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RE: Calculation Software

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The biggest problem with Excel is that the formulas used in the cells are
not visible, whereas with Mathcad "what you see is what you get". When I do
an Excel spreadsheet, I type in a representation of the formula being used
in an adjacent cell - I consider this essential, so that anyone viewing the
printed spreadsheet can understand exactly what it is doing. However, there
is no guarantee that the actual cell formula exactly matches the formula I
typed in. 

Here, Excel is the most popular calculation program, but we are looking at
expanding our use of Mathcad due to its ability to reduce hidden errors. The
biggest problem I have is that it takes me too long to develop the initial
template for even a simple design, since I am a relative newcomer to using
Mathcad. I'm sure once I've used it for a while, the time effects will
improve, but there will always be some time commitment in getting that first
template developed. (I know that it will save time in the future, but I
don't always have the extra time to spend "now".) 

William C. Sherman, PE 
(Bill Sherman) 
CDM, Denver, CO
Phone: 303-298-1311
Fax: 303-293-8236
email: shermanwc(--nospam--at)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Christopher Wright [mailto:chrisw(--nospam--at)] 
> Sent: Monday, July 12, 2004 1:24 PM
> To: SEAOC Newsletter
> Subject: Re: Calculation Software
> >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.
> There's another thing you can do with Excel, and that's merge 
> the calculation results into Word documents which mimic 
> manual calculations. 
> I do this with ASME Code calculation very conveniently. The 
> merge documents themselves go into reports which show the 
> numbers for people who need help doing the arithmetic and 
> they're a lot more compact and easier to distribute. I'm 
> doing some bracket design calculations right now the same 
> way, and I find with a little care I can re-use the sheets 
> with very little editing. 
> The real decision to make is whether the actual math 
> manipulation is more work in your particular case than 
> communication and presentation of results. If your math is 
> elegant involving things like iterations and matrix 
> manipulation, you'f probably do better with math oriented 
> software like MathCAD. If your math is simple but the reults 
> need to have some polish Excel calculations with results 
> merged into a Word document is a pretty good choice.
> Christopher Wright P.E.    |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
> chrisw(--nospam--at)        | this distance"   (last words of Gen.
> ___________________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 
> 1864)

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