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  #31 (permalink)  
Old 01-07-2006, 01:57 PM
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We have a two-person design office. I'm a retired engineer and somewhat familiar with CAD. The horticulturist designer (biologist and Master Gardener) does not have CAD experience but is pretty savvy on most software. We have been using an older version of ProLandscape and are having difficulties, particularly in setting the attributes of the plant and landscape objects and adding regional specific plants to the library. Also, our computer crashes fairly frequently. It seems that the program is a bit of a kluge between auto CAD and auto-landscape design. In any case, we've purchased the trial version of Dynascape and will check it out intensely over the 45 day trial period.

Has anyone had experience with both Dynascape and ProLandscape? How do the features, ease of use compare?
Thanks
Paul
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  #32 (permalink)  
Old 01-08-2006, 01:18 AM
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Landscape Illustrator has worked well for me. 2D CAD like program with imaging, which I never use. All for around 700 dollars. Check it out
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  #33 (permalink)  
Old 01-08-2006, 09:46 AM
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Serenland mentions difficulties setting attributes to objects. There is a balance, in my opinion, between setting attributes to these objects in order to use the estimate software and simply counting them and then inputting into your pricing table (spreadsheet software or whatever you use).

Like most of you, I use a limited array of plants for the most part. I always use the same symbols for the same plants and draw them at the same size. This has a lot of benefits not the least of which is that the crew recognizes them while reading the plan in the field. Another is that my own familiarity of these symbols and their sizes gives me intuitive sense of scale as I zoom in and zoom out on my monitor.

When I put a plant into my plans, I have them all set to a 1' diameter. To put them into a drawing I have a "block" that I insert into the drawing with over 140 symbols all at 1'diameter. Then I erase it, but all of those 140+ symbols can be inserted individually and at the right size with a very short input. First type "insert", then the symbol name (p1, p2, ...), then the diameter that I want it ("4" for 4', "3.5" for 42", ...) then "enter", "enter", "enter" to accept defaults. That takes about 5 seconds. After the plant is inserted once, I simply copy it to where ever I want more of them which is very quick and much faster than adding attributes through a dialog box in my opinion.

Most of my plans have 200-300 plants in them typically using a range of about 20 plant species (trees & shrubs, annuals/perennials I show as hatching and detail them out in the field). I insert a partial plant key and edit it accordingly (also very quick). I print out the plan and count the each plant symbol in the order that they appear in the plant key marking them off with a red pen and writing the number next to where it goes in the key. This is where I find mistakes or notice details that I do not like because of the close look that I have to do to count them. If this were automated, I would have a greater chance of missing those. This really takes very little time. Then I edit the plant key with the right number of plants.

Pricing is not so difficult either. I don't start from scratch. Instead, I start by editing a recent job's price sheet. All I use is a word processor (Wordperfect, but MSWord is just as good) and insert a table in it. Many of you could use your Quickbooks, I think. Since I am usually using many of the same plants, the editing is very quick. I have a column for the plant name, the size, the price we pay, the formula for the price we charge for it, the formula for the price we charge to intall it, the number of those plants, and the total price for all of those plants. Each column has a formula at the bottom that totals it. It sounds more complicated than it is. All I do is edit the number of plants from that of the old job and everything calculates instantly.

I do the same thing for hardscape areas, walls, etc,..

To sum it up:

I have very fast input of plants into the drawing.

It takes little time to count them up.

I find errors in drafting while counting that I might not otherwise.

It takes very little time to generate a price estimate outside of the program.

Drafting errors such as one plant symbol on top of another or a symbol that accidently got moved way off of the plan does not get counted in the estimate.

On one of my typical residential landscapes, the value of the automation and landscape specific tools does not offset the value of not going through the extra attribute input steps, the possibility of double counting, and the little time it takes to do these outside of the program.

*This is not to say these aren't a big help to others. This is just to say that there are other ways depending on your needs and abilities.
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  #34 (permalink)  
Old 01-09-2006, 11:09 AM
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agla is pretty much right about everything.

Design/Business/Office Automation software and any other technology for that matter should be about finding your 'recipe for success'. Agla has found his, and our challenge as a software company is finding ways of improving the processes of even the most successful green companies.

serenland, if you're evaluating DynaSCAPE, I encourage you to make use of all the resources available, especially our 1-800 number if you have any questions or setup difficulties. The purpose of our trial after all, is to help you determine if our product(s) can help you.

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  #35 (permalink)  
Old 01-09-2006, 01:35 PM
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Of all the landscape programs that Ihave seen demos of, I thought Dynascape did the best at making an inexperienced person produce a very good looking plan without too much difficulty. It seems like there was a lot of interviewing of landscape designers in their research in deciding how to set up defaults that would make a good plan.

If you get to the point that you feel like you don't need to use their dialog boxes, you can use my techniques with it. If I worked in an office with only Dynascape, I'd be fine. It is not like it would be an anchor around your neck if you advance in your cad skills.
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  #36 (permalink)  
Old 01-09-2006, 03:36 PM
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Thanks so much for the help and advice!
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  #37 (permalink)  
Old 01-10-2006, 10:59 AM
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I will just add my two cents and what we have experienced. We have looked at many CAD type programs Dynascape, Vectorworks/Landmark, Pro landscape purchased and use to use Planscape and Designware (bought together) Planscape was very basic and Designware (imaging) as Bill says can be misleading I do know of a garden center here in the Chicago area that had to take a client to court because they client wouldn't pay because the final installation wasn't what the image looked like, I don't know what the outcome was but who needs the hassles.
We don't use Planscape anymore its to basic and the company doesn't support the product anymore. Designware we use on a very limited basis, don't need the trouble.
We did purchase and use exclusivly Vectorwork/Landmark and love it. We do find that for some of the people it may be to much. Many of the so called landscapers use graph paper, note book paper or some of the cheaper software packages purchased from Best Buy, Office Max etc.
Like I said just my two cents worth.
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  #38 (permalink)  
Old 01-10-2006, 11:04 AM
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I'll second John's 2 cents. I've used VectorWorks for years and think that it's a great program. Pretty cost effective, easy to use, keeps improving with each new release and makes a good looking plan.
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  #39 (permalink)  
Old 01-10-2006, 01:13 PM
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Isn't VectorWorks a Mac based program?
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  #40 (permalink)  
Old 01-10-2006, 02:50 PM
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It was built for use with Mac machines but they now have a windows base program which is what we use and havn't had any problems.
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  #41 (permalink)  
Old 01-10-2006, 03:40 PM
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I use the Windows version, too. No problems here, either. Great program...
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  #42 (permalink)  
Old 01-11-2006, 02:35 PM
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Vectorworks Landmark is definitely a powerful design program. It has a lot of features that are very impressive, but, and this is the big but, it is in my opinion, far too technical for the average landscape designer. Nemetschek has positioned their Vectorworks CAD platform as a direct competitor to AutoCAD. They are quite popular on the Mac, but don't appear to have taken any significant bite out of Autodesk's market share on the PC. If you have a Mac, I think they're your best option, until we come out with something for the Mac of course...

However, since their primary focus is not your business as a landscape designer (Landmark is only 'one of' the customized CAD solutions they sell), the needs of the platform in general is their focus. As always, your mileage may vary, but even a good tool isn't always useful if it's not approachable and easy to learn. It does sound like some people here are using it productively, which is great.

At any rate, I work for the competition so what do I know? If you're evaluating software, give us a look too - I think you'll find that we're a little less corporate, and that we understand what it is you need to do a little better - we're not 'in' the generic CAD space, but only in yours, the one where green things grow.

F.
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  #43 (permalink)  
Old 01-11-2006, 07:57 PM
Acorn
 
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Speaking of Macs (which one of our group has) does anyone know if Dynascape will run decently on a (new, high speed) Mac using Virtual PC. (not just open the tiff file output)??

Thanks
Paul
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  #44 (permalink)  
Old 01-11-2006, 08:17 PM
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From what I know of vurtual PC, it initself slows the Mac down so badly it is near impossible to operate. And that comes from a former Engineer at Mac who turned real estate agent in my wife's office.
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  #45 (permalink)  
Old 01-11-2006, 10:54 PM
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I've also received a good report about VectorWorks. When I was researching design software a few months ago, I spoke to a designer at Southern Living magazine (they offer a design service). He told me that they use VectorWorks LANDMARK and are very pleased with it (although he did say that they paid VectorWorks extra to make some custom modifications in their software). According to him, they formerly used LANDCAD (or is it LANDCADD?). He said that the VectorWorks program was much better and that he could now do designs in about half the time of a hand drawing.
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