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Structural Software comparison spreadsheet, input welcome

Structural Software comparison spreadsheet, input welcome

Structural Software comparison spreadsheet, input welcome

I'm starting my own firm, I'm familiar in my career with RAM and RISA mostly and wanted to see what else was out there. I created a spreadsheet for my use to compare suites and wanted to share with anyone looking into this as well. I've favored the perpetual stand alone licenses, but have included the subscription models as well, mostly ordered by cost.

I'm leaning toward getting ETABS for many reasons after a month trial, still kind of on the fence as I'd love to have something that does a good job with timber as well, but it's a great value and I can probably 'fake' it to do timber. It's just so good with concrete and steel and I can add-on with 3rd party software and expand with SAFE for concrete floors, Detailer for autocad output, ideastatica for steel connections, and add-ons for irregularity checks and column design among others.

Many thanks to those who have contributed to discussions on this extensively before, every software has it's own pitfalls and it's helpful to know these. I know there are a lot of discussions out there on this, and I've read quite a few of them. I think it's the more the merrier for those out looking for a good value.

I'm welcoming your input especially in 3 areas
  • Helping to complete the info listed (limited / incomplete info)
  • I'd invite you to review software that you know in it's title link within the spreadsheet to 'alternativeto.com', this is where I've found some really good info on other types of software, and the structural software is left woefully unreviewed.
  • Discuss if you think of a better value than ETABS for perpetual single license for small/medium project (1-5 story commercial)
Here's the link and a screenshot, this is editable to anyone

Edit: Updated screenshot, orig above kept for context

SAP2000 Basic Visual Analysis SCIA Engineer ETABS Dlubal RFEM SAFI Woodworks RISA 2D Skyciv Visual Analysis Tekla SD STAAD RISA 3D w/ floor RAM S-frame Adapt builder PT Robot Prokon Sumo

RE: Structural Software comparison spreadsheet, input welcome

You'd probably be fine with visual analysis full design.

RE: Structural Software comparison spreadsheet, input welcome

Very detailed analysis, nice.

I would personally forget cost and just go with whichever one you want. it will all be a wash over time.

If I could go back in time to when i went solo, things i would have done [edit; done differently]:

1. not have been so cost concious/cheap up front. allocate some money, and spend it.
2. not have waited so long to buy a nice computer setup (i worked with my shitty old laptop for 5 months before dropping 2 grand on a nice one and another 2 on software i could do without (bluebeam, etc))
3. spent the money/time early to get good accounting advice. go for the young eager outfit, dont go for the semi-retired accountant who is the friend of your neighbor (made that mistake). you dont want to have to chase your accountant around.
4. spent more time designing and spent more money on nice business cards.
5. get a nice website.
6. Started making my christmas card list right from day 1

RE: Structural Software comparison spreadsheet, input welcome

Jonster, thank you for this list, I have always wondered how much these software packages cost.

NorthCivil's list looks really good, forget about the technical stuff and go with the software you know the best and feel most comfortable with.
Nothing on that list jumps out as outrageous in my opinion.

A few notes:

- What in the world is this ranking list you found? I would not put much credibility into this if I were you. The software package you know best is the best software package for you in my opinion.
- Why is Tekla so much? Is that Tekla for structural detailing or Tekla structural designer? For what it's worth, I absolutely despised Tekla Structural Designer
- Robot is pretty expensive for what little market it feels like it has in my neck of the woods.
- I had no idea ETABs was a perpetual license, I might purchase a license myself if I can scrounger up enough cash
- RAM concept at $1519 looks like a steal if you do lots of concrete slab design, seems crazy that ETABs is at 6k for PT

Quote (thejonster)

Discuss if you think of a better value than ETABS for perpetual single license for small/medium project (1-5 story commercial)

If you knew ETABs and have some ability to access it's API, I would 100% go with ETABs at the price listed. Given that you have background in RISA and RAM, maybe its better to steer in that direction.

I will add a caveat that I have never used RISA, but have only heard good things about it. The price listed for RISA looks reasonable in my opinion.

S&T - www.re-tug.com

RE: Structural Software comparison spreadsheet, input welcome

For Wood The best value I've found is Woodworks: Link

Are you going to be using AutoCAD and Revit for document production, if so have you looked into the AEC application suite: Link
* Along with AutoCAD and Revit the AEC suite also includes Robot, Advance Steel (Does simple connections), ReCap, Docs (Beta Plangrid). (I can screencap the full list of available software if you'd like)

If you are sticking to 1-5 story buildings a lot of the power behind Etabs will sit dormant until you get that funky project that needs it. I absolutely loathe RAM's licensing practices but on a strictly cost basis they are a good value for structures in this range, and RAM Structural Systems ease of use for steel and composite steel structures is really unmatched by the other packages. There are some serious short comings with Structural System though like the inability to use snow and roof live load at the same time as well as being limited to dead and live loads only on floors.

Etabs will however give you both the full building package as well as the FEM (nodes, bars, shells, solids) in one so I would compare the cost vs RAM Structural System + RAM Elements.

My Personal Open Source Structural Applications:

Open Source Structural GitHub Group:

RE: Structural Software comparison spreadsheet, input welcome

Kipfoot, Thank you for the suggestion, it’s worth considering VA standalone full design for the cheaper $3k than I had listed for their $5k 'construction package'. It looks similar to using Risa and useful for smaller tasks even if I get another design package in the future (ETABS is awkward for member design, google how they have you define 'design lists' vs VA and Risa let you define sizing rules). I’m looking forward to starting a trial with VA and think I will hold off getting ETABS for now.

NorthCivil, That is great advice as well, it's said 'penny wise pound foolish' for the time I would waste wrestling with a 'cheaper' software. I still haven't tried visual analysis in a trial yet, and this may end up being the best way to go for now, and perhaps if I start to do a great deal of concrete design in the future I can get ETABS and be really productive.

Sticks and triangles, the ranking list was found in a study done to survey hundreds of Structural Engineers if I'm remembering right, it is found in the Link here and in the spreadsheet. Tekla hides their software cost so I don't know how much it really costs, so if somebody has a better figure please update the spreadsheet for us. if you really despised their software that's enough for me to not consider it in the future. and bear in mind SAFE for ETABS is 6k for a Perpetual license, and concept is charging $1519 just to rent each year. concept really is a great piece of software and $1519 would be a great deal if it could be stand alone without needing to also have Ram. I have experience with RAM's API and it was powerful at times to have access to that, ETABS' API really opens up options for add-ons to purchase I've found.

Celt83 I am Contracting out my drafting work so I'm not paying for AutoCAD or Revit. I tried using robot and gave up pretty quickly. it would be worth checking out because of their use of programming in dynamo, I'm sure there's some incredible things that it can do, and maybe I'll check it out if I ever do start paying for AutoCAD. The reviews in this link are mostly negative. Autodesk Robot - Structural engineering general discussion - Eng-Tips.

And regarding RAM, I've read here that in the past year, Bentley and RAM have fixed the abhorrent licensing practices, they must have been hemorrhaging subscribers. Can anyone confirm?

Quote (SethGuthrie (Civil/Environmental)11 Oct 18 22:39
We (Bentley) .. are also in the final testing our improved Connect Licensing which allows users to restrict application usage based on sign-in, set threshold alerts, etc.
I know we have been talking about it for a while, but I just went through so rigorous testing last week and it looks very promising.)

Also a new version of Woodworks is on the way that, per hotmailbox (Structural)14 Mar 21 21:18 “I was told by a support guy that a new version that'll do both gravity and lateral is in the making.” https://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=480809

If anyone knows how much tekla structural designer or S frame cost, please update the spreadsheet for us as they hide their cost.

RE: Structural Software comparison spreadsheet, input welcome

Quote (thejonster)

The reviews in this link are mostly negative
Oh yeah based on my usage I would never pay for Robot on it's own, but as something that comes bundled with AutoCAD/Revit that gives it a little more leeway.

As just a single user the major drawbacks of the Bentley/RAM licensing would not impact you.

One other package that may be worth your research time is SCIA, Link, I demo'd it a few years ago and it was very powerful on the analysis side but it's design modules where still very much in their infancy relative to our North American market.

My Personal Open Source Structural Applications:

Open Source Structural GitHub Group:

RE: Structural Software comparison spreadsheet, input welcome

SCIA looks fantastic from this review which also states pricing starts at $3,029 so it's comparable with the cheaper perpetual offerings listed in the spreadsheet.

It looks like it has advanced connection design built in and an excel / mathcad like functionality for custom reports, do you think that this could help make up for the design module shortcomings? Does anyone know where their US design capabilities stand now? But yes, very interesting, thank you for the heads up!

It looks like they support IBC 2012, ASCE 7, AISC 360, ACI 318, AISI 2007, SJI 43rd based on this link https://resources.scia.net/en/articles/codes/5.american_code.htm

If their design modules catch up I may preview SCIA as well once I'm looking for a more serious design package

Edit: From sales, FYI

RE: Structural Software comparison spreadsheet, input welcome

I got a quote for Tekla a few months ago. For Tekla Structural Designer, it's $2k/year, Tedds is $1k/year, and the TSD Suite (TSD and Tedds) is bundled at $2500/year. Tedss comes with TSD LT, which has full TSD functionality but is limited to 200 members per model.

This does NOT include Tekla Structures, which is a BIM tool and more useful for fabricators. I'm not aware of any analysis features in it.

RE: Structural Software comparison spreadsheet, input welcome

NICE. The world is overdue for this.

For RAM, is that just RAM Elements? Or is it RAM Structural System?? RAM Elements doesn't do composite beams.

RE: Structural Software comparison spreadsheet, input welcome

Not sure exactly what type of work you do but I do new construction buildings. I switched my company from RISA to Tekla Structural Designer a few years ago. Mainly because it has routines to automatically generate wind, snow and seismic loading and to automatically create all the relevant load combinations. https://youtu.be/FcZv4dEiMRk

Maybe not great for a younger engineer who needs to understand these equations and learn how to apply them but once someone has experience, I don't want engineers wasting their time and introducing the possibility of human error doing something that a computer can do automatically.

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