Before even downloading a trial package, I write up a little list of things I want to check out. One of the first things I check is the ability of the program to import and export. What is the range of formats? It’s only after that initial assessment that I can determine how the desired package will fit into my own workflow. Because if I can’t import popular 3D file formats, the most prolific being 3ds and OBJ files, then the program is of little use to me. Next I check for AI (Adobe Illustrator) and EPS (Electronic Postscript) import capability. As may of my profiles for 3D are drawn in a vector program, this import capability is important. Next, I’ll check the quality of the output mesh, and how that mesh is handled by other programs.

By having a predetermined list of your own workflow and quality requirements, you can get through the initial steps of testing in just a few short hours. Go for basics. Use very simple models for your tests. Many make the mistake of trying to build a complex scene right off the bat in the initial trial, waste all of their time doing that, and then discover the rial is about to run out before they’ve discovered advantages or shortcomings of the program.

Attacking trial software in a structured and sensible fashion can help you in making an informed purchase decision, save you hours of aggravation, and even possibly hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

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