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RE: Spreadsheets for Cold-Formed Sections?

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Of course one should verify the software.  But I can do that much faster
than I can WRITE the software.

I guess it also depends on what the required functionality of the
spreadsheet is.  If all Gary needs to do is calculate section properties
of a simple built-up shape, a spreadsheet will do the trick.  If I
recall correctly, though, CFS does some pretty sophisticated stuff --
allowing you to add stiffening bends in the sections, variable bend
radii, lip dimensions, etc.  If he needs all that functionality, a
spreadsheet would require some pretty complex logic.

A lot also depends on one's approach to spreadsheet design.  A basic
nuts-and-bolts spreadsheet for a simple repetitive calculation doesn't
take long.  For a complex spreadsheet requiring a lot of logic, though,
I usually do most of the calculation in a VBA routine, because it's so
much easier to control the logical branching (if this, then that, but
not if it's this, but for this third case, do the other...).
Spreadsheet formulas for complex logic so common to design get difficult
to audit.  For these types of spreadsheets, I usually find that I spend
about 20% of my time writing the part that actually does the number
crunching, and the other 80% organizing the input and output into the
format I want, making the spreadsheet idiot-proof, adding bells and
whistles (drop-down menus, radio buttons, toggles, etc.) and debugging
and testing.   The basic number-crunching part usually gets done to the
point of just being useable to satisfy immediate project demands, then
the rest happens in spare time later.  I try to make it as user-friendly
as possible, so if I distribute it around the office, I don't have to
explain to everybody, "It won't do this, and if you want to do that, you
need to input it like this...".  It also helps when I set it aside for a
while, then need to use it a year or two later.

Obviously, everyone needs to decide for themselves where to make their
investment -- in time spent developing a tool or in money buying one.

-- Joel Adair
SHW Group
Plano, TX

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Allen [mailto:t.w.allen(--nospam--at)cox.net] 
Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 11:23 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: RE: Spreadsheets for Cold-Formed Sections?

Shouldn't one verify the algorithms of any black box software?

That is the reason I prefer to write my own spreadsheets, not because
it's
more cost effective.

All of the formulae one needs for CFS is in the AISI Design Manual (one
of
the best design manuals since Blodgett, IMO)

Of course, that could be one reason why I'm not Rich and Famous (tm).

:o)
 
T. William (Bill) Allen, S.E.
ALLEN DESIGNS
Consulting Structural Engineers
 V (949) 248-8588 . F(949) 209-2509

-----Original Message-----
From: Adair, Joel [mailto:jadair(--nospam--at)shwgroup.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 7:02 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: RE: Spreadsheets for Cold-Formed Sections?

Gary --

I think you may have already found your answer -- to use CFS, because
developing your own spreadsheet is too time-consuming.  My experience
has been that, if there's commercial software that does what you need it
to do, it's nearly always cheaper to buy the software than it is to
develop, verify, and troubleshoot your own in-house "software".  At $595
for CFS, you'd have to develop a working alternative in probably
something like 3-6 hours of time that would otherwise be charged to a
client.  I would think even if you know light-gauge design inside and
out, and are a wiz-bang spreadsheet programmer, you'd probably be
hard-pressed to do that.  (Of course, if work is slow, and you need
something to do, spreadsheet development or other "sharpening-the-saw"
activities are a good use of time.)

If you want to do your light-gauge section calcs within Excel because of
interaction with other parts of your design workflow, then you might
consider buying the CFS DLL from RSG.  You could have it do the
gruntwork of the calculations, and just write a Visual Basic
user-defined function that takes input from the spreadsheet, calls the
DLL, and returns the results of its calculations to the spreadsheet.
That would be a far simpler programming exercise on your end that might
justify the additional expense of buying the DLL.

-- Joel Adair
SHW Group
Plano, TX

-----Original Message-----
From: Gary L. Hodgson and Assoc. [mailto:design(--nospam--at)hodgsoneng.ca] 
Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 8:27 AM
To: SEAINT Mail List
Subject: Spreadsheets for Cold-Formed Sections?

List,

Does anybody know of any excel spreadsheets for calculating the section 
properties of cold-formed steel sections?  I already use CFS from RSG 
Software (http://rsgsoftware.com/) that gives me what I want, but I'd 
prefer to do all of this within Excel.

I tried creating my own spreadsheet but I found it too time consuming.  
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

cheers,
Gary

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