Aaarggggh! Three weeks and I haven’t been able to spend much time on Behold. A few family happenings plus a lot of work for my Heritage Centre have taken their toll on me in that time. Hopefully I’ve got most of that out of the way and I’ll try to get back to at least doing a bit every day on Behold to keep the progress going.
One of the things that took my time was I was in need of finding floor plan software. I did a fair bit of web research on this and wanted something free or relatively inexpensive, since it was a one-time task that I needed it for. I was surprised by what I found. First, almost all the software for this were commercial programs - very few shareware and no freeware. The only exception was the intriguing DesignWorkshop Lite, a complete freeware software package designed to built sophisticated 3D models you can view and walk-through. I downloaded it and it is extensive, but not something I was going to pick up and use very quickly. In addition, there are all sorts of 3D building models you can download from Greatbuildings.com to try out. The rendering, with shadows and see-through windows is amazing.
But what I really needed was something that would allow me to set up the walls and pick furniture and move it around. The one that looked the best to me was IMSI’s FloorPlan 3D for $50 US. It looked strangely familiar and I’m sure I’ve seen it, or an earlier version of it among the $10 Jewel Cases of mass-market software that many stores sell. Checking the web again, I see earlier versions of FloorPlan 3D would be all I really needed, so its off to find it in a Jewel case somewhere.
After a couple of days of searching several stores, I couldn’t find that program, but I did find a $10 copy of an earlier 3.0 version of Broderbund’s 3DHome Architect. It’s ratings and reviews on the web were favorable. I was quite pleased with what it provided, it was quite well designed, but the best part was that there was practically no learning curve and I was able to do my work with it fairly quickly. My daughter even had fun building her own house with it (although she did have trouble figuring out how to add a 2nd floor).
Conclusion of all this is that sometimes those off-the-shelf jewel-case programs are not that bad if you want a quick inexpensive solution to something you need to get done. But I wouldn’t recommend going this way for any program that will do something important for you or that you plan to make a lot of use of.
Speaking of off-the-shelf, Family Tree Maker has announced their new 2005 version and have made extensive changes. I always keep up with what genealogy programs are doing and in FTM’s case, they are really taking a risk. Being the number one seller, they are fiddling with their formula more than they have in the past by revamping their user-interface (noteably: no more tabs), and trying to bring their source references up to the standards of other genealogy program (which they don’t even mention in their what’s new page). FTM catered to those people who just wanted to enter their data, and didn’t care about documenting it extensively. I’ll be interested to see where this leads and whether their users are receptive to this.