R. L. Davidson
Port Angeles, WA 98362 USA
Site Menu / Designer Plus Home
Introduction / Drawings / Downloads / News / Q&A
A little about where Designer Plus came from, I have been self-employed in the custom kitchen business since 1976, and have been doing business as Kitchen Consultants since 1979. During the years I have made every effort possible to produce finely crafted products for my clients, not just for my own ego but for my own peace of mind. Good work seldom gets callbacks, except for more work. I have found the first requirement for a satisfied customer is good communications. If you deliver something other than what your customer has in his/her mind's eye you will have a dissatisfied customer regardless of how well made the finished product is!
When I began designing kitchens I probably did it the same way you are now, with a T-square and triangles. This method produced good elevations and floor plans. However I quickly found most of my clients could not visualize the proposed kitchen in 3D space. (eitorial: For you metric folks how do you get your customer to "see" 2 meters in their heads - mine could not. I cannot tell you how many times I had a customer measure a distance with their feet in the showroom when I was making a presentation.)
When I discovered perspective graph paper I thought I had arrived. Using the perspective aids along with the drawing board my kitchen presentations began to come alive and my closing rate climbed substantially. My client base grew and since my customers did not need a new kitchen every two years but wanted my work they came back and asked for entertainment centers, bookcases, etc.. That was great, but the drawing aids I was using were designed for kitchens and did not work very well for smaller items.
The next step in my quest for excellence in drafting became the Klok Perspective Drafting Board. This drawing board produced very nice scaled perspective drawings in 1, 2, or 3 point perspectives but I still had to free hand any curves. While I never ran into a job I could not draw on the Klok board, it would take 3 to 6 hours to complete a drawing. Very seldom would a client take the first proposal intact, usually there were a couple of changes, but sometimes it seemed there were dozens. I tried all sorts of ways to cut redraw time. Taping another piece of paper over the area to be changed, redraw the new section, photocopy the composite then present the new drawing was the fastest and most reliable method. It also protected me from having to start over when my customer said. "I liked the first one better over all, but I like this piece better on the second".
In 1987, through one of the cabinet manufactures I represented at the time, I was offered a computer drawing program. I looked at the sample drawings they had supplied and eagerly asked, "How much?". I could not believe ten thousand dollars for the package! I put that out of my mind for several years. As prices fell and more people entered the business more options became available. In 1990, an ad in one of the trade magazines caught my eye, "Kitchen perspective drawings and cut lists for only $1600.", and the program only required another $1500 worth of computer. I bought the program, the computer immediately showed how to save time and reduce errors in pricing and bookkeeping, but the kitchen package could not draw a perspective without major errors. I called the company who had written the program whose drawings had awed me earlier, to ask about the current cost. It was still over $4,000. While I was talking with them they told me their program cost was high because it required an expensive ($3,000 dollars) CAD program, for theirs to work I also had to have the other.
From that conversation I reasoned that, with a less expensive CAD program, I could draw the individual cabinets with the different door styles separated by layers, that could be turned off and on to create the cabinets I needed. I could have drawings that looked as nice as I had seen. After contacting all of the moderately priced CAD program manufacturers I could find I sat down to analyze who offered the most. Of those, I felt DesignCAD was superior so I ordered DesignCAD 3D and the work began. First I drew 2D fronts and attached them to 3D boxes flat faced but I did not care for the lack of depth on the front of the cabinets, so I modified the door drawings to give depth to the door. The first large kitchen I drew with my improved 3D drawings took 15 hours to complete, however some of that time was spent drawing cabinets that were added to the already completed catalog. But when I went to print it with the hidden lines removed the computer chugged away for 6 hours printing 1 view. I was depressed. The drawing was impressive, and I got the job. However I was very gun shy about continuing on that course. I had seen what the computer and DesignCAD could do, and I was happy with the product but not the time and stress of doing it. I found the reason it took so long to print was the amount of data in all those unused door styles in the layers that were turned off. The average base cabinet consumed over 30,000 bytes of hard disk space, and when a normal kitchen can have more than 20 cabinets plus trim, walls, windows, sinks, etc., memory shortage was a real problem. So I went back to thinking and reading. While reading the BasicCAD manual that came with the DesignCAD program I played with a program to draw a box as outlined in the manual. It worked, and fast too!
I reasoned that since cabinets are only boxes placed in space so... I wrote a program to draw a cabinet. It worked! It did not take up half the hard drive, or load the computer down with unnessesary data. I then set out to write programs for each of the standard cabinets I used regularly. This worked so well I began to improve on the original programs. A menu was added so I did not have to remember what I had called each program. Then modifications and accessories were added until a complete system had been created. I was not a programmer when this began. I was just challenged to make better drawings for use in my business at an affordable cost. Looking back, perhaps I should have spent the $10,000.00 and saved the time. Then on second thought maybe not, I have learned a lot and have a very good tool in the bargain.
First and foremost this program, in conjunction with DesignCAD 3D, will draw very impressive floor plans, elevations and true 3D views. It will not draw a single drawing faster than by hand, only better and more accurately. It will save time if using multiple views or editing for changes. If you use only this program, or follow my formats, you can get cabinet lists, parts lists and door / drawer front lists for all the cabinets drawn, even in multiple style configurations, all accurate to 0.01 inch. See the material lists section of the tutorial on where this information is stored and how to manipulate it.
Designer Plus is a series of DesignCAD drawing commands in written form . When you execute a Designer Plus program, DesignCAD 3D opens the Designer Plus file desired and follows the instructions just as if you were drawing the cabinet one command at a time until the end of the program is reached. Control is then returned to the keyboard for the next command. Imagine making your fingers move as fast as the computer can read a line of code, executing normal DesignCAD 3D commands such as line box, arc, etc.. The next benefit showed up as Designer Plus could draw any manufacturer's cabinet because the construction (how to build a cabinet) values could be made variable.
Designer Plus was first released in 1994. With the addition of metric support, 3D solid door styles, and part listing, version 2 was released in 1997. Version, 3 released 2000 was optimized for DesignCAD 97’s (or newer) texture mapping tool, with a catalog of textures. In addition to approximately 100 new door styles, limited curved cabinets, 3D window/door and appliance drawings with auto insertion, it included my pricing spreadsheet. The step improvement version 3.1 offered file descriptions, combination cabinets, mm and cm as well as inch unit support, and the list of parts was now editable before adding them to the drawing. Once each of these versions reached a certain level of operational reliability I quit adding to it and prepared the documentation for it. Then after a new version release I fixed the bugs that others found, as the problems disapeared I went back to making the program better for my own needs. About 6 years ago I started doing drawings for other shops, no new drawing features were added to the program so I never thought it was worth bringing out a version 4.
Do you know what it costs to build a cabinet? My M.S. Excel spreadsheet method of pricing cabinets works on the principle that every cabinet is composed of smaller units, (joints, panels etc.). By breaking the time necessary to build a cabinet down into these units and averaging several jobs to get an accurate time value you can get very accurate pricing estimates. An estimate based on the way you work, not a guess estimate, or worse, one based on being cheaper than the guy down the street; if he’s loosing money you are loosing more! This spreedsheet which was included with Designer Plus is now available alone without cost .
2013 ... The final chapter: after 52 years in construction I have retired and no longer need to keep improving the program or have the time to maintain it. So Designer Plus version 3.1 will be free, as is, without cost and without support . This site remaining up will depend upon user contributions covering the expenses. I will do paid training or support on a time available bases only. As an incentive to contribute, for a minumum contribution I will give the raw code that I am currently using, it has problems and there is no documentation for it but you will be able to fix or modify it to suit your purposes. Primarily the changes are in file handling and storage, when I started doing drawing for multiple shops (each with their own thing) I had to do something so I could quickly change construction information and reuse that info if I needed to do changes to a previous job. Everytime I use Designer Plus I see ways to make it better but like everything else there is a time to say enough, with 13 grand kids I have a more important job now.>top of page<