The high price of Plugins

Rhino 5.0 sells for about $800 USD, in contrast plugins like T-Splines sell for $655 USD, VSR Shape Modeling for Rhino $1789 USD, and RhinoCam Standard for about$1200 etc.

I am sure these programs have value to those that require them in there workflow.

My question: does the presence of plug-in software that expands the functionality of Rhino, preclude the makers of Rhino from advancing in those areas?

And if that is the case, does the future of Rhino not become something like a checker board of options.

Where like buying a GI Joe Doll for your child at Christmas, The Doll comes with the most basic of clothing and no gun. The gun is sold at twice the price of the doll by a private developer.

Who is controlling the future of Rhino? The Rhino Developers or the Plugin Developers, by using a strategy of blocking future development.

And are companies who sell a competitive software product, and at the same time offer a plugin that works with Rhino seen as partners?

Regards, Greg

The simple answer is Yes and No. If the more specialized the functionality is, the less likely we will get to it. For example, we don’t know anything about CAM. I don’t expect to make any advancements in that area, other than to help support the CAM plug-in developers.

Also, if there is a less specialized area that someone has gotten to before us, then those enhancements are likely to move to a lower priority status. At least temporarily.

There are other less specialized areas that we are always trying to improve with each release without regard to what plug-ins are available.

I don’t understand this question. Anyone that helps Rhino users be more successful using Rhino is seen as a partner and we are delighted to support them any way that we can.


There might come a time in Rhino’s future when it would be nice to add a feature like “T-Splines” where one could model in a reasonable amount of time “Joining of three tubes” (much like the joints you find in bicycles etc… Is Rhino able to progress in that area? Or does the fact that "T-Splines exists… preclude them from doing so?

Regards, Greg

I might add that I have every respect for your product and staff. You have founded excellence! in Rhino.

Do you mean something like this?

Adding so many extra features would surely push up the cost of the package over time?

Personally I’d rather own a workhorse way under $1,000.00 which does most things exceptionally well, and steer clear of larger more expensive programs with a suite of commands which gather dust and never see the light of day. We may as well opt for Creo or Solidworks and enquire if they’ll remove features we don’t use or don’t need to bring the cost down :smile:

Hi John,
Here is one link for and one against, the first does not use T-Splines to get some nice shapes that could easily be mirrored.
Also I was wanting to use more organic shapes (not exact tubes) :

And this one shows the T-Splines approach:

Regards Greg

There is always hope… but never a promise.


unrelated thought I had this morning:

Pointers to the specific mistakes or a description of the right way might be a good place to start for everyone willing to do it right … :wink:


I might have to do that. Like uncle Bob said…

Mr McNeel,

That is a very seasonal reply, it reminds me of something said to me on Christmas Eve…

Here is a tutorial by a very dedicated sculptor, with excellent examples of her work… In a context of Rhino, networksurf, T-Splines and additional software. She sets the bar quite high.

Regards, Greg

I present myself as the product manager of Clayoo. We are working on 2.0 version, have you ever used the 1.0? What do you think about it?
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to write me, i’ll be glad to answer.


Regards, Xavi

I hate to sound like an old-timer, but the price of software (and plug-ins) has never been cheaper. The power-to-value, which I have never calculated, must be astronomically high.

I remember learning Alias on an SGI workstation at college in 1997. That set-up would have run you $100,000. Rhino sells to students for $138 and runs on pretty much anything that will boot. When my students tell me “that’s too much money!” I tell them to check their cell phone bill and then remember that a Rhino license is equal to their tuition … between breakfast and lunch … on one single day of the semester.

Not to mention, Rhino 5 in 2014 is light years better that the Alias from 1997. It’s an investment, people! So, yeah, my students do make faces at me when I talk like this. It’s still true, though.


I should have been more informative… Relative to the cost of Rhino 5 (and the depth of that program… and support) I find find the cost of plugins to be more expensive than the host program (that being Rhino).

Rhino is not a plug-in, and it is function for function a best buy when choosing a 3D Modeling program.

I can remember spending $1800 in the early 1980’s for a 20Mb hard drive. It seemed expensive at the time and still does.

And Dave!.. You make great tutorials, I look forward to your new work on “Linda”

Again it depends on your market. If you look at CAM for example, professional level software is astronomically expensive. Even at 2-5 times the price of Rhino, RhinoCAM and MadCAM are very reasonable for CAM software.


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I think the prices for CAM are high, because of there specialty market, more than for the actual complexity of their software.

I use RhinoCam, and find its level of perfection somewhat suspect, not near the level of excellence from Rhino. I have told them so on a few occasions, but they feel justified in charging what they charge … and I feel justified in complaining!


Thank you! Glad to hear it. I just finished my fifth one last week on Architectural Rendering. If you’re interested, the full list is on my author page. I’m doing a live webinar for Novedge tomorrow; the title is Killer Rendering Tips.

Software prices often have nothing to do with the actual time and complexity of their development and everything to do with customer base, what the customer is willing to pay, what the ROI is, as well as what the competition looks like.

We all thought that when inexpensive CAM software started to hit the market in the 90’s that it would force all the others to drop their prices radically. Hasn’t happened. Initial software investment just isn’t an issue for most companies bigger than a few people, time spent learning/maintaining it as well as time required to produce something with it are much more important.


Mitch makes some great points.
If everyone that used Rhino, also needed CAM tools, then the number of users to spread out the cost of support and development is quite large, so the price of an individual copy can be quite low. Business viability being measured as area under the curve, units x price. Additionally, if all Rhino users needed CAM, we would probably have included CAM tools in native Rhino tools.

CAM [insert any plug-in category here] is only used by a subset of Rhino users and just because a smaller number of users need it does not mean the tools are any easier to develop or support. The costs of development and support are carried by a smaller number of users so the price has to be higher.

Competition plays into pricing too but competition can’t drive the price down below the costs of development and support, unless the tool is subsidised by something else with a higher profit margin.