What are we paying for? Frustrations with Rhino vs. Open Source

I’ve been an avid Rhino user for several years now, having used it on both Windows and now primarily on Mac. Lately, though, I’m getting increasingly frustrated by the many long-standing issues that seem like they should have been fixed long ago. And having recently gotten into using Blender, I’m even more frustrated that a $1000 software with an additional charge for each upgrade seems to be so far behind a free and open source project.

The differences between the Mac and Windows version are mind-boggling to me, and frankly it verges on a rip-off that Mac users pay the same yet receive a distinctly less-powerful and less user-friendly piece of software. The reason I felt compelled to write this was discovering today that editing toolbars and the pop-up menu is not possible in Mac, which in my opinion severely cripples the ability to increase productivity with customization on the Mac version. Many other gripes are summed up nicely here, such as Osnap inconsistencies, and of course the relatively long list of commands that still are not available on Mac, with no explanation as to why they cannot/have not been ported. The Mac vs. Windows feature comparison page is an absolute joke, none of the tangible differences are indicated here, only a vague indication that plugins and developer tools are less robust and that the niche function of worksessions isn’t available. This feels particularly insidious, as an unsuspecting person would likely conclude that the Mac version is virtually the same and proceed to buy it after viewing that page, only to discover its limitations after they have committed to the Mac ecosystem.

What is promising is that in the forum topic I linked previously there is an indication that these things will be remedied in Rhino 8, however many of them seem like they should never have been issues in the first place.

John Brock said in the linked forum post:

The Mac and Windows U/I are different by design.
It was decided long ago for Mac users would never use a Windows application, or a Windows application that just ran on the Mac, it would be a bad decision. This turned out to be largely true.
Since then, there seems to be some push back from people like yourself.

Who decided this? Was there any say by paying customers? By what metric can you conclude it turned out to be largely true? There are plenty of applications that are “windows applications that just ran on the Mac”, the entire Microsoft office suite is a great example and it is still the standard for office work whether you use Windows or a Mac, with very little difference in UI beyond the typical placing of drop down menus in the system menubar on Mac.

The fixes within Rhino 8 also cannot come fast enough. The development pace of Rhino seems incredibly sluggish compared to Blender. Blender managed to entirely rewrite it’s core render engine and provide support for Metal and M1 macs within 2 years of M1 being announced. When I first downloaded blender in early 2021, it did not support Metal GPU rendering on my AMD5500M, when I revisited it in mid 2022 I was greeted with an entirely overhauled render engine that fully functioned with Metal out of the box, not to mention an incredibly powerful node system that is applied to almost every aspect of Blender, and many other new features. Rhino 8 with M1 support (and supposed UI unification) is still WIP, and from what I can tell it is still solidly in the WIP phase, 2 years after it began. I’m no longer a student, so if I want a fully functioning Mac product I will likely have to pony up $600.

The starkness of these differences combined with Rhino now using Cycles (in an incredibly unintuitive and slow implementation) for some rendering is laughably ironic. Of course Cycles is open-source and it is important that anyone can use open-source software regardless of corporate status, but it definitely doesn’t feel good to know that the state of Rhino development is such that my money is going towards a crippled implementation of a render engine that in it’s native (free) environment is much more powerful. I sure hope McNeel contributes to the Blender Development Fund, but unless their contributions are hidden it does not look like they do.

This all looks like a lot of complaining, because it is, but the reason I’m saying any of this at all is because I think Rhino is one of the best softwares for 3D modelling, nothing can really compare to the full breadth of work that can be down with it, especially if you include grasshopper. But there are some pretty major sore spots that, in my opinion, but Rhino at risk of falling far behind other software, both paid and free, and I don’t want that to happen.

I am of course, not a developer, nor do I have anywhere near the amount of experience in 3D software as the people at McNeel. I’m totally open to having my naivete pointed out, and I’m curious what perspectives other people have on the state of Rhino development, regarding the Mac version or otherwise. The comparison to Blender isn’t entirely fair, as Blender has a much larger user base. This is where open-source gets it’s strength though. I’m also aware the Rhino is one of the few professional software packages that is still on a one-time purchase scheme, as opposed to a subscription service. I appreciate that but it seems like that puts it in an odd niche between the widespread development and financial support of an open-source project, and the high-end support of a professional product funded by thousands of dollars a year in subscriptions. Rhino going open-source would be a dream come true in my opinion, but I’m not imagining that that is a remote possibility. My hope is that the long-term strategy for Rhino takes some notes from open-source development, including platform-agnosticism, increased transparency in decision making, a more streamlined and rapid development cycle, and further inclusion of what is indeed a vibrant community of users and developers.


You obviously haven’t spent any appreciable time in Autocad for window vs mac.

Now autodesk uses the exact licensing model you champion, charge a ludicrous amount for either platform with show stopping fatal bugs, some of which have been there for so long they border on being of legal drinking age in all 50 states.

Until you’ve attempted to do any relatively simple Boolean operations in AutoCad, then have left your desk, got lunch, read a decent chunk of War and Peace, and did your taxes while waiting for it to complete only to have the memory leak from hell surface and lock up your entire machine to the point where a 3 finger salute won’t fix it and then have to cold power your box (and as a result losing whatever work you might have had open in other apps in the process), you really can’t appreciate the relative solidity of the Rhino platform.

Hell Rhino’s first beta test release was infinitely more solid than any Autocad “Release” I’ve ever dealt with. About the only feature in AC that is fairly solid is it’s crash recovery, probably because that’s it’s most used feature.

I recently spent 4 years at a job where the only platform that the company supported was AC and those were the most miserable years of my career. Thank God for Covid layoffs, as they did me a huge service.

As one who’s had to use both for a good decade now on both platforms I’d dare say the UI differences in Rhino between the platforms, while valid, aren’t nearly as miserable is bouncing back and forth between AC Mac and Windows.

At least when I do that in Rhino I know that what work I have will be present in either platform, with no hidden “goodies” like in AC where for no particular reason opening a windows AC file in Mac will occasionally scramble your layers and the objects on them as well as the entire layer definition beyond recognition.

Or the “whoops we reset your scale definition at the file level and applied it as object attributes which now requires you to manually select each item, one at a time and fix the scale” bug (been there for oh about 4 years now).

Or how about the “you didn’t really expect us to keep track of your x-ref’s relative states when you moved that set of nested directories onto a shared network drive did you” which will break entire document sets and require you to spend hours fixing them. And that bug’s been there oh, for about 10 years now.

And in exchange for those and innumerable other goodies in the AC platform you get to pay an absolutely absurd annual “subscription with support” fee, and that “support’ comes with it uh…… Nothing.

You can report bugs till the cows come home and hear crickets, or at best they’ll point you to some bit of embedded online help that hasn’t had it’s dialog pictures updated since god only knows what ancient rev when that feature was introduced.

If you can’t figure out how something works? The documentation is more or less useless. Best hope that somebody in a non AC forum has answered it, because if you raise it in the AD forum you might be on social security before anybody answers, if at all.

The relative arrogance of the Autocad developers is the stuff of legend.

(And to be fair that seems to be an AC only thing. The Fusion360 and Inventor folks are actually pretty responsive).

As far as feature discrepancy between platforms? Sure thats there, and are there gaps? Yeah.

However as the McKneel folks have pointed out, some of those are based in stuff thats got a host OS dependency, which sucks if you’ve done any software development work at all, just keeping up with Microsoft’s “New Technology De Jour which we won’t actually fix any bugs in but replace it with another New Technology De Jour in a couple years”. Same thing but in a different way in Apple Land. This makes it really difficult to implement certain things reliably, let alone in a cross platform fashion.

Now I’ve been using Cad and 3D software probably since before you were born, and have ran the gauntlet of these things.

I”ve used more 3d modeling packages that have long since vanished from the ecosphere than I can count. I’ve beta and in some cases alpha tested a number of these.

And having done a fair bit of software development work over the years, I can say this much. CAD and 3D applications are quite possibly one of the most challenging types of software to create. The required skill sets go well beyond those that any other application development requires. You can’t just know how to code for a given platform, you have to have an innate understanding of very complex math, be able to do matrix and vector math in your head and juggle notions of terms that most people have never heard of (I guaranty that if you use the term Quaternion in a sentence in a public gathering, most present will think you’re from some other planet).

So the folks that do this work are pretty special. And at most other places, these devs are essentially kept behind locked doors that no one has access to. Getting someone at one of these places to answer a question is pretty much unbotainium.

And over the years? I’ve never EVER seen a development team that’s a fraction as approachable as the McNeel folks are. You sure as hell won’t find any of the developers hanging out in the user forums, answering questions, tossing up example files of how to do specific things, and integrating to the degree they do here with any other platform I’ve ever seen or used, including many of the Uber big players like SolidWorks, ProE and Catia, and any one of those platforms annual subscription costs orders of magnitude more than the $700 price you are wingeing about.

Being a Mac user by choice, I’m just tickled pink that McN first introduced a Mac version (back at V5) at a time when most software outfits were abandoning the platform altogether. After years of fighting with AC mac (which in those days was more or less utterly unusable for anything vaguely approximating production work) and having nursed along the final build of EI’s Modeler after it went defunct, having an actual workable nurbs CAD platform on the Mac that actually worked and didn’t cost 5 digits to license was an absolute godsend.

And about “blender”.
Sure it’s open source
Sure it’s free.
Sure it’s a lot of things.

And I’ve used it, specifically for rendering, until Apple nuked support for NVidia’s CUDA drivers and that was the end of that.

And this was long before Pascal and crew had the spiffy little import export module and you had to bring stuff in as OBJ’s and spend a friggin eternity fixing orientations, and a raft of other crap just to get a render out.

Is cycles a decent renderer? Yah, sorta. Can you get good results with it? Yeah if you spend a ton of time learning the quirks and all that. Is it the be all and end all?

No, not even close.

And FWIW, Blender has a UI and underlying methodology that only a serious masochist would pick as a tool of choice in a professional environment.

You sure dont’ see any major production houses using it for any real work, and there’s a good reason for that.

I get that there’s the whole sub culture of folks out there doing all kinds of clever stuff in blender. And I’ve actually got some decent stuff out of it, but at a cost in time and “farting around factor” that a real production house wouldn’t sit still for.

Now granted, these days I don’t even do anim and rendering work as the vast majority of my Cad work these days is either production drawings or stuff that gets exported for FDM production.

I can’t speak to the M1 issue as I don’t have an M1 yet specifically because I know Rhino’s not quite there yet.

I’ll give you that it’d be nice if it was, but it’s not. And bear in mind the vast majority of apps that DO run on a M1 are running under Rosetta and their performance is acceptable simply because the aren’t doing what Rhino does. Word and Excel? Not exactly challenging apps from a CPU and GPU standpoint.

Is there stuff that could be improved? Sure. Some notion of drawing sets would be nice, and a full implementation of Autocad’s dynamic blocks would allow me to kiss that god awful nightmare of a platform good bye forever. However I’m a pragmatist. I know I’m not the only one with wish lists. I’m also old enough to realize my particular wish list may not be the same as others, let alone in the majority.

But as you’re apparently fresh outta college, and haven’t actually had to live in the real world where we gotta get stuff done day in and day out to meet real world deadlines and when there’s some aspect in your tool that you rely on to meet said deadlines with, that either you haven’t used that much or is responding different than what you’d expect, I’ll take the comparatively nearly instantly responsive folks at McNeel over the extended middle finger I might (or more often might not) get back get from AutoDesk a few weeks if not months later (at 2-3x the price each and every year) any day.


Of course Blender is one of the few actually successful open source projects, and like all such projects is only so because of the patronage of companies bigger than the entire CAD industry that can throw their developers’ “spare time” at it. That’s…fine…but it’s a bit naive to think it’s “sticking it to the man,” I don’t see how those patrons leveraging the word “free” to try to monopolize markets is a whole lot better than say, what Adobe does.

I chuckled when I read this.

When I finally decided to learn Rhino I researched both Blender and Rhino, watched a few YouTube videos on “which is better”. Eventually I chose Rhino. One common theme being that if you were creating something imaginary, Blender was better, and something that would (or potentially could) exist in the real world, Rhino.

When we watch videos of people modelling in Blender, these are pros. Like big time pros. They’ve memorized hundreds of keystrokes. There’s no command line. And the UI… it looks challenging. I’m no Blender expert I just know these people are really good. For me at least, using Blender for free instead of Rhino would mean spending far more time to learn as well as on lost productivity. For me the value is apparent. Not saying I’ll never switch (or use both), but for now and for me it makes sense to pay for Rhino.

I can understand this frustration. Waaaaaaaaaaay back in the day I remember how much better my Friends Mac was compared to my PC (the Mac already having the modern operating system where as my PC still had DOS lol - you might be too young to remember those days). Go back far enough and there was a bit of a role reversal.
I wouldn’t be quick to blame McNeel for Rhino’s shortcomings on the Mac as it’s almost applicable to all software. Back in the day you HAD to pretty much start with C++ and for obvious reasons there was much better UI support for Windows than Mac. For McNeel to invest the same or more of the resources on a a version that only a relatively small percentage of users purchase… it would mean that Windows users would be subsidizing Mac users. A $1,000 app on a Mac isn’t the same as a $1,000 on Windows. Some will be better, some will be worse, and some charge a higher free for Mac users.
One thing I have noticed is that there are many cross-compatible UI’s appearing. Most of them are riddled with bugs but the future looks bright at least. So from the UI perspective things could very well improve.

Hi @wiebe_R,

Rhino 7 is a dual-platform product. That is, you can choose to use your Rhino 7 license on Windows and/or Mac.

— Dale

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This was the initial decision way way way back in the day, but times have changed. One of the primary driving factors here was that we didn’t have the technology available nor the resources to develop the user interface in a cross platform manner when initially developing Rhino for Mac. Rhino 8 is making big steps towards a very similar user interface on both platforms.


I’m not a mcneel insider but I find it ironic for putting burden on the developers here, While Apple change the whole system architecture suddenly (silicon+metal) and expecting everything to work from day one.

What makes Rhino special for me that it is an “evolutionary software” that keeps growing to be more refined and functional without losing the Old Good things. Most of us here want some thing that “Works” instead of the product being “Game changing”.

And being an evolutionary product, it requires “Time” . A lot of time.

Regarding blender. I’ve never considered it as a design exploration tool. may work for modeling. But design is more complex than just “Modeling”. I’d probably start using it in case I need to animate something but so far I don’t get enough functionality for my discipline.

This is besides the main topic here, but I fully share that sentiment (Thanks for the good loughs, btw!)
Half of our office staff (45 alltogether) still sits in front of that piece of s…oftware day in day out to crank out 2D plans, with a whole ecosystem of old custom autolisp plugins and a strictly disciplined workflow to hold it all together.

Yet re-creating the dynamic 2d block system of AC just to be compatible with an old standard is way too costly and absurd. This stuff shouldn’t even exist anymore. The only thing I could remotely think of is McN creating some plugin/GH foundations, and some 3rd party or interested part of the community the functionality itself.

I have actually, and I can appreciate all of your issues with that but this isn’t a Rhino vs Autocad discussion. The fact that worse software packages exist isn’t a valid reason to dismiss criticism.

I definitely don’t champion the subscription model, I feel like I made that pretty clear. All I’m saying is that rhino seems to be awkwardly between the huge funding that big subscription-model software gets and the open development and support that open-source projects get.

I think this (and all the other major issues with AutoCad and AutoCad Mac) are due in part to how old and bloated the software package is. I feel like Fusion360 being quite modern and not a fork of old software allows it to avoid a lot of these cross-platform issues, long-standing bugs, and poor support.
Sometimes I’m worried that Rhino is creeping into the territory of AutoCad, it’s not quite as old as it but it has a similar pattern of features built on top of features and messy/incomplete cross-platform builds.

You make a good point here and I agree, they are very approachable. The fact that anyone from McNeel has taken the time to respond to my wingeing here is remarkable and appreciated.

Not really relevant, again this isn’t a Rhino vs. AutoCad discussion. I’m not “fresh outta college” and even if I was, college deadlines are still plenty real… I mean I had a situation just the other day where I needed to perform a BooleanSplit operation in Grasshopper…only to find out that the BooleanSplit command is not exposed in RhinoCommon for some reason I can’t imagine…and the work-around for it is a user-written Python component that is hosted on the Grasshopper forum that I had to request to join, a request that was granted reasonably quickly but still took until the next day. If I had a deadline I would have been screwed. That RhinoCommon exists at all is fantastic, especially for cross-platform aspirations, but the fact that there are some Rhino functions that for a seemingly arbitrary reason are not available in Grasshopper (which is developed by McNeel? and ships WITH Rhino?) is mind-boggling. The RhinoCommon project is not new, Grasshopper was re-written with it over a decade ago. Perhaps there is a good reason for all of this but I’d have a hard time understanding it considering all other relevant Boolean operations can be performed natively in Grasshopper.
This is what I’m talking about when I say I’m worried Rhino is creeping into AutoCad levels of bloat, things seem piled on top of each other with integral components developed by the same party communicating with each other by an incomplete API intended for 3rd parties.

Though perhaps I should see it as Rhino creeping away from AutoCad levels of bloat, with what seems to be in development for Rhino 8 and Grasshopper 2. I am ultimately hopeful.

True, Blender is a bit of an outlier. But I don’t think I implied that Blender is ‘sticking it to the man’, but I also don’t think it is anywhere near the territory of Adobe. Apple being a patron-level supporter of the Blender Foundation is hardly going to increase the market share of the Mac at all, let alone get it to levels that could be considered monopolization. Blender is never going to be Mac-specific, so the relatively (for Apple) small amount of money that Apple forks over to Blender provides a relatively higher value to individuals with Macs than it does Apple.
That’s pretty different than Adobe sitting on their laurels, charging ludicrous prices, and leaving their software riddled with bugs and performance issues because they have near-complete monopoly.

I would say you need to be just as much of a pro, if not more, to model efficiently in Rhino. You need to create your own list of keystrokes mapped to commands and memorize those if you don’t want to stop and type everything into the command line every 10 seconds. It’s also true that Blender and Rhino fill different niches, I’m not comparing the software features directly here, just the overall level of development and philosophy. You’d have to be a serious masochist to want to do any serious rendering/texturing work with Rhino as well…even with the new render engine in V7.

Blender has changed a lot, if you haven’t taken a look in awhile I would say it’s worth it to revisit. In my opinion the UI is very intuitive once you understand the philosophy behind it. Everything is a series of windows that can be set to virtually any tool panel, editor, or viewport, and they can be easily split vertically or horizontally. There are several default workspaces that are just modifications of this window system, for instance the shading workspace splits the default workspace into 4 panels, showing you a 3D viewport, a shader editor, a file manager, and an image editor. The UV editing workspace splits it into a 3D viewport and a UV editor. There isn’t anything baked into these workspaces, they could all be created by hand if you wanted. And of course you can make and save your own workspaces very easily for whatever your workflow is. There are various ‘modes’ like Edit Mode (similar to PointsOn in Rhino if you aren’t familiar) that can be accessed in any 3D viewport in any workspace.

This sort of modularity is something I would LOVE to see in Rhino, it is far more intuitive than the current viewport splitting system, and I think it would manage the diversity of workflows in Rhino better. You could have a drafting workspace that sets one Top viewport, shows you the layers panel, puts the drafting tool palette front-and-center. Or a rendering workspace that shows you the materials, UV, texture mapping, etc alongside a Named Viewport. Modelling workspaces could turn PointsOn automatically, Layer States could be assigned to each workspace which would make them much more useful in my opinion, I could go on.
This could all be set up quickly by the user for their needs, which vary widely between the different fields Rhino is used in, eg. architecture vs. product design.
As someone in the architecture field, even just having a drafting workspace set up to show me a top view and turn off everything but the layers with dimensions and plan drawings would be incredibly time/headache saving. Being able to switch between that and a typical modelling workspace (with OneView on by default perhaps?) with a single click would be fantastic.

I understand that, that is what I have done actually and I’m glad it is that way. I should have worded my original post differently, the issue would arise if someone was contemplating buying a Mac and was persuaded to do so by the comparison page thinking that Rhino would be almost the same.

That’s a good point, I think I can forget how bad cross-platform support used to be (and still is in some cases) compared to where it seems to be going now.

Fair enough, I’m glad that Rhino 8 is heading in that direction. Despite my wingeing I am appreciative of the work you do.

I largely agree, I appreciate the evolutionary approach to Rhino. I guess I’m just wondering if there is a way to maintain that evolution without creating bloatware. I think there is but indeed that will require even more time.

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OP: Where you happier with Rhino on the PC?

Generally, I think that compared to Windows, the Mac platform has been a moving target, and a challenge for developers, both in software and hardware. While Apple switched to OSX, switched from Motorola, switched from Intel, Rosetta this, and CoCo–err Carbon–err Xcode that–meanwhile Windows didn’t change, and hasn’t changed much since Windows 2000. Also, Apple has never been squeamish about deprecating OS versions, meaning libraries, GUI calls, and whathaveyou. You don’t usually see “Requires Windows 10” on stuff–unless a developer themselves, wants to draw a ledger line and snip off the low end of their customer base.

Generally, I think that Cycles has been a positive addition to Rhino, but I am sure that many of the add-on ray/path tracer companies will disagree with me. I think that the biggest problem Cycles has on Rhino has nothing to do with Cycles, but how (nag) Rhino caches materials, for all renderers, also, I do wish I can use both GPU and CPU at once on my desktop, yet on the PC, we can mix/match GPUs, AFAIK.

I have used Blender. Of course the renderer is good. The GUI, and the user-interface in the larger is a mess. What’s worse, the documentation is not keeping up with the development. Generally, I feel that there are two tests of a GUI. Does it need documentation? Can it be documented. I strongly feel that a good user interface would be intuitive, but explainable on paper. Also, Blender.org has traditionally resisted efforts to give Blender CAD-like accuracy and features. I know, because I was one of the ones who was rebuffed. I was also one of the people who pitched a few bucks on the drive to open-source Blender in the first place.

The interesting thing is: while Rhino certainly isn’t free, it’s a bargain–compared to many of the add-ons that its vendors are offering.

BTW, I consider the Rhino web forum the best I have ever been on, yet.


An “AutoCAD” style program is actually very easy to write (maybe McNeel should make one of their own? Neither AutoCAD nor it’s clones have the best support…). The DWG file structure isn’t that complicated hence why it can be used by so many programs.

I’ll definitely have a look. A big caveat with my opinion of Rhino’s interface is that I’m very old school and a command line greatly improves my productivity (massively). Mouse-intensive programs actually give me severe Rhomboid pain. I’m not everyone of course. Whenever I watch a video on Blender they are just mashing keyboard shortcuts, and many of these shortcuts are not intuitive. It takes a good deal of memory to pull that off! But regardless, I might see if I can actually make something with the program later this year. If it had a command line like Rhino’s I’d be all over it.

As far as Grasshopper and many of these other things go, they are massive time pits… it’s definitely hard to juggle learning/dabbling in that stuff while maintaining a course load. Plus… Grasshopper 2 is on it’s way out I believe?

I feel like there are so many things that would make Rhino WAY better at being a fully-fledged architectural modelling and drafting program. Easy stuff in fact. Last year I was trying to put together a template and… well… just ran out of time. I hate that I can still achieve better results in AutoCAD than I can with Rhino/Visual ARQ. I’ll have another go at making a template in the future (I hope).
Once the template is completed I would be able to write custom scripts that would do… well… pretty much whatever… automatically shuffle the views, create some sort of “layer states” similar to AutoCAD; maybe some combination of a layer/view state. None of that would be hard to program and might even be possible with just macro but it’s just finding the time. I guess the wall I hit was simply finding the time to overcome all these little problems.

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I think that a public survey should be carried out, just as you have twitter to list the autocad, sketchup, etc. functions that you want, since with that you could have a record to help mcneel programmers to take action and we are not just going around with comments. I think that mcneel could evaluate the requests that have the greatest bias in the community within the autocad user, sketchup user, etc. and the community can see the results of the position of their wishes in the community. For my part, I applaud McNeel’s effort and I have been able to see his effort in the evolution of each version since they have allowed me, within my workflow, to get rid of AutoCAD and Sketch Up (well, this is my case, I am aware that some people do not can do this, because they might have a job with a different orientation or complexity)

As I have posted elsewhere on this forum, I believe the other than Fusion’s marketing, one of it promotional assets–is built-in CNC support. I seem to remember that Martin Molin from Wintergatan was working on his new marble machine, and he was running into performance issues with Fusion.

[As far as the rest, when it comes right down to it, I like the idea of the personal computer. I reject the idea of rented software. My Abobe applications are legal and perpetual, and I am not renting any of their new software. I likely would update it, as long as the price was along inflation-adjusted to what it was–even though it hasn’t changed that much.

Certainly, I would leave Rhino if it becomes subscription. My friend did amazing things with Modo. If you have been in the soda isle in a grocery store, likely, most of you have seen his work. Modo is no subscription, and he’s not getting it.]

I think Rhino is a great program. Having used, Max, Maya, Blender, Freecad, Saturne’, Design-Cad, Radient, WorldCraft, Vectorworks, Autocad, Sketchup, and Form-Z–I think that Rhino 3D has the most intuitive interface of any 3D program I have used, so far. Can it be improved, yes, in the texture application department, and likely because CAD and character-modelers aren’t used to seeing applications built for repeating texture application. Still, for actually modeling, Rhino draws so fast, that for some things, I often don’t even need to sketch what I am working on.

[I spent over 40 hours of tutorials working on Maya, before I admitted to myself, I hate this program. I was professionally trained for Max before I left a AAA gaming company, I used Radient and Worldcraft to get me there. My Autocad experience is pretty old, but I did put in the time. Sketchup free has no grid, for some reason. As it was being presented, I asked the presenter why Vector Works as no 1D-resize. Form-Z had promise, but I felt it’s stability was not up to scratch, back then. When I used to build computers for a living, as such, we had a copy of Design-Cad kicking around.]

A main problem with subscriptions is that so many companies have introduced them as an option, only to later discontinue other options, that people are not unreasonable in presuming it is done deliberately, and that this is how it will go in every case, once the option is introduced.

This makes it basically impossible to add the option, as truly just an option, even if it would be preferred by some customers – once introduced, there will always be the feeling you are standing on thin ice.

To the extent that, though we are not even contemplating the option for our software, just my expressing an opinion on it here may cause people to wonder what hidden plans we have. Those companies who have followed this pattern have really done a disservice to our industry as a whole, and I hope that in the long run people resist them to the point that subscriptions once again become truly just an option.

  1. I refuse to use any “subscription” software. Look at Adobe. Product improvement has come to a near total halt. M$ is trying to hook people on the subscription model for Office. There has been virtually no improvement in Word in 30 years. The only new word processing feature I can think of over that time is Opentype support. Word still cannot follow basic hyphenation rules. Word’s style handling is a total mess. Word can’t justify text decently. The table of authorities feature is a total joke. Microsoft just changes the user interface every few years gets people to upgrade. I had to upgrade Office when I got my ARM Mac. I cannot find any improved feature over the 2010 version I was using.

  2. The Windoze user base of Rhino is probably much larger than that of Mac. I would expect feature differences to be reflected in that. I bought Rhino when it first came out for the Mac. I thought it was an amazing V1.0 product. The support for Rhino is excellent. My major gripes with Rhino are Make2d, Shelling/offsetsrf, and filletedge. That is a very short list.

  3. I find blender to be very hard to use. I have it on this machine but rarely touch it.

  4. I have not found Rhino development to be slow. In regard to ARM, it appears to me that Apple did a very poor job when it came to cross platform applications in migration.

  5. I am working on a big project with a number of Rhino users and the people involved are generally satisfied with the project.

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I agree with OP on most/all points. Using blender, 3ds, rhino, unity, some of them more than 20 years, and programming quite a bit inside them, i can say this:

Rhino has one of the cleanest and best cores i ever worked with. The API is well structured, mostly bug free and very fast. It handles huge amounts of data very well and generally is very robust.

But the UI / UX side of things is abysmal (and on mac even worse). Default display shading, icon structures, panels that look like windows 95, the list is endless. McNeel should (has to eventually) bite the bullet and rework all the frontend with the help of some new minds.


As an old Blender dev (active 2003-2020, Rhino dev since 2014) it’s interesting to read all these posts. Having also used 3dsMax and Maya to some extent, and a tiny bit of Unity and Unreal, I like Blender and Rhino better. From Rhino I like best the command-line approach. Blender’s operator search menu comes close to that, I use it a lot, but it isn’t as nice, since the menu and the properties panel are in two separate locations. Would be great to have a Rhino-style command-line in Blender. I mostly like Blender’s current GUI except for the uniformity. There are now accent colors to communicate different datatypes and actions, but the otherwise monochrome icons make it really hard to find stuff. I like in that Rhino’s icons better, or Blender’s GUI before the 2.5 rewrite (which I did a lot of work for actually - many things I implemented back then are still in use in one way or another). Perhaps the Rhino GUI isn’t beautiful or doing it like the rest is doing it (one grey indistinct, messy mass), but at least it is clear-ish. The UX could be better, but that is being worked on all the time. I think Rhino 8 WIP is already a huge step forward and keeps evolving.

With respect to the “if it needs docs its bad” test for GUI: all the 3D software I’ve used fail that. Each of the software have their own way of manipulating viewport, selecting stuff, representing data etc that for all of them tutorials and documentations were necessary to understand what was going on for them.

Anyway, since I started as a Rhino dev I’ve voiced my opinion on the need for GUIs of the same software to be the same across all the platforms the software is supported on. I guess I am a bit spoiled by Blender, which does that perfectly.

I believe Blender has these days a code contributor base that is larger than Rhino, and it helps when GPU and other vendors have their own engineers write portions of code for Blender as well (OptiX, HIP, USD, etc).


I guess I have the opposite view. I find Blender’s UI to be atrocious and have never had any problems with the Rhino Mac UI. I was able to get up and running quickly in Rhino from the state. I have to search the web to find out what to do on Blender.

Same was true for me with blender, but blender is vastly more complex in its hierarchy and relation of parts and modules. That is what makes it hard to learn, I would still argue that the implementation - the UI decisions are very considerate and the best solution for a very hard problem - and they are the same on all platforms.

Rhino on the other hand has a very flat hierarchy - its mostly data oriented instead of object oriented. There are no complicated relations / dependencies / hierarchies of objects. All commands in Rhino are equal - in terms of their priority and scope. They operate on data, one at a time.

And therefore (i think) Rhino did not bother too much with the UI - it used the standard UI layout that was common and recognizable 20 years ago. Everyone knows more or less what to do where after a few hours. And this in itself is not bad, but the lack of polish or thought even in this small things is what bothers me. It wouldn’t take much to fix it.

I am happiest with only viewports and a (monospaced!) command line / history. All the rest is mostly useless. The layer panel maybe - but even this looks like something that was made in one day and never really deeply examined for a user experience standpoint.
E.g. how is 'Change Object Layer' the 15th! entry in the right click menu? seriously?

At least it allows for some customization on windows to mitigate the worst decisions, but on mac - which i use a lot - it is far from a good experience.

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