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Sketchfab is the first 'Commercial' Add-on Bundled with Blender

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You may not have noticed, but Blender 2.70 comes bundled with a plugin to upload your model to Sketchfab - it is in fact the first add-on to follow the Blender Foundation's rules on commercial add-ons. I had a chat with Sketchfab Founder and CEO Alban Denoyel about this project and about the role of Blender in their community.

 

Image: Alpha Armordog2048 by Giperbore1

Sketchfab embeds 3D files straight in your webpages - see the model above.

Congratulations on being the first 'Commercial' Blender add-on! Can you tell me a bit about why you created this add-on?

Thanks Bart! The initial version of our Blender add-on was created by Bart Crouch after a suggestion of Julio, one of our early adopters, who was looking for a way to ease his workflow from Blender to Sketchfab. Our vision at Sketchfab is to shorten the path from the tools to the web, so it was a great way to do it.

2. How long did it take you to create it and get it bundled with Blender?

The add-on in itself is a rather simple script, which we improved based on Bart's first version. What we added at the same time as the add-on is native support for blender files, which was a bit more time consuming :) Having an add-on is great, but people need to install it, which ads friction. That's why it was so important for us to get it bundled with Blender. Getting there took a bunch of discussions with Ton, and we are very excited to finally be there.

3. How important is the Blender community to Sketchfab?

Blender users were our initial power users, part of it thanks to an article on BN in March 2012 which caused our servers to crash for the first time, the famous BN effect :) Today, the Blender community is still a major piece of the Sketchfab ecosystem: more than 20% of files uploaded to Sketchfab are .blend files, and we are integrated with a lot of Blender communities: BlenderArtists, BlenderNetwork, Blendswap...

4. Is Sketchfab supporting the BlenderFoundation financially?

Definitely! We are now one of the 4 Diamond Sponsors, and also just sponsored the gooseberry project.

Thanks Alban!

To enable the Sketchfab add-on, go to the addons tabs in the preferences screen, search for 'Sketchfab' and check the box to the right. To have Blender remember this change, click the 'Save User Settings button'. Enjoy!

activate_sketchfab_add-on

Full disclosure: I'm currently helping Sketchfab further develop their community. If you need a freelance community manager too and you have a cool company, get in touch!

About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.

12 Comments

  1. Craig Richardson on

    There is something I don't get about this story, "the first commercial add-on to be bundled inside of blender", since it is bundled inside of blender you obviously don't have to pay for it (the add-on its self) otherwise it would not have been bundled inside of blender in he first place, so in what capacity is Sketchfab add-on a commercial add-on.

    This is really doing my head in, however one thing I am certain about is that this will definitely help open the flood gates for other commercial add-ons.

    Zbrush commercial add-on here we come lol

    • I guess the reasoning is that these add-ons only benefit one specific company and are labeled 'commercial' for that reason. In this case, you can only use it to upload your work to Sketchfab. Of course, by definition anything that comes bundled with Blender is free :)

    • Brian Lockett on

      You can tie your work to the free version of SketchFab or the commercial version of SketchFab. The addon itself is free, but you can extend your usage of Blender to a commercial service. This makes SketchFab a commercial addon, and being that it was the first to come bundled itself with Blender, it's a pioneer in bundling addons that extend Blender to a commercial suite.

      It's a great way for smaller businesses and people who want to extend their commercial services to Blender users, and it helps Blender's image as a professional tool. We've seen a good number of render farms and render engines step up to support Blender, but in seeing a company keep up with Blender's much higher frequency in releases to ensure their addon is fucntional and bundled with each Blender release is a nice show of initiative.

      It not only shows that it can be done, but in pursuit of gaining business from Blender enthusiasts and professionals, it should be done. Despite our free culture, the Blender community is a great market for making great services available to Blender users. Many people rather just use free services, but some would like more services that give them a professional edge. This is especially true for freelancers like myself.

      By the way, there is an unofficial ZBrush-to-Blender GoZ addon already available, though, this isn't bundled with Blender and Pixologic doesn't really make addons for anything other than GoZ. :)

  2. Charles Guillory on

    welp that's a step in the direction of being just a 3D window with all the subsystems being extra DLC.

    • Brian Lockett on

      This isn't "DLC"--this is an addon that extends its service to Blender users, allowing users to optionally join the same service other software users can access.

      The good thing here is that SketchFab is one of the few external developers out there who even care to keep up with Blender's frequent releases, and the first one to go include their addons as functional and bundled with every release.

      Just because Blender is a free software, it doesn't mean that simple commercial options shouldn't be available to those who wish to employ them. Besides, the addon works with the free version of SketchFab accounts, as well.

      But don't worry--the Blender community at general seems to be much too unwelcoming of such efforts to ever make Blender a high priority on many other similar services' list of software-centered communities.

      • Charles Guillory on

        no, I just meant it is possible in the future for pluggable subsystems to be used,and those subsystems could replace the built-in system it uses currently. in that case it's plausible for blender to just have a shell to load those pluggable subsystems, and make it so they are necessary to run blender

  3. Brian Lockett on

    Congrats to SketchFab for being something of pioneers. It's a good effort in ensuring that the addon is functional and bundled with every Blender release, offering your fantastic service conveniently to Blender users. I love SketchFab, loved it from day one. I'm building my portfolio site at the moment, and you can bet, a SketchFab Pro account will be at the core of it.

    • Brian Lockett on

      And to anyone who's worried about this sort of thing, don't worry. Seems like anytime you put the world "commercial" next to "Blender," folks start sweating.

      People seem to think that welcoming anything commercial-related with Blender means that it's going to destroy the free/open-source software nature of Blender. On the contrary, such commercial business can help Blender and everything Blender's about as free/open-source software.

      Do such critics ever consider that the support Blender gets from other businesses, then the more
      development Blender will see?

      The more Blender has reliable services and products extended to the Blender suite, the more people can start to look at Blender as the capable tool it is, now with all the services everyone else gets to enjoy using, all conveniently within Blender.

      It's hard enough having services even care to keep up with Blender's frequent rate of releases with internal changes, but then you add a sizable portion of the Blender community who sometimes welcome them with pessimism, and most of any incentive to work with Blender users largely disappears.

      We're a sizable community with many professionals who'd love to have more services extended and available to them as Blender users as a great option to compliment their workflow, but sadly, it's the ignorant voice of the mob-mentality hobbyists who scare much of it away. We're fortunate to have SketchFab's constant support.

      Just like some people who practically throw stones at VRay recently for merely providing Blender addons to allow Blender users to use their commercial renderer. Blender is open-source, but oddly and ironically enough, sometimes the community isn't open-minded.

      As a freelancer who uses Blender a lot, I would love to see more options made available for people like me--independent professionals who are short on time, high with competition from other freelancers, and already at a bit of a disadvantage using Blender as a core tool in my pipeline.

      If I can gain an edge with a service like SketchFab, it's all the more welcomed to me. I'm aware that most of Blender's community are amateur enthusiasts and hobbyists, but a growing portion are working professionals, and we rarely see services go out of the way to support us with all the convenience other software
      comfortably enjoy.

      SketchFab is a wonderful service that is the future of public display of 3D content and providing 3D viewers on portfolios, and it's wonderful that such a marvelous service supported us so early from its start and continues to provide this service option to us with ease and elegance.

      And just the fact that SketchFab developers have been high supporters of the Blender Foundation and sponsoring Blender projects means that they're doing more than even most other Blender users do for Blender. At the very least, they deserve our respect and support.

  4. comeinandburn on

    Glad to see this! In my opinion this is a great way for Blender to gain even more traction in the 3d world. I wish we could get a sneak peak to what's been going on with Value. Blender should be "THE" default mod and game modeling tool and pull all the wind out of Maya LE and Modo's sails. It's just too bad it hasn't happened faster.

    • Brian Lockett on

      Maya LT and modo aren't targeted to modding community, and they're not the most popular choices among game modeling. They're targeted to indie studios and small businesses with small budgets. Most professional modelers use Max or the full version of Maya and no mere modder spends the $800 to $1500 it cost to buy those software.

      Blender is probably the most known free tool among modding community, and pretty much anyone in the industry knows about Blender already--even if they do largely ignore it. Most tend to specifically avoid Blender, for reasons of what they feel are issues with UI and usability, and the shortage of external third-party plugin support that streamlines their work.

      Many modders already use Blender, but what you usually see used are pirated copies of 3ds Max and Maya, along with pirated copies of ZBrush and Mudbox, and all with a copy of Photoshop, of course. Many know about Blender already, but most choose 3ds Max over Blender, via pirating.

      In any case, Maya LT is specifically more geared to indie game studios with budget, and modo's has always had a niche following, being that they're about as unique as Blender is, concerning its UI and how its structured to its own design purposes.

  5. comeinandburn on

    One last thing, I'd love to see p3d.it have this same functionality. It's awesome, although I believe Francesco Siddi is involved in this and I think he has his hands full for a couple of years at least:)

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