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RE: Calculation Software

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Jason,
Both are good packages but there are distinct differences between the two.
MathCAD is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (wysiwyg) software that is a truly
mathematical software. TEDDS is a structural engineering based add-in to
Microsoft Word. TEDDS also has a stand-alone module for those who wish to
work quickly outside of Word. The difference is that once TEDDS is written
to a file, you need TEDDS and Word to modify it in the future. If you
upgrade MS OFFICE there might be a compatibility issue between Word and the
version of TEDDS you are using. You must also learn to work with TEDDS
variables, but the output from TEDDS makes MathCAD look like a chalk board. 

To be honest, I would not pay $1200.00 for MathCAD and I am using it only
because I could purchase the Premium Edition with the CE module (a waste in
my case) for an upgrade price of $249.00 that expired at the end of May.
MathCAD still has not improved their document ability, although you can
import MathCAD into Word, but you can not edit it once the translation is
concerned.

Given the choice, I think I would invest in TEDDS over MathCAD. My primary
reason is use - 95% of MathCAD's abilities are lost to me. I write in a
formula and spit out the results - I don't need to perform complex math with
the software (even though you can with TEDDS as well). I prefer TEDDS
because I can format my page for business output using the Word features as
well as for Technical writing (formula's) that I would use in my analysis.
MathCAD output is nicer - it looks the same as the way you would do it by
hand, while TEDDS is more of a straight line analysis that looks the way you
might write it in a spreadsheet. With that said, TEDDS has a tremendous
amount of tables and information to help the structural community solve most
problems. It integrates well with Excel and is easy to format text for a
very nice output and custom headers and footers. In other word, TEDDS is a
document editor as well as a electronic calculations package. Integrated
with tables for Wood, Steel, Masonry and Concrete (also cold-form), I think
TEDDS is the best value for engineers.

One more thing - TEDDS is not as easy to use as MathCAD unless you use it
often. The more you use it, the easier it is to remember how to format your
formula's. For example, you might input after the = sign ?F2 which tells
TEDDS to calculate the results and to format it with two decimal places.
Furthermore, I have not mastered this feature, but there is a customization
manual that allows users to learn to program many of the TEDDS features and
therefore create custom templates with built-in macros. 

I am actually using both programs as each serves a purpose. I am also using
Excel and could not design without a spreadsheet. As far as value- I'll
leave that to you. I got a deal on the upgrade to MathCAD and grabbed it
knowing what the new full package price was. Otherwise, I would have passed
over it.

TEDDS started to follow the same philosophy that many other software vendors
are doing - an annual maintenance fee for unlimited upgrades each year.
TEDDS has not had a major upgrade in about 18-months and I am not sure what
the future holds for them. I hope that they stick with the software as I
would like to see the software evolve in a profession that needs tools such
as this, but I would like to keep the price affordable to small and
independent offices. I would also like a PDA form of either TEDDS or MathCAD
as I find I rely more on my Pocket PC than ever before.

Regards,
Dennis 


Dennis S. Wish, PE


California Professional Engineer

Structural Engineering Consultant

dennis.wish(--nospam--at)verizon.net

http://www.structuralist.net

 


-----Original Message-----
From: Jason W. Kilgore [mailto:jkilgore(--nospam--at)leok.com] 
Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2004 4:15 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Calculation Software

I'm considering the purchase of an engineering "calculation pad" software.
The three under consideration are:

TEDDS by CSC: $900
Layout by Research Engineers International (STAAD)
Mathcad by Mathsoft: $1000 + $235 (CE pack) = $1235

Does anyone have any opinions for or against any of these programs?  I
currently use MS Excel and hand calc's, but want something more formula
friendly and presentable than Excel, and hand calc's are always a pain for
small changes and error correction.  Also, I had a project recently where I
had to submit all calc's electronically - I had to scan everything then
print to a PDF file.

TEDDS is currently in the lead in my consideration because of the included
features and lower price.  It includes a limited 3D FEA program and custom
section analyzer.  Also, it includes many built-in structural engineering
calculations and standard section properties.  It uses MS Word text
formatting abilities.  I've ordered a 30-day demo copy for review.

I've downloaded a 30-day demo of Layout, and it appears to be workable.  It
looks like its core is based on an older version of MS Excel.  It does not
appear to do automatic unit conversion, which is a disadvantage.  I'll play
around with it some more, but REI products are generally expensive.

I've used Mathcad in the past and liked it then, but I'll have to pay extra
for the CE pack (if I even get it).  One huge bonus is the ability to
designate and keep track of units (if you add 1 ft. and 3 in. you get 15
in.)

Any comments or suggestions?  Ease of use?  Shortcomings?  Any other
products out there?

---
Jason Kilgore




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