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RE: STAADPro, STAAD etc

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I used the old DOS based STAAD up until a year ago or so and found it to be
pretty usable for most structure design but it did have its quirks and did
not design concrete moment frames (at least not easily).  For most of my
design work I use RISA 3D which I have used for 6 years and have no
complaints, very user friendly and good support.  I also use ETABS for
concrete frame analysis.  The old DOS based Version 6 can be hard to use at
first but isn't too bad and the results make sense.  It is unfortunately
based on the 1994 UBC so you have to trick it for 1997 design.

The current ETABS release, Version 7, is all Windows based (1997 UBC) and is
not user friendly and is really still in the development phase.  I would not
recommend ETABS V7.0 to anyone, yet.  I had one tech support person ask me
if I had the "BETA" version to which I replied, No I have the disk you
mailed me last week as the release version.  The response was that this WAS
the beta version, VERY PROFESSIONAL.  There have been at least 8 service
patches on their web site in the month or so since then.  Since the patches
are large, anyone without the benefit of a DSL line or better will be very
unhappy.  To cap it off, the first group of patches required that you
install them to an original installation of ETABS, i.e. if you had installed
patch #2 and wanted to upgrade to patch #3 you had to uninstall ETABS
entirely, reinstall from the original disks and then install the patch!!!

The user interface is not intuitive at all and many functions that were
pretty easy to get to in Version 6 are hopelessly lost on some strange menu
and not referenced at all in the joke of a manual.  The final flaw is that
the input file cannot be altered except through the GUI (although you can
print a text based image of the input file that looks similar to the old
version 6 input file format).  The worst is that the output does not make
sense so either the input is wrong somehow or the analysis and design
routines aren't all working right (several of the patches fix some of these
analysis routine problems!!?)

I would like to note that I don't dislike Windows programs or programmer's
love of GUI interfaces but when the final product is harder to use than a
DOS based program, well.... Sorry to run on so, but I am very unhappy with
CSI.

Good luck on your search

Nick Blackburn

p.s. If you need to do steel design go RISA 3D.  RISA is working on a
concrete post processor which I hope will be as great as their steel module.
A great product with a reasonable price and a helpful attitude.