Hi Bill W, have you been testing the waters with 2018 yet ? If so how do you like it so far ?
Some hits and some misses.
I like the Wall Transition Materials. It will save a lot of time over having to build different walls for different material heights. System Options Save is good but would have been much much more useful if there were an ability to load system options files to an individual drawing file rather than just to the entire system. Live Schedules might be useful in some cases but I'm kind of luke-warm on them. Once again changing all the interface icons... whatever. Auto Basement - I don't do basements so I don't need it. The little 3D Preview window that shows what you are drawing... I turned it off. It is too small to be really useful to me plus I have an ultra wide monitor and already have a full 3D window open off to the side as I draw. Gross Floor Area... I don't care for the implementation at all. A much better solution would have been a spreadsheet format that allows you to select which areas you wanted included in the total area and automatically calculate it that way. The Building Options improvements are welcome. Better control over cabinet layouts is a very welcome change. Previously I was unable to create some cabinet configurations. Tray Ceiling is good if you do interior 3D shots. Copy equal spacing between is great. The Deck improvements are good. Visible in all modes for dimensions will be very useful in certain cases. Automatic Roof Pitches on elevations is good but would be better if they were created as symbols rather than lines and notes. A symbol would be easier to reposition if necessary. Extension from center of pocket door opening is great. Manual Upload Project is good. Finishing Options changes are welcome. Additional Information Stamps is good but still not as good as if we could define our own fields and stamps. Having to rely on SoftPlan's info stamps is limiting. I hate limits. Sort for Layers is good. Reverse all drawings in model is good. Image visible as you adjust its size is good. Make Parallel is good. New Modify command can save some steps. Information stamps can be added to a note rather than having to be a separate note is good. Simultaneous Outline and Mask for notes is good. Still disappointed with openings. I have been asking for arch top hung windows and double doors since drawing shapes were introduced and yet they still can't be done. Stop at transition for exterior trim is good. Showing sheathing in elevations is a big miss in my book. I have no need for double lines on every roof edge and they in fact will cause lots of extra work any time an elevation needs to be adjusted. SoftPlan considers this "probably one of the most significant changes in SoftPlan 2018". I call it a significant fail and am hoping they will provide a way to turn it off. Cloud Shape is good. Break adjustment for stairs is good. Type Erase for Ceiling Framing is good. Projection Snaps is good but I really want the addition of a keyboard shortcut to be able to turn them off and on without having to go into the System Options. Adjust arrows (little red arrows that flitter about all over the screen when you are using adjust) are not only useless but extremely annoying. I desperately want a way to turn them off before they start causing eye strain as they draw my attention all over the screen. The SoftPlan developers seem to think these useless little arrows are the greatest thing... I hate them with a burning passion. The arrows, not the developers. Those guys are ok
Bill is the owner and maintainer of SoftPlanTuts.com
Pretty extensive review Bill. Living in the Northeast I really like the auto basement feature. I feel like the Ray traced feature has greatly
improved renderings. Do you agree?
Hello Mike. I live in Texas and almost all of my designs are for Louisiana. A basement in Louisiana would be like building a house over a swimming pool so basements are not my thing. But I'm sure the Auto Basement is wonderful for those who can use it :). I know that rendering is important to some people. I used to spend a lot of time on renderings so I understand that. But nobody ever asks me for renderings and nobody has offered to pay me extra for my time to produce them so I just don't do them. I use 3D to check my work and to visualize things but the builder never sees them unless there is something that the client just can't visualize or if they are wanting something that can't be done. In that case I send out a quick 3D to show them why it won't work. Things like stairs along an outside wall that walk up into the roof comes to mind. So I haven't even really looked at the rendering improvements because that is not something that makes my drawing process faster.
I run a one-man shop and have a fast-paced business. My biggest client is a large production builder. At any point in time I have over 100 plans in some phase of completion. Each plan is typically at least 11 pages long and depending on the size and level of detail can sometimes approach 20 pages. So the things I look for in each new version are things that speed up my work. I need the ability to quickly create any sort of window or door that the client asks for. I need features that increase efficiency and automation. I need features that allow me to set up templates that can be utilized over and over. These are types of things I need. I do understand SoftPlan's marketing needs. They need to add features that have pizzazz in order to entice new sales and upgrades. I get that. But I need things that make me more efficient. So in any review I do those are the things that I will concentrate on because that is all that is important to me. I see things like flittery Adjust arrows and think to myself "They have time to create these arrows I don't want that jump all over the screen but no time to give me the opening types I have been asking for version after version after version." It does get frustrating. But each version does come with a wealth of new features that do help so it is sometimes a trade-off. I just really wish that any new features that are added had a way to disable them if they aren't wanted. Everybody doesn't work the same way and every new feature can have unintended results that decrease efficiency for some people rather than helping.
Ok, what your saying makes a lot of sense. I don't get asked to provide pretty pictures that often either.
I like to have that option when I do need it.
I absolutely agree. Options are a wonderful thing. Changes that affect how we work and changes that affect standards that have been in place for many years without the option to not have to work with these changes is bad. Very bad indeed. I don't know what I am going to do about all the extra lines that are inserted into generated elevations that I absolutely do NOT want. I may have to forgo upgrading for the first time ever if SoftPlan does not provide a way to go back to the way things were before. It is one thing to add detail to the 3D to make things look more realistic. It is entirely something else to start adding levels of detail to generated elevations that are not even visible in the printed drawings but cause extra work any time manual adjustments need to be made after the elevations have been generated. About all I can hope for is that after people start using 2018 they will see the same problems I see with the roof sheathing showing in generated elevations and start begging SoftPlan to change things back. I can only hope.
I will send a request to Softplan that they give us the option to not include
roof sheathing in Elevations.
Thanks for the great review, Bill!!! I was hoping you'd post something on it. I'm trying to decide if it's worth upgrading or not. I was hoping to hear more about the rendering updates. I'd prefer all of my renderings to be with SP than to have to buy another program like SketchUp if at all possible. I use rendering because most of my clients are custom home buyers who can't visualize anything. So it really helps me communicate the home design to them. Plus, I'd love to be able to offer them an "artistic rendering" of their new home for an extra few bucks. SP is ok but the rendering settings aren't as user friendly as some other programs.
Hey Kimberly. I can't really attest to the rendering updates since I haven't really put any time in looking at them. I will admit that trying to get good renderings out of SoftPlan is a lot harder than it should be. The capabilities are there to make really decent renderings. But their documentation and in-depth explanations of exactly what all the settings do and how to use them is very lacking. About all you get is a brief dictionary definition of what each setting is suppose to do. In the past I have approached several of those who do produce really great renderings and tried to get them to create some how-to tutorials for here. But I could never get anyone to take the time.