Summary: Extremely slow rendering and a reminder of....
Review: a software program called Floorplan. I like version 4.0 a heck of alot better. Im glad I only tried the trial version. Im very disappointed with 6.0. the rendering takes forever and the graphics are'nt as good as version 4.0 or as good as Punch architectural series 18. Don't waste your money on the version.
Summary: Big disappointment!
Review: After years of using the previous 3D Architects, with great success, I assumed version 6 was, as they offered, an upgrade. Wrong! It's a completely new program without the ability to import files from early versions. A real let down since I often go back to older files for designs. Futhermore, getting support is a joke. You just get the run around with the automated services. This will be the last Broderbund software I buy. After all, if they do it to 3D, why not Print Shop, or one of the others?
Summary: do it yourself_____ (fill in the blank)
Review: As an architect, I can't help but be insulted that one might think making a good building is so easy. I know we all live in houses, but that doesn't mean that 5-8 years of architecture school plus years of practice can be so easily overridden. Why not do-it-yourself medicine, or dentistry? How about law? All those things are just as easily picked up, right? We all have bodies, and teeth (hopefully)and know what's right and just-- don't we?!! There is a lot more to designing and building a good building than meets the eye.
Summary: Not good for a custom designs.
Review: I bought this yesterday and it is going back today. It claims you can create contractor-ready plans. It does not say that it only supports angled roofs at a fixed 20 & 40 degree pitch. That being said, I was probably expecting too much for a $70 CAD software package.
Summary: much worse than version 3
Review: I was an avid v3 user. I loved v3 because I could get going so quickly. All you had to do was create a rough outline of a floorplan, and then it was easy to slide walls around to match proper dimensions. Rooms were automatically created with via contiguous walls.
Version 6 is FAR behind this. I've been trying to create a simple floorplan that I got into v3 in about 30 minutes. I've been trying for hours now, and the most simple tasks are impossible. The default snap puts dimensions at 1/4" snaps. I'm trying to make a 12' wall, for example. Sliding my mouse pointer, I can choose 11' 11 3/4", and the next stop available is 12' 0 3/4". This sort of behavior is very common. Next, I'd like to define the height of walls in a room. Rooms are not defined, however. I can install a "ceiling" object.
The bottom line is that this software has put me way behind, and it just isn't worth trying to use. All of the intuitiveness of 3.0 is gone.
Summary: You can build more than two roof types
Review: I've just completed reading the reviews on various home design software deciding which one to purchase. While they all seem to leave something to be desired (not to mention their confusing names and software lineage), you can make a variety of roof types with this software. I have the demo for "3D Home Architect" Home Design Deluxe 6 by Broderbund as it says in the About dialog. Although amazon says this is from The Learning Company, apparently the software is made by Riverdeep and distributed by Broderbund. If you google on that you will find the press release.
Today I made a standard gable roof using the default 20 or 45 degrees, a standard hip roof, a low angle ranch style gable roof of 15 degrees, a "shed" style gable roof with a pitch of 15 degrees on one slope and 20 degrees on the other, and to test the extremes, another one of 15 and 5 degrees. I tried to make a flat roof, but either I missed something or you need to make a gable roof of zero degrees, but it would not accept anything below 5 degrees.
The slope can be specified in 1 in N style, N in 12 or percent instead of degrees.
The roof tools are a bit counter-intuitive and obscure. It took me a while to figure out how to use them. Although the Wizard is limited to a choice of 20 or 45 degree pitches, if you look at the roof properties, you can specify ANY ANGLE (within limits) once a roof is constructed. Also, in the roof list there are only 20 and 45 degree pitches listed standard for Hip roofs. But you can change these to any angle (mind the 5* minimum).
One of the difficult things to notice and get your head around is that these tiny blue squares on the roof selection marquee are how you affect changes to just one section of the automatically generated roof. So to create a gable roof, you need to first create a Hip roof, then select the roof, select the blue square for the end you want a gable, then click Properties, then change the roof type for that section to gable. I know, it is weird, having to change the roof type for just a section when "gable" usually refers to the whole roof.
If you don't select the blue square you will change the whole roof and just get frustrated.
Making a curved roof is also strange. It creates one with Hip style ends. You must select and convert the ends to Gable, oddly enough to create an arched roof with "gable" ends where the siding is exposed beneath the curve. You have to get used to working with each end of a roof individually. The end result is unfortunately a kind of "barn" style roof that is not really curved. By increasing the radius on sections, I was able to get a smoother curve without flat spots. If you think about it, the radius of a curved roof is wider at the base than the building, so the default radius is not enough. By fiddling with the roof data I was able to make a downward curved oriental gable roof. I still was not able to make a satisfactory curved roof or for it to display truss framing for it. I may try adjusting a double slope.
It always crashes when I try to TrueView render the scene, from the diagnostics it apparently is my ATI drivers or more probably the OpenGL drivers. Crashes have been rare otherwise.
I gave this three stars because I am reviewing a trail version and my knowledge is incomplete. I was able in a few days to create a complete custom house design. The interface is reasonbly usable and it mostly worked. There are many limitations and questions I have left to answer.
One drawback is the landscape. It is separate from the home designer, so your second floor just floats in the air and you need it to create a sloping ground level. I could not set my home in a split level landscape and also split level or bilevel homes on a single level foundation are tricky to make.
Summary: Very Easy to Use, yet still powerfull
Review: It's not often when I praise a software program. However, this one gets some unwarranted bad rap, so here's by 5 cents:
I don't know why others complain about this software. It is a superb software that is very easy to use (has a guided tutorial AND wizards)and still powerfull enough for any home owner looking to remodel or rebuild his/her house.
I also used ver 3, which was not bad, but this newer ver 6 is a quantum leap in features and easy of use.
The people complaing probably never looked at the tutorial to see how easy and powerfull the program really is. It allows full customization of all building elements.
Summary: Don't Bother
Review: My wife and I are in the beginning stages of a home remodel and addition. We wanted something to kick around a few ideas before going to a professional architect. If you are looking to do the same or something similar, Don't Bother with this program. It loads fine and you can get started right away. But the program will not operate after that. The program is just full of bugs and start up issues. I've unistalled, reinstalled, and repaired all with the same result. Don't waste your time or money!
Summary: So Cool -- So Expandable!
Review: OK, there seems to be a ratings war between this FANTASTIC product and Better Homes & Gardens Designer.
This one wins hands down, all due to CUSTOMIZATION.
I can get the colors/wallpapers/carpets/flooring --and furniture-- I want instead of relying on the (not bad) selections in this program, or the (just miserable) selections in BH&G.
Three main custom features worth noting:
1. Unlike BH&G this product lets you import JPEGs as textures so you can import (for instance) wallpaper copied from a wallpaper site like DecoratorToday. Or take a digital picture of the brick on your house, and use it instead of the preset bricks, which are probably the wrong color. (Admittedly, adding new textures/materials isn't the easiest -- check the help topics under CUSTOMIZATION for details.)
Texture imports are a really, really, really basic feature -- even Total3D Home and that stupid Punch program have the capability. What was BH&G thinking??!!??
2. IMPORT capabilities! I was very disappointed with the five beds in BH&G. The ten or so in this product is a better selection, but it still doesn't rock my world. But then in the help file (under CUSTOMIZATION again) I found a section on "importing elements." You can actually add 3D furniture models other people have created!!
The help file said the models were common on the net so I Googled "furniture 3DS" (3DS being the file format) and after a few false starts I found a few gold mines. Herman Miller, for instance, has 3DS files of their furniture. So does B&B Italia. Most of the 3DS files are newer, modern furniture, although I did find a few antique-looking pieces including a roll top desk and early Frank Lloyd Wright craftsman-type furniture.
3. The software lets you stick in images as "photo boards", so even if you can't find your furniture as 3DS you can at least place a non-3D image of it in the room. Maybe not the most noteworthy feature, but personally I'd rather see a photo of something I like than a 3D rendering of something straight out of DULLSVILLE, which is where all the BH&G homes are located.
Summary: Cautious Optimism
Review: The software is easy to use, easy to learn. Newer versions have gotten progressively better at providing "canned" components (i.e. footers, windows, doors, textures). This version is even more customizable than previous versions.
The tabbed interface, and selectable toolbars make the interface a lot more functional. I definitely like version 6 better than 3, 4, and 5.
HOWEVER, I would offer a SIGNIFICANT word of caution. Broderbund has a habit of leaving its established client base in the dust. I have been using the application for years, and therefore have a large library of floor plans developed (for my own home, future ideas, etc). In previous upgrades, Broderbund has changed file formats, thus making it impossible to bring previous work into newer products.
I have written to them pleading for consistency, or at least import/export functionality. They have provided no satisfaction. My most recent email to tech support on version 6 yielded this response:
"I understand that you are inquiring about importing a CAD file format into
3D Home Design 6.
This program has the ability to export as DXF, 3DS and WRL files, however
is not capable of importing or opening DXF or other file formats.
Sorry about the inconvenience."
"...inconvenience..." Do they have any clue how much work it is to re-create multiple (dimensionally accurate) designs over AND over again?
While it is nice that you can export to DXF format (great for transferring plans to construction engineers, architects, etc...), it is THE PITS that you CANNOT import from a standard file format (like DXF).
If you are serious about your design and remodeling work, and plan to use this for more than just a room makeover, you may want to consider how important it is to you to take advantage of upgrade features while having to rebuild your designs in the future.
BEFORE you have an established plan base, you may want to consider other products that can import standard formats (i.e. Better Homes and Gardens Home Designer Pro).
Check out the reviews on Punch!Professional Home Design Suite Platinum for a better idea of what people think of Broderbund and its' products.