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'3rd party' software companies (like MircoSurvey): What's their future outlook?

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keithsCADservices
(@keithscadservices)
10+ posts Member

Newer total stations are trying to push users into their software subscriptions. This is something I'd personally like to avoid. I've seen the 'benefits' of subscription-based software. Autodesk's flagship programs have seen very little development since they went to their heft subscription fees. Most new features serve as better marketing tools rather than something you'd actually use in a production setting. Bugs disappear and reappear from version to version.

I'm learning the ins-and-outs of your industry. I've been looking at all the software options out there and am leaning towards FieldGenius. It looks to be one of the most interchangeable options out there. Is there any chance that a company like this can be pushed out of the market? Will FieldGenius continue to work with the lastest and greatest machines going into the future?

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Topic starter Posted : June 19, 2022 1:39 pm
Edward Reading
(@edward-reading)
500+ posts Member

MicroSurvey was purchased by Hexagon in 2012. Hexagon is the parent company of Leica. Carlson is your friend.

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Posted : June 19, 2022 1:48 pm
lmbrls, Ramses, FL/GA and 2 people liked
BlitzkriegBob
(@blitzkriegbob)
200+ posts Member
Posted by: @keithscadservices

Autodesk's flagship programs have seen very little development since they went to their heft subscription fees.

That has not been my experience. 

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Posted : June 19, 2022 1:50 pm

Chris Bouffard
(@chris-bouffard)
500+ posts Member

Equipment manufacturers are increasingly not playing nice in the sand box.  Pretty sooon, all the major manufacturers will be totally propriatary. 

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Posted : June 19, 2022 2:05 pm
keithsCADservices
(@keithscadservices)
10+ posts Member

@edward-reading 

They have an option for Carlson Survey with AutoCAD 'built-in'. I'm trying to figure out if this is perpetual, and if so, how:

https://www.carlsonsurveysupply.com/product/carlson-survey-software/

I'm having a hard time figuring out what's what but it looks to be one of the most reasonably-priced options out there. I almost had my mind set on FieldGenius but I'm going to have a harder look at Carlson. I might have found a way to test drive both of them out in the near future.

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Topic starter Posted : June 19, 2022 2:20 pm
keithsCADservices
(@keithscadservices)
10+ posts Member

@chris-bouffard

It does feel like a company might place themselves at a competitive disadvantage if they ask too much from their customers (or take too much away). Right now, if I had to choose between Trimble and Leica, and either one allowed me more control over my software and choice of controller, I'd 100% go with that option. It'll be interesting to see how things play out.

I know the extra cost doesn't really affect the bottom line that much. But the issue we're seeing is that everyone's asking for a bigger piece of the pie all at once. For my sector (I'm involved in building construction), the survey equipment is only a small (but very important) piece of the puzzle.

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Topic starter Posted : June 19, 2022 2:29 pm

keithsCADservices
(@keithscadservices)
10+ posts Member

@blitzkriegbob

For someone using Civil 3D I could totally get that. For AutoCAD and Revit, and for me personally, I haven't seen a heck of a lot of development. AutoCAD improved in 2021 quite a bit (PDF underlays are WAY faster). 2023 reintroduced some old glitches unfortunately. Revit... well... Much of my criticism stems from how the program is used (and marketed). The other program I'm currently using is called Rhino3d (kind of like a fancy version of Sketchup). It offers perpetual licensing and you choose whether or not to upgrade it each release. The pace of development far exceeds that of any Autodesk product I've ever used.

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Topic starter Posted : June 19, 2022 2:33 pm
Field Dog
(@field-dog)
500+ posts Member

@chris-bouffard 

I'm an à la carte surveyor, so all this proprietary talk disturbs me. From my point of view, this stifles software development to meet the business goals of corporations. End users will be boxed in, and the old marketing phrase "This software works like you work," will no longer exist.

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Posted : June 19, 2022 5:06 pm
BushAxe, RADAR, ncsudirtman and 2 people liked
Rover83
(@rover83)
1,000+ posts Member
Posted by: @keithscadservices

Autodesk's flagship programs have seen very little development since they went to their heft subscription fees.

Perhaps the Survey Database functionality has not seen many improvements or changes, but Civil 3D is introducing more and more features with each release. I don't use every single one, but I use a lot of the engineering tools to supplement and optimize my workflows.

Basic CAD is still basic CAD because it's, well, basic. There's not a lot of groundbreaking to be done there.

Posted by: @keithscadservices

Most new features serve as better marketing tools rather than something you'd actually use in a production setting.

That has not been my experience. A lot of the features that are now standard on field software were scoffed at as marketing tools many years ago.

Posted by: @keithscadservices

Bugs disappear and reappear from version to version.

That's true with any program. Might as well get mad at the sun for shining. You say you're looking at FieldGenius - you're not going to get away from bugs simply because it's a "third-party" option. Not that it isn't a good platform. I applaud anyone who attempts to keep up with the big boys and make their software compatible with as many of the proprietary equipment makers out there.

Posted by: @chris-bouffard

Equipment manufacturers are increasingly not playing nice in the sand box.  Pretty sooon, all the major manufacturers will be totally propriatary.

From a development standpoint, that is just the natural progression. Buying a solution rather than a single item ensure compatibility and a streamlined workflow. There are also a LOT of customization within those solutions once you learn them and get to the power user stage.

Mix-and-match wasn't necessarily easier or better back in the day, but the landscape of the geomatics profession was a lot less complex and was less global in scope. The gear we use isn't used exclusively by boundary surveyors, and it isn't used exclusively in a small part of the world.

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Posted : June 19, 2022 6:45 pm

OleManRiver
(@olemanriver)
100+ posts Member

Has anyone used Traverse PC. I am trying to set it up as a test in the next few months hopefully. From what I understand its cogo survey friendly. Its not cad / civil3d but we sometimes get caught up in the bells and whistles and it seems from reading about it pretty simple and can get the job done. I have always liked that Carlson has tried to allow whatever hardware be used as well. The big boys have been slowly cooking the frog for many years. Trying to force propriety but I say it will back fire at some point. Its to easy really to create hardware and software these days. Someone will fill the gap. We will be buying rtk gnss receivers at the box stores at some point.   

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Posted : June 19, 2022 7:29 pm
JPH liked
keithsCADservices
(@keithscadservices)
10+ posts Member

@rover83

Basic CAD is still basic CAD because it's, well, basic. There's not a lot of groundbreaking to be done there.

Kind of. There's really not much you can add to AutoCAD to make it "better". New stuff in fact makes it become more bloated. But there's much that can be done in the way of improving core functionality. Only in recent years have they finally added multi-threading capability, and only in some aspects. The program still performs relatively slow for what it is. The CAD Clones (see my post in the "Introductions" section) have recreated their programs from scratch and are therefore able to incorporate mutli-threading. AutoCAD itself very much agrees with my conclusion: Huge subscription fees but very little real development. Autodesk in fact likely charges more for it's core programs to compensate for it's misadventures in other areas.

Apologies for jumping around a little in this post. As for surveying software itself I have such a low level of knowledge that I cannot comment on which programs are good/bad and if there is a correlation between software improvement and whether it's perpetual/subscription based. My original remark was centered more on Autodesk products sans Civil 3D (which I only used in college). My intuition is telling me to seek out a perpetual license however. We'll see how that goes 😉

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Topic starter Posted : June 19, 2022 8:32 pm
JPH
 JPH
(@jph)
1,000+ posts Member

@olemanriver

Posted by: @olemanriver

Trying to force propriety but I say it will back fire at some point.

I won't be surprised if ICAD starts becoming more popular soon

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Posted : June 20, 2022 5:24 am

OleManRiver
(@olemanriver)
100+ posts Member
Posted by: @jph

@olemanriver

Posted by: @olemanriver

Trying to force propriety but I say it will back fire at some point.

I won't be surprised if ICAD starts becoming more popular soon

Well I would not doubt that. If we truly think about it we can just about use software to perform almost any task when it comes to adjustments like least squares post processing etc level data all from NGS. Yes its not as easy as OTS software but it can be done.  Then you will have to do the drafting portion somehow.  I love Trimble what I am learning about Trimble Business Center and it’s capabilities and just how easy it is to integrate data from multiple devices like gps terrestrial levels etc. I imagine we will see more and more little shops open up to try and fill the gap’s. Unless they get bought out by the big boys it could create some healthy competition and some very neat innovations.   

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Posted : June 20, 2022 6:26 am
John Putnam
(@john-putnam)
1,000+ posts Member
Posted by: @chris-bouffard

Equipment manufacturers are increasingly not playing nice in the sand box.  Pretty sooon, all the major manufacturers will be totally propriatary. 

I'm not sure about Trimble, but Leica does supply a path to utilize their instruments with 3rd party data collection.  For a fee you can purchase a GeoComm license that opens them up.

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Posted : June 20, 2022 6:47 am
Rover83
(@rover83)
1,000+ posts Member
Posted by: @keithscadservices

Kind of. There's really not much you can add to AutoCAD to make it "better". New stuff in fact makes it become more bloated. But there's much that can be done in the way of improving core functionality. Only in recent years have they finally added multi-threading capability, and only in some aspects. The program still performs relatively slow for what it is. The CAD Clones (see my post in the "Introductions" section) have recreated their programs from scratch and are therefore able to incorporate mutli-threading.

Very few CAD programs make use of multithreading for standard CAD operations - even the new ones. The nature of CAD itself makes it extremely difficult to develop code to support multiple cores. Drafting and mapping functions are linear/iterative and trying to multithread those is simply not worth the effort, not only for Autodesk but for others as well.

Some things that intersect/overlap with CAD operations benefit from multithreading, like 3D modelling, and support has been added for them (albeit slowly). But for the vast majority of CAD functions, you're better off targeting a higher core clock speed than adding more cores. Whether or not a CAD program uses multithreading for fundamental CAD work (which is rare) isn't really a benchmark for how "good" the software is.

As far as subscription-based licensing goes, it's being implemented not only from a profit standpoint, but also from a portability standpoint. For instance, any of our field or office staff can log in on any data collector, or on any PC, and pull data from the cloud to work on in the field or post-process in the office, without carrying an easily-lost $3000 USB drive or having to login to our server every single time. With as much workshare and cross-office collaboration as there is these days, it does make us a lot more flexible and reactive than in the past.

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Posted : June 20, 2022 7:36 am

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