We’ve scheduled representatives for ASE Civil to come over and give us a demo next week. Originally, we were told they will be making a Civil 3D compatible version and that’s why we’ve been holding off from getting this program. When we talked with them this morning, it looks like they want to compete with Civil 3D and hinted that we use their program instead of upgrading from LDD 2006 to Civil 3D. Since I am new to Civil 3D, having done one year in Carlson’s SurvCADD 2006 on AutoCAD 2005, I am not familiar enough to make this analysis yet.
Here’s what they e-mailed us regarding how their program stacks up against Civil 3D:
All of our current clients own licenses to LDD & Civil 3D, and after careful evaluation, even by outside software analysts contracted to compare the two programs, the top firms in Arizona, which is the fastest-growing state in America, have chosen to use ASE Civil to develop paving and grading design & production for residential and commercial projects. In fact in some of those firms it’s actually a design standard. However, they still utilize LDD and/or Civil 3D for tasks that ASE Civil has not yet developed tools for.
Based on client feedback, here are a few of the reasons why our clients choose ASE Civil. These are things you can do with ASE Civil that you cannot do with LDD or Civil 3D:
Unlike LDD or Civil 3D (C3D), ASE generates highly detailed, dynamic, intelligent, flexible paving profiles without setup. Road profiles include centerlines, offset gutter-lines & tops-of-curbs, intersections, curb transitions, vertical curves, medians, depressed curb, curb breaks, etc. You may also create dynamic linework labels that automatically recognize the profile surface being labeled. All profile labeling is intelligent and can be edited or branched above or below the profiles for legibility while maintaining differential position memory to follow design changes. The labels are customizable and their appearance is controlled by a project standard.
ASE Civil’s vertical design control system provides designers and engineers with dynamic, interactive tools to establish and manage elevations at all key points on the roads through a site. Since the site base map layout is used for referencing geometric properties, no manual length measurements are needed to determine elevations at a grade or grades by elevations between key points. These values are calculated automatically. ASE includes a visual design aid called “Flow Labels” which react to all horizontal and vertical design changes and automatically update themselves to show the value and direction of drainage between any two key points. A system of constraints between the key points allows the designer to lock or invoke changes to selected areas or entire alignments by simply changing an elevation or a grade at a single location. Being the core of ASE’s design system, Design Markers also store hierarchies and paving feature definitions for their associated alignments and are used as a reference for generation of 3-D road models, profiles, curb labels and finished pads.
3-D ROAD MODELING
ASE Civil enables designers and engineers of all skill levels to generate highly complex, dynamic 3-D road models for the top or datum surfaces of either local or divided road designs. No setup is required whatsoever. Just establish the vertical design and define the paving features on each alignment and 3-D road models are automatically generated. There’s no need for templates, sampling, attachment of offset alignments or assemblies. Change an elevation or a grade, define, undefine or move a paving feature and export the data with a mouse-click and the road models are instantly updated. ASE Civil is the only AutoCAD-compatible application that will generate 3-D road models with driveways, intersections or curb transitions, etc., through a vertical curve. Even if you could do this with C3D it would take a very, very long time and weeks of training. ASE Civil accomplishes this automatically as a byproduct of the paving and drainage design and yields immediate output.
ASE Civil is the only application that will allow the definition of pads on subdivision lots that follow adjustable design constraints and can be linked to the roads, allowing the pads to update with changes to the vertical alignments. The formattable, intelligent labels and 3-D geometry is managed automatically by the application.
ASE Civil provides tools for defining dozens of alignments in just a few seconds. The stationing preferences allow unlimited formatting of stationing output and single click stationing reversal or adjustment.
ASE Civil’s plan-view paving labels are designed specifically for use in subdivisions and may be placed at any location. The labels dynamically react to all design changes, display the finished curb and/or gutter elevations and account for detailed variations that occur through vertical curvature, driveways and curb transitions.
ASE Civil’s profile display feature completely manages improvement sheet display of road profiles using a complex array of viewports and supports local roads, divided road, vertically split profiles and multiple alignments on a single sheet. All display setups can be easily made to fit any title block right out-of-the-box with 2 mouse-clicks.
We wondered if you did a comparison analysis of these two or knew of any such independent comparisons from which we can compare features and ease of use. We do a lot of surveying and subdivision development and would appreciate your suggestions.
ASE Civil is an ENHANCEMENT to the existing Autodesk civil product line. We are also Autodesk partners and members of the Autodesk Developer Network. We are not a COMPETING product. I can only guess that your reason for making this accusatory assumption is based on the documented capabilities of our product which is intended to provide tools specifically developed for SUBDIVISION design, especially in the southwestern United States. ASE Civil offers various capabilities and tools NOT FOUND in other software, including Civil 3D and LDD. If we intended to "compete" against Autodesk there would be no reason for us to establish compatibility with Civil 3D, would there? In my opinion, as the developer of ASE Civil, LDD's surface modeling functionality is a very powerful feature that I would be very hard-pressed to "compete" with. I've used it in all of it's stages of development since 1988 and have been very happy with it. ASE Civil could not function completely without it.
As I said in our marketing email, which was intended for you, ASE Civil's biggest selling features are it's tools that are unique to ASE Civil. There's nothing there duplicating an Autodesk product unless some feature of that product falls short of what users in the S/W US are looking for.
Nothing I mentioned in my correspondence was meant to be misleading nor was a single word of what I said untrue, partially true or false in any way. I could give you a long list of everyday users that will attest to the validity of every point I made. Since it would really be a professional conflict of interest and flat-out ugly to "slam" Autodesk products, I intentionally make a point not to give anyone the impression that they should not purchase Autodesk Civil products or Civil 3D in particular. A recent post I made in this very group stated exactly that.
When you accuse me of inferring or "hinting" that we were competing against Civil 3D or suggesting that you not use it, you failed to mention the statement I made saying:
"... they still utilize LDD and/or Civil 3D for tasks that ASE Civil has not yet developed tools for..."
Civil 3D is an "infrastructure" development tool and has many more general applications than ASE Civil does or probably ever will have. As I also mentioned in the email:
"...firms in Arizona...have chosen to use ASE Civil to develop paving and grading design & production for residential and commercial projects..."
There are many different areas of civil engineering that ASE Civil does not offer tools for. Nor does every program offer everything that every user wants or needs. That's one reason Autodesk has Partner Products and offer membership in the ADN. If Autodesk won't justify development of certain tools and someone feels like doing it on their own and satifying a niche market need, then if the product works with Autodesk software, why not support that effort? It costs Autodesk nothing and at the same time helps to keep their clients happy. It may very well attract more users to switch from other software and use Autodesk. Steltman and others have been doing this for years. So I fail to understand why you'd would slander my effort to HELP your company by providing a SUPPLIMENTAL solution to EXCLUSIVE use of Autodesk products only?
It seems that you've completely misinterpreted, as do some others, our marketing position and the comparison between ASE Civil and Autodesk civil products.
Regarding the contracted product comparison made by the independent systems anlalyst, if you wanted that information I coudl've given you the name of the company so you could verify it on your own. I doubt you'll find it in this discussion group because ASE Civil is still relatively unknown in the civil world.
Thank you for clarifying the point that ASE Civil is intended to add features to existing products. I am looking for cost justification experiences to the per seat license costs and usage of the supplemental features. It is more helpful to hear specifics from users than that they may be excited about the product, however good a response that may be. Nothing is intended to reflect negatively toward ASE Civil; just an accurate fact-finding effort to ascertain user experiences. As was noted, the product is fairly new to market, and that is precisely why I am inquiring. It may turn out that a procurement decision is easily justified and simple to arrive at based upon accurate findings. But we also don't want to commit to thrid party software only to find it similarly incorporated in a future version of AutoCAD. I find it reassuring that ASE Civil is an Autodesk Partner and thank you for a timely response. Should ASE Civil become more widely used in the future, I think exposure to its benefits would be welcome.
Thanks for the reply. I think we both understand each other a little better now.
Regarding the discussion groups, I've spent a lot of time here over the past few years. I mostly read posts and gather information. Occassionaly I'll post something myself.
However, I can tell you that if you're looking for information about users' experience with ASE Civil, you're looking in the wrong place. That's likely the reason nobody else has responded to this post. Very few ASE Civil users post in this group for a variety of reasons.
However, if you'd like to talk to some real-world users and get thier honest opinions about how the software is working out for them I would be more than happy to provide a client list so you can call and talk to some randomly-selected individuals yourself. There's also a very good chance that you have colleagues at some of our current clients' offices.
FWIW - I've been following along Nick's trail for about 3-4 years now, over
on the LDT DG mainly.
I've been hopeful that he will be able to get enough of a userbase, to allow
him the potential to complement the available products to the CE world.
The examples of his work over the years have shown me that he could quite
easily fill a niche existing in today's LDT and C3D.
Keep slugging away at this particular venue Nick!
"The only thing worse than training your staff, and having them leave is -
not training your staff, and having them stay." :-o
A reminder taken from Graphics Solution Providers' Calendar page
!! Please discuss whatever we tell you with your SysMgr !!
!! They appreciate staying in the loop :-) !!
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Thanks for the reply. I think we both understand each other a little better
Regarding the discussion groups, I've spent a lot of time here over the past
few years. I mostly read posts and gather information. Occassionaly I'll
post something myself.
However, I can tell you that if you're looking for information about users'
experience with ASE Civil, you're looking in the wrong place. That's likely
the reason nobody else has responded to this post. Very few ASE Civil users
post in this group for a variety of reasons.
However, if you'd like to talk to some real-world users and get thier honest
opinions about how the software is working out for them I would be more than
happy to provide a client list so you can call and talk to some
randomly-selected individuals yourself. There's also a very good chance that
you have colleagues at some of our current clients' offices.
The below is merely my inquisitive mind, not meant to put you on the spot. I am sure Autodesk Partners and firms alike would benefit from your answer.
You mentioned that ASE is intended for subdivision design primarily. For a typical residential subdivision project, where would you as an experienced user of both Civil 3D (or at least a fundamental understanding) and ASE use these products? Where do you stop with Civil 3D and then pick up with ASE, or do you use both programs back and forth throughout the duration of the project for different things leveraging the strengths of each product? Or, since ASE is intended for subdivisions, do you use it exclusively.
What about other project types. Would you prefer to use ASE or Civil 3D for projects such as Road Reconstruction, Underground Infrastructure, Planning or Master Planning, Site Grading other than Residential? Or, would you use both products?
As an Autodesk partner and working with inquisitive CE firms that would also like to know, I would like to know how both products could be used in a typical civil engineering environment. I have the folder sitting on my desk right now about being an ASE partner, so this would be very useful information for me. If I was to consider representing both products, I would need to know how to differentiate them and position them to the benefit of the firms I speak with, and do this without speaking out of both sides of my mouth. It can be challenging to represent two technologies that offer many of the same benefits. I guess the real question is if one can exist without the other and the job can still get done, they may be perceived as competitive. If a customer must make a choice of one or the other because of budget or other reasons, which one do you or I recommend? This is the position I would be in. Whereas if you look at it as I want to leverage both technologies for their strenghts, then it is just another tool in the toolbox that helps me get my job done faster. I realize this may be a long answer from you, but I am hoping you might be able to bullet point some of your ideas to the benefit of many.
Question: "Do you have any info on supplementing Civil 3D with ASE Civil development tools?"
Answer: "not presently; we are looking at what additional functionality is offered to see how we might narrow the gap."
In my research and using the free download demo from their website, it seems that ASE functionality easily integrates into the Autodesk product, providing a lot of quality supplemental features not otherwise available.
Others who look at it seem to arrive at the same conclusion: after the learning curve, the site design and then the quality check of the output, the second project should pay for the seat license (depending on project size and scope).
The demonstration is impressive, and until Civil 3D provides similar functionality in future releases, ASE is probably the way firms will get the features and productivity now.