Nearly two years ago, we reviewed pole loading platforms O-Calc Pro, SPIDAcalc, and PoleForeman based on their performance, controls, simplicity, user speed, visuals, and compatibility.
Since then, we’ve done much more pole loading analysis in each of these programs, and our coders have developed our software to export cleanly to them.
Looking back on our first impressions of O-Calc, SPIDA, and PoleForeman, we wanted to review newer versions of the software with more experience and expertise. Score changes from our previous review are highlighted in the scoring and review sections below.
Scoring provided by Project Manager Sam Williams, who has worked extensively with each loading platform.
O-Calc Pro v5.03 (v6 will be released in January, 2019)
Osmose Utility Services, https://www.osmose.com/o-calcpro
Pro: Great visuals, live analysis, Osmose provides nearly 100 YouTube tutorials
Con: Very complex
User Speed: 7/10
Compatibility: 8/10 (O-Calc’s import feature is not robust. We are able to work around the default import feature which greatly increases our compatibility rating. Since making this breakthrough, our overall experience with the software has greatly increased.)
O-Calc Pro is a super powerful program that allows users to model incredibly minute details. A perfectionist’s best friend, O-Calc runs analysis in the background as you build your pole. Users will be familiar with many keyboard shortcuts, and will appreciate the efficiency of building from templates and framing units. Though the customization of users’ workspace layouts is a major plus, O-Calc’s complexity can feel like a lot to handle at first. Sharing O-Calc files with others is possible even when they don’t have your same catalog, and users have the ability to pull specs from multiple catalogs into their files. Check out our export below.
SPIDAcalc v6.4 (v7 Jumper released December, 2017)
SPIDA Software, https://www.spidasoftware.com/solutions/calc
*NOTE! We are not reviewing the current version of SPIDAcalc! Unfortunately we are stuck on an older version to maintain compatibility with some of our clients. We are very excited to make the switch to v7 Jumper because we know it addresses most of our critiques. Please stay tuned for upcoming article after we make the switch and get settled in v7.*
Pro: Multiple poles in one file, ability to import wires from another pole, great web support
Con: Users can’t work while analysis runs
Simplicity: 6/10 (We now have a better understanding of the software and SPIDA’s support site provides excellent assistance for users learning the platform.)
User Speed: 8/10
SPIDAcalc is an impressive platform that allows users to model their entire pole line. The interface can take some time to get used to, but SPIDA’s interface has a litany of windows users can utilize. SPIDA has a full support website that responds to all submitted tickets within 24 hours, and they host monthly Lunch & Learn videos for further support. SPIDA is very fast once users understand the basics, especially due to the ability to import all wires from a span in another design. Like O-Calc, SPIDAcalc allows templating and custom framing units which can be configured in the client editor. SPIDA has a nice JSON file format for importing and exporting files. Check out our export below.
PoleForeman v7.2 (Stable release)
PowerLine Technologies, https://powerlinetech.com
Pro: Easy to learn, great 3D model
Con: Simplicity can limit speed and ability to model actual pole conditions
User Speed: 6/10
Visuals: 5/10 (The visuals are excellent for understanding the composition of a pole, however, the visualization of analysis results is weaker than the other platforms.)
Compatibility: 4/10 (There are limitations to the import feature which require most pole models to be tweaked after import.)
PoleForeman is PLA for the purist. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of O-Calc or SPIDA, but what it can do it does well. The controls are basic, and users can copy/paste wires from one span to another. Simplicity is PoleForeman’s strength. New users can easily pick up the basics of the program, but advanced users will either be itching for more power or wishing they could perform loading faster. PoleForeman’s 3D view is very good, but does not indicate which direction the pole is failing. To determine this, users will need to dig deeper through graphs and tables. PoleForeman has some ability to import JSON files, but a fair number of properties will still need to be manually changed. Check out our PoleForeman export below.
All three platforms provide specific advantages that could make them ideal choices depending on your project’s scope. While O-Calc did receive the highest score, our office has folks in both camps of the SPIDAcalc/O-Calc Pro debate. When given the option, our office chooses SPIDAcalc because we believe it is the fastest platform for high-volume, quality loading analysis.
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