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RE: COMP:Freeware?

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I'm not sure I agree with Earl's comments. Personally, I find that at least
half the fun of this profession is playing with the software. I am always in
search of that one Application that will do all the work for me - and
If you intend to use the software only once, then your comments are valid.
However, if you continue to use the software, the amount of time spent to
learn the software becomes negligable over time. This is further reduced as
you gain skill with one software that can be applied to another.
A user of Autocad, for example, would have very little difficulty using
Generic Cadd, Visual Cadd, Intellicad and many other software packages that
use the same type of input. The user of these softwares, may, have
difficulty using a program like MiniCad that treats objects as shapes rather
than as vectors - but I believe this is an exception to the rule since we
tend to stay close to the formats that we are comfortable with.
I have tried Risa2D and 3D, FastFrame, Avansee, STRAP and a few others. Each
of these programs will do the job and do it well. The more features that
each has the more time it takes to become accustom - however, most of these
features are intended to be productivity tools. Once these tools are
learned, the time invested becomes amortized over the use of the program for
various projects and at some point becomes negligable in the equation. After
this point, the software is expected to have sufficient productivity gains
which, in your case, may not be revealed inasmuch as you chose not to
Does it matter - probably not unless you are working on a model so large
that the automation built into each of these programs makes it worthwhile.

One other point that I think is worthwhile to note. There is a certain
mind-set on the term "free" which implies (to me at any rate) a software
created at the expense of a "hobbiest" or someone who wishes to donate
his/her efforts for the enjoyment of others. Neither, FastFrame (Enercalc
Software) nor Avansee fit into this category. Avansee is not free - however,
the limited offer which each of us benifited from, was considered resitution
for a misunderstanding. This was done at the expense of the software
developer who believed it was a way to make amends as well as market a
useful piece of software. FastFrame was donated to the engineering community
by Mike Brooks (Enercalc) as a personal "restitution" for the delays in
bring the software to market. Most of all - we should not be drawing
inference to the quality of the product simply because it was offered for
nothing. Each of these programs is sufficient (and generally more than
sufficient) to accurately do the work that we would otherwise do manually.
These are professional products which are upgraded and maintained by the
developer instead of simply placed as-is on the Internet.

Others may wish to respond since I have only reviewed the video examples on
Avansee and modeled a one story one-bay frame. I found it to be a very good
tool - one that I am pleased to add to my collection of useful tools (along
side RISA, STRAP and FastFrame). We have had many discussions on the
acceptablity and accuracy of shareware compared to retail software. I am not
convinced that one is any better than the other. Each is as competent as the
developer who wrote it - and so far each that I have reviewed have been very

Dennis S. Wish PE

-----Original Message-----
From: Ecengrs(--nospam--at) [mailto:Ecengrs(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, October 09, 1998 10:33 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE:COMP:Freeware?

Stan Caldwell wrote:

<<Dear Busy Earl:
<< So, are you saying that shrink-wrapped (commercial) software installs
<< faster, runs faster, or what?  If a 4 MB download is a waste of your
<< time, perhaps you need a faster connection.  Also, you can always
<< practice mult-tasking and do something productive while files are
<< downloading.  Even Bill Clinton apparently practices multi-tasking!
<< Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.
<< Puzzled in Dallas

Not at all.

My point is that ANY software package carries a price in terms of learning
time, usage time, trying to get support time, etc. IF you place any value on
your time. This time can be many hours, so when considering the "cost" of a
software package, the purchase price really isn't that important, the much
more important price is productivity lost or gained.

Earl Conroy

P.S. I hope all my competitors get that free AVWin program ;-)