And yet, beyond your Style, it's not uncommon for you to vary things quite a bit. For example, you may prefer to do warehouse buildings one way and simpler garage like structures another; it may be preferable to use hung purlins for larger structures and simpler butt joins at truss positions for smaller structures. So how do you set up this software to give you what you want when you want it? Obviously you can set everything up to work a certain way as a default, but that default may get in the way when dealing with a different structure.
We know that the great thing about this software is that you can dial in a lot of stuff. We also know that the bad thing about software like this is that you have to dial in a lot of stuff. There's a lot of detail!
This is where Templates come in, and it's simpler than you think. The easy way to think of this is that you use the software in basic format to create a new structure in the manner you prefer, then save this as if it were a building you were going to quote. Do this for all of your basic Style variations. Don't bother with openings; just get the basic engineering dialed in.
Then, when you go to use the software to create a quote, you start not by creating a new structure from scratch, but you open the saved one:
Once you have resized this to what your customer needs, THEN is when you add openings and customize as per the buyer -- White 12' wide Overhead in endwall? Check. Wainscoting along south wall and a 6'8" LH inside swing Walk door on the south sidewall? Check. And so on.
NOTE: You can make as many templates as you like. This may leave you with a list that looks like --
#Template -- Basic Uninsulated Garage #Template -- Equipment Shed Using Rafters #Template -- Insulated Garage
An alternate method of getting the power of a template without having to create a building that you drag/resize is a MASK Stylesheet. The underlying idea in the MASK file is to preset the parameters such that upon startup you select the appropriate MASK and draw your bldg from there.
The advantage to a MASK file is not that you can fine tune loading for structures in various ZIP codes (although some will argue that this is the case) but that it ties to the Matrix which, as the name implies, is a lookup table that our application specialists can help you create. The advantage to Matrix use comes when you have buildings of various sizes that you would like to handle automatically.
Automatically? Yes. Here's how. Say a 30x40x10 structure using a given load can get by with 4x4 columns, but increasing the size to say 44x60x10 will now require 6x6 or 8x8 or even a manufactured column. Using the Matrix, the MASK/lookup table combo will be able to locate the size/load settings and make changes to parameters accordingly.
In other words, the MASK/Matrix combo lets you preset conditions that allow you to estimate faster. What you get out of this will depend on who uses this program and/or what you're trying to accomplish. As in: sure, you already know to substitute columns or change girt spacings accordingly. But if you are the only user and using this in front of your customer to sell with, it's a great deal simpler to resize a box on screen and let the MASK/Matrix handle the details. You might forget one, for one thing. For another, this is instantaneous.
Bottom line: if you're using this program on the back end and not in front of customers (i.e. a realtime estimation tool) then the MASK/Matrix is of limited utility. It's faster, but not required. If you're using this with your customer sitting there (this program can be a great sales tool) then having the MASK/Matrix handle the background details for you lets you concentrate on making the sale.