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  #16 (permalink)  
Old 01-03-2006, 06:43 PM
Seedling
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by green feat
I use adobe photoshop, import my own images that I took with my digital camera and add real retaining walls, shrubs ...etc..etc.
That's a good idea. In fact, this can be done without buying any software at all. Anyone can download an open source (free) PhotoShop-like program called The Gimp, and then take his own photos of houses, plants, and hard structures which he can use to make very realistic landscaping. And all the plants in his photo library will be suitable to his home zone.
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Old 01-03-2006, 08:02 PM
Dale Wiley's Avatar
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Ok....I used Sierra last year on a couple of jobs and I sold one from the graphics presented. That part of it looked great. The concept is great, and I am a believer.

I also believe in less is better. If a program can do a digital image design, great. If it computes quanities, and cut and fill, and allows me to lay out sprinkler systems, better. If it lists plant materials as I drag and drop, if it LABELS the plant materials prior to drag and drop and after, good, and if it can put it all together in an editable proposal that meets my needs in presenting it to the clients, then we have a workable product.

So I have a simple question here:

Does any of the products discussed do all the above items ??

I am going to concede superior graphics to the DynaScape product now, but I want a comphrenshive package that meets the above parameters and costs no more than
$ 1,500.,

Input please..
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  #18 (permalink)  
Old 01-03-2006, 08:21 PM
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agla is just really nice agla is just really nice agla is just really nice agla is just really nice
I'll back up Dynascaper about add on entities. There are things called shape files that don't carry over even from Acad's own land desk top. This can even happen with contour lines. It helps if you and the people you work with can identify what is not coming across. Often times it works to explode entities before sending them.

As with anything, everyone has different needs and different skills, and different priorities. One does not necessarily fit with another's.
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  #19 (permalink)  
Old 01-03-2006, 08:42 PM
Seedling
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dale Wiley
I also believe in less is better. If a program can do a digital image design, great. If it computes quanities, and cut and fill, and allows me to lay out sprinkler systems, better. If it lists plant materials as I drag and drop, if it LABELS the plant materials prior to drag and drop and after, good, and if it can put it all together in an editable proposal that meets my needs in presenting it to the clients, then we have a workable product.

I suppose your point is that PROLandscapes can do all of these things. But the fact is that not everyone needs these things and there are some things that other programs do better than PROLandscapes for much less money. Considered strictly from a design standpoint, PL is nothing special. It doesn't have true 3-D modeling (photo-imaging is not 3-D), the 2-D site plan graphics that I have seen on-screen and from print-outs are mediocre (I have the company's demo CD and literature), and the photo-imaging is something that you can do with cheap and even free software.
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  #20 (permalink)  
Old 01-04-2006, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dale Wiley

I also believe in less is better. If a program can do a digital image design, great. If it computes quanities, and cut and fill, and allows me to lay out sprinkler systems, better. If it lists plant materials as I drag and drop, if it LABELS the plant materials prior to drag and drop and after, good, and if it can put it all together in an editable proposal that meets my needs in presenting it to the clients, then we have a workable product.
Our product offerings (DynaSCAPE Software) are more or less 'end to end'.

We do not do digital 'imaging' if you mean the frontal view that you add plants to.

Our value proposition starts with high quality 2D plan view designs. Our design tool is integrated with our online plant encyclopedia which will allow you to insert photos of specimen plants and the like.

Your individual plants/groundcovers/pavers are labeled using a link to our business management component. This facilitates our other major value point: integration. As you design, you're building a quote/estimate. You can, for example, measure paver areas in square feet, and have a material assembly set up to calculate the labor, screenings, etc, and any other cost item for you.

Once your design is complete and labeled, you can export it to our Quotation product with a few clicks - no data re-entry, and you'll have prices pre-computed for you. Once your price list is set up, this can be a huge time and effort saver. You can then output your quote/estimate for presentation to the customer in any number of editable formats.

Our Quotation product also allows you to do more advanced tasks like produce plant care packages for customers, again through the link to our online plant encyclopedia. A beefed up version of our Quotation product also allows for detailed job costing, links to accounting, and other higher end business management functionality.

We're really looking to service landscape design/build/maintenance end to end, and we're looking to improve both on the presentation side (ie color and irrigation components) and on the business management side (providing implementation services for our customers).

Our 'flagship' package is not $1500, however. Everyone can have different needs, but there are some common ones that I think we address pretty well, for what it's worth.

We do offer a risk free trial if this sounds interesting to anyone.

F.
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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 01-06-2006, 07:57 AM
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I have been using ProLandscape for two years, and I am now entering into my 3rd season with it, curently designing 15 projects for spring with it. I have been very satisfied with everything ProLandscape can do. I will also admit I did very little looking into other design programs. It was one of those April moments that any design/build firm encounters as they grow...I need to be out in the field installing; while designs/estimates are piling up all around me. I will say however, for my lack of shopping around, I made a good choice. I am in no way a computer expert, and trying to link-up a couple of different programs sounds like a time consuming headache to me....but others who are better at computer stuff may have no problem with that. The support staff at ProLandscape has been excellent. I expect a lot when I spend that much money for a program, and ProLandscape has delivered. As far as the cost of the program, it has paid for itself many times over because the imaging side of the program sells landscapes fast. I learned very early on that most clients just cannot visualize anything. Each client is shown the imaging picture of their house, as well as the 2-D plan that I work off of to install. The imaging picture is what sells the job for me.
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 01-06-2006, 09:28 AM
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I have a question. We are setting up our ideal design system based on the clientel we work for. The computer is going to be a Dell with dual hard drives, some ungodly amount of horsepower. We are going to use a 60" 3000 DPI flat screen TV for a monitor so we can bring an entire blueprint onto the screen for viewing with clients before we run it through a color plotter.

What will Dynascape do for us that AutoCad 2005 or 6 won't do? We will be making this purchase in March or April, I'm assembling all the components on paper right now.
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In the year 1491, if the Naturescape Landscape Company did the site work in Pisa, Italy, they would not be calling it the "leaning" tower.

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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 01-06-2006, 09:35 AM
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I've relied on DesignWare for 6-7 years now with great success. Customers love seeing what it will actually look like done. And by adding pictures of actual stone walls, ponds, patios etc. we've done to the programs library, I can give a photo rendering that looks remarkably close to the actual finished product. I occasionally use Planscape as well for the "overhead" view of the project but most people want the photo rendering because as they (usually the wife) says, "I have a hard time picturing these things."
Many times a potential customer has been on the fence about a project and after I produce a photo rendering they say, "Now I see what you mean. OK. Let's do it." It also has helped produce alot of add-ons because even though a customer may say they just want "simple foundation" plantings, in the photo rendering I will replace their old straight concrete walk with a meandering paver walk and add a low stone wall off the corner of the house with a small ornamental tree and a grouping of perennials, etc. etc. and suddenly when they see the real life photo design the image gets stuck in their head and they know they would never be happy with just "simple foundation" plantings. I don't know if you could get the same intensity of a reaction to add-ons in a drawing. You would have to HOPE they see your vision in a drawing.In a photo rendering they actually see it.
On a side note, I agree it can be hard for your crew to work directly off a photo rendering to do an install because there are no exact measurements of what plant goes where and the layout of the walk is ambiguous. But that also means anyone else, such as scab, low-baller or a do-it-yourselfer would also have a hard time as well. I know where everything should go and with a can of spray paint and transit I can mark all grades and plant and hardscape layouts in a few minutes, just as I would have to do any how if I was working off an architects drawing.
And my real aim is to do design AND build not just design. So I would imagine that photo imaging designs would be more apt to leave a customer tethered to you for the install. Even though I charge for the design and leave it with the customer, I've never had a customer with the nerve to call me back to mark out their property for someone else to do the work. Although, numerous times I've had people ask me to look at some other company's blueprint design and ask for a bid. Because when you leave a perfectly scaled design with a layout you are essentially leaving a "paint-by-numbers" canvas for anyone who can convince an unknowing customer they know how to plant a bush or install a walk, even though we know it's not that simple.
But, again, it all depends on what you want to base your business on. We do 90% design/build and 95% of that is our own designs. That gives me the most satisfaction.

Last edited by johnkeegan; 01-06-2006 at 09:48 AM..
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  #24 (permalink)  
Old 01-06-2006, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bill Schwab
I have a question. We are setting up our ideal design system based on the clientel we work for. The computer is going to be a Dell with dual hard drives, some ungodly amount of horsepower. We are going to use a 60" 3000 DPI flat screen TV for a monitor so we can bring an entire blueprint onto the screen for viewing with clients before we run it through a color plotter.

What will Dynascape do for us that AutoCad 2005 or 6 won't do? We will be making this purchase in March or April, I'm assembling all the components on paper right now.
What DynaSCAPE (and DynaSCAPE for AutoCAD) do for you is provide landscape design/build/maintenance tools that support the landscape/design/build/maintenance tasks you'll likely need to do. AutoCAD alone is a generic CAD program, so nothing is particularly tailored to landscape design.

Based on what our customers tell us, you should be able to:

-Produce better looking presentations (due to our extensive symbol libraries, links to online plant encyclopedia, our attention to details like line weights) and potentially sell more as a result

-Produce accurate Estimates quickly (due to the integration between our products) saving time and money

-Accurately track costing information and fine tune your processes as a result (Should you decide the 'Manage' component is of use to you)

There are obviously more details than this, but listing them all would make for a boring read - we'd need to know what things are important/apply to you.

Again, you have the option of DynaSCAPE Design Stand Alone, or DynaSCAPE Design for AutoCAD, so you wouldn't neccessarily have to think about AutoCAD OR DynaSCAPE - You pick whichever CAD 'Engine' suits you best. Our AutoCAD version comes with the same symbol block libraries and tools, so if you have designers with AutoCAD skills you are free to leverage this.

What you may want to do is get some 'face time' with us and our products - if you're planning on attending any major industry tradeshows this month stop by our booth for a demo and speak to one of our guys. Check us out at www.dynascape.com and/or give us a call at our toll free number if you'd like.

My sales pitch is pretty horrible, but suffice it to say we're not interested in selling anyone something they don't want or can't use - hence our free trial program.

I'll be around to answer any more Q's.

F.
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  #25 (permalink)  
Old 01-06-2006, 01:39 PM
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agla is just really nice agla is just really nice agla is just really nice agla is just really nice
Onr thing that i would dispute is that Dynascape produces better looking plans. That has to be qualified. anyone can make plant symbols and other landscape blocks and use them over again in ACAD. A well trained or experienced cad user can get a very good commandof line weights and line types as well.

What Dynascape does do better than most other landscape plan programs is that they have set up a set of standards within their program for these things. That cuts out a big learning curve which is great. But, there is nothing that can be drawn on Dynascape that can not be drawn in ACAD and look exactly the same. It would take someone with experience in ACAD to do it however.

The downside of user friendly set ups is that you have to go through the menus to do it. That is why ACAD is still the most prefered plan drawing software. If you know how to really use it, it is faster. The upside of user friendly and industry specific programs is that you don't have to go through as much of the learning curve or have to get a lot of specialized training.

If I was a landscape contractor with little or no cad training and wanted to draft nice looking landscape plans for in house use, Dynascape would be at the top of my list.

The quantity take off and integration for pricing things out is nice, but, any professional cad program easily gives you areas and can count blocks (symbols). I never liked having the program count plant blocks because I like to count them off of the plan and check them off. This forces a close look at the detail of the plan, takes very little time, and cuts the risk of erant plants on top of each other, on frozen layers, or somewhere off of the plan from being counted and exploded ones from being missed. I don't find quantity takeoffs and plugging them into my Wordperfect tables in my pricing templates. But others might find my way more of a hassle. It all depends on what works for you.

This is just how things work out for me.
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  #26 (permalink)  
Old 01-06-2006, 02:24 PM
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That tells me alot Agla. As I said, we have reached that stage where full blown yuppification is going to take place, so we can take this comapny to it's the next level. You know from my past posts that I'm not keen on adding all kinds of stuff that you really could do without at the beginning, until you reach the stage where it does not outdate itself from sitting idle on your desktop. By implementing all THE "STUFF" I listed, we will be able to direct people easier with far less meetings than running back and fourth for presentations. It also says, that if the client invests the time to visit my office rather than me comming to them, that they are more serious about moving on than if they have no time to "invest" in their project.

Anyhow, god stuff here....BTW, I have the version of Designware that was given to the CLCA members for taking an instructonal class. I'm not at all impressed, the renderings look very fake, and in my opinion, are the foundation to set up a dispute, leading into possible lawsuit.
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Bill Schwab
In the year 1491, if the Naturescape Landscape Company did the site work in Pisa, Italy, they would not be calling it the "leaning" tower.

Encinitas, Ca. 92024

www.naturescapelandscape.com

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  #27 (permalink)  
Old 01-07-2006, 12:15 AM
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I have visual impact imaging. Very much the same as pro landscape i believe. It use to use micrografix picture publisher as its platform now it is the latest version of corel. I also have eagle point and have that because im not very skilled in making plant blocks for acad. It runs on a intellicad platform i believe and takes dwg drawings so i can get the plot and house plan from the architect in acad and it saves a lot of drawing time. The eagle point software works good for me there is just so many modules you can purchase that i think it is a little steep for my usage. Others it probably is well worth it. i just have the landscape module. I also just tried a dwg viewer that was a free download and was able to send it to a customer with the drawing and they could open it and see the plans. Went fairly well and eliminated a visit
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Old 01-07-2006, 10:13 AM
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When using Designware (or any photorealistic software I suppose) the "fake" or "cartoonish" feel is derived mostly from an overabundence of flowering plants or trying to "bend" a wall or walkway from the library to fit.
If you're not careful,it will look as if everything is blooming at once, which is both misleading and overwhelming to the eye. Most of the plants can be used inbloom or not inbloom. Choose the later. Or for some larger projects I'll do seperate renderings for Spring, Summer and Fall. It only takes a few minutes.
As far as the hardscaping features go, I mostly rely on using images from a library I've created using actual walls, walks etc. we've done and Designware's "perspective" and "clone" tools allow you to fit them into the design as you wish. But I agree that if a job is mostly hardscaping with many curves, tiers and special features etc. a photo rendering is difficult.
It may also be that the "fake" or "cartoonish" look in years past was due,as well, to the poor image quality of digital cameras that gave a real "pixelated" image compared to 35mm. Nowadays, even professional photographers use digital. Five years ago my digital camera was 0.5 megapixels now it's 10 megapixels.
And, Bill, as far as any "lawsuits" are involved, every estimate has an itemized, detailed description of every plant or hardscape feature. I also mark out the walk and grade heights of walls for prior customer approval. Not much left for misinterpretation.
But again, if you're involved with elaborate hardscaping, especially large or multi-tiered retaining walls or large staircases, an engineered design is obviously advised. However, that's not our bread n' butter,so something like Designware is ideal.
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Old 01-07-2006, 10:40 AM
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Ah. But, when the rendering is presented to the court, it is pretty easy to see that the rendering looks one way, and when the person suing you comes in, their photo looks different. I kn ow I know, that is idiocy, but it is what goes on during a trial. A few of the guys who accepted that software as I did in our association have had the same feedback. You ge the job, then complete it, and the owner becomes anal and used the rendering to argue the job does not look the same, and in the process holds money. Each gripe is handled in a different way, but the one common thing is that the owner, dissatisfied in the ways I have just mentioned, holds money. I.E. screws cash flow. People here file lawsuites because someone planted a tree in the yard next to them that blocks their view, so if you get my drift, that is what goes on.

I think you might have hit something John. 75% of every landscape in the area is hardscape, 25% is plantings because there is no real property, the houses sit on postage stamps.. So, when you dupe the hardscape into Designware, make the curves and so fourth, the lines look pretty ragged. Add the plants, which, the version we were all given was designed with California plants specifically, you have a rendering that, well, looks almost like a Monet, but not quite like a Gogan.

In my personal dealings with imaging programs, I have found that if I have to produce a digital image to sell a job, as a rule, that person is going to be one of those touchy feely types who has had to have their hanjd held through the entire job. So, needless to say, I'm not using it anymore.
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In the year 1491, if the Naturescape Landscape Company did the site work in Pisa, Italy, they would not be calling it the "leaning" tower.

Encinitas, Ca. 92024

www.naturescapelandscape.com

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  #30 (permalink)  
Old 01-07-2006, 01:11 PM
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Bill, I agree that in the wrong hands, photo imaging could be a dangerous (and litigious) weapon. I've always said that someone with no real plant knowledge could produce a photo design that may look good but is fictional. You could size down plants and stuff them into a small spot or add plants that are not hardy and some unsuspecting customer might say, "Ooh, that looks pretty."
But to that I say, that's their fault for hiring a con artist.
In the same vein, I guess some novice in retaining walls could produce a authentic looking detailed schematic that showed wall heights and grades etc. but, oops, left out the reinforcement grid. And the same unknowing customer might say, "Ooh, that drawing looks professional." They may end up in court as well.
When I do a design I know what plants go where and what's hardy. I usually do a design so the plants are shown at a stage that depicts them 2-3 years from installation and I tell the customer that. And I use reference points when I'm placing a walk or wall in. It's really a simple process and quick. I've probably done over 150 design and installs with the process and never one complaint that the design was misleading.
I will admit that alot of my preference for the photo imaging designs is that I find it so much quicker, which is quite important come spring time when the avalanche of work hits (as well as having 2 kids in Little League). I can show up at a prospective clients house, take a few pictures and a few key measurements and go do the the design when it fits my schedule. And when I do the design I don't have to draw in the existing house, drive, elevations, trees etc. it's already there. I've created a seperate library of specific plants we generally use, along with examples of our own stone walls, steps, walks and boulders, so I simply plug them in and reshape and size them and I'm done. I then email the photo design to the customer to see if it's what they envisioned, if yes I email the estimate or if not, I make changes. It's shaved hours off my previous estimating/design process.
It's also aided my creativity during the design process because often as I'm adding, let's say, one type of plant I see it next to another in the design and I realize a third type would create a nice combination. Or that a small water feature can be worked into a grouping of boulders etc. etc. I don't know if I would get the same inspiration staring at a bunch of squiggly icons or lines.
Of course, for some a design might just come to them all at once in an epiphemy as they stare at the bare dirt in front of a house and there is no need for any alterations. Lucky them. Unfortunately, my designs come out of an evolutionary process of adding and removing. The DesignWare helps me do that.
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