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Re: [WL] seaint Digest for 29 Apr 2005

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> From: "Polhemus, Bill" <Bill.Polhemus(--nospam--at)>
> Subject: RE: 2D / 3D Frame Analysis - Affordable
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> I have to give kudos to Visual Analysis. The thing that really sold me
> on it, believe it or not, was that "thirty day demo" thing. It really is
> fully functional; there is nothing you're "locked out" of. I used it on
> a couple of jobs, learned how to use it, and then it made sense to just
> go with it instead of the other product I was considering.

I was involved in a complex project a few years ago. In order to confirm
issues related to design results on the software that was being used, we
recreated the model in VA/IES on the 30 day trial version (it was there
and filled the need at the instant). Of course the project took much
longer than expected and I bought a license. Liked the price. Liked the
software. Liked the support. Sad that it won't handle Canadian code.

Dr. Software ( produces Dr. Frame and Dr. Beam.
INEXPENSIVE and great for FAST conceptual and what-if work. Concurrent
model and analysis gives instant feedback. Not really "design" software
since you will have to back up your design with some manual calcs but
the grunt work is done. Mac and Windows.

I REALLY like MultiFrame by Formsys, Australia (or Daystar in US) for its price range. I have been using it for
about 10 years. Most structural software is begining to match the
interface for useability. Very friendly for quick model generation and
load application. Cell entries will interpret an entered equation,
directly, much like a spreadsheet - leave your calculator at home. Cut
and paste to/from spreadsheets or write a linked interface. Dynamic
analysis. You can get more advanced analysis capabilites but this is
very useful for most work. Reports are awesome with limited flexibility.
Sad that it won't handle Canadian code directly but you have some
flexibility to define your own code checks. Sad that they dropped
development on the Mac version but the Wintel version is sweet.

So, I recently bought RISA 3D ( for another complex
project. In retrospect, they were not completely open in their responses
to some of my pre-purchase questions. I would have purchased the
software, anyway. However, customer support has been good. Wish for
friendlier model building capability! DXF import has been essential
(okay, did I mention that I REALLY like Multiframe ...). Physical member
feature can be useful but it can also be painful. Some very nice
analysis capabilities. Reporting and data management (can cut/paste to
spreadsheet/database software) really needs a post-processor when you
have more than a couple dozen unique member configurations (any software
developers listening?). Envelope and detail reports cannot be generated
in the same analysis run. I haven't received my copy of the latest
upgrade so I can't be completely thorough in my review.

SODA (4.0 just released), brought to you by Acronym Software
(, which also produced Woodworks. Excellent
customer support. I have a tender spot for this one as it was spun-off
from my Alma Mater, University of Waterloo (no great football but the
Concrete Toboggan team always places at the top and the solar car just
pulverized some distance records). This software has 2 very unique
1) True structure optimization. Most software simply determines that a
member is inadequate and increases/decreases the member. SODA will
determine where the steel is most efficient in the TOTAL structure and
modify specific members to obtain least overall weight. Member
parameters can be restricted for optimization. Analysis/optimization is
very efficient.
2) Deflection limits are resolved using energy methods <--- does YOUR
software do this? Not in this price range! 
Import/export CSV files. Good reports but not flexible. US and Canadian
steel standards (but not S16-01, yet). They are looking for an interface
development partner. I have a dream that they get together with Formsys

I have another dream: software companies with the need for a dongle
(hardware lock) will actually put their entire installation software on
the dongle - like a game cartridge. So, when I move the lock to a new
machine, I can install the software as well, without searching for the
CD. Dongle manufacturers, are you listening?
R. Paul Ransom, P. Eng.
Burlington, Ontario, Canada
<mailto:ado26(--nospam--at)> <>

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