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Developer take note: can't produce real blueprints!
on May 17, 2006
I have long been a fan of 3D Home Architect and have used my old version to design a dozen units of housing, usually on my own but with a professional architect's assistance on a few.
This month I sat down to redesign my kitchen and, seeing that the copyright date on my old software (version 3) was 1999, was inspired to try out the newly released 3D HDS8. My experience with the new product has been frustrating, disappointing, and time-consuming.
I feel sympathy for the software developers: they have clearly worked very hard to add a lot of features, and have increased the "power" of this tool to enable the user to make it "do what I mean". To their credit, the limitations of version 3 have pretty much been eliminated: if you have the patience you can model virtually any 3D object within the design space. However, their marketing bosses have castrated the end result: sure it's fun to play with a eunuch, but what's the point if it can't generate offspring?
It seems that this product has been demoted from top-of-the-line to a second tier. It seems that if you want the fully-enabled progeny of this software development team, you will have to fork over $600 for a big-brother product that is marketed through different channels under a different name. My sympathy for the developers: their reputation will be dependent on consumer reaction to this mainstream product.
The good news: what you get with this product is essentially a designer's "video game" that allows you to create beautiful on-screen images. There are a number of ways to render your product on screen, most of which were present in version 3 but there are some extensions to these features that make version 8 superior.
The bad news: once you've taken the time to create a perfect on-screen rendition of your project (a major time sink, it's as addicting as a video game--with every feature including the kitchen sink thrown in, the temptation to add detail is irresistable), there is no way to "create blueprint-style plans to print or email" as promised on the product's box. Also, code bloat has slowed everything down: version 3 worked well on a Pentium 600MHz with 256Mb, version 8 requires a computer that hasn't been invented yet.
Two of my favorite features of version 3 have been ripped out: the ability to darken wall lines when printing, and the ability to view horizontal cross sections in 3D view (the latter is replaced by a whiz-bang but useless 2D vertical section view). This product gives you no printing options whatsoever; all you can do is print whatever's on the screen in 150, 300 or 600 dpi.
Without the ability to print, I can't use this product to communicate anything other than fancy 3D pictures of the interior.
Unfortunately, I can't revert to version 3 either: there is no import/export utility for data files. So I will have to find another program for future products, this one isn't what I was hoping for.
Developers, take note: in version 9, PLEASE add real blueprint printing capability. I need to take these drawings down to the city building department once in a while. The ones I got in version 3 were amateurish but serviceable. Version 8 cannot be used to generate drawings, period.