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Mark10 (Structural) (OP)
23 May 01 8:49
My question is about which FEA software, with concrete plate design ability, is the best for the US. It seems that STAAD is the most popular and has the majority of the market. What are your opinions of STAAD overall and would you recommend buying it compared with competitors? I have reviewed STAAD, Robot, SAP200, IES VisualAnalysis, RISA 3D(No Concrete until 2002), and STRAP, but it is very hard to get a good grasp of the programs with demo versions and limited experience. From past threads it seems that RISA is the best, with STAAD offering many problems. Thanks for your input.  
Helpful Member!  Qshake (Structural)
23 May 01 9:52
For my $0.02,  I don't use any post-processors not created by myself or others at my company.  The use of codes to design is subjective and usually those software companies have programmers deciding the gray issues. Of course, the argument will be made that the programs are checked; and they are.  But are they checked against the problems we face day to day?  I don't think so.  When's the last time we were asked to do something right out of a textbook?

As a structural program, STAAD is mediocre, SAP and GTSTRUDL are much better and, of course, more costly.  
Helpful Member!(3)  Mark10 (Structural) (OP)
23 May 01 17:23
I agree with your view about the reliability of software not created by the user. But, STAAD claims that 75% of engineering firms are using their software, which seems very impressive. Also, when looking at structural job openings, most firms are looking for a STAAD backround. As a young engineer without a lot of FEA backround, the decision becomes a little difficult. I will be getting full evaluation versions of STAAD and SAP shortly for a complete review. Any other suggestions would be very valuable. Thanks  
Qshake (Structural)
23 May 01 18:06
Those numbers are impressive yet consider that at a time when the cost of complex structural analysis software was out of reach for 90% of the firms STAAD comes along and produces a mediocre product for an astounding low price - quite a bargin.  I myself am a former STAAD user and my company still has a license for the software although we are moving toward SAP as a bread-and-butter program.  We also have licenses for GTSTRUDL, SAP, COSMOS and a number of other more specific structural analysis programs.  It's been our experience that for complex analysis we just couldn't rely on STAAD and as I stated we have used STAAD for routine analysis for some time.

Good Luck.

Also check out Modern Steel COnstruction at AISC website as they have a yearly survey on structural software.
JAE (Structural)
23 May 01 19:00

I would agree with Qshake on the Staad viewpoint; although my experience with Staad dates back to around 1989; I didn't enjoy or trust using the product.   

Also...I'd be careful about trusting the 75% claim.  Marketing is really just honesty with a sly grin.  How would they know the percent USING their product.  When I used Staad, we also had McDonnel Douglas STRUDL (bought out by GTSTRUDL) and tried to utilize both as a check on our work.  No comparison.  We stopped USING Staad, yet I'm sure Research Engineers would have counted us as a Staad user.

Riz (Structural)
24 May 01 3:23
Staad is doing well with us here. Initially, it had an air of not being user ..... but it gets okay with time.
I would still vote for it.
Helpful Member!  austim (Structural)
24 May 01 6:35
This minor comment is almost certainly hugely outdated, but may be so am I, so I will persist.

In early 1992 I checked the design of some cranes and other temporary equipment to be used for construction of a major bridge between Thailand and Laos.  The designer had used STAAD for the analysis of the 3D truss structures involved.  

I was puzzled by output that reported the stresses in bending members, when the member properties entered had been limited to Area and I values (ie no section moduli, no member dimensions).  That looked like a pretty clever trick to me, except that practically none of the reported stress values were correct.

Eventually I realized that the bending stresses had been calculated on the basis that all members were symmetrical and 10 inches deep.  

However skilled the programmers at writing good code and elegant solution routines, I would have dark doubts about the engineering skills available to a software team that could build such an assumption into their published product.

I would heartily support Qshake's suggestion that software programmers are unlikely to be sufficiently skilled in structural design to leave it all to them.
msajjadh (Structural)
24 May 01 20:57
I also agree with the views presented above. We are using STAAD since 1994. But now we realize that we should switch over to SAP. STAAD people claim a lot but it is difficult to prove it.
chandr (Structural)
28 May 01 23:09
I'm also an old Staad fan since 92.  I've found it's very useful but you've to be very careful, esp. with not-basic features, eg. inclined supports, master-slave:RIGID, nonlinear analy, etc.  I also faced with so many strange bugs, including the one raised by austim.  I really recommend small model test before using it even though in the present 2001 version, I found it's much better.

Anyway, if you talk about RC Plate design I don't think either Staad or Sap is suitable, you have to combine yourself the Mxy to Mx, My yourself to get the design Mx, My before calculating reinforcement.  Strap on the other hand combine and graphically show the design Mx, My, as well as the computed reinforcement grid.   You can grasp a prelim.view of the reinf.density before you can make a detail design yourself if you don't trust its algo.  But if you deal mainly with RC/Post-tensioned slab, ADAPT-Floor or Floor are much better.  Or if you also require buckling analysis or cable element but you have to write Mx,My,As module yourself, Gt-strudl should be the choice.  Therefore, which suits you depends on your need.
Mark10 (Structural) (OP)
29 May 01 11:12
Thanks everybody for excellent feedback. After some initial use of the SAP and STAAD evaluation copies I can see the drawback with the lack of design Mx, My. I will look further into STRAP as suggested for this analysis and concrete design. Any other/more suggestions would be great.
chandr (Structural)
29 May 01 21:39
It may take time to get Strap evaluation copy.  In the mean time, you might want to have your eyes on the RC slab design module of Prokon.  It's cheaper and might do what you want.  You can dwld the time lim.demo copy from its website.
v2 (Structural)
1 Jun 01 1:02
The best software ever for concrete slab design is SAFE. This is a THE specialty software for concrete slabs, period. go ahead buy it, you will never be sorry.
fkd (Structural)
1 Jun 01 21:38
I nice question is being discussed here and I'm a luck guy for this, cause I'm a Staad Pro user and since long time I've been tricked by this software, not speaking about automatic load and structures generation, design issues and analogue things that I don't trust even in my father only I'm my own judgment, spreadsheets and little Pascal progs I've created.

  But the question is as long a software package is reliable? I've used SAP90, SAP2000 and GTStrudl, the interfaces ares the the worsts I've ever seem. But you should say that the results are trustable, ok I agree, but have you guys ever stopped to think about how much time we spend creating a complex structure geometry plus loading cases, releases and etc... for what we have allready in mind? It will be very helpfull for me a good interface and automatic reliable features. What you have to say about this?

 I've tryed two packages that seems to be very good, Prokon, a guess that it's Britsh, and an Australian one the Space Gass. NE1 of you have formed opinions about this two, and maybe about MultiFrame 4D.


chandr (Structural)
2 Jun 01 7:06
If you satisfy with the design results w/o considering Mxy, membrane forces, and treatment of different elevations, SAFE is OK.  Otherwise, just take a look at Floor or Adapt-Floor, you might feel different.

I don't know what kind of problems you're dealing with.   I'm not sure about the stability of the Prokon modules, esp. if you've to solve large problems.  If you deal with only line elements, I believe Microstran and Spacegass are among the best, esp.if you're dealing with cables. ( Both are Australian stuffs.)  Microstran looks nicer and has moving load generator.
Regarding StaadPro, 2001 is much better, less bugs and capable of showing moving load graphically.
ihs (Structural)
3 Jun 01 13:37
I have read all the messages above.

I think one should try STRAP, as i am also doing this kind of survey to pick up the best among available software and i think STRAP is impressive.

As an alternative one should also try PROKON. it is limited in abilities but very handy to use.
Ariv (Structural)
12 Jun 01 6:40
I have read all the above information. I also worked on Staad, STAAD/Pro and STRAP. I found STRAP is the MOST GUI based software for generalstructures to most complecated industrial structures. Regarding the Plate analysis & design STRAP , one can get the results the way he needs. It means the program will automatically convertes the the mxy and Myx etccc to the MX & MY design moments. In other softwares we have to convert them manually. ALso in STRAP one can see the STress contour for any result type for bottom face or top face indipentently. Ultimately It gives the reinforcement area required for the forces otherway it also gives bar dis & spacing in the slab element.

In elements results, one can draw a line on the element and request the program to produce the results in the section line. ( say moment or shear or steel area in that line )

If any one is really looking for a FEM software with Fully GUI based and realiable results and offordable price ,  they can try for STRAP in the following address.

Helpful Member!  jlegner (Structural)
12 Jun 01 15:50
My former boss loved STAAD. We finally convinced him to move to RISA-3D, but I think he's second guessing that decision now. I wonder if he remembers that STAAD had more bugs than a herd of musk ox. :)
wwjk (Structural)
12 Jun 01 16:34
I, too, had a former boss, but he used something called FatPack!?!  Whatever that was, I've no idea.  But I've you're considering going from Risa3D to Staad, I recommend you might as well go back to punchcards.
arnie (Structural)
9 Jul 01 12:18
I have used STAAD since 95 and I've had enough, way too many bugs and dodgy answers.  I've turned to Robot, ts the most user friendly I've seen especially for slabs and stuff.  I have just received the latest version and it has Pushover analysis in it which is a bit of a bonus. If you like programming your own postprocessing environments our other stuff then Robot has its own Windows Object Model so yu can directly program into/from Robot in VBasic/C++ etc.
Mark10 (Structural) (OP)
9 Jul 01 13:45
After a complete review of many of these programs, I also decided to go with ROBOT. It has the concrete capabilities of STRAP, but includes many more features and is much more advanced at a lower cost. ROBOT also was the only company that actually demonstrated their program with an example that I gave them over the internet. The only drawback seems to be that the program is not as establish as a program such as GT Strudl, with user groups and newsletters.  
chandr (Structural)
9 Jul 01 23:08
But if you're using US.code, you must know very well that you can't use many of its modules since it's a product from France.
nick35 (Automotive)
10 Jul 01 12:55
Let me correct one thing about ROBOT software since I am in California, using it for more than 5 years.
It includes detailed design capabilities for steel (per ASD and LRFD, with member check and optimization) and concrete (per ACI edition 99, with calculation of required and provided reinforcement).
ROBOT software is definitely a comprehensive FE analysis and design tool for American engineers. Its graphical interface and Windows environment are far more advanced than other US products.
free (Electrical)
10 Jul 01 20:18
What about a good program for analysing an exisiting concrete slab/wall conbination, where the reinforcement is already in place.
chandr (Structural)
10 Jul 01 22:57

I didn't say that it's not good for American.  I've been testing 14.1 millen. since Dec.  The modules you quote are there but many others are still not available for US codes.
arnie (Structural)
11 Jul 01 4:39

Even if you took the modules that weren't to American codes out of the software you'd be left with a better product than most that are out there, particularly STAAD.

I agree with Nick35 about the graphics especially when creating slabs as it has an surface generator, you apply loads and properties to surfaces and then let the software auto mesh, brilliant! A concept STAAD have yet to realise.

The front end to ROBOT has many features you would associate with a bigger FE preprocessor like Femap which makes it great for more complex geometry.
jamie2000 (Structural)
11 Jul 01 7:26
This is a great forum going here.  

I also think STAAD leaves alot to be desired.  I am currently trying to use it to analyze a steel building.  I created the original file with STAAD Pro 2000.  I now have the latest STAAD Pro 2001 and it crashes when I try to open the original input file.  The ROBOT software sounds good.  Would someone please tell me where I can get it?  Are demo versions available?

Mark10 (Structural) (OP)
11 Jul 01 7:43
A demo is available. See web site
or call 1-888-477-8491
dharambhagat (Structural)
14 Jul 01 1:14
this the great discussion.
i am using staad for my thesis.
i have modeled a shaft supported tank in staad.
i find difficulty in generating circular slab.also its inbuilt wind load generator is not working.
problems with seismic loading is also there.
when u applied hydrostatic load on element i get difficulty in converting it to seismic loading.also the results of hydrostatic load on element is not matched perfectly.
idl (Structural)
16 Jul 01 23:58
We are using STRAP. We bought it because, at the time, it was the only structural design software with light gauge steel capabilities that could be had at a reasonable price. Comments: VERY, VERY cumbersome. No printed manual (hard copy) included. Technical support: A "Call-in-leave-a-message" system. Allow min. 24 hours.

I am being told that ROBOT is much more user-friendly. Any comments from ROBOT users?
emil (Structural)
18 Jul 01 21:23
You should check SLABS software:
ito99 (Structural)
25 Jul 01 13:16
It is a great discussion... I also used STAAD and I don't trust the results too much.  I wanted to get a Structural Analysis(FEA)/Design software I looked as GTStrudl/Robot13/SAP/Etabs and I decided to go with GTStrudl.  But I really liked ROBOT.  The only reason I did not go with it, is because most of the modules did not support American codes (Specially ACI).  I think Strudl is a GREAT program but with the advent of New/Powerful Graphical Interface technology, it is a shame that they r still using the old stuff.  I am considering Robot 14.xx very seriously unless, GTStrudl is revamping their interface with Verstion 26.  Any input will greatly be appreciated
v2 (Structural)
25 Jul 01 22:51
why not SAP or ETABS!!
These are the best software.
I use ETABS. I think it is the best for buildings.

austim (Structural)
26 Jul 01 1:33
Hi, chandr

I have been searching for a site that will let me download a demo version of prokon.  All of them give me error 404 or similar.

Do you know of a download site that is current ?
chandr (Structural)
26 Jul 01 23:27
Yes, is dead.   But I found a dwld.mirror (official?) here:
chandr (Structural)
26 Jul 01 23:33
Oh, no.  The Mirror's links are all dead.  Let's wait and see if it'll be back.
austim (Structural)
27 Jul 01 5:15
Hi, Chandr,

Thanks for trying anyway.  We may be in for a lomg wait ?
chandr (Structural)
27 Jul 01 9:38
austim: It's up already.
austim (Structural)
27 Jul 01 20:25
chandr: we must stop meeting like this!  However, although i can reach the site, its links still (/again?) return error messages to me (10.30 am Australian EST)
StructuralDzine (Structural)
30 Jul 01 4:31
Have you tried SpaceGass
or Microstran

I prefer Spacegass and US modules are available. You can download a free trial version.
Guest (visitor)
30 Aug 01 2:03
Anyone interested in doing post-tensioned or RC elevated slabs or mat-foundations should consider FLOOR.  A free demonstration version is available at

Big advantages over other packages include:

1)  Highly intuitive graphical interface and design process translates to minimal learning time.

2)  Automatic meshing!!  Just draw the slab outline, supports, and openings and the FE mesh will be automatically generated with the click of a button.

3)  Full application of post-tensioning forces into the system, including PT loads introduced into the system due to geometric irregularities or eccentric tendons.  I have done extensive verification and found the results to be highly accurate.

4)  Responsive and helpful customer support.

In my opinion, for the design of post-tensioned slab systems, FLOOR is the only choice.
Helpful Member!  Ingenuity (Structural)
30 Aug 01 2:22
i agree with PTSIStructural - SCS FLOOR is indeed a very good design and analysis tool for RC and PT floors, and mat foundations, based on FEA.

one of the better aspects of FLOOR is that the authors and support team are structural engineers who have actually designed (and constructed) PT and RC floors...not your "closet programmers" producing black box solutions etc..without understanding real design and construction aspects.

my 2 cents worth...
Solangel (Structural)
30 Aug 01 9:38
In my work we usually design steel structures, we used Visual Analisis, but despite that it's easier to use, it have a lot of bugs too.  We have change to RISA-3D, could you give an opinion of this program.  Whatever comment will be good.
ANTHAE (Civil/Environmental)
31 Aug 01 20:30
Some years ago I researched (then) FEA CAE software
and wrote a treatise for Architectural & Engr'g mag
on my results. Here's what I discovered:

In reading between the lines of software developers' warrantees, and university peer comments, the accuracy
of any CAE software, whether it's STAAD, SAP, GTSTRUDL,
ANSYS, COSMOS, et al, is no better than ±35%, about the
margin of safety (in steel) between yield and failure!

Then using various solved models from pioneer
FEA-analysis texts, I also found wide disparity
between the CAE results, and a mathematical solution.
Believe me, it's very disconcerting to build a simple
2D truss model, load it into your favorite CAE, then
find the printouts don't match the solved problem!!

Yet contacting CAE vendors with this quandary yielded
no direct answers, only "we are the best" gibberish,
or "we have the most installed seats" baloney, and
a bunch of "well, then there outta be a certification agency" hooey. Face it, they're selling a commodity.

And from a purely practical viewpoint, how often have
engineers gone out to the site after their design is
complete, and seen the client has added another story,
or another piece of A/C equipment, or changed the rebar
configuration, that the original CAE model was based on?

There are more common errors than CAE accuracy. I've seen structural analyses which showed inconsistent stress results between load combinations, due to the engineer's simple failure to give individual loads the correct sign ±, yet the both engineer and peer plan checkers missed that.

Writing your own CAE software is even more of a liability.
They'll kill you in a CAE shootout with your own gun, and
then beat you to death with the Code check!

What about uncontrollable variables? That 100-year record windstorm you can't prove because the nearest recorder is miles away, or the 100-year snow that melted before you could make your field inspection, or a roof drain that got plugged and now is buried under 100T's of collapsed steel.

Bottom line, figure whatever CAE software you choose:
1) you get what you pay for, 2) always test it with solved problems, 3) printout, archive and peer review everything,
and 4) carry good E&O coverage.

Cause it's the little stuff that's gonna get you....
austim (Structural)
1 Sep 01 5:12
Hi, anthae.

That must be close to the most depressing (and surprising)thing I have read for ages.  Do you really mean that none of the software you looked at got closer than 35% to your mathematical solutions?

Whenever I have checked my aged DOS software (microsafe) against text book solutions (eg for plate bending) I have got pretty close correlation.  In my world that means within less than 5% discrepancy.

Just what do you mean by your 35%?  Does that apply to the major design forces in a truss, or just the worst percentage resulting from small errors in very small forces?

Helpful Member!  brad (Mechanical)
14 Sep 01 12:58
I would highly question anthae's findings.I have worked in the field for awhile, and done numerous comparisons between codes. I have never seen this level of error due to FEA code issues.

There is currently a relevant discussion which came out of anthae's comments going on in the Finite Element Analysis subgroup.

Regarding the 35% number given--based on my experiences in benchmarking and comparing against elasticity results, I have found consistently that codes are within single-digit accuracy, presuming reasonable user assumptions.

Many of the better codes are within 1-2% of "exact" numerical answers, subject to proper element selection and element assumptions.  This is not me parroting the marketing of the FEA companies--this is me stating my own findings.

The only time I have seen errors on the order which anthae states is when there are poor meshes, or when the "closed-form" problem is not appropriate for elasticity problems (either St. Venant's does not apply, or the calculated problem does not fit the elasticity assumptions for it--i.e. euler buckling assumptions used on squat columns).

Before anybody wrings their hands over anthae's statements, I would encourage you to look at the ancillary discussion of this on the Finite Element Analysis area.

Qshake (Structural)
14 Sep 01 21:38
Brad, thanks for the comments.  I, for one, enjoy your insight on the subject of FEA and computational mechanics.  Keep up the good work.

brad (Mechanical)
3 Oct 01 0:00
Thanks.  The feeling's mutual (esp. your historical bits).
ludvik (Structural)
3 Oct 01 15:23
Sorry for the delayed response...

The only place in FE that I know with significant inaccuracy is I beam torsion. Warping is simply not modeled in most FE packages. Maybe in this area you might have 35% inaccuracy for an unlucky beam under a lot of torsion.

Of course a high level of torsion is uncommon in I beams because they are designed this way, so this is normally not a problem. You need to be careful if you are designing a curved girder though.

Warping is also significant in lateral buckling. Lateral buckling analysis software normally considers warping in individual elements, but there is no continuity of warping at the joints.

18 Oct 01 0:55
the problem with the Research engineers people is the lack of respect for thier costumers. For example, the MASTER/SLAVE specification has been finally been corrected (at least they claim that)in the STAAD PRO2001 version. the people that bought STAAD PRO 2000 and earlier versions obtained WRONG results. This is not only unjust, but also risky for an engineer that uses the software to then realize that his results are wrong. Also when a firm buy a software expecting to solve its structural needs, realizes that the software dont do what thier developers claim, therefore having to buy another software, losing a lot of money. the only question that you can ask with STAAD PRO is " WHAT IS GOING TO BE THE NEXT BUG"?
austim (Structural)
18 Oct 01 2:04
Hi, gradstoodent,

Top marks for subtletly.
Helpful Member!  RiBeneke (Structural)
10 Nov 01 13:20
There are many people who earn a living by developing, writing and supporting good software.  I do not see a reason to deprive them of a living by trying to obtain their software for nothing.  If one is a student, then it is often possible to obtain a demo version for free or cheap.  If one is going to use the software to do paid work, then one should be prepared to pay to purchase it.  That is my view.  I hope I am not being too harsh.

Richard Beneke.
SteamJetPE (Mechanical)
11 Nov 01 15:48
Robot was my choice, after a month of comparing features and costs.  I just couldn't find a better package for what we needed anywhere else.  We design and fab small industrial non-building structures (<500 elements), and do load cases and FEA on fabricated metal structures (VRU ducts, hoods, stacks, etc).  I love everything about it.  But my opinion might have been different if we were using it for larger, more complex structures.  GTStrudl and STAAD looked impre$$ive.

Ejectors, LRVPs, Hybrids
Troubleshooting, startup, design

brad (Mechanical)
12 Nov 01 23:29
please reference the post by gradstoodent a few entries above. He'll help you.


aurelio (Civil/Environmental)
13 Nov 01 18:16
If you only design at concrete, I wish recommend you RCBE their  e mail is RCBEINFO@ACI.COM vertion 5.1.1 is a great software combine vertical load, horizontal load like wind, earthquake.Where you can work with vertical,horizaontal and oblique elements all together. I am sure that is the best of the best.  
Guest (visitor)
27 Nov 01 14:36
How about RAM Advanse . This product is very good and costs a lot less than STAAD , SAP and a few others mentioned . It is a general analysis and design FEA .This use to be Avansse/AVwin98 and was bought by RAM Intl.  The software has been improved and in use for over 10 years. It is especially good for concrete detailing of beams and columns.
artnkman (Structural)
9 Dec 01 22:22
mark10... you mentioned early on in this thread that you have reviewed IES Visual Analysis. Can you share your view on that software?

AlexStruc (Structural)
19 Dec 01 3:10
I just want to add another horror story about STAAD the way ...I agree that the people who makes a living writing software.. should not be deprived of selling a commodity..but I think that in addition to pretend "we are the best"..I think they claim "our program does it all"...gibberish.. Because many grand-father clause engineers partners of firms believe them... I was working as a Sr Structural Engineer in bridge design, and then company was running low of work..even thought we did not use STAAD for bridges..I have used STAAD off and on since 1989.  Contrary to Anthae's findings in the past ( in previous versions) I have been able to double check statics and accuracy withn hand.. in my practice I just don't accept any output unless I can check it.. ( by the way in this firm I was working I was shocked seeing binders of calculations for bridges ( done before me) .. containing only printouts .. without absolutely no checking or elaboration on results.) Well. they asked me to check a 150' tower for new antennaes with ICE formation using STAAD suite , first time for me..I asked a junior engr to draw it in Microstation and we transferred the dxf file into STAAD..thinking that using this advantage would save time..the results were disastrous...because STAAD did not create hundreds of joints tying at mid point of other members.. and connectivity took me two days to renumber joints and coordinates to make it run ..finally it did .. but I was two days late.... I also was doing a QA/QC on a bridge design by another younger engineer at the H/Q office I found similar issues like Austim (above)...I was puzzled that STAAD gave member flexural stresses on H-Piles, and nowhere in the input specifies the orientation of the Major and minor axis...STAAD assumed one...and similar issues...( STAAD "thinking" for the Engineer)... After a MEMBER displacement command an FZ was input , and STAAD did not produce an error message, (FZ is a force not a displacement)...and variety of issues.. I included those comments in my review...Well, the young engineer said he was right and that I was wrong , and that STAAD was perfect...cannot make mistake.. I was laid off.... the firm concluded that I must have lied saying I had experience using STAAD.. becasue the software vendor told them the program can make an engineer out of a high schooler... I guess STAAD works fine for the partners of the firm, who only want to see the results, and don't care if the results are correct....
Rentapen (Structural)
19 Dec 01 9:21
Its the old story,
"You can teach computers to a designer,
but you can not teach designing to a computer".
AJUK (Structural)
19 Dec 01 15:42
Quite right,

IMO You should not be let near a computer until you at least have a feel of what the results should be. Computer analysis is a tool for speeding up the design process and justifying the engineers 'assumptions and conclusions'.

I once worked with a junior engineer who made a very slight error of input into an analysis package. He was perplexed when a joint deflection was stated as 4km and he asked me if I thought this was correct for the type of structure!
austim (Structural)
19 Dec 01 17:05
Hi, Alexstruc.

If your lay-off was recent, then please accept our sympathies.  

Whenever it occurred, I would suggest that, in the long term, you must be better off having escaped from a firm with such a mindset at the top.

ludvik (Structural)
19 Dec 01 20:07

It seems brutal to be laid off for something like that...that is very bad.

The issue you mention of not knowing the member orientation is common to many packages. In fact, I have not seen a good solution to the problem. The best solution I have found is to use a member "rendering" function where you can actually see the real shape of the member rather than just its centerline.

Debugging a model for that kind of small thing is a whole skill in itself. For example, when I am debugging I like to look at the mode shapes (even if I am doing a static or time history analysis). You might think of it as a step up from the old technique of looking at deflected shapes. If the mode shapes look about right, you know you have gotten your stiffnesses and geometry approximately correct.

Software developers need to make more user friendly interfaces so that you make less mistakes in the first place, and also to provide more debugging tools. Often you spend more time debugging a model than you spend building it.
RiBeneke (Structural)
22 Dec 01 7:12

I am sorry to hear of your experience.
My view of paying for software relates to well written software.
For engineering purposes (and other uses) where the results of using the software can impact on the health safety and well-being of people, it is better to avoid poor software altogether unless one has the time to manually check every significant aspect of the calculation.
Qshake (Structural)
22 Dec 01 10:44

I am deeply sorry to hear of your experience.  I hope you find work soon as you seem to be a discerning engineer and a valuable assest in terms of experience.

As for staad, this is all to familiar and the response of making an engineer out of a high-schooler leaves me disgusted.
msajjadh (Structural)
23 Dec 01 2:37
I suggest you to forward all these comments to your ex-boss.
I would be a good lesson for them.
Guest (visitor)
24 Dec 01 19:19
If you want a simple, bread-and-butter kind software don't think twice it is Multiframe 4D.


CLorenz (Structural)
28 Dec 01 9:59
SOFiSTiK from Germany sells a program called SLABDESIGNER. It is based on AutoCAD 200x and is capable of doing also material nonlinear analyis (cracking, creep+shrinkage).
Codes: DIN, EC,ACI,BS, Indian, Chinese

P.S: CADS sells an OEM-Version of it in the UK.


Helpful Member!  arniec (Structural)
3 Jan 02 4:59

I have had the unfortunate pleasure of using cads Slabdesigner software and was not impressed with the stability of the software or the support provided by the company.

Anyway good luck with your sales, I take it youwork for either cads or sofistik and are bludging some free advertising from this forum - never mind you won't be the last!!

AJUK (Structural)
3 Jan 02 14:18
I have also not been pleased with CADS software.

I have used CADS Analyse 3D which is an excellent frame analysis tool but I was not impressed with their other products. In particular, I have used a product called SmartEngineer (general design of structures) which was, quite frankly, rubbish!
aji (Structural)
3 Jan 02 14:33
I have used STAAD for almost 9 years and found many bugs in the program. We have ababdoned STAAD for FEM analysis. We have been using a program called STRAND-7 which is by a company called G+D computing. I have used SAP and other FEM packages. I would rate STRAND-7 very highly especially its mesh generating capabilities and fantastic user interface. The program is very robust with minimal crashing.You can download a demo and check from their home site
sc (Civil)
4 Jan 02 1:03
Having worked on both sides of the fence both selling supporting and using software (civil) I find it amazing the number of times we engineers will use a package expecting to work the way we do. We quite often don't read the manuals in detail or proceed to ignore the programs limitations and expect it all to work. Quite fun when I was a technical officer teaching engineers how to use software but downright frustrating when I was the user (yes I work the same way as everyone else and don't follow the manual when I should).

The day someone has sufficient experience as an engineer to write a good program  before they are behind in programming trends will be a miracle. Quite often the programmers young and are led by the genius who created the original program. Even more often the genius forgets how to keep it simple and the programmers loose their way as they are not engineers of experience and do not realise that they are creating "bugs" by trying to get the programm more complex.

Ah bloody hell I'm raving on again!

To me a good program does the simple number crunching of the monotonous tasks without error and the extremely complex maths (FE) with a risk of error (remember rubbish in rubbish out). Good engineering comes from recognising bad results from good and fixing them.

Anyway regards to all.


arniec (Structural)
7 Jan 02 6:56
Well the STAAD boys do it again.

I work closely with a company in Europe and they have proven beyond doubt that the finite elements in STAAD are useless and more to the point dangerous!!.

Simple/complicated tests were created and tested against hand calculations and Robot Millennium.

Results of thefindings were that STAAD produced errors of up to 57% error whereas Robot produced a maximum deviation of between 2 & 3%.  Results considered were displacements, stresses (principal, von mises etc).  It is worrying when you see these type of errors occurring especially when one of the simulations is just a beam created from varying densities and combinations of element types.

Other findings were that STAAD is clumsy when inputting data and one of the more complicated models took 3 days to run because of the modelling assumptions that you have to make (Robot took 5 minutes)

I have big concerns about the ability of this company as a software developer and engineering firm - they seem to employ muppets and are only interested in making a fast buck.

Be aware!! STAAD can seriously effect your health or worse still someone elses!!

Mark10 (Structural) (OP)
7 Jan 02 9:11
Thank you arniec for some actual results feedback, it does not occur often. As a Robot Millennium user, I'm glad to see that the Robot results were very accurate. I have been a Robot user for 6 months now and have been very pleased with both concrete and steel model analysis and design capabilities. The technical support will take as much time as needed to explain any type of questions and even offer design tips to utilize the program. Having the technical support handled by a helpful structural engineer seems like a very logical decision for the entire industry to try.

artnkman, my view of IES Visual design is that it is very conventional in terms of concrete modeling. If you have a straightforward application that follows their examples, the program works somewhat effectively. If you do not expect too much from it, you will not be let down. This is typical with most of analysis packages I have investigated.
Ibeam (Structural)
10 Jan 02 12:29
You got the straight arniec!  We have Staad/Pro release 2000 (not 2001) and I've now found out that I can't input a simple, straight forward rectangular tapered concrete beam.  Or at least I can't find out how to do it in the manual, and the Staad technical support says I have to have release 2001 (by the way, why don't they have a toll-free no.?).  

And what's up with their attitude??  It's as if your question isn't worthy of their time.  Bunch of A-holes.
Qshake (Structural)
10 Jan 02 12:44
I-Beam, they've always been that way.  Really disgusts me how they've managed to hang around this long.
Ingenuity (Structural)
10 Jan 02 12:56

I have never personally used STAAD, but I was involved with a project several years where the engineer used STAAD to model a POST-TENSIONED floor system. I am not exactly sure what they did to model the post-tensioning (probably just equivalent loads due to prestress) but the resulting rebar and P-T was total crap.

We end up re-designing with a 2D P-T program and a few manual checks, and resulted with 50% of the rebar and 50% of the P-T compared to conforming.

The confoming design with 2x the P-T would have been disasterous if it was ever built!

With the number of responses to this thread, it does seem that the program IS indeed technically flawed, and they have NO customer does that work? Maybe the program is very inexpensive, and so you do indeed get what you pay for!
Qshake (Structural)
10 Jan 02 15:07
INGENUITY, it is indeed cheap, that is the number one selling point and certainly one of the reasons that it appeals to many small companies that can ill afford to go elsewhere.  I was extremely glad when other programs hit that market...the SAPs, RISAs, IES etc.  More power to them!
arniec (Structural)
10 Jan 02 18:26

if that is STAADs sole selling point then there are a lot of engineers out there who need to question themselves.  Engineers require software to speed up their work - if you buy crap and pay peanuts for it then you will spend more time checking than you would designing by hand - which defeats the whole point.  The purchase of software also should extend to the service that you are offered after you have bought - RE don't believe in that concept.

They now seem to have adopted a slogan on their website that STAAD is developed by 'practising engineers for practising engineers' - what a good game that would make at the RE offices (Spot the Engineer)!

Rentapen (Structural)
10 Jan 02 23:08
So what does that do to all the structures put together by young engineers without experience? A pancake building? Is there anything REALLY new designed in the last twenty-five years or just copies? I'll take a nice stone building any day.

The rentapen
sc (Civil)
11 Jan 02 1:08
Going by the number of staad users cropping up in this forum, I can't see how the staad people don't know that they produce crap. How about telling them or not buying the software as a way of getting the message across. Its amazing how many software companies never improve their software because no one told them how bad it was.

If you are using the software for a company, then tell the management how bad it is. After all in these times it is pretty hard to get the sack over a difference of opinion.

Imagineer (Structural)
11 Jan 02 9:19
My experience has been that companies buy STAAD based on a "feature list" and it is relatively cheap.  They spend a bunch of time learning it.  Then realize that it has many bugs and all of the users complain about it.  So why don't they buy something else?  A couple of reasons.   First, people remember that they spent $2000+ for STADD and they have spent a fair amount of time learning STAAD.  Given their assumption that all software will be like STAAD, they don't want to spend more time and money buying and learning another program.  Second, STAAD actually does some things right.  It is reasonably accurate (<5% error) for the basics like frame analysis.  The bugs start when you do something like extra like tension or compression members.  So their is some value for the money spent.  Thirdly, given their assumption, they further assume that other programs will be buggy just like STAAD. So, they figure "better the beast you know than the one you don't."  Lastly, most large companies have signed up for STAAD's "maintenance" program because the powers that be are used to the mainframe model of having to pay for the software every year.

So you have an entrenched attitude resisting change and a cash flow every year for REI.  Hence, they continue in business.


Qshake (Structural)
11 Jan 02 10:14
SC, STAAD is cheap and as IMAGINEER points out it, it is not a bad frame analysis program.  Now, you may think that it is easy to run over to another program but this is only recent for years REI has been the only provider of software in the lowend price range $2000-$4000.  Most of the other packages were near $10,000.  Thankfully, there are more and more companies venturing into the low-mid range market and thus I think we will see a big shift to other packages.

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