Posts Tagged ‘engineering software’

Winter is Here and So is a New Release

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Welcome to winter!

DraftLogic Inc. has a gift for you to soften the blow of the oncoming cold season.  On Monday, we will release the latest version of DraftLogic Electrical, V3.0.0.671.  The new benefits in this version coupled with the benefits from the optional upgrades in September and October make this release strongly recommended.

 

Data, Fiber, Voice, Coaxial Symbols

The first round of our symbols updating efforts is ready for release.  We have added new fiber communications symbols and new combo (data, voice, and coaxial) symbols.  All communications symbols have been enhanced to show on plots, in abbreviated format, the number of ports/jacks they have on them.  For example: 2D, 2D/2V, 2F, and 2D/2V/1C.  There is now also a list to select details about the jacks, wall plate, or cable on each communication symbol.  Both lists are database driven, so adding / changing / removing items from the list is quick and easy.

 

One Touch Removal of Branch Circuit Wiring Elements

There is a new ‘Erase Lines Keep HR’ tool on the BCW tool palette and in the BCW submenu of the DL Electrical menu.  The tool gives you a one touch removal of BCW elements for those that want to use Automated Branch Circuit Wiring.  You can remove all interconnect related BCW lines and symbols, leaving only home run text blocks and arrows, or use the second offered option to retain home run symbols, like junction boxes, that were placed during Automated Branch Circuit Wiring or manually.  In the future, we will activate a third option that allows you to additionally retain all multicircuit interconnects.

 

More Intelligent Suite Related Bill of Materials and Export to ConEst IntelliBid

Prior to this release, BCW interconnects and home runs were only associated with a particular master suite if they were completely enclosed in the suite in question.  This required you to ensure that such drawing elements were completely in the suite’s service area.  With this release, DraftLogic Electrical will first look at the wire configuration details on BCW interconnects and in home run attributes to determine suite membership.  This association will be used regardless of the location of the interconnect or home run, so suite multiplication will happen as desired even if, for example, an interconnect runs outside the walls of the suite’s service area.  Only in the case where the wire configuration data (that includes the servicing panel) does not exist or is invalid is the location used to determine if the interconnect or home run should be multiplied as per suite contents or not.

 

Protection Overrides Now Smarter Than Us

Prior to this release, you could select an incompatible protection type override and protection size override, for example a 225A fused disconnect.  DraftLogic Electrical would slavishly create the nonexistent for you.  Now, DraftLogic Electrical looks upon the protection type override as ‘king’ and selects a legitimate protection size and frame size based on that.  If you have selected a nonexistent combination, DraftLogic Electrical will select the next highest legitimate protection and frame size.

We have also added more messaging about the rectification and application of overrides through dialogs in the Circuit Manager and warning arrows in Automated Circuiting.

 

Goodies from Optional Upgrades the Last Couple Months

If you haven’t upgraded since the August 28, 2012 V3.0.0.603 release or prior, these blog entries detail what was included in the optional upgrades in September and October:

http://www.draftlogic.com/blog/2012/09/

http://www.draftlogic.com/blog/2012/10/

 

Upgrade Effort

We estimate that running the Client and Server upgrades will take just a few minutes.  Overwriting the three databases completely will take another couple minutes.  If you have Room, Luminaire, Project, or Design Parameter Library records that you have added or modified and desire to keep, it will take another few minutes to run a script to update the DraftLogic database rather than replacing it (the DL-Config and DL-Control do not house any of your data so can be overwritten).

 

We’ll follow up on Monday with a note to point you to the updates and quick instructions on performing the update!  Let me know if you have any comments, questions, or concerns.

 

Regards,
Dean Whitford
Chief Executive Officer
DraftLogic
Phone 780-906-2888 (9AM to 6PM MTN time)
Email dwhitford@draftlogic.com
Blog http://www.draftlogic.com/blog
Visit us on the Internet: www.draftlogic.com

Keys to Success for Learning to Use Software Built for Complex Tasks

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Learning New Software Blues

You know what?  I hate reading software manuals, attending software training courses, and watching training videos as much…or even more…than you do!  I can usually get away without doing any of that…with typical ‘consumer grade’ applications.  It is an indisputable truism, however, that not all software can be made simple and intuitive enough so that a reasonably intelligent person can sit down and effectively use it without having to do any of these horrible horrible things  :)

In Our Experience

We at DraftLogic Inc. have been working with new clients and with potential clients that are setting up pilot projects and trials of DraftLogic Electrical.  Since what happens in the initial learning phase of the software determines whether implementation moves forward or not, we have learned some key factors that determine success or failure across all sites.

These key factors apply to all software that has a tough job to do. What do I mean by that?  Well, typically speaking, the more complex and knowledge intensive the end product, the more complex the software to help users create a quality end product. For example, consider AutoCAD, Revit, and enterprise resource planning products.  Each of these products requires a minimum base level of product knowledge before a user can be truly productive with them.  Sure, someone with reasonable computer experience can sit down and draw some simple entities in AutoCAD, but you and I both know there is no way that someone without experience or training will be able to create professional quality output without some training!

So let’s dig into these keys to success that you can apply to almost any software built for complex tasks, using DraftLogic Electrical as our ‘case study’.

DraftLogic Electrical is going to make your design time both more enjoyable and more productive. It does this by automating boring, low skill, and error prone tasks; thus freeing up much more of your time to be able to concentrate on the important design decisions. You will finish your projects faster and even be able to deliver more value to the client in the shorter design time.

The Three Keys to Success

There are three key things that are all necessary to be successful with DraftLogic Electrical. If you can make these commitments, it is highly likely that you will be very successful with DraftLogic Electrical, i.e. your design productivity will, at a minimum, double and you will enjoy your design time more. The more of these commitments that are not met or are only partially met, the more likely it is that you will not be successful with DraftLogic Electrical and you will miss out on a great opportunity.

Firstly, your company must allocate you paid time during regular workdays to do the video training. The hours required in total are 20-24 if our tutorial school is used as the sample, up to approximately 30 hours if you select one of your projects to try things on.  The video training must be completed in a span of no more than two weeks–any longer and you’ll forget the basics before you learn the other features! In our experience, it is also not going to work if the company asks a designer to learn DraftLogic Electrical ‘as they go’, ‘during lunch times’, or ‘at home in the evening/weekends’.

Secondly, you must go carefully through the entire training video series, pausing the videos often and trying each function on the tutorial school data.

Thirdly, you must not ‘spin your wheels’. We want you to have a positive learning and use experience, not get frustrated trying to figure something tricky out. Call for support when: there is a concept in the training videos that does not seem to make sense, a function does not work when you try them it the tutorial data, or there simply seems to be some instruction or information missing.  Spend a few minutes reviewing the video, quickly check for information in the forums, and perhaps read the particular section for the function in question in the user manual…but other than that, pick up the phone and call 780-906-2888 for help.  Spending a few minutes on the phone with us will save you many more minutes of frustration.  We have noticed that some folks tend to email rather than call, please be aware that email might not get looked at for some number of minutes so it is always best to call if you have a question that needs to be answered in order for you to be able to continue.

In Closing

I have two last suggestions.  The first is for those trying to help clients learn their software–you need both the executives and the users to buy-in to the above to make the learning process work.  The second is for those who have to learn any software built for a complex task–think of the end state of improved productivity with less effort that you will be in after training…that should help you to stay focused and gain maximum benefit from the training.

Happy Software Engineering,

Dean Whitford, CEO

DraftLogic Inc.

 

PS:  interested in seeing a sample video training program?  Check ours out.

Tool Inertia

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was a caveperson named Pog.  Pog had a stone attached to a stick with a length of tendon.  Pog was very proud of his invention that made getting firewood easier & getting food easier.  Sure, the type of stone he used tended to flake and break often, but he was able to find replacement stones of the same kind easily.  Other cavepeople even copied his tool and made their own.

One day, Pog saw another caveperson, Grog, with a tool that had a shiny black head instead of dull grey like his.  Grog had discovered a deposit of obsidian and improved on Pog’s invention!  Pog found himself gathering wood in the same area as Grog and was amazed to see how much faster Grog was able to cut pieces of wood using his sharper and more durable tool.  Grog was happy to show any other cavepeople where the obsidian was, and many went with him to get their own pieces of obsidian.

Pog, however, had been using his dull grey stone tool for a long time and was comfortable with it.  He knew it took much longer to do everything, but the fear of trying to learn and use an new tool kept him from changing to the better obsidian blade.  Besides, Pog had invented the dull grey stone cutting tool, how could he abandon it!  In time, the obsidian users outperformed the dull grey stone users by such a margin that all the dull grey stone users died out and ended up merely as fossils buried in the soil.

How sad…if only Pog had not been afraid to adopt the newer, better tool!

THE DEVIL THAT WE KNOW

OK, you got me.  That was a rather long winded way of pointing out that we humans often stick with what we know and are comfortable with rather than trying new things–even if there is a strong probability that the new thing will make our work easier and/or better in some way.

We saw this happen twentyish years ago with the migration from manual drafting to CAD (computer aided design).  Thinking back in your career, you can probably remember situations where you saw people and/or organizations resist change that would have benefited them.

FLAVOR OF THE MONTH?

So should we go ahead and adopt every new tool that looks like it might benefit us in some way?  Of course not–you don’t want to be a member of the flavor of the month club, endlessly hopping from one half baked innovation to the next.

BEAT TOOL INERTIA

You still need to perform due diligence to ensure that a tool is truly going to benefit you.  Once you have performed due diligence, however, don’t let tool inertia bind you forever to the devil that you know!

Regards,
Dean Whitford, B.Comm.
Chief Operating Officer
DraftLogic
www.draftlogic.com