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RE: Re: Retaining Wall software survey : Proof?

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To all who responded,
Thanks for all the input on the software. Like Joe, I have found RISA to be a very useful program and very intuitive in practice. In addition, Bruce and staff at RISATech have always been helpful and quick to respond. If RetainPro follows in similar fashion, I am sure that I will find the same satisfaction with it as well.
All software has bugs. Having programmed extensively in the past, I am always wary of software that I haven't tried because it requires a fair degree of monitoring before I feel that I can trust the results without hand-checking the whole calculation all over again. Once I spot where the bugs do exist, and the software has been in use for awhile, I know what to look for, and just focus on those outlying results. Often times the display of results, especially graphical results, seems to be where the bugs show up. It's rather interesting to read the output table, look at the signs of each value, and see them within the range of expected results, but then plot the graphic and see that a particular element seems to have decided to 'go its own way'. I've spent literally hours chasing down the reason, suspecting unconnected members, duplicate nodes, swapped local axes, before finally arriving at the fact that none of those are the culprits, and that it is a bug in the software. It's quite easy to have an internal calculation in the software code compute out of the range of a particular variable, and throw the end results off. I've done it and seen it happen so I am always wary of the output.
By the way, I've been using Excel spreadsheets and hand calculations to do retaining walls. It's probably my programmer background that has kept me using spreadsheets, since I can adapt the spreadsheet for unique conditions (axial loading of the wall having been mentioned as an unusual case in this thread).

Best regards,

Thomas Honles, SE, PE
Los Angeles, CA

-----Original Message-----
From: Joe Grill [mailto:jgrill(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Monday, April 24, 2006 8:01 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Re: Retaining Wall software survey : Proof?

I definitely agree with Dennis on this one.  I have owned Retain Pro for many years and Enercalc for several years now.  As far as Retain Pro goes, anytime I have had a question Hugh Brooks has had an answer for me.  There have been a couple of times that he has contacted me by phone for explanations etc.  My experience with the support from Hugh has been excellent, a model that many other software companies could take note.


I guess while I’m handing out praise, I will do the same for Risa.  I have also been extremely pleased with their support over the years.

Joe Grill


Joseph R. Grill, P.E. (Structural)

Shephard - Wesnitzer, Inc.

Civil Engineering and Surveying

P.O. Box 3924

Sedona, AZ  86340

PHONE (928) 282-1061

FAX (928) 282-2058