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RE: Software maintenance

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> Many of the structural software vendors are switching to
> yearly maintenance agreements with upgrades included rather
> than support agreements and upgrade releases.  Personally
> I do not think this is such a bad thing.  We recently
> reviewed all of the software we use and selected a core
> group that we were willing to commit to continued use and
> support with upgrade maintenance agreements.

I have no problem with yearly maintenance fees if there are benefits that go
along with the costs - engineering software is a perfect example of this.
Design codes change continuously (AISC, ACI, IBC, NFPA, etc.), and
programmers have to be paid to update the software.  Design software is
(usually) continuously tweaked to make design smoother, or to add new
abilities, or fix (gasp) bugs.  If my stamp and signature is going on
information produced by software written by someone else, I want the
absolute latest version with as many bugs removed as possible.

I DO have a problem with being forced to upgrade other types of software
every time some new version comes out, which is basically what you're doing
with maintenance fees.  AutoCAD LT 2004 will draw a line just as well as
AutoCAD LT 2005.  There are changes and advantages with 2005, but is it
worth paying several hundred dollars a seat to upgrade?  The same with
programs like Word and Excel.  I prefer to upgrade every second or third
version, unless there is a major improvement that I would like to have. 

The reason my original comments were so anti-maintenance fee is that I'm
viewing the TEDDS/Mathcad purchase as a type of "office" software.  I write
the equations, so I'm responsible for fixing errors.  I want to be able to
decide if the newest version has enough features to justify the upgrade
cost, not have it forced on me.  I may completely change my mind when I get
the TEDDS demo CD in a few days.  Who knows.

Jason Kilgore
Leigh & O'Kane, LLC
Kansas City, Missouri

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