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Replying to SoftPlan Vs. Chief Architect Comparison


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David Zawadzki

Posted 17 December 2021 - 10:56 PM

I have been using Chief Architect for over 20 years.

Today my Softplan key came in the mail and I drew my first real floor plan, although I have been practicing with the trial version for about a week.
It is a simple addition to an existing house.  After drawing the walls and dimensioning them, I went for the roof.  It is an L shaped ranch, with an inset entry, mostly hip roof but a gable on the portion forming the L.

If I understand Softplan correctly, every roof is first drawn as a hip roof.  Chief does the same thing, but you can pre set walls to be gable or hip roof above before generating the roof.  So I clicked the auto roof, grabbed some of the reference circles and made a few adjustments. Ta Da, the roof is perfect.  I think it took about half the time it would have taken in Chief.

It seems the Project options and System options in Softplan give a lot more control than you get in Chief.  I also like the fact that with Softplan you can set the height of any individual wall, whereas with Chief you can only set wall heights to an entire "room".

I also like the Manufacturer Libraries in Softplan, with for instance Andersen 400 series giving an extensive list of the windows.  In Chief, you have to open a window, edit it for size, glass area, etc then add it to a "User" library.  Very time consuming.

Another thing I consider a drawback to Chief is that it considers the sill plate of the foundation as part of the foundation, not part of the framing. However, in certain views it considers it as part of the foundation, in others not so.  I think the parameters are easier to set in Softplan than Chief.

Dormers in Softplan are extremely easy compared to Chief.  Dormers in Chief are time consuming and a lot of guesswork and do overs.  I like to describe Cheif Architect as putting the guesswork back into drafting.

In short, I was able to produce the basic drawing in about 2/3 the time it would take in Chief, and I know because I did the same project in Chief just to compare.

One thing  Chief has and I do not know if Softplan has,  is a CAD Drafting mode.  It is a fairly powerful 2D Cad program, and is very useful for drawing CAD Details.  I have not gotten there with Softplan yet, so I don't know how it generates CAD Details.  With Chief you can save the CAD Details to a library, and then use them in any plan or plan set.  Very useful for me when my drawings have to go to the New York City Department Of Buildings, because in every set of plans, there are at least ten sheets of specific details and general notes.

Another very useful feature of Chief is the ability to draw dimensions to the Wall Surface Layer (aka drywall in most cases) or the Framing Members.  That can be done on any dimension string, and even for dimensions within the string.  I was looking for a way to dimension to the drywall in Softplan, but I have not found it yet.

So far, and again my experience with Softplan is very limited, absent the CAD Details I can produce the drawings faster in Softplan.  I am eager to find out if the entire plan set can be generated faster too.

Imagine how fast you will be able to draw when you have used SoftPlan for more than a week.

 

Just open a new drawing under file to draw your CAD details.

 

Remember to check out the tutorial library located towards the bottom of the navigation window under Tutorial tab.

 

You are going to love the planset template feature once you get it set up for the way you want your construction documents to look.


Jason Bishop

Posted 17 December 2021 - 10:39 PM

Welcome Lane-
Dimension to drywall (or any material) is found within the wall definitions. You can choose the material and then choose extension and dimension location(s).

Lane De Muro

Posted 15 December 2021 - 05:46 PM

I have been using Chief Architect for over 20 years.

Today my Softplan key came in the mail and I drew my first real floor plan, although I have been practicing with the trial version for about a week.
It is a simple addition to an existing house.  After drawing the walls and dimensioning them, I went for the roof.  It is an L shaped ranch, with an inset entry, mostly hip roof but a gable on the portion forming the L.

If I understand Softplan correctly, every roof is first drawn as a hip roof.  Chief does the same thing, but you can pre set walls to be gable or hip roof above before generating the roof.  So I clicked the auto roof, grabbed some of the reference circles and made a few adjustments. Ta Da, the roof is perfect.  I think it took about half the time it would have taken in Chief.

It seems the Project options and System options in Softplan give a lot more control than you get in Chief.  I also like the fact that with Softplan you can set the height of any individual wall, whereas with Chief you can only set wall heights to an entire "room".

I also like the Manufacturer Libraries in Softplan, with for instance Andersen 400 series giving an extensive list of the windows.  In Chief, you have to open a window, edit it for size, glass area, etc then add it to a "User" library.  Very time consuming.

Another thing I consider a drawback to Chief is that it considers the sill plate of the foundation as part of the foundation, not part of the framing. However, in certain views it considers it as part of the foundation, in others not so.  I think the parameters are easier to set in Softplan than Chief.

Dormers in Softplan are extremely easy compared to Chief.  Dormers in Chief are time consuming and a lot of guesswork and do overs.  I like to describe Cheif Architect as putting the guesswork back into drafting.

In short, I was able to produce the basic drawing in about 2/3 the time it would take in Chief, and I know because I did the same project in Chief just to compare.

One thing  Chief has and I do not know if Softplan has,  is a CAD Drafting mode.  It is a fairly powerful 2D Cad program, and is very useful for drawing CAD Details.  I have not gotten there with Softplan yet, so I don't know how it generates CAD Details.  With Chief you can save the CAD Details to a library, and then use them in any plan or plan set.  Very useful for me when my drawings have to go to the New York City Department Of Buildings, because in every set of plans, there are at least ten sheets of specific details and general notes.

Another very useful feature of Chief is the ability to draw dimensions to the Wall Surface Layer (aka drywall in most cases) or the Framing Members.  That can be done on any dimension string, and even for dimensions within the string.  I was looking for a way to dimension to the drywall in Softplan, but I have not found it yet.

So far, and again my experience with Softplan is very limited, absent the CAD Details I can produce the drawings faster in Softplan.  I am eager to find out if the entire plan set can be generated faster too.


Michael Collazo

Posted 26 April 2019 - 01:17 PM

Hello, I am new to this discussion board. I am a long time user of AutoCAD Architectural. I have gotten to a point in my life where AutoCAD seems like a bit much. AutoCAD keeps getting more and more expensive as well. I used to do a lot of commercial designs for Architects in my area. The Architects that I used to work for have now moved over to using larger firms for their commercial drafting needs. Now my design work has primarily moved over to residential. 

 

I am looking at both SoftPlan & Chief Architect. I have been doing quite a bit of research on both of these programs. There are many comparisons out there, but mainly for older versions of both. What I was wondering is if anyone has used more recent versions of these programs? If so have you used them both? What is the strong points & weaknesses of each one? I know that this is a SoftPlan message board so I take it there will be more of a one sided viewpoint on this question. However, please try to be as honest as you can.

 

Thanks for all of your time and help!

 

  I wrote a comparison, on the web, of the older versions back in 2007. They have both evolved exponentially. So I cannot say I know what strengths one has over the other. I have surprised many people with my decision to use Softplan almost exclusively. Especially the hardcore Autocad users. However, when I show them the flexibility to sketch linework with full control of lineweights, shading paint, and the use of overlays so you can see the floor above or below, they understand the draw toward Softplan. I think its a great program to get an edge over the competition. Especially if you like rendering, and are willing to learn Lumion (I am just starting...). 


Michael Collazo

Posted 26 April 2019 - 01:08 PM

I have also been looking at these two myself. I was wondering if there are any major differences between the two when it comes to product support and training materials? On the Chief Architect website is shows that the software is around $2500 which is comparable to SoftPlan. However for an additional $500 or so you get the software training and additional content for learning Chief. Does SoftPlan offer anything like this?

  Softplan adds this with their Softplan + subscription, which I love. You get to use Softplan Cloud to share projects with other contractors, about 217 training videos available on the dashboard, and additional content that is consistently being updated. It comes out to $540 when you pay monthly.


Michael Collazo

Posted 26 April 2019 - 12:52 PM

Andrew, Softplan plan sets works very much like it does on Revit. You have a lot more control of linework and detail in Softplan. If your used to autocad, you would have compare it to project navigator. However, this is 100x less complication and achieves the same thing. 

 

If you work with a lot of plan options, Softplan is ahead of the curve. Especially with the most current release, they just added the radio button to toggle options that cancel out other options. I have not seen any program that can compete with it out of the box.


Posted 22 April 2019 - 07:42 PM

Posting as guest, haven’t been here in a long time.

Both SP and CA are powerful enough to use as production tools for residential projects.

Both have an equal learning curve and quirks

Both have great things I wished the other one had!!

Both suck at linework but, both do the job, That’s why we still run LT

Text is better in CA with Rich Text

SP can be network install, CA can not (but, libraries can be saved to the cloud in CA)

CA has a larger library base if you are into interiors

Both can import/export .dwg

CA has more importing/exporting formats

SP can export to MiTek

SP has more clicks for basic functions

SP solids not as easy as in CA

Terrains probably just as bad in both (I could spend more time on that)

CA draws in groups, or based by room, once you enclose 4 walls you have a room, walls, ceilings and roofs are grouped in settings

Cad to walls in CA if you can set the layers in the .dwg ahead of time, but, openings not accurate (uses defaults)

The 2020 version added a lot of features already familiar in previous versions of CA

SP is definitely slower in terms of how quick can things get done. (User dependent too)

Layers, Layer sets, Annotation sets in CA, one can create as many as needed

SP has softalk, softlist, CA has schedules and Keynotes

I am sure both sites have "Features" lists that one could compare as well…

So, the big down is when we get sidetracked and want to tackle large projects with either platform, they don’t do well handling large files. (This could be expanded into a topic on its own)

Which is best? That is like asking a carpenter what is the best wormdrive/circular saw out there!!

The typical answer is the one they have had more experience with, that is why a lot of the previous posts lean to one more than the other.

They’re as good as the driver behind them, we have been using both since oh 2012 and there’s always that (oh I can do that better and faster in...CA/SP)

By the way we use in order of priority ArchiCAD, Chief, Softplan, AutoCAD LT. All great tools to have and don't forget, we never stop learning!

Oh I almost forgot the Users forum for Chief is very, a lot more videos and knowledge base in CA even in utub.

Softplan has videos but are very sales oriented, the minimum basics, nothing specific, no plan sets, etc.

That's all folks!


Posted 18 April 2019 - 07:33 PM

my employer is forcing me to switch to softplan from chief x11. have a trial version of softplan and learning curve seems enormous to me. 


Gary McKeon

Posted 15 April 2019 - 01:23 PM

Allan, you really need to call the Softplan Sales office as they will give you all the information and answers you need. They are good people that won't try to push you so you can talk comfortably.


Posted 15 April 2019 - 01:11 PM

I have also been looking at these two myself. I was wondering if there are any major differences between the two when it comes to product support and training materials? On the Chief Architect website is shows that the software is around $2500 which is comparable to SoftPlan. However for an additional $500 or so you get the software training and additional content for learning Chief. Does SoftPlan offer anything like this?


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