joedesign30

Frustrated With Chief ....may Be Going To Softplan

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I've tried chief for several weeks and and frustrated with the lack of cad tools, lack of remodel features (existing, demo, new walls), and the hard to use "user interface". Softplan looks like a better interface and has the features I'm looking for overall. Anyone else have the same problems?

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It's my experience that all software has their own set of benefits and detractors.  Do a forum search re: Softplan, and I'm sure you'll read all sorts of opinions on the matter. (search the old forum as well)

 

jon

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I'm not having any of those problems, you talk about, you just need to learn the program better as with any you might choose

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no software is perfect and never will be

 

choose the software that best meets your needs

 

let us know after you try Softplan what you think about it

 

just about everyone on this forum chose Chief and is "happy" with it

even tho it has "flaws"

 

Lew

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....  you just need to learn the program better as with any you might choose

 

I agree 100%

 

I own a copy of Softplan 2014 and have experimented with it quite a bit. The approach of the two programs is very different. So it basically comes down to what you might be comfortable with.

 

 

I also don’t agree that Softplan’s CAD tools are better, just a different approach. Chief’s approach eliminates the need for a wide range of CAD tools as there simply not needed.

 

 

People tend to migrate to the program that aligns with the services their trying to sell and ignore everything else. For example, Softplan is much stronger in material control than Chief, so you’ll find that few Chief advocates here use its material features very much. Same is also true with parametric data access. However, Chief’s framing tools are much better—but limited in scope.

 

 

OTOH, Chief’s 3D graphic design tools are much easier & intuitive to use, so many designers here migrate to this area. Chief is famous for its “workarounds” which require a combination of tools in ways not obvious. Softplan is more stuck in the 1980’s Cad philosophy of one tool for this and one for that. Chief has a more unified approach. An advantage in Chief is its Cabinet and Kitchen design features which are superior to Softplan. But that’s not important if you are not selling that service

 

 

I strongly urge you to get a demo copy of both programs and do one of your typical designs in both. Take a close look at the videos on YouTube for both. I also add that Chief’s support, if you subscribe to SSA, is much better.

 

 

IOW, the best program is the one that aligns with the services you want to concentrate on. You can only determine that by working with both.

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I agree with Gerry.

 

The key is that Chief is basically a 3D Design Tool, not a 2D CAD Tool.  Most of the CAD needed is:

 

1.  Automatically created from the model using "Orthographic Camera Views"

2.  Small bits of 2D CAD to enhance the Orthographic Views.

 

I had only used 2D CAD before I started with Chief.  It took a while to realize that I didn't need 95% of the 2D CAD that was provided by AutoCAD and that I was much better off making sure that I got the 3D the way it need to be and then let Chief handle almost all of the 2D Drafting.  I tried SoftPlan but found it overly restrictive in many regards.  It's taken me several years to get to the level of expertise that I have with Chief but it would have taken me the same amount of time to master SoftPlan - and I wouldn't have nearly as good 3D Renderings and Ray Traces.

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Luke, Don't go over to the dark side. Stay in the lighttt.t...t.....t.......

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I've tried chief for several weeks and and frustrated with the lack of cad tools, lack of remodel features (existing, demo, new walls), and the hard to use "user interface". Softplan looks like a better interface and has the features I'm looking for overall. Anyone else have the same problems?

 

Joe,

 

I think Chief has an extremely steep learning curve with no short cuts that I can remember and your frustration is totally understandable to me as it took a VERY long time for me to grasp the paradigm that is Chief architect. What I have learned over the many years is that Chief does indeed have all the features I need but accessing them efficiently took a long long time to figure out.

 

I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed but I have a feeling Soft Plan would be equally as difficult to master but it might fit the way your brain works better than Chief does. If they have demo give it a try but if you do decide to stick with Chief I guarantee it has all the CAD tools you'll ever need as well as other tools to get any residential job done.

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To me Chief had a huge learning curve due to all the neunaces - trust me, i've been frustrated many times.  However, this community is about as good a place to get help than anything i've ever seen.  Heck, Scott produces videos of how to do certain things using my project files - its been heaven sent.

 

I bet SoftPlan is the same type of app Chief is.  You won't hear an argument from me Chief doesn't need more CAD/Model tools - but Chief is still the best thing i've found for residential 3D design.

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I believe Perry hit right on the point. Getting to know the software well and how it works really makes a difference in how proficient and productive you can become with any software that you care to use. There are many ways to do this with Chief Architect such as training videos offered by CA or at www.chiefexperts.com., or www.chieftutor.com. classes (several members and CA offer classes), books (www.munsonhomedesign.com). I've looked at SoftPlan, Envisioneer, TurboCAD, many others, and in my opinion CA is the best home design software out there.

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@ Joe, how much training have you had in the software? I have not used Softplan so I don't have an opinion in that direction.

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Chief Architects learning curve has increased over the years but I would say it is not really that steep, just looking at a demo of SP I would say that would be allot steeper? The training Videos in the SSA package make that climb easier.

 

Yes CA to me is suited to quick design and rendering for residential housing.

 

In the end each Design Professional has his own specific needs and priorities unique to them.

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@ gawdzira I have been using the ssa training videos and they are ok ...the help menu is better for finding specific answers to questions.

I tried it for an interior remodel and found it hard to set up layers to show existing demo and new walls then make a demo plan and proposed plan with several different options. Autocad has refs which make life a lot easier. That way you can reference in existing and draw new over the top and create several different files (that reference the existing dwg).

I'm used to the ribbon interface (not tool bars) CA toolbars they seem so small and hard to recognize what they are. Softplan has a ribbon which I liked.

Maybe I'm giving up to early but it was wayyyy hard to learn and I ended up just getting frustrated every time I tried to do drawings.

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OK Joe,  I'm going to chime in here on this one. I have been using Softplan off and on for about 9 years now. A lot this past year or so with v2014. It is a very good program that does a lot of things quite well. The learning curve isn't as steep as Chief's is but that is simply because Chief gives you, the user, so many more ways of doing whatever you want to do. With Softplan there are a lot of areas where you have just the one way of doing it. There have been so many times I wanted to do something in particular and Softplan's tech support just tells you "that isn't the way the program works so you can't do that"! Not a good thing.

 

There are two main things that, in my mind, make Chief stand out way above Softplan. First is the customer support. Softplan really has a belligerent "take it or leave it" kind of attitude. Doesn't sit well with me at all. The second way that Chief is sooooooo much better is the amount of training available. Many options as noted above plus the shear number of videos SSA provides. Softplan, IF you have Softplan Plus, has a series of videos that will show you the basics, kind of, and allude to so much more but there is no training or videos that show how to do it! Even their most advanced videos are not really advanced! 

 

In a nutshell the learning opportunities and materials for using Chief are so far beyond everything that is available for Softplan. You really do have to teach yourself how to do so much in that program and it just takes a lot of time. If you excel at that type of thing then it might be the better way to go for you. As for me I am coming back to Chief and relearning it because I really do believe it is a more capable program. It takes time though. Oh, and one last thing- it seems a lot of people have this notion that while Chief is better at the 3D stuff Softplan does a better job with construction documents. That is just a bunch of BS. Both programs are quite capable of putting out a quality set of construction documents but it will only be as good as the user is. 

 

Hope this helps!

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joedesign,

Here is my 2 cents. First, I will not talk bad about Softplan, Revit, or any of the other programs because I have not used them. I will say that I started with Chief 12 years ago using Version 8. It was difficult for me but I was fortunate to have one of the best users (back then) to give me one-on-one training. I must admit that it took me several years to really learn how the program works and more important, how it thinks. When I first started, I spent mega hours on my time off and most all week-ends trying to learn the program. I too looked at the training videos but to be honest, I believe the training videos are okay for the basic stuff but that's it. You said that you have played with the program for 2 or 3 weeks, well I can assure you that's not enough time to understand the program. I've also been told that having prior experience with ACAD makes it harder to learn the program because you're already programed to think in ACAD. I have been doing remodels showing existing and proposed plans since the beginning and it's quite easy once you understand the program. I do not advocate using Chief's idea of doing demo plans and proposed plans by using different layers for the walls. I will almost guarantee problems with a sophisticated plan with multiple floors. I also see so many new users jump right in doing high end plans with out taking the time to learn the program. I'm helping a young kid right now who recently purchased the program and wanted me to help him learn the program. I asked him if he was ready to devote a lot of time to using the program. He said that he picks up on things really, really, fast and thought that it would not be a problem. Well, after 3 hrs., he could barely keep up and we had to stop and that was only the extreme basics. I told him that the mind can only absorb so much at one time and is why you have to spend a lot of time on this or you'll have a hard time picking it up. I really do think that if you can get ACAD out of your mind and just focus on the program for mega hours, you'll pick it up. I have recommended to some people to keep using the program you were using to do current jobs, but keep practicing with Chief on all of your spare time. Taking the time to try and figure it out on your own is one of the best teachers. If you can find someone to help you one-on-one with specific problems will help in the long run for learning this program.

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@ gawdzira I have been using the ssa training videos and they are ok ...the help menu is better for finding specific answers to questions.

I tried it for an interior remodel and found it hard to set up layers to show existing demo and new walls then make a demo plan and proposed plan with several different options. Autocad has refs which make life a lot easier. That way you can reference in existing and draw new over the top and create several different files (that reference the existing dwg).

I'm used to the ribbon interface (not tool bars) CA toolbars they seem so small and hard to recognize what they are. Softplan has a ribbon which I liked.

Maybe I'm giving up to early but it was wayyyy hard to learn and I ended up just getting frustrated every time I tried to do drawings.

 

Joe,

 

I'm no real advocate for Chief and as I stated above totally understand your frustration but the example you gave above is a perfect example of re-learning the nuances of a new program. Chief doesn't work like ACAD, it works like Chief and if you're not willing to learn how Chief works then I get that but another approach on this forum might be to ask how people handle interior remodels. You might be surprised at the help and answers you get. I've done interior remodels for over 15 years using Chief and there's a technique that works pretty well but it is unique to Chief. Without that knowledge it has to be frustrating.

 

So again, another approach when you get frustrated is to post your questions here and see what comes up. I even think there's an SSA video on remodels and if not there's more resources that can show you how Chief handles remodels. If that doesn't work for you then Chief may not be for you. I totally get that as it drove (drives) me crazy for years till I began to really understand how Chief operates. Best of luck either way and as has been said this community is an amazing resource you will not find anywhere else.

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This is a valuable discussion for me. I would like to hear more from Softplan users and even better, from Archicad users.

 

I get a sense that Chief is very similar to Archicad. Is that right? I went from ACAD 1 to 2000 then to Archicad 5 to 9. Archicad was a steep learning curve but not nearly as steep as ACAD was when I started using it in the 80's. I use to train people to use ACAD, so I know the frustrations people had. I spent 6 hours (so far) learning Softplan and got further by just playing with Chief for less than an hour. The learning curve is not as steep for Chief as ACAD or Archicad was. Does anyone else have a similar experience to compare? 

 

I would love to know if there are any former Archicad users lurking. I loved that program, which had its quirks, but much better quirks than ACAD.

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I have been interested in knowing the differences between Softplan and Chief. I Googled for a softplan forum, because that is no link readily available to the forum and it is http://splash.softplansplsh.org/members/dcforum/dcboard.php?az=show_topics&forum=100. It is archaic and like a ghost town as many post go unanswered and might get a post once a week. It does not look healthy. I do not mean to be critical of the other company. I was just making an observation to help make a choice.

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And you may just be getting to understand why I have been for so many years....  Maybe it is the 'FORUM', let me say it again, the 'FORUM'!  All your answers are just a 'post' away....

I totally agree,  it is the users on this forum that give  CA the extra value that the other programs do not have.  Maybe I am missing something,  but I have looked at the forums for other programs and I do not believe their forums have anywhere near the help that this forum offers.

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Interesting discussion - can't resist so here is my perspective on CA.

It has been mentioned a number of times that 'CA is different from the CAD programs'. Before I continue, please pardon me if you have heard this before, I haven't seen it stated but I haven't been on the forum regularly for a long time. I believe that CA is different from the CAD programs because the CA approach is that everything is an OBJECT (as in object oriented programming) and these objects have properties and behaviors such as lights mount on walls at a specified height, or ceilings, or floors and wall mounted lights must be attached to wall before they are allowed to be part of a plan. This is entirely different from CAD where at the simplest level, lines are lines and have no inherent behaviors. It is the object's behaviors that make CA a powerful program and also at times frustrating. If the object behavior doesn't match real-world or expected behavior then major frustration can occur. OTOH, if one understands the object's behavior, then creating a plan can be a rapid process, and as long as you have the 'house model' correct, in theory anyway, all views of that 'house model' will also be correct (like plan view, elevation, etc.).

it is understanding CAs objects that allow for creative solutions to problems, such as Bill Emery's recent posting that using narrow sidewalks derived from elevation contour lines allows one to display contour lines in the 3D render views - pretty creative, and required knowledge of the behavior of a sidewalk object.

Once you start thinking 'objects' instead of lines, using CA becomes much easier to learn. The challenge for CA programmers is to create the object behaviors that match real-world expectations.

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I must admit I am a little perplexed with all the talk about a steep learning curve for Chief.  I found it to be just the opposite.  I too came from the 2D cad world and tried  3 products in my move to modeling for construction docs:


 


A borrowed copy of archicad, a purchased  copy of softplan, because on the surface I was convinced this was likely the best platform ( and because they had no free downloads at the time), and a free download of Chief.   


 


I took Chief less seriously than the others, and therefore spent the least amount of time learning it.  Archicad was difficult with what I would truly consider a steep learning curve, but unquestionably a good program with lots of goodies and power.  If I was a commercial guy there would be no question what my platform would be. 


 


As stated Softplan was my emphasis.  Reading the manual cover to cover a couple of times using the tools as I went, I was very serious.  After a couple of weeks, and feeling a little frustrated. and similar to hotshoez, I caught up to softplan within an hour using chief.   I bundled up softplan and sent it back, and pretty much been happy ever since.  I still occasionally look around including softplan, but it is more of a question of is the grass greener elsewhere - so far no.


 


Not sure what others do or what is recommended for that matter (most my work is new construction), but for me on remodel/additions I use 2 files - draw an as-built and then create a new file based off of it to do the new work.   I use the as-built for my demolition plan, and if I need to mix the two I convert the demo plan to cad.


 


 


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This is a valuable discussion for me. I would like to hear more from Softplan users and even better, from Archicad users.

 

I get a sense that Chief is very similar to Archicad. Is that right? I went from ACAD 1 to 2000 then to Archicad 5 to 9. Archicad was a steep learning curve but not nearly as steep as ACAD was when I started using it in the 80's. I use to train people to use ACAD, so I know the frustrations people had. I spent 6 hours (so far) learning Softplan and got further by just playing with Chief for less than an hour. The learning curve is not as steep for Chief as ACAD or Archicad was. Does anyone else have a similar experience to compare? 

 

I would love to know if there are any former Archicad users lurking. I loved that program, which had its quirks, but much better quirks than ACAD.

I use both CA & ArchiCAD and both are very good tools.

 

Right now with ArchiCAD 18 the new C4D render engine is much easier to use with good results with pre defined settings and Chief has given me good fast results for rendering for a long time now.

 

We have more support in Australia with ArchiCAD and our library parts being Aus specific as well as having and Australian version of ArchiCAD.

 

If I was in the US, CA is all I would need and use for my low rise housing projects.

 

I still think the Chief learning curve was very easy for me but ArchiCAD was much harder and worth it.

 

I would not give up Chief because of its very fast modelling capabilities for less complicated houses and gives me lots of productivity and saves time on certain jobs.

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Now my opinion is that I could not care less if you go to SoftPlan..

 

Good luck to you and may god speed you on your journey.

 

Andy.

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We have talked about the difference quite extensively in the old forum, look there

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thanks for the input everyone...still on the fence tho lol.   Softplan uses a "usb key" which is sooo old school!  What happens if you loose the usb key? Then your out of commission for a week waiting for snail mail?  Some one the features in softplan like automatic cabinets, speed notes, and custom roofs seemed really cool tho!  I will update in the next few weeks after I try softplan more.

 

Also there is revit lt which seems like a decent program for around $1,200.  it can do residential or commercial but isn't nearly has automated has CA or softplan.  It wont do framing plans or anything.

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