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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Ligonier Pennsylvania
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    Default Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    Hi everyone
    First time on this forum, I'm a home builder in Pa using data-cad every once in a while. I got the demo disk from Softplan today and its seems like a pretty nice program. I also like the idea that you can buy a used copy and upgrade unlike
    chief.
    I see that Ebays sales Chief about 20 to 1 to Softplan.
    Has anyone used both programs to advise me or would someone recommend another program.
    Thanks
    Rick

  2. #2
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    Aug 2004
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    Menlo Park, CA
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    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    You're wrong about not being able to buy a used copy and upgrade with Chief. They do charge a license transfer fee, though.

    Search for past comments, there are lots.

    Could be E-bay sells many more Chief copies because the user base is that much bigger.

    You can get a working demo copy of Chief and try it out for free. Unfortunately, you can't do that with Softplan. Gotta buy it first. (Unless they've changed that recently.)

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    Richard
    I might be wrong about that but I do know that everyone on Ebay in the last 2 weeks warns you that they are not upgradable and that some have call Chief and verified it.
    Thats all I know, I haven't call.
    Rick

  4. #4
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    Jul 2004
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    166

    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    I've used both. Power-wise, they're about the same. I prefer SoftPlan's user interface for drawing floorplans, although CA has them beat hands down for 3d renderings. SoftPlan's Softview module is a clumsy workaround at best.

    The real difference, in my opinion, is the "eye candy," for lack of a better term. The CA screen looks like a high school Pascal class designed it. It's just awful. The SP interface is better, although neither of them is on the same level with AutoCad. Speaking of which, if you have a chance to try AutoCad Architectural Desktop, give it a shot - it'll be familiar if you've used any other flavors of AutoCad. Be warned, though, that although it's probably the most powerful of the three, it also has the steepest learning curve by a wide margin.

  5. #5
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    Aug 2004
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    Menlo Park, CA
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    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    Quote Originally Posted by zxsmurf
    Richard
    I might be wrong about that but I do know that everyone on Ebay in the last 2 weeks warns you that they are not upgradable and that some have call Chief and verified it.
    Thats all I know, I haven't call.
    Rick
    Ah, well that's a little different. They are undoubtedly selling illegal copies in this case. (Probably this is a case where they have upgraded themselves and are trying to sell their old version, very much against their license agreement.) If it were a legal copy, it would definitely be upgradable.
    Last edited by RichardAIA; 05-23-2005 at 11:32 PM.

  6. #6
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    Easton,MA.
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    435

    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    I have used softplan for about six years,for the most part I am pleased with it.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    Quote Originally Posted by RichardAIA
    Ah, well that's a little different. They are undoubtedly selling illegal copies in this case. (Probably this is a case where they have upgraded themselves and are trying to sell their old version, very much against their license agreement.) If it were a legal copy, it would definitely be upgradable.

    Richard
    I called Chief 1-800-482-4433-
    According to sales- they are allowed to sell their older copies and they should market them as if they are upgradable or not.
    If that serial no. was upgraded it cannot be upgraded again.
    Perfectly okay to buy an older version to use, Chief will actually look up the serial no to verify to see if it was upgraded or not in the case someone was telling you that it was upgradable. They are sending me a demo disk that is good for 4 hours. Are you using this program? Total price with all the goodies is 700 less than softplan and with the special it is 900 less.( They will let you trade in approved older cad package for a 200.00 savings).

    Andrewt-
    What would you have for a 900.00 difference?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    I'd search the board - I've written a lot about both of these programs, including fairly recent reviews which ran in Builder Magazine last year.

    The programs are getting closer in capability and there is a lot of cross-over, however there are still significant differences. Chief is still better at real-time 3D/modeling. SoftPlan is still stronger in production drafting environments. That's why you're more apt to find a remodeler using Chief and a homebuilder using SoftPlan. Not hard and fast, but that's the trend I've seen working with my clients.

    SoftPlan has a much more capable materials take-off module
    SoftPlan also has SoftTalk - the voice activation module .This is a huge productivty tool.
    SoftPlan has ReView, which allows you to work with a PocketPC when on jobsites, and feed back in to the main program.

    These are extra cost modules, but if you take SoftList out of the base package, the price between Chief and SP is pretty close, and SP is actually cheaper now if you need multiple seats I believe.

    I would also respectfully disagree that the 3D module is a 'workaround at best'. No it isn't. But it is a separate .exe, and it is not as point-and-click as Chief's 3D. But you have to remember that it is used not just to generate 3D exteriors, but also to slice sections, shoot elevations, generate bill-of-materials, etc. Plus, I would argue that it has superior rendering capability if you're willing to put the time in. I've seen great 3D work come out of both programs so that may be splitting hairs at this point . Chief's 3D is most definitely more automated, however with any automation comes limitations, so be sure you're not going to come up against a roadblock.

    I like (and own) them both - my suggestion is to evaluate 1)Why you want CAD in the first place (are you a designer?) 2) What and how you're going to use it (working drawings or just presentation?) and 3) Get them both in-house to see what feels the best to you. CAD drafting is a tactile activity and if you don't like the interface or how the program "draws" - you're going to be an unhappy camper no matter what bells and whistles it has.

    Hope that helps
    JLS
    =====================================
    ((Planning + Process) x Technology) = SUCCESS!

    Joe Stoddard
    Mountain Consulting Group, LLC
    Twitter! http://www.twitter.com/moucon

    How can we help you achieve your goals?
    ====================================

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Ligonier Pennsylvania
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    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    Joe
    Thanks for the information, I've drawn one house in data-cad a while back and I would only be using this every so often. We do get alot of clients that pick plans from books and them modify them and then we usually send them to someone to draw them up. Everytime they come back from designer or etc we seem to be always bidding against another person or it takes way longer than it should. It would also be nice to do little jobs with it.

    What are your thoughts of me getting chief 9.5 of off ebay since I'm only dabbling right now? They go from 500-1000 ballpark. The main thing is it needs to be simple to use.
    I use Winest for estimating, project 98 for scheduling and the wife uses quickbooks pro.
    Thanks Rick

  10. #10
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    Menlo Park, CA
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    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    Rick,

    I just checked the EULA for Chief 9.5 and it would clearly be a violation of the agreement to sell an old, previously upgraded copy. Maybe Chief Sales is doing a wink-wink, nudge-nudge because they know that they will ultimately get you as a long-term customer in the long run.

    I do use Chief (and have used a bunch of different programs). My guess is that for someone who would be using a program on an infrequent basis, it is likely to be the easiest to come back to after a hiatus, and do fairly simple plans. It is pretty intuitive (at least the basic functions), based on how quickly I've seen people get up to speed with it. It has excellent training CDs available at very low cost, too.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    Senatobia, MS
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    1,897

    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    I don't want to hijack the thread. But, what about SolidBuilder from Digital Canal. I used AutoCAD for a long time and then switched to DataCAD because it was faster (I used CADKey for my renderings and modeling). Now I am considering using SolidBuilder to train our students and to match the software of some of our clients. What are your feelings about SolidBuilder?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    bkerley
    Why are you getting away from Data-cad since you have overcome the learning curve?
    Why solidbuilder over the other 2?
    Rick

  13. #13
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    Feb 2005
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    Racine, WI
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    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    I like the "idea" behind SolidBuilder, but I'm unsure of how easy it is to use. I use AutoCAD for everything I draw and I have become so used to the way that works, that I judge all other software against it. To me, AutoCAD is very easy to use becuase of my five years of experience with it, so if a program is hard to use or has a very large learning curve it turns me away from it. I already went through a massive learning process with AutoCAD, so I'm not looking forward to doing it again.

    I'm trying to get a demo version of SB, and apparently it works WITH AutoCAD, so that may be a plus. If I can get my hands on it, I'll write a review.
    Your guy lost. Get over it.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    Yeah but Bill... you might have to install XP to use something else LOL :-)

    JLS
    =====================================
    ((Planning + Process) x Technology) = SUCCESS!

    Joe Stoddard
    Mountain Consulting Group, LLC
    Twitter! http://www.twitter.com/moucon

    How can we help you achieve your goals?
    ====================================

  15. #15
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    Aug 2004
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    Senatobia, MS
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    1,897

    Default Re: Chief Architect vs. Softplan

    Quote Originally Posted by zxsmurf
    bkerley
    Why are you getting away from Data-cad since you have overcome the learning curve?
    Why solidbuilder over the other 2?
    Rick
    We do a lot of panelization and prefabrication of our structures. DataCAD is a little less intuative when it comes to producing panel elevations than SolidBuilder. One of our clients introduced me to SolidBuilder a while back and the framing macros and material takeoffs are really well integrated when compared to the other products I have used. The learning curve for SolidBuilder won't be that bad because of my previous experience. However, my students may have a tough time because they have little or no experience in design/build type development. I also tried Envisioneer and the version I had was very flaky and the interface looked a lot like one of those $10 home design CAD programs.

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