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Re: My personal Software "Wish" list

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>growing market of independents who need valuable
>tools but don't have the receivable to justify the expense. Possibly a
>scaled down version of these products will satisfy this niche of the
After 11 years in solo practice my own cynical conclusion is that very 
few engineering software vendors have the imagination to develop such 
software any more. The model seems to be one-size-fits-all and sell to 
the deep pockets.

Anyone who doesn't feel like flaming Dennis into oblivion can take a shot 
at me, (be prepared to take as well as you dish out, though ;-> ) but the 
Mac side has most of what you need. You'll have to do a little digging 
and come up with some substitutes for those expensive bells and whistles, 
but I've done it, and my practice is the better for it. For analysis 
software you can scout out shareware or even some freeware. Frame 
analysis software abounds at archives (both for Mac and the Dark Side). 
Shareware won't do a full blown design for you, but it'll make the 
analysis arithmetic a lot simpler. Source code may be available if you 
want to try your hand at a custom post processor for Code checking. Or 
you can just read a text output listing into an Excel workbook and 
automate the arithmetic that way. Cross-platform work, BTW, is a 
non-issue, at least on the Mac side. But of course, everyone who can 
parrot 'business analysts' knows that the Mac is doomed, there's no 
software for it, it's slow, it only does graphics, yada yada yada. And 
it's only fair to add that much of the same philosophy applies to the 
Dark Side--if you want bells and whistles you can either pay someone else 
to do them or you can make your own

LAPfea and another one (Multiframe, I think) are commercial software 
packages that do a lot of the arithmetic at a reasonable price. 
Multiframe is aimed at structural engineers--it's pricier, but has more 
features. There are also other CAD programs besides AutoCAD, (A witch! 'E 
talks like a witch! Burn 'im! Burn 'im! ;->) although there may be some 
thought involved in how to exchange files, it's usually doable. A lot of 
AutoCAD's competitors have a big stake in Acad compatibility, and they've 
addressed it quite well. I guess I'd take exception to concluding that 
AutoCAD is the king on the basis of market share. (Burn 'im! Burn 'im!)

There's another approach, too--three or four engineers go together and 
buy software and a server to run it on. The down side is that 
considerable cooperation is required between people who might otherwise 
be competitors, so it won't work where cut-throat competition is the 
norm, Sharing has its benefits, if you can work out organizational 
details. Four people can afford a pretty good package and the networking 
software to go along. The software gets utilized, and you have a ready 
base of real engineering users to call on if something looks wonky. OTOH, 
there's a server to set up and phone line issues to deal with, and the 
people involved need to be on fairly friendly terms to work out cost and 
accessibility issues fairly. 

Christopher Wright P.E.    |"They couldn't hit an elephant from
chrisw(--nospam--at)        | this distance"   (last words of Gen.
___________________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)