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Answers to common queries here
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Of course! Although the application generates full colour 3D and isometric line
drawings, it is an expert system not a CAD application. Smart-Builder uses an intuitive
graphical interface to make design easy. The complex maths required to calculate
a design is transparently handled by the application.
An expert system aids you in design in much the same way as a real life expert would.
Smart-Builder's software contains the distilled knowledge of many experienced glass
industry professionals. Combined with the speed and reliability of modern computing,
Smart-Builder products can make an expert out of anyone. The software leads you
step-by-step, showing what is required, raising warnings where necessary and performing
complex calculations in the blink of an eye.
Configurators are a common name for any software that use rules to help you design
something. They range from simple product selector tools to high end expert systems
with multiple options, wide capability and sophisticated interfaces, such as the
We support a larger range of configurations than any other comparable system and
our software is consistently being enhanced to maintain and extend this lead. This
means that the vast majority of your real world jobs are probably supported. You
are welcome to send us any complex example jobs you have and we can confirm whether
they are supported.
Smart-Builder is an extremely versatile system. With Smart-Builder you can set up
default behaviour for cutouts and hardware placements, preferred fittings, and more.
You will be able to personalise the look of your reports and your contact details
to suit your company. And, if you opt for the Smart-Toolbox
solution, you will be able to manage all of your customers' details and then follow
up on their quotes and work orders all in one centralised database.
Yes, you can have the software installed on your own server. Smart-Builder can be
installed in stand-alone mode on a single computer, for multiple users by installing
on a server computer, or over the internet by using
Yes. There are two options for accessing Smart-Builder from multiple locations.
The first is to arrange network infrastructure, such as a Virtual Private Network
(VPN), between your locations so that they can all access Smart-Builder from your
server. We can provide advice on how to structure such a setup.
An easier option is to use our Smart-Hosting service to access Smart-Builder online
from our high performance servers. This allows you to access Smart-Builder from
any computer with an internet connection. This includes office computers, home computers,
or even laptops with mobile internet access. More information on Smart-Hosting is
Yes. Smart-Builder is licensed on a simultaneous user basis. This means a site with
a 3 user licence could access the Smart-Builder software from half a dozen (or more)
different computers so long as no more than 3 users are connected at once.
Yes. Smart-Builder uses enterprise strength database technology and scales very
well with increased load. It has been used in environments with eighty simultaneous
users and 25,000 structures being created per month. Even higher loads are achievable
with appropriate server hardware.
We are always interested in hearing suggestions
and requests from our customers. Our software is continually updated and the best
or more popular requests are frequently implemented in new versions. If you have
a specific request which is important to you then we are happy to provide a quote
for implementing the enhancement immediately.
The Smart-Builder suite is continually being updated by our dedicated development
team. All licences include full access to updates as and when they become available.
Our Smart-Builder software includes a comprehensive help wiki, accessible directly
through the software. Alternatively, if you would like help with any aspect of Smart-Builder's
software you can send an email to our dedicated support email address or call our
offices in London or Auckland during business hours. We can also arrange training
or consultation for customers who feel this would be beneficial.
The Smart-Builder server and client are supported on Windows 7, Windows Server 2008,
Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP and Windows 2000. Note that some
of the home targeted versions of Microsoft Windows (eg Windows Vista Home) may not
be appropriate for acting as a server.
Yes, Smart-Builder is supplier independent. It is possible to enter hardware from
any supplier. All the maintenance screens necessary to do this are included in the
software, but if you wish we can also provide you with a quote to enter your hardware
details for you.
Smart-Builder pride themselves on the large range and number of variations that
their software can configure. This is incredibly important because it is the difficult
designs that take longer and have more chance of error when designing by hand.
Yes, the software can export DXF files for automated glass cutting machines. There
are a range of export options such as finished glass size or block size, with or
Smart-Builder supports a wide range of cut-outs natively. Unusual cut-outs can be
configured as template diagrams which will print with the glass drawings to aid
with glass fabrication. We also aim to keep up to date with current cutout styles.
The application allows glass costs to be entered against multiple suppliers and
will cost each glass panel against the supplier chosen for a particular job.
As well as supporting out of square panels, Smart-Builder has support for raked
ceilings. This functionality takes care of the complex calculations when you have
a rake that extends over several panels. The software will also take care of sloping
floors, walls and ceilings. Even walls that bow in or out are catered for.
A range of tolerances can be set for all extrusions used in the software. Where
possible the application will aim to cut glass straight whenever an extrusion can
tolerate it. It can also calculate straight edges where there is an inward or outward
bow. The upshot of this is lower glass costs.
Yes. Smart-Toolbox has a full customer database
with account balances, pricing lists and job history. Even without Smart-Toolbox
you can still save customer details against the Showers, Shopfronts, Railings and
Balustrades you design.
Yes, hardware in Smart-Builder is hardware independent. It is possible to enter
hardware from any supplier and configure the cut-outs and other hardware details
to match the way you use it.
Many factors contribute to make Smart-Builder so successful. The very first shower
design software we developed went live in March 1996 and was an instant hit. The
version of Smart-Shower available today has been
completely rewritten and bears little resemblance to the first version but it owes
much of its real world usability and practicality to the
years of constant industry usage and feedback since that date.
We realised from the start that template-based systems are easier to develop but
ultimately place the user within a straitjacket. Smart-Shower and our
other design modules allow the user to start from a template if they wish,
but then they have complete freedom to design what they want and need. Our approach
is best described as an expert system. We have distilled the knowledge and experience
of numerous shower, shopfront and balustrade measurers and installers and put that
knowledge into Smart-Builder.
The result is that, instead of being merely an overgrown calculator, Smart-Builder
truly understands the rules and limitations involved in building a frameless or
bespoke shower, shopfront or balustrade.
Yes. Templates are provided for quick and easy entry. However, the templates are
just an aid and it is possible to enter custom configurations from scratch. In fact,
you can design your own templates and can change any part of a template-based enclosure
There are two major problems with template-based design systems.
Firstly it is not feasible to create templates for all of the configurations which
a real-world shower installation company requires. When someone claims their software
contains hundreds or even thousands of templates that is really just emphasising
the limitations of their approach. Basic arithmetic indicates that even considering
only medium sized showers containing 4 panels or less there are more than 100,000
possible template configurations. The numbers get well into the millions for larger
showers. It is much better to use templates merely as an optional starting point
and allow the user to extend or modify the shower as they wish.
Secondly template-based systems lock the user into that particular template at the
very start of the design process. In the real world things are rarely that simple.
What if a customer wants a shower quoted both with and without a fixed side panel
to hinge from? Maybe they change their mind about which direction they want the
door hinged or they no longer want that transom they originally requested. A template
system forces the user to start from scratch by selecting a new template, entering
measurements again, selecting hardware again and reapplying any special conditions,
a time consuming and error prone process. True flexibility is only possible with
software that allows showers to be copied and altered as the user desires, not as
the software dictates.
No matter how much developers of template-based software claim their system is "powerful"
or "flexible" the fact is their approach fundamentally prevents them from truly
achieving either goal.
The short answer is that you can. You can design practically anything in AutoCAD.
And therein lays the problem. Traditional CAD software is made to allow you to design
anything you can imagine but by and large you have to tell it exactly what to do.
A good parallel would be drawing software. You can draw anything you want and you
could even write a 500 page novel with good drawing software... but you would be
much, much better off writing your novel in a program designed specifically for
writing such as Microsoft Word or PageMaker.
For example, Smart-Shower is a program designed
specifically for designing frameless or bespoke showers. When you tell Smart-Shower
about the shower you want to design you tell it about sidelites, doors, hinges,
channels, wall and floor slopes, etc. Smart-Shower then calculates everything about
your shower. If you were to tell a CAD program about a shower you would be telling
it about lines, rectangles, circles and other geometric shapes, and then you would
also have to tell it about the sizes and positioning for each of these elements
while having to considering small, but important details, such as how many hinges
you need for the size of door you have chosen etc.
In effect you need to tell CAD software the end-result, including sizes that you
want to see. The resulting 3D and glass drawings might look the same but you will
have done the work for the computer, instead of letting the computer do the work
for you with Smart-Builder.
The software costing calculations are based on the exact hardware, glass area, and
processing costs. You will know what your supplier is going to charge even before
you order. Accurate costing means you will never quote too high or low again. Of
course, the professional quotes with colour 3D drawings are a great marketing device
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Graphic Design - 3i Limited
General Enquiries UK: +44 (0) 844 8099 337