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General Software Question:

Anybody tried the Structural Engineering Software by Eagle Point?

At 07:57 PM 4/15/99 EDT, you wrote:
>Apr 15, 1999 10:01 AM
>>From the Office
>of Dennis S. Wish, PE
>Editor - SEAINT Online
>I've been fortunate to be in a position to reivew software for SEAINT as 
>editor of SEAINT Online. It has been my position that reviewes of software 
>which rely upon press releases or cursory use, do not do the reader nor the 
>software justice. Therefore, I strive to place every software that I review 
>into practice. The obvious downside is that I have a new learning curve for 
>each piece of software I review. I try and keep my clients from paying the 
>price by spending a great deal of time after work getting familar with the 
>software.  The upside is that I learn more rapidly than most and can spot a 
>softwares strengths and weaknesses much faster than most.
>FEM and CAD program pose the most difficulty in reviewing simply because of 
>the number of "bells and whistle's" added. I am currently working with STRAP 
>for a review that has been delayed twice. I use RISA2D for most of my 
>projects because of the programs simplicity, accuracy and the fact (as Chris 
>Wright indicated) that I have used it for years and feel comfortable with it.
>I have also used Avansee' and found it an easy program to learn, well suited 
>for most types of FEM projects (although mine tend to be simple 2D 
>requirments) and as accurate as the competition.
>STRAP is loaded with features. The graphics and shear power of the program 
>makes my small practice seem inadequate for such a giant of a program. I 
>certainly would not have wanted to be the one to create some of their sample 
>problems like the domed stadium roof, which is a wonder to play with. I have 
>not worked with it long enough to finalize my opinions, but it is a program 
>rich in capabilites. It does require getting comfortable with the menu 
>heirarchy which I think most people will be able to accomplish within a
>Research Engineers has been both a leader in FEM programs and a supporter of 
>Online advertising for a long time. If there are any RE people out there, I 
>apologize for not thanking them sooner.  Research Engineers products are 
>considered some of the best in the industry. I have not had the pleasure to 
>review them and probably am not the right person to review a product this 
>rich in features (as is STRAP and RISA3D). I am impressed with the graphic 
>capabilities of each of these programs as well as the complexity of the 
>models and the ease of input once the basic program is learned. 
>I think one useful piece of information that can sway a user is the quality 
>of the technical support that a company offers. I try to approach tech 
>support anonimously, although with smaller companies this is impossible. 
>Although Advansee' is a good program, tech support is difficult to reach 
>being outside the US. They were, however, willing to improve their program 
>based upon comments they received from this list some months ago. 
>Bruce Bates has always been helpful and his manuals are some of the best 
>written. STRAP's tech support will literally handhold you through the 
>tutorials if need be and are excellent in returning emails and calls. These 
>are not the only good programs out there so don't simply take this as a 
>You need to search out the level of software that meets your needs without 
>breaking your bank. Next, obtain a number of sample or demo packages - 
>preferably those with restricted number of nodes and put them through the 
>paces. Try for packages that will not restrict printing since you want to
>the output. Outside of accuracy, the most important thing to me is how easy 
>the output is to understand. Can the input be easily identified and the 
>results summarized in an easy to follow fashion?
>>From there it is a matter of finding one that you are comfortable with and 
>you have to spend the time to find the one that's right for you.
>This makes the discussion of CAD software easier because the same advice 
>holds. There are a ton of good CAD softwares in the $500.00 range. There are 
>a few that hold the majority of the market. AutoCad is not likely to go out 
>of business in a few years. Visual Cadd has come and gone and come and gone 
>and now come again. IMSI who now owns VC is a stable company with a vast 
>product line. The future of any software is never written in stone and VC
>a small but devoted following. If IMSI is interested in more than absorbing 
>users into their stable of TurboCad products then VC has a chance. Viso is 
>also a large and stable company with good visions on the integration of 
>Intellicad, Visio technical and other products. Imagineer is another CAD 
>package owned by a solid company. The software has a lot of productivity 
>features built in that make it a desireable to new and advanced users. 
>The one thing that "most" of the $500.00 packages do not have is full 3-D 
>support. I state it that way because MiniCad is a strong contender in this 
>range that has as many bells and whistles as AutoCad has. The downsize is 
>that MiniCad is an object oriented drawing package and requires a learning
>draw different from the vector based packages like Autocad. 
>SEAINT Online will be doing a CAD special at the end of '99. We are in the 
>process of receiving product to review and will be devoting the next six 
>months in comparing features and productivity. Sorry I can't do better than 
>this. I did receive the Viso Technical and Intellicad (Sold as the Design 
>Suite) today and will be installing them over the weekend. I would also be 
>interested in hearing from those of you how use these products.
>Again, look at the demos or limited versions. See which one is the easiest 
>for you to use. Here are a couple of tips that should help. 
>1. If you are a novice cad user - look for a basic low cost package that is 
>DWG compatible. Search out the ones that seem to be as close to having a 
>similar command structure as AutoCad or Autocad LT. The reason is that you 
>can do 90% of your drafting by learning about ten basic commands. Once you 
>master these you can start to understand the more difficult areas of cad
>as text, scaling and blocks etc.
>2. If you do not draw in 3D (as the majority of us don't) avoid spending the 
>money and stick to a good 2D package. Bells and Whistles may make a program 
>seem desireable but the more features the more you have to learn or the more 
>is wasted.
>3. Find a software that reads and writes to DWG file format. This way you
>move up to the more extensive package after you learn the basics without 
>sacrificing the work that you have already done.
>4. Follow all of the tips above about choosing a good tech support and
>company plan.
>Hope this helps.
>Dennis S. Wish, PE
>Editor - SEAINT Online
>publication of the Structural Engineers Association
>of Southern California (SEAOSC)
>SEAOSC Office - seaosc(--nospam--at)

Mark S. Fisk