To help flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections, you and your staff ideally have made the rapid transition to remote work by now. As ARCHITECT contributor Evelyn Lee, AIA, wrote in “Maintaining Business Continuity with a Remote Workforce,” ensuring your staff has access to the right software is essential to making the new work setup viable. Because many firms and institutions maintain licenses on specific in-house workstations, several software developers are offering free additional seats, extended trial runs, and more.
Below, ARCHITECT has compiled a list of technologies and tools that are currently available for free; we will add to this list as we learn of more. After all, the pandemic is stressful enough without having to worry about software licensing.
CAD and BIM Software
Designers can get free access to this global tech company’s cloud collaboration products—including BIM 360 Docs, BIM 360 Design, Fusion 360, Fusion Team, and AutoCAD Web and Mobile—by signing up for an Autodesk product trial at the company’s website. “We know this will be an imperfect experience in some ways but … our goal is to give [users] access to this program as quickly as possible. Leveraging our existing product trial experience on Autodesk.com is the most effective way to do this,” notes CEO Andrew Anagnost in a post.
The Columbia, Md.–based developer is increasing the number of existing customers’ E Series license activations by one, allowing them to use its software on two machines simultaneously, according to the company’s website. Vectorworks is also offering free entry to several virtual training courses until June 30.
The Budapest-based developer of ArchiCAD has introduced free 30-day emergency licenses to help users access the software while working remotely. Users need an active ArchiCAD 17 or newer license and an internet connection, writes CEO Huw Roberts. To request an emergency license activation code, users must contact their local Graphisoft partner. Graphisoft is also offering 60 days of free access to BIMcloud, which helps remote teams work together in real time.
Ideation, Presentation, and Enhancement Tools
The maker of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and much more is giving students free, in-home access to Adobe Creative Cloud in place of their schools’ in-classroom licenses through May 31, according to CEO Shantanu Narayen. The company is making its web-based PDF services free through May 31, and its Portfolio and Talent platforms free through May 15. Creative Cloud and Document Cloud team and enterprise customers in Adobe’s Value Incentive Plan (VIP) now have an extended grace period of 60 days to renew their subscriptions.
The New York–based developer of its eponymous iOS app, for everything from ideation to augmented reality visualization, has extended its free-trial period of Trace Pro and Board Pro versions from three days to one month. Trace Pro is a sketching tool enhanced with CAD capabilities while Board Pro enables interior designers to assemble and present mood boards and palettes. The deal will be offered "until the world 'dust' settles," co-founder Toru Hasegawa says.
TestFit CEO Clifton Harness announced that his team of computational designers is ready to assist firms that are designing temporary health care space in response to COVID-19. TestFit is a generative design tool that runs test fits of multifamily units, office spaces, and neighborhoods in seconds—or faster.
Cloud Computing and File Management
The cloud-based file storage and management system is offering free Dropbox Business and HelloSign Enterprise subscriptions for a three-month period to nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations that are focused on “fighting the spread of COVID-19.” Dropbox Business offers team collaboration tools along with file storage, while HelloSign coordinates digital signatures for documents.
The namesake developer of Cloudflare for Teams is offering its Access and Gateway products, which help provide secure and efficient remote work for corporations and their employees, for free to any business of any size for six months. The Access product is a security platform that hosts internal software and tools for companies in lieu of going through a conventional VPN. Approved users are authenticated through Cloudflare's Gateway product, which also secures and filters outbound internet traffic. The company has also removed caps on usage for existing customers, allowing them to “scale to whatever number of seats you need without additional cost.”
“The healthy functioning of our economy globally depends on work continuing to get done, even as people need to do that work remotely,” wrote co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince in a March 12 email that the company published online. “If Cloudflare can do anything to help ensure that happens, I believe it is our duty to do so.”
Collaboration and Communication Tools
Slack Technologies CEO and co-founder Stewart Butterfield announced that the company is offering free upgrades to its eponymous collaboration tool's Standard or Plus plans to nonprofit organizations of any size for three months. The 250-member cap on plans has also been removed for nonprofits that already use the platform.
Microsoft is offering nonprofit volunteers free access to its Office 365 for Enterprise EI plan for six months. This plan includes mobile versions of the Office programs, email, file storage, and Microsoft Teams for video conferencing and messaging.
For existing G Suite and G Suite for Education customers, Google is offering free access to expanded capabilities of its advanced Hangouts Meet, its videoconferencing product, which allows for up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain, and the ability to record and save meetings to Google Drive. The offer is currently available through July 1.
The 40-minute meeting limit on the free basic accounts of Zoom's videoconferencing app has been lifted for any K–12 school in many countries affected by COVID-19, including the U.S., Japan, Italy, and Canada.
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