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RE: Calculation Software

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I was a large fan of Mathcad, but have been questioning my devotion
recently.  In theory, it is a great package.  Easily programmable and easy
learning curve.  They have a feature for basic programming that you can
learn in about 15 minutes if you have ever programmed before.  Variable
tracking, units, and even external references are all amazingly powerful
features.  For example, I have a file that has my standard units in it
(PSF,KSF,KLF,KSI, etc).  I reference that file into all others.  If I ever
have a new unit, I can add it to that file and every other template will be
updated.  Code re-use is huge and can save incredible amounts of time.

Mathcad 2000 has been pretty unstable for me.  I have created templates that
use FEA procedures for multispan beams, braced frames, and many others.
They only run about half the time.  I get errors or the screen blanks out.
My code may not be perfect, but I don't expect the software to crash when I
divide by zero.  It should simply return an error.  Also, it doesn't like to
graph for some reason on complex sheets.

About a month ago I moved to version 11.  Been stable so far, but I am using
it less because of the instability of 2000.  I would recommend you at least
look at it.  If you keep your sheets relatively simple, it is an amazing
piece of software.

Jake Watson, P.E.
Salt Lake City, UT

-----Original Message-----
From: Jason W. Kilgore [mailto:jkilgore(--nospam--at)leok.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2004 5:15 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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