Atari2600

Chief Architect: medium sized offices?

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone,

 

We are a medium sized office, and a few of us started using Chief Architect about half a year ago.

 

One significant issue we ran into rather quickly was with backward compatibility.

 

We found out (the hard way), that once a file upgrades to a newer version, it can no longer be downgraded. In our particular situation, myself, and one of our designers installed X7 and started working on a new project together. But while his machine was not having significant issues with X7, my computer couldn't tolerate the upgrade, so I reverted back to X6. I quickly found out I could no longer open his files. Furthermore, there's no way to easily look at a Chief file on our network and "know" what software version the file is for.

 

Now what this means to a firm like ours is: we have to completely make sure all of our machines (and software profiles) are "capable" of handling a new version of the software before taking the risk of fully upgrading. I many have this wrong, but I also understand that our licence numbers prevent us from running both versions simultaneously. 

 

This in its own right, is an expensive proposition for us to consider.

 

In my personal situation, when I had installed X7, every time I opened the library, the program would crash, making the software utterly useless. Having looming deadlines, I didn't have the appropriate time to fully diagnose the issue, and decided to downgrade (after working unsuccessfully with tech support for half a day.)

 

Currently, we are weighing the pro's and con's of Chief Architect, and are trying to best fit it into our company's toolbox. While there are some immense advantages of the software, I am curious to hear from folks who successfully use Chief in the context of a medium or large sized office (if you are out there). In particular, how do you use it in relation to AutoCad. In particular, were there any roadblocks?

 

Many firms we have talked to will use Chief up until a certain point in their design process, then use AutoCad to "top off" the drawings once they approach either permitting or construction. Or, perhaps, the keep the primary drawing files in Chief, but pull in Acad details as needed.

 

(While I admit that I have to become more adept at Chief's 2d CAD tools, I don't really see Chief's advantages over AutoCad, especially with wisiwyg, block editing, annotative objects, dynamic blocks, dynamic blocks, dynamic blocks, etc...)

 

I know for some of you, the thought of using any form of AutoCad may be considered blaspheme, but for a firm of our size (where only three of us have limited Chief experience, while all of us have a million years of Autocad experience), we are trying to best understand how to fully implement Chief, and know when it's time to stop using it, because it is taking too long to produce construction drawings and details. Now I know this is partially due to a lackluster catalog of Chief details & templates, and I believe that someday we will confidently use it from start to finish. In the meantime, however, I am hopeful that there is some collective wisdom out there from other firms that have either successfully fully migrated it, or know when to use, and NOT use Chief.

 

I have additional thoughts on this, but I would love to hear some feedback.

 

thanks much.

 

Matt

 

p.s. Yes, we are seeking additional in-house training support. But even finding local "experts" (who aren't swamped) has been somewhat difficult.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Get a hardware lock version of CA. Install on all computers and whoever is working on CA project has the hasp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Look in your X6  archives those original X6 files should still be there. Now you know how it works , could be an expensive learning lesson. Having computers updated to run your programs is a must for any company, just the cost of doing business. Computers are really going to last you 4 to 5 years tops in todays ever changing technology. That's only if you purchased a top of the line machine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt,

 

The first thing about your post I noticed was when you said, "my computer couldn't tolerate the upgrade." That is a problem Chief needs to address with each and every new release. The program should not be relegated to only the fastest systems...and it shouldn't crash when opening the library but that's an isolated case IMO and Chief is a very stable bit of software again IMO.

 

I run a one man office so I can't comment from direct experience running a medium sized shop but I think Chief has some work to do to really address folks in your position. Would really like them to step up their networking and multi-user capabilities but their business model lends itself to small operations like mine. Not saying that's good or bad but it's another market and another shift they would have to make internally before we see it surface in the program.

 

BTW I've run both X6 and X7 when needed but it was like in your case to get out of a jam.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Computers are really going to last you 4 to 5 years tops in todays ever changing technology. That's only if you purchased a top of the line machine.

 

Having spent many years managing Vectorworks at a medium/large remodeling firm, we had very similar issues over there. The biggest problem was dealing with VW's desire for an "annual upgrade subscription service". Given our capacity, it was never economical to upgrade the software every year. Unlike Chief, at least we were able to down-convert VW's  files to an earlier version if we ran into issues, which also allowed me to easily test out a new version for several months to get it prepped for the whole office. Since it took VW about half a year to release their "fully optimized" version, we opted to upgrade every two years.

 

And thanks for your advice about the archive files. While it's moot right now, I'll look into it down the road.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Get a hardware lock version of CA. Install on all computers and whoever is working on CA project has the hasp.

I'm a little confused, will a hardware lock version allow me to use X6 and X7 at the same time? Right now, we have a few rolling licenses which allow us to use the software on various machines, but it the license is only for X6. If we install X7, it uses a different license.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is no problem using X6 and X7 at the same time.  You have a license for both.

Also, you don't need a Hasp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's important to have a separate file folder for X6 and X7 projects, if you are mixing the two in your office. I am surprised, though, that there seem to be major hardware issues. I run X7 on an old laptop sometimes, and it seems to work as well as X6. At this point, unless you are trying not to upgrade licenses for cost reasons, I'm not sure why you wouldn't just get the whole office on X7 and be done with the version compatibility issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The biggest problem we run in to is networking the Chief plans.

 

Chief claims it's not "networkable", and to me this feels like a major downfall...especially for offices of your size.  Not sure how many users you have, but we're running 10 copies of Chief between 2 locations.

 

As far as hardware for running the software, we haven't had too many problems.  We usually stay up-to-date with Quadro (on all the machines except for mine) video cards and processors.  So if we need to upgrade hardware, there isn't a big expense.

 

I have noticed that Chief is becoming more and more hardware intense, so a lot of our "older" machines have been needing upgrades.

 

Don't know if this helps you or not...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As others have said, it would probably be well worth the time to figure out your issues with X7 and make sure everybody is running the same version, instead of introducing another complication to your evaluation. Unless you are running very old hardware, in which case most alternatives would have problems as well, you shouldn't see much difference in performance between X6 and X7.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In X7, reduce the recent files list, in preferences ,to about 3 and it will run faster for you. They are working on a fix.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to hear about your computer compatibility issues. We do try to make sure that new versions of Chief run well on existing hardware and for the most part we succeed in doing this by improving the performance of the program so that it is faster even on older hardware. However, from time to time there are issues that come up that were unanticipated and that we unfortunately didn't catch in our internal testing. However, we have been working hard to fix the performance issues and have already rolled several into updates.

 

Please work with our support team so that we have the information that we need to be able to address your issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the replies so far. A few of us are heading over to a friendly competitor's office tomorrow, and I will get a first-hand look at how "they do it". 

 

As great as the software is, there are definitely some fundamental issues which need to be addressed, before I can confidently recommend it to all of our team.

 

The (lack of) network support being one of them.

 

Matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe most BIM/CAD architectural software have equal "New version not backward compatible" and hardware/driver nightmares at much higher cost to stay current.

It seems AutoDesk will not be selling licensed versions anymore. Everyone on a subscription,everyone on a time basis. If you do not pay you do not play..no more "owning" software versions.

Don't let Big Brother win...All Hail The Chief.

Eric

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt, I personally don't have any computer issues running X6 or X7 on this laptop. I know some people have complained about X7 being slower but I haven't noticed that or at least nothing to complain about. I do keep separate folders for X6 and X7 plans. The girl I mainly work for is using X6. She claims she doesn't have time to upgrade which is frustrating for me because it really doesn't take that much time. All my personal plans are done in X7. When doing plans for Katy, the girl I work for, we generally may have three people working on the plan at different times (not at the same time). We use dropbox. I do have to be careful on which version I open it with. In general, my first job is to do the existing plan which I do outside of the dropbox. When I'm finished, Katy will share a folder on dropbox with me and I'll then move the plan to the dropbox so that she'll have access to it. She then does the proposed plan. When she's finished, I'll then get it ready for the builders to bid from and or do the construction drawings. Once the plan is in the dropbox, I have to be careful which version I open it with. This method works pretty good for us. I personally don't care for dropbox but I'm probably the only person who feels that way.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Tommy. 

 

Just got back from the Office meeting with a friendly competitor. They also use Dropbox extensively (since they often bring work home with them.) 

 

They are all on X7, so they don't have compatibility issues. At some point, I will need to upgrade to X7 again, and "hope" Chief got the bugs fixed. Again, my main fear is some of my coworkers may have more issues with X7 and we really can't create a scenario where we have both X6 and X7 files floating around a network. For  a ten person design staff, that would be crazy. In AutoCad, we have a few different working versions but we don't have issues with saving an AutoCad file back a version or two - especially for the engineers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe most BIM/CAD architectural software have equal "New version not backward compatible" and hardware/driver nightmares at much higher cost to stay current.

It seems AutoDesk will not be selling licensed versions anymore. Everyone on a subscription,everyone on a time basis. If you do not pay you do not play..no more "owning" software versions.

Don't let Big Brother win...All Hail The Chief.

Eric

Hi Eric,

 

While Revit doesn't convert back to earlier versions (without exporting), I have found that AutoCad (both regular and Architecture) easily saves backwards, Vectorworks saves back a few versions, Sketchup, Adobe products, Microsoft products, etc... 

 

In other words, while I understand that BIM is sophisticated, most software I work with is capable of saving back a version or two (and VectoWorks is a pretty descent BIM package, imho.)

 

With the exception of Sketchup, none are as joyful to work with as Chief (which is an important consideration). 

 

:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What are your needs for network support?

1) Not having to drag the file off the network to my computer's local hard drive to work on them would be a good start.

(In practice, we work off the files on the network, but this was one of the first things Tech Support told me we should do, in order to improve stability.) 

 

2)  A simple way to keep associated templates and resources "centralized" so everyone can both use them, and add to them. (To be frank, this might already be simple, but I haven't quite learned how to set this up yet.) Right now, if I have a file I am working on on my machine, and I go to another machine to view the model, I will typically get errors associated with missing textures and such - usually because they are targeted to my local library. We often bring files up on a large screen in our conference room. I know that I can locate all those textures in my local library, and copy them over, but this is not a very proactive approach, imho. 

 

3) Proper Remote Desktop support (not sure if this is a network thing or not, but It would be nice. Internet speeds are pretty fast these days.) 

 

I suspect I can go on, but that's what has surfaced sofar... 

 

thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great topic.

 

I would like to know what the 5 year plan is from the Head Office with regards to the broadening user base.

Chief is fantastic for the single user - but we have plans on expanding from 3 users to maybe 5.

Our office is currently 3 users with 3 separate licences.

The particular project worked on has to be allocated to that user - no jumping in and out of the same project from other users. 

So its essential to communicate who's working on what and divide up the work into separate files which is not the intention behind chief but its a workaround, so that detailing is separate to the model and so forth.

The type of projects we work on range in size and scope but essentially the work is made of additions/ renovations, new homes, unit developments, small commercial and office fitouts.

 

Other issues besides networking is the BIM resourcing.

Graphisoft and Autodesk are leading the charge.

Where does Chief Architect see itself next year?, in 5 years? , I am sure that there would be opportunity for CA to upscale the multi user software interface for those companies that want to drive the product further given the small to medium size of the firm.

If you take a look at what the market is demanding its about accessibility, ease of use, multi device, universiality.

 

 

In terms of computers, our office budgets for new computers every 3-4 years, followed by the 'joy' of reloading typical software items and the necessary re tuning.

At the moment all licences are running same ie X5 (but due for the transition to X7).

 

I would be curious to find out how many user's have more than one current licence for their practice.

 

Garreth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) Not having to drag the file off the network to my computer's local hard drive to work on them would be a good start.

(In practice, we work off the files on the network, but this was one of the first things Tech Support told me we should do, in order to improve stability.) 

 

I know of a number of people that open files on a shared network drive. This is fine, but if your network is badly configured you can have issues. It is those issues that our support team doesn't want to handle because fixing your network is not something that we support. Get a good IT guy to set things up for you. There really isn't a reason to avoid this if your network is working properly. There are some obscure cases that can cause issues, but having good backups and being reasonably careful is really all that is needed. You can use the file locking mechanism to avoid conflicts with other. Certainly avoiding this will reduce the number of possible issues you will have, but working exclusively on a local machine has potential risks as well.

 

The main thing you can do to protect yourself is to have good backups.

 

 

2)  A simple way to keep associated templates and resources "centralized" so everyone can both use them, and add to them. (To be frank, this might already be simple, but I haven't quite learned how to set this up yet.) Right now, if I have a file I am working on on my machine, and I go to another machine to view the model, I will typically get errors associated with missing textures and such - usually because they are targeted to my local library. We often bring files up on a large screen in our conference room. I know that I can locate all those textures in my local library, and copy them over, but this is not a very proactive approach, imho. 

 

This is really just a matter of coming up with either a manual or software process to mange things. It could be as simple as using the same UNC mount point for all your shared resources.  Missing files is not really a network issue. Then only thing one really needs to do to make this work is to ensure that the path to those files is the same on all machines. It can be as simple as using backup plan to ensure that the files you need are stored in the folder with you plan. How we manage external file links is something that we should improve, but it really isn't a network issue.

 

3) Proper Remote Desktop support (not sure if this is a network thing or not, but It would be nice. Internet speeds are pretty fast these days.) 

 

Remote Desktop on Windows doesn't provide support for accelerated OpenGL graphics. This is a Microsoft bug. One thing that I have found is that if you launch Chief on the remote machine before connecting to it using Remote desktop then things will work. I don't know why they did things this way. There are some other remote desktop options that do work, but I don't have any recommendations.

 

I suspect I can go on, but that's what has surfaced sofar... 

 

thanks.

 

I hope that helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Doug,

 

I do appreciate it.

 

A question: what is a "UNC mount point?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

  • Member Statistics

    27449
    Total Members
    6254
    Most Online
    DesignerPro2020
    Newest Member
    DesignerPro2020
    Joined