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Re: Calculation Software

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I'm coming in late on this discussion, but I'll add that Mathcad is a fabulous package for custom analysis work and documentation. It is very readable and easy to use once you get the hang of the syntax. I used it for many years in the aerospace industry.

Unfortunately, I've found it lacking for the plug-and-chug world of structural analysis, where you perform the same calculation based on industry/code formulas which are easily referenced by a chapter & eq number. Also, the output - though pretty and complete - is very verbose, leading to calc folders overflowing with paper. I can put five or six simple/short multi-span beams on a single sheet, and I have an excel sreadsheet which will neatly print the entire wind loads (MWFRS/C&C Walls & Roofs) for a whole section of building in three pages. It takes a full sheet or more to do a single beam calc, and a readily available sheet for wind loads prints out on 7 or 8 pages.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your need. I have used Enercalc, and find it very useful and very quick. The formulas used for the different sections should be listed in the help file (but are not), so back checking the program can get tedious. It has its limitations, but it produces clean output and has a lot of different analysis types. I believe it's in the $1200-$1300 range, but there is a new version increment due soon (6.0), and there is usually a special price around $1000 when that occurs.

Someone mentioned Woodworks. I have an old version which was a giveaway by a wood products company. I absolutely love the program, though I only use it for beams and columns. The input is super-easy and the "show me what works" type interface is great for quick stuff and evaluating options. I don't particularly like their anti-piracy controls. The software requires a "key code" from the manufacturer to activate and is only available via phone from a CS rep. As they're only open from 9-4 M-F, if you have a crash or need to reinstall after 4pm on Friday, you're SOL for finishing that job over the weekend. It's also $800 for a single license, though that includes a shearwall program and a connections program. Still too much for a single-material calculator, imho. Funny, though, extra copies are only $295. If I could get a license for that much, I'd buy it today (hint, hint, should any WoodWorks reps monitor this list). If anyone is interested, perhaps we could get a group purchase together to get the cost-per-copy down.

Jordan

At 06:14 PM 7/8/2004 -0500, you wrote:
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

Jordan Truesdell, PE



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