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Re: COMP:Design Programs

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lsmith(--nospam--at) wrote:
> Our structures group at my office is currently re-evaluating our design
> program choices.  One of our biggest needs is an
> "all-encompassing" program which does design of certain element types such
> as concrete beams, steel beams/columns,
> base plates, retaining walls, footings, composite beams, etc. to name a
> few.
> Currently we have been using Enercalc but are disappointed in the latest
> release we have (5.0).  Although it has an attractive layout, we
> feel that the applications are somewhat difficult to enter data in and use
> as effeciently as we'd like.  There are also printing problems
>  as well as questionable design operations.  We are looking into
> alternatives.
> Has anyone tried a program like the one I've mentioned?  What about STAAD
> PRO?  Please let me know your pros and cons
> and thanks in advance for your assistance.
> Lorenzo

It is a noble ideal to strive for the "all-encompassing" program that 
designs many elements of engineering requirements in its completeness, 
but think of our job security if a killer program that shows up
Half of our profession may lose their jobs.

Using a good computer program can help about 20-50% of our routine
Here are my three wishes for an ideal program.  My number one wish is
we can perform routine tasks as quickly as possible in order to
on those more difficult things.  My number two wish is that, at the 
completion of the application, there is a uniform way to assemble 
calculations on to one report, instead of assemblies of reports from 
different applications. (Especially for the medium sized projects).  My 
third wish is the ability to present engineering formulas as they are 
supposed to look like. That way, they can be reviewed and checked 
reasonably. (Mathcad does not cut it.  It tries to take over the

Currently, I am using Microsoft Word for writing and gathering my
I also use the calculator supplied by Microsoft so I can do the 
calculation without the need of a handheld calculator.  Programs such 
as StlShape and RISA do the calculations and feed the results-in ASCII
into the document.  Word has an easy process of making tables out of
of text that are properly separated. I insert a minimal amount of
from AutoCad or MS Paintbursh to make my reports more engineering like 
although they tend to takes a lot of disk space.

Most of the powerhouse programs such as ENERCALC or STAAD present their 
reports on their fixed format, which are usually in mono space with 
their title block and page orientation. With a little bit of C code, I 
was able to strip off many of the page breaks, titles, headers that are 
embedded in the output files which interfere with the cutting and
into my document.  Therefore, if there is a point in the report that I 
would like it to be emphasized, I can now do it in my report. You just 
can't add comments into their report when hard page breaks wired in

Let me known if you want to get a copy of my "strip.exe."

Szuchuan Chang, SE szchang(--nospam--at)
Cupertino, CA

P.S. If you would like to get a copy of StlShape, download it from this
This program does not even come close of meeting my wishes however, the 
price is OK.