Question about Available SoftPlan Resources

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cbe
cbe's picture
Question about Available SoftPlan Resources

 

Am I the only one that thinks Softplan's online resources & support are lacking?  For the record, I am referring solely to softplan.com.   I feel like Softplan is a tech company that is not very tech savvy.   As a new guy to SP, I am thankful for this site.  When I have a question, I come here first hoping that Bill has covered it in his tutorials.  If he hasn't, I cross my fingers and hope I can find something at softplan.com that isn't a FAQ for an older version which I've never seen.  I love softplan, but the website & online support is terrible compared to it's competition.  I tested Chief Architect and Envisoneer before purchasing SP.  This is a resource comparison from my experience...     Chief Architect - HUGE, HUGE online knowledge base.  It is easy to find an answer to just about any question in their knowledge base.  They currently also include 50+ hours of videos in addition to their tutorials/knowledge base.  It should be noted that this service cost about $400/year, but it does comes with SSA (Support/Software Assurance).  So for $400/yr you basically get amazing support options and free upgrades for every new version.  I only mention the cost b/c my Softplan sales rep kept mentioning it as a drawback to CA.  I reminded him that CA + the SSA is still cheaper than softplan.  So once you factor in the free upgrades, training information, and free softlist equivalent it is significantly cheaper than Softplan.    Envisioneer - The knowledge base is limited, but growing.  What I really liked about them is that once a week they hold an online training for the users.  Each week is a different topic and users are allowed to ask questions.  If you can't attend the online training, no problem.  A video of the training is posted on their website.  I think each video is 60-90 minutes and they keep them uploaded for about a year at a time which is about how often it takes them to get back around to each subject.  This is included with the purchase of the software which is much cheaper than CA & SP.   Softplan - we get a 900+ page paperback book, limited online FAQ's (many regarding only older versions of SP), & very limited online training videos (many done in older versions also).  I was also given a free Training DVD.  It is helpful as a starter, but I have to pay to attend other training. My schedule wouldn't allow me to attend this week's training, and there are no videos made of the training.  I even offered to purchase a video of the training, but was denied.   Admittedly, I am a big geek.  I expect everyone to provide decent information and training in a manner that is current with today's technology.  Softplan gave me a book and a DVD.  In my opinion, Softplan is stuck in 2002.  This info should be available online.  In the time of tablets, and smartphones, Softplan should be making it easier to learn their program.  Not everyone sits in front of a PC all day, and I certainly don't want to lug around that book in order to study in my spare time.   Sorry for the long rant.  I guess I am just aggravated b/c I see softplan as a superior software to it's competition.  I have no problem paying a premium for a product, but it seems SP would be doing everyone, including themselves, a favor by updating their website and adding some support info.  Regardless of the quality of the product, there are other services that need to be provided or they will get left behind.  When the competition begins to adapt to new technology, you have to do the same.... see Blackberry (RIM).   /rant

- Cory

Bill Wimberley
Bill Wimberley's picture
SoftPlan Support

SoftPlan does supply free email and phone support for life. If you get stuck on something send them an email or give them a call.

SoftPlan has a video library on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/SoftPlanSystemsInc?feature=watch

Depending on what OS your tablet has you might be able to copy the SoftPlan Help files to the tablet. The Help has most everything that the book has.

Most of the videos created with older versions still apply to 2012. The interface is a bit different in 2012 but the methods presented haven't changed much so they are still useful for learning 2012.

SoftPlan does supply a message board where you can ask questions. It's not staffed by SoftPlan employees but there are quite a few users who frequent it and are happy to help out.

SoftPlan does have live online training and videos that you can purchase.

Several people have created helpful videos and posted them to YouTube.

When I was learning SoftPlan I didn't spend a lot of time in the book. I read the first couple of chapters to get a basic understanding and then just used it as a reference whenever I got stuck or couldn't figure out what some setting did. I don't retain much from reading about something. I learn a lot more from actually doing it. But everybody learns differently and at a different pace.

And then of course there is SoftPlanTuts (shameless plug). I'm still building the back-end inner workings so I haven't had as much time to devote to creating tutorials as I would have liked. And I suck at marketing and schmoozing so I haven't been getting out there and trying to get anybody to come by. But it is slowly coming together. My goal is to eventually have a first class site, just like the big boys who actually get paid for stuff like this.

Perhaps SoftPlan should put a little time into updating their site and making the resources a bit easier to find and use. But overall I think that they do a pretty good job of getting you all the tools you need to learn the program, although maybe just not in the format that you are wanting.

Feel free to use this site to ask any questions you may have. And of course, the more information you provide about your problem the easier it will be to get the correct answer back. Upload images, drawing files, money orders....whatever it takes to convey what it is your are needing help with. You are obviously a smart guy and you will catch on soon.

Bill is the owner and maintainer of SoftPlanTuts.com

cbe
cbe's picture
 

 

I see what you are saying, but the few Softplan users I've talked have never really looked outside of Softplan for a comparison of the competing products.  I guess I see things differently since I just went through that process.  As I stated before, I think Softplan is the better product and that is the reason I purchased it.    I know that a lot of the tutorials for v14 apply to 2012, but some don't.  Softplan 2012 has been out for almost 18 months which is plenty of time to have updated the training information by now.  I am pretty sure all of the youtube videos are in 2012, but that is less than 3 hours of videos most of which are already included with the free training DVD.  If my memory serves, Chief had over 57 hours of videos online; Envisioneer had more than that.  Chief's knowledge base is very user friendly and has about 500-600 articles/tutorials for the latest version.  Some simple as how to create a beam, some very complex.   With all that whining out of the way.... I'll get back to learning the software.  cool   Oh yeah... thanks for the tip about moving the help file to my tablet.  I will give it a shot and report back with the results.  
cbe
cbe's picture
Just to update...

Just to update...

 

I was am now able to read the Softplan help file on my Android tablet.  I installed HYReader on my ASUS Transformer for $.99.  I then copied over the .chm help files from my PC.  It may be a little clunky to use, but it is usable.  There is no search, but you can access the Table of Contents to narrow down what you want to read.  As someone that always has my tablet on me, this makes learning a little easier.

 

If anyone wants to do this in the future, feel free to message me.  I can give more detailed instructions.