Access to viewer api going to be restricted to premium accounts?


(Lindseykitchell) #1

Based on the new pricing plan, will access to the viewer api really just be limited to those with premium accounts? What about those of us who are using sketchfab with a pro educational account as an educational tool?

(Bart) #2

Hi Lindsey,

Here's how we described it in the announcement on the blog:

Viewer API: our viewer API lets you build advanced applications like 3D configurators, mostly used for commercial purposes, resulting in increased engagement and conversion rates. That’s why we are now requiring a premium membership in order to be able to use the API for commercial applications.

Our goal is not to stop people from experimenting with the viewer and using it for personal or educational projects. But once you build a commercial application on top of our platform, you'll need the Premium subscription.

Hope that clears things up!

(Miekeroth) #3

Hi Bart,

Good to know. And if you have a commercial application, less than a $ 1000,- a year is a bargain for what you get in my opinion.

(Madalin Berechet) #4


I believe a much more detailed analysis is needed. I understand that Sketchfab has to be able to continue the development and for that it has to be profitable. Voilá my opinion.

What percentage of an ecommerce page is the 3D configurator?

To use a 3D viewer you need a brilliant optimized 3d model and flawless textures – let’s consider diffuse, normal, specular, glossiness, ao, transparency and emission ones. For only 5 product variants (materials) you need 35 distinct textures. But if you need to customize the geometry you also need different parts of that brilliant 3d model. And if we talk about animation the cost becomes quite high. Does Sketchfab build that models? No, neither the textures, hierarchies, simulations nor animations. Sketchfab gives us probably the best 3d immersive 3d space, somehow interactive, easy to be implemented, responsive, multi-platform and cross browser.

But an ecommerce page means a full stack development, means catalogue, product page, shopping carts, checkout process, invoice generator and CMS, CRM, secured payment bridges, SEO tools. Also means a reliable, stable and safe platform. For $300/month we can have all that + advanced reports and analysis tools.

Imagine a developer comes and tells you: for $600/ month and $3,000 for each product I can add a 3d configurator to your ecommerce site. No, sorry, I have photos that show exactly my product, I have rendered HQ images, videos and tools to manage my variants inside that $300/month platform.

Who needs a 3D customizer/configurator?

Car industry? No. My car should be a static HQ render of high-poly 3d model and please, just a panoramic image. Sketchfab model rotates too fast and my car seems to overturn.

The mechanical industry already have their own 3D viewers and parametrical configurators connected to powerful databases. You can have the parametrized 3d model on your webpage only by writing a link and some numbers. Those who buy spare parts needs to know parameters. They are insensible to PBR materials.

Clothes, perfumes, jewelry. No, we need life, scent, authentic. Maybe some footwear customizers.
I can continue, but I would like you to look for a prestigious company that uses 3d to sell its products.
The new pricing plans means killing the 3d before people accept 3d as an alternative.

For who is Sketchfab?

I know a student who sells 40 engraved wooden rings per month, at $30 a piece. I know also a clothing designer who tries to sell his models without employing professional models that would cost a lot of money. They are using Sketchfab now, but they should find an affordable solution within 6 months.

What Sketchfab can bring to a 3d configurator?

Load models, move the camera a bit, show/hide, move/rotate and even scale objects according to how much math and JavaScript you know, can manage materials (but cannot control the UV coordinates), apply post-processing filters for special products, display immutable annotations, detect three events and play animation – you need some 3d animation skills to do it well.

What I would like Sketchfab to be able to bring to a 3D configurator:

Merge new objects or replace, instead show/hide them in the scene. Applying SSAO over a number of objects, even hidden, will freeze the Chrome browser.

Booleans and clipping operations, parametric geometries, text/spline/SVG extrusion, hierarchy controlled by js objects, input device events (drag & drop), raycasting (select in scene), LOD, node based materials, much more navigation options like nearest neighbour, billboards, texture raycast, SVG/Video/animated GIF texture, procedural geometry, authoring animation (xOyz handlers) and maybe particles, water, physics.

Don't you think it's early to exclude API users?

And honestly, I'm afraid to host 10 clients in my Sketchfab account. From 15€ to 100€, the price has grown up of 6.6666 times. What will happen if after "many, many" years the Business account goes up to 3333, 3333 € monthly?

It's a lot of text and probably I've been emotional. It's because I'm a Sketchfab enthusiast.


(Bart) #5

Thanks for your analysis. We think that €79/month is a fair price for the product.

I'll pass on your suggestions for future configuratio/viewer API options!

(D Inoobinati) #6

I can very much agree with many of Madalina's points: there are serious limitations to Sketchfab's capabilities that would make many commercial users think twice about spending that kind of money. As it is, Sketchfab is next to useless for rendering glass objects and, in our case, many of our products which were rendered photo-realistically (using cheaper software than sketchfab!) have to be "dumbed down" for use with Sketchfab; a tedious and finicky process.

While we recognize the value in having a browser-based rotatable viewport for evaluating manufactured parts, it's hard to justify these new costs if potential clients must view cartoon versions of the things we make.

It's worth noting Madalina's point:

The mechanical industry already have their own 3D viewers and parametrical configurators connected to powerful databases. You can have the parametrized 3d model on your webpage only by writing a link and some numbers. Those who buy spare parts needs to know parameters. They are insensible to PBR materials.

While true, the client-side process is hardly seamless and even less aesthetic. There aren't any 3-D viewers that don't require a user to first download some sort of plug-in, and with that, the CAD models largely look like crap. There is definitely an industry need that Sketchfab is poised to satisfy, but until they do, the new $80/mo will be hard to take, never mind $400/mo.


We are actively working on refraction and reflection in the viewer. This should greatly improve the rendering of glass objects, gems, etc.

Regarding CAD, parametric models, NURBS, etc. We know there is a need here, but we don't yet have a good pipeline for efficiently processing and rendering these types of files as they tend to be very complex when converted to polygon meshes, which are our main focus.

(Atlantismemorials) #8

We are very much disappointed in this strategy change.. We have customers relying on the sketchfab power and have invested in understanding the API and integrating it into our Qmaze configurator. The sudden price increase makes you wonder.. whats next? how much garantee can you give us, that we wont be facing the same ridiculous increase again next year? I cannot explain this chance to my customers, nor will they like it..
It makes us look around at the alternatives, three.js, blend4web,, unreal or unity?.. They may not be the same, but can do the trick as well,

Hans de Kok

(Alban) #9

Thanks for the feedback. This is our first price change in 6 years, and we have no intentions to keep changing prices. For what it's worth, the professional version of is $1000/year and the pro version of blend4web is $990, both more expensive than Sketchfab premium.

(Quadriceps) #10

ok, but:

  • The Blend4Web fee is a one-time fee... no recurring annual license,
  • for the, we dont need the professional version to use the API, the 10 usd/month version is enough.