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Old 01-02-2006, 06:09 PM
Acorn
 
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Design Software

Hi Everyone,

I am new to the industry and am thinking of learning software to do my designs. I have heard of Autocad but I was told it is hard to learn. When I do a google search the garden graphics software comes up and it looks good but I don't know what else is out there.

Any advice, should I look deeper at the garden graphics software or are there better ones out there?

Learning
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Old 01-02-2006, 08:52 PM
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I use ProLandscape, which has a web-site here: ProLandscape Site. I've been happy with this software and the designs I've produced with it, and it was pretty easy to learn, if not master.

Also, you might try searching GTX with key-words something like "design software"; this topic has been discussed here many times.

Good Luck!
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Old 01-02-2006, 09:01 PM
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Pro Landscape here also.....anyone can use it because its super easy.
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Old 01-02-2006, 11:58 PM
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I've been researching landscape design software for several months and have looked at about ten different programs. In my opinion, PROLandscapes is greatly overpriced. It costs about $1,300, yet it lacks some things that you can find in software that is under $100. For example, there is a program called Realtime Landscaping PRO made by Idea Spectrum that offers not only photo imaging and 2-D site planning like PROLandscapes but it also has actual 3-D capability. That is, you can create a three-dimensional model with detailed terrain elevations and do a virtual walk-through of the site. And it's only $60!!!!

Another good one with a low price is GrowIt Gold which does not have the 3-D capability like Realtime Landscaping PRO but it does have photo imaging with cloning, a good 2-D mode for creating top-down site plans, and a massive plant database. And the price of this one is $138 (if I remember correctly).

In other words, you could buy these two programs for about $200 and you'd have more useful features and information than PROLandscapes. About the only thing you'll lack is an estimating function which could be helpful but I doubt that it is worth the $1100 difference that you'd pay for it.

If you really want to get into more sophisticated 3-D modeling software such as a high-priced landscape architect might use, then you ought to check out VectorWorks LANDMARK which is a stand-alone program, or you can use one of several programs designed for use with the AutoCAD platform. I believe that the VectorWorks program is about the same price as PROLandscapes. AutoCAD based software will cost you more because you have to buy the AutoCAD platform to run it, which is around $900.

Stuart
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Old 01-03-2006, 07:47 AM
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If you want to use an add on to Autocad, you need the full Autocad that runs about $4,000, not Acad LT which goes for about $900.

But, most of the landscape programs that use the Autocad platform come with the Autocad engine built in, or Intellicad which is a clone of Acad. So, there is seldom the additional cost.

You still have to know how to use ACAD which has a steep learning curve. If you are adept in ACAD, you probably have little use for the landscape specific add ons. I stopped using them a long time ago. There are usually faster ways to do things than going through user friendly menus. But if you don't know the program well, the menus simplify them.

Most landscape architects draw plans and details. Not that many do photoimaging and 3d models.
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Old 01-03-2006, 11:08 AM
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sdinenno
I had an earlier version of GrowItGold and found it very cumbersome and buggy. ProLandscape is pretty expensive for sure, but has decent technical support, and runs well. The company seems well-run, producing updates every couple of years, and knowing they aren't going anywhere does provide some peace of mind...

I've found the imaging part of ProLandscape a very effective sales tool that justifies the cost; I can produce a good looking photo-rep of a foundation planting in a half-hour, and sell a job with that alone.

Imaging unfortunately has serious limitations as a design tool, namely the pictures you use can be very deceptive in representing how much space you have to work with. More than once I've walked up to a front door with a Photo-representation and realized, "Wow, this bed is a lot bigger/smaller than I thought..."
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Old 01-03-2006, 02:48 PM
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Thanks for all the input I have had alot of sites to check out. I think the dynascape pro has the best sample drawings so far and I like the idea of a plant encyclopedia. Is anyone using this software that has some feedback for me. A friend of mine learned dynascape in school and liked it but he does not have much experience with it.
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Old 01-03-2006, 04:08 PM
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In my opinion Dynascape has the best graphics available for a design program. With that program you will not be able to exchange files with other professionals using acad which might or might not be a limitation for you. As far as imaging programs are concerned, I view them as more of a sales tool than a design program. They offer a great added benefit for someone who is having a problem comprehending a landscape plan but do not replace the planning process.
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Old 01-03-2006, 04:52 PM
Acorn
 
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I don't think Imaging software is something I want to get into, they all look a little cartoonish to me, I want to sell the job because the client trusts me, not because of a 3d picture. It says on the garden graphics website that the program is fully compatible with autocad. Does that mean I can share drawings with others using acad? I thought that meant you could open and send drawings freely? At least there is a free trial so I can try it out before I buy something. Do most people Design by hand or are software programs most used?
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Old 01-03-2006, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by sdinenno


In other words, you could buy these two programs for about $200 and you'd have more useful features and information than PROLandscapes. About the only thing you'll lack is an estimating function which could be helpful but I doubt that it is worth the $1100 difference that you'd pay for it.


Stuart [/B]
I am going to disagree here and this is my personal opinion and based upon what I want in design software and software in general. To say that 2 programs for $ 200 will do more than a professional design image program is bad advice in MY OPINION. Using 2 stand alone programs to do something 1 will do, even a a greater cost is poor use of a designers/salesperson/owners TIME.

ProLandscape will produce working drawings from the design. Very important feature because I can convert that design into crew plans immediately. No second step involved in an additional drawing or engineering process.

ProLandscape will allow me to generate a complete estimate for labor and materials, import that to Excel or use their module. I could set a macro to drop the numbers right into my custom designed estimating program in seconds. I have not bought the program yet, but it is scheduled for purchase in March.

To me an additional $ 1100 is a small price to pay for eliminating at least 2 very time consuming steps in the sales process. From the material list I can assign labor values, I want cut and fill capabilties, and I want a solid plant library. I want mulch calculations, I want it all, and $ 1100 is nothing over the course of 1 year as compared to my time and efficency.

I went to both the links in the post and I found them both to be inferior to ProLandscape. Any time a graphics program has a time management and finance module in it, they lost my interest right away. Realtime is a variation of Punch or Serria or one of the low end non profesional user's.

Don't go cheap here folks, I have made that mistake dozens of times, and this process figures to thave the greatest impact on our business this year of everything we are doing and I am not going to cut a corner in the name of economy, when doing that could impact it more in a negative way. If you want the best, you need to pay for the best.
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Old 01-03-2006, 05:51 PM
Whip
 
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look back at past posts. Someone from Garden Graphics explains it well if I remember correctly. I could be wrong but as far as I'm aware you can not swap drawings with people using ACAD. They do sell a program that will compliment ACAD.
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Old 01-03-2006, 06:13 PM
Acorn
 
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I use adobe photoshop, import my own images that I took with my digital camera and add real retaining walls, shrubs ...etc..etc. you get the idea and it cost ..well actually just your time in learning how to take good pics and tweak them into your very own realistic landscape designs. if your creative you can just about do anything now-a-days without spending a fortune on something that in my opinion is slightly over-rated.
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Old 01-03-2006, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by r schipul
look back at past posts. Someone from Garden Graphics explains it well if I remember correctly. I could be wrong but as far as I'm aware you can not swap drawings with people using ACAD. They do sell a program that will compliment ACAD.
Guess this would be my department right?

Our DynaSCAPE Design tool (formerly DynaSCAPE Pro) can import and export dwg and dxf files up to the latest and greatest version (2006), so it is definitely possible to work with drawings created with AutoCAD, and to have AutoCAD users work with drawings created with DynaSCAPE.

However, if you wanted to repeatedly exchange the same drawing/data during the course of a project, there is the possibility that some 'extra data' that your drawings contain could be stripped out - however this is the case with nearly any format to format move. Regular geometry will be just fine, but if you or someone you work with does funky things with custom AutoCAD objects or xrefs, that information will be lost. Again, this isn't an issue with our products, it's just a simple truth that other CAD software vendors might not like to talk about.

So, the general rule is if you want to be able to import and export dwg and dxf data repeatedly over the course of a particular project, our AutoCAD based product (DynaSCAPE Design for AutoCAD) might be a better fit than our standalone product. Since we offer both standalone and AutoCAD based versions of our tools, our AutoCAD compatibility is rock solid.

Hopefully this clears things up.

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Old 01-03-2006, 06:22 PM
Seedling
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dale Wiley
Realtime is a variation of Punch or Serria or one of the low end non professional user's.

The manufacturer of Realtime Landscaping PRO gave me a copy of the software and I was pleasantly surprised at how sophisticated it is. It doesn't just do photo-imaging, it allows the user to do actual 3-D terrain modeling and take a virtual walk-through of the site. I think that if you couple this with the GrowIt Gold's huge plant database and 2-D design capabilities, you could really have a good all-around package.

But if your main concern is producing impressive 2-D site plan drawings (which is probaly a lot more useful than photo-imaging), then you might want to consider LSI's Landscape Illustrator. It is about half the price of PROLandscapes and based on what I've seen, the 2-D graphics are superior. Dynascape might be better than both of them but it also more expensive.
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Old 01-03-2006, 06:24 PM
Acorn
 
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by the way I've sold most of my customers this way - they are very impressed when they can see their own home with different designs . (printed out on photo paper)

try not to always lean toward your own beliefs about other peoples visions or lack-there-of. I have learned that will only slow you down.

p.s. alot of your customers may need something to actually look at - people tend to subconciously lean toward the visceral appeal kind of a first impression thing - check this book out called EMOTIONAL DESIGN
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