Thank-you for an in depth break down of the potential markets for the plugin(s).
Arguably the plugin(s), after further development, will be able to play a role in all of these markets. In fact, if I can pull everything together as I would like to, the 3D model created by the architect/designer will form the basis for the estimating (suppliers/builders) and engineering (structural engineers) modules which can then analyze the model further to pull out the pertinent information.
The LT version of the plugin is to help fill the DIYer market where price does become an issue. I still need to come up with an LT version of the Truss Plugin (roof and floors).
After speaking with some designers and insiders about Layout I am cautiously optimistic that SU and Trimble will be applying more energy in that direction. I would contend that if Layout worked like it should SU+Layout would quickly surpass Revit and other competitors and become the dominant player in the market.
Down the road if Layout still continues to be a bottleneck then I would probably work on a solution that allows the user to export DXFs of floor plans, elevations etc… so that all of the documentation could be completed in AutoCAD if necessary. I’ve been an AutoCAD user for years (and quite a bit of background with AutoLisp) and even now when it comes to generating production drawings I still fall back into my old ways simply because Layout is not quite up to the task in my opinion.
The primary target is residential architects and designers however I’ve also been contacted by a number of pre-fab wall panel companies who are very interested in the plugin and what it can do for them. I’ve also been contacted by estimating companies who are interested in having the plugin generate a bill of materials (CSV) that they can bring into their spreadsheet programs and run with it. There are a number of interested parties who all have their own industries and requirements.
My ultimate goal is to have the architect create the model in SU with the plugins and then this model can then be passed from architect -> engineer -> estimator/supplier -> builder -> owner. Each step along the way the plugin(s) can be utilized with the model to pull specific information from it.
I still have a long ways to go. I’m only now just scratching the surface with the architectural elements and some of these elements are literally plugins within a plugin, so yes the plugin is very deep and the options and details seems endless at times.
One thing I would caution any professional firm interested in using the plugin(s) in their workflow is that before committing to using them and purchasing it would be a good idea to simply test the trial versions first to get a better feel for how they work and whether or not it is a good decision to make the move.
Also realize that all three of the current plugins are works in progress and even though I have spent considerable time and effort at developing them I still do not consider them to be mature products. Hence the continual development and refinement:
I am hoping as I continue to gain traction with what I have created so far that I am able to snow ball my efforts into something even larger than just what one man and a keyboard can create. The amount of programming that will be required to fully implement the engineering module is probably a couple years worth of work for one full time programmer. I am going to need some help with the code but help can get expensive so the speed at which I can accelerate the program is dependent on the uptake. To keep the momentum going I need to keep my foot on the gas, there is no time to twiddle my thumbs and contemplate my market share and other intangibles. I’ve always believed that if you build it they will come.