Review: Drastic Improvements in D-Tools SIX Project Mgmt Software
Beta tester says D-Tools SIX can shave more than 50% off of project design, proposal and documentation time: "Every aspect of the user interface has been streamlined and improved."
A few years ago D-Tools decided to undertake the task of completely rewriting their software from the ground up using the latest software development tools, and I think it’s fair to say that version 6 (D-Tools calls it SIX) represents by far the largest upgrade the software has ever seen since it first came out almost 15 years ago.
Our company has been a long term user of D-Tools and I was simultaneously eager yet hesitant to see what version 6 was going to offer. Frankly I didn’t know what to expect from the complete code rewrite, nor if it was going to address the types of improvements I was hoping to see as a long-time user.
Thrilled with Beta Test
Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to beta test SIX in-depth and I can say unequivocally that I’m thrilled with the results.
I was so excited by the massive improvements that on the second day I was writing my support team at D-Tools asking if it was safe to start using the beta software for production projects, even though using beta software for real work is something I normally avoid at all costs.
However the improvements were so drastic, and my resulting ability to produce project documentation so much faster, that I wanted to start to use it for some of our projects immediately.
Every aspect of the user interface has been streamlined and improved.
It’s obvious that a tremendous amount of thought went into the redesign on both a macro and micro level. Even subtle details such as the terminology used within the software were re-evaluated and improved in version 6, with obtuse or unnecessarily long terms replaced with simpler and clearer terms for the user.
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Video from CEDIA CE Pro Blog Mobster Richard Fregosa
The software now employs the familiar ribbon type interface first introduced in Microsoft Office, and every command is now no more than a click or two away. All of the many views have also been redesigned visually so that the information on the screen is much easier for the user to consume.
Features, Features and More Features
There are so many new features in version 6 it’s not possible to cover them in a short review. I’d imagine they number well over a hundred -- project templates, the ability to mass update almost every aspect of the project, photo-realistic elevation shapes, to name just a few. D-Tools offers a nice overview of the changes in SIX (pdf).
As a user the biggest difference is speed. I’m not talking about the speed that the application loads, though that’s faster too. I’m talking about the speed with which the user can accomplish tasks.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that users will be able to work two to three times faster in version 6.
Many tasks which used to be laborious and required item-by-item adjustments can now be accomplished with a few buttons clicks.
Want to update the default wire length on 100 different wire runs in your project? Highlight all of the wire runs you want to adjust, right click and mass update the length for every wire in one click.
And that type of mass update is available for virtually every attribute of D-Tools items. Want to run a report and limit it to a specific group of items in a project? No need to even employ filters on the report, just highlight the items you want to report on and then select the report you want to run.