My trial is about to expire so I thought it would be appropriate to pass along my evaluation. I will be the first to admit that I am not the greatest artist and I am not an engineer but I must say that i have learned a lot and, in general, have a very positive feeling about Shapespark. Here is a link to the model that I worked on during the trial Car Wash
So…here is my feedback:
- UI - I think that Shapespark has a pretty straight forward UI that is not all that difficult to learn. While I think there could be some improvements (see the Wish List thread). The documentation of the product answered a pretty fair number of the questions I did have about the UI and the support in this forum answered the rest.
- Support - I have found the support by the Shapespark staff on this forum to be very good. I feel I asked some pretty dumb questions but received very good replies and suggestions for addressing problems/misunderstanding I incurred during the trial period.
- SkecthUp Compatibility - One of the things that I have really likes/appreciated is that when my scene comes from SketchUp, the object and material list looks like what I am used to seeing in SketchUp. In particular, in other products that I have looked at, when I go to the object list, I normally see very generic terms for the objects but in Shapespark, I see things that look just like what I see in the Outliner in SketchUp. Material names also look the same. IMO this makes it much easier to identify what I want to work with in Shapespark.
- VR Scene & Navigation - Of the products I have looked at, I think Shapespark has some of the most “user friendly” and comprehensive VR scene navigation capabilities that I have seen. Particularly when you are not using a VR headset and are relying on the WebGL functions in web browsers. In particular:
- The ability to have a list of views that help the viewer navigate their way through my scene
- The ability to use the cursor and arrow keys to move through a view so the user can walk through a view or the model
- It is rather easy to define the starting point for each of the views which again makes navigation for the viewer much easier yet give me some control in defining where I want the user to start in each of the views (hope this statement makes sense)
- Self Hosting - I think this is a very valuable feature for many companies. While I did not try this during my trial, I think the fact that it is an option is a very strong feature for a number of users/companies. In particular, the ability to share the output with clients but be able to have total control over who has access is a great asset IMO.
- Licensing Flexibility - Again, IMO, the pricing of Shapespark seems to be reasonable and there are a number of options.
Opportunities for Enhancement
As a general statement, the perfect product has yet to be offered by anyone. So, yes I think there are opportunities for enhancements that could make the product stronger. Most of them are covered in the Wish List that I referenced so I am not going to go over them in detail again.
As a SketchUp user, one of the things I had to get used to was the terminology. In SketchUp, you work with models while in Shapespark it is a scene. In SketchUp, you have scenes while in Shapespark, they are views. Even thought it was somewhat of a transition, it was certainly not a show stopper. Just have to be careful if you are discussing things with another SketchUp user.
As I said, most of the things I think would be good enhancements are already mentioned in the Wish List, my priorities from the list would include (in no particular order):
- Color chart
- Handles/guides for resizing and moving bounding boxes and objects
- Ability to add objects from libraries or other sources
- Material libraries independent of the software used to create the scene.
For me the bottom line (as I have already alluded to previously) is that Shapespark is a very good product for presenting 3D models. I think it is reasonably priced and has a lot of potential. While it is not oriented toward product presentations (i.e. presenting mechanical things like an electric drill), it has a lot of strength and potential in presenting and allowing viewers to navigate the interior and exterior views of buildings and other architectural endeavors.
I look forward to seeing and following the continued enhancements to Shapespark.