Jump to content

Layout Design Software - Reviews


quinntopia

Recommended Posts

I am using SCARM and I am really happy with it. OK, there is a learning curve to it, especially to shaping flextrack and draw buildings, but once you have captured the gist of, it is a powerful tool - free of charge!

 

Here is one of my latest creations!

 

hWRezUc.jpg

 

The plan shows my layout constisting of mini-modules, similar to T-Trak, but simplified.

Edited by Sir Madog
  • Like 3
Link to comment

I am using SCARM and I am really happy with it. OK, there is a learning curve to it, especially to shaping flextrack and draw buildings, but once you have captured the gist of, it is a powerful tool - free of charge!

 

Here is one of my latest creations!

 

hWRezUc.jpg

 

The plan shows my layout constisting of mini-modules, similar to T-Trak, but simplified.

 

29 usd is free? :)

Link to comment

29 usd is free? :)

 

Looks like they realeased the commercial version just a few days ago, it used to be completely free before. I have Version 0.9.37 which I downloaded maybe a month ago and it doesn't have any limitations...

I think it should be fine if you can find an installer for the latest pre-release version as I doesn't seem like there were any major additions in the 1.0/release build according to the patch notes.

Edited by Gryphr
Link to comment

Looks like they realeased the commercial version just a few days ago, it used to be completely free before. I have Version 0.9.37 which I downloaded maybe a month ago and it doesn't have any limitations...

I think it should be fine if you can find an installer for the latest pre-release version as I doesn't seem like there were any major additions in the 1.0/release build according to the patch notes.

The problem with limited software is once they see that almost noone is willing to pay for it, they usually keep removing features from the free version to force users to pay for it, which usually keeps moving people away from using the software. Once nice feature of scarm was the extensibility of the parts library, so you could easily add whole fremo modules as track pieces and then play puzze with them.

Link to comment

I've been using SCARM free version for now. I looked at AnyRail, but liked SCARM better. SCARM also allows 100 pieces in their free trial. I'll pay for the full version shortly. For now, I'm laying out each track area separately (Shinkansen, Commuter, Freight, and related yards). When I run over the allotted 100 track pieces, I substitute a flex track section where i might have multiple sectional track. Allows me to keep fiddling with the design until I'm ready for the full version and will add the shinkansen, commuter, freight lines, and yards into one plan. 

 

The SCARM designer is also very good about adding new track pieces if you suggest them to him. I've sent him two emails with suggestions and he has added all of them in his next updates.

Link to comment
14 minutes ago, Hayashi said:

The SCARM designer is also very good about adding new track pieces if you suggest them to him. I've sent him two emails with suggestions and he has added all of them in his next updates.

I would gladly make a full up to date Tomix library, but only with a CC-BY-NC-SA license or similar, which would require the software to be made freely available. The current commercial license means i have to use an older variant that was limitation free and update the libraries myself to keep them usable or switch to a different and hopefully fully open source and free software. Currently my club's fremo modules are entered into a free, but not publicly available SCARM track library for fast and easy layout design and i use the old fully free to use version for above 100 pieces layout designs until i can find something that is usable.

Link to comment

So I noticed that ventureforth was using the traxeditor.com online layout design system. I’m curious to hav it’s been working. Easier way to share designs and work cross platform with the club than xtrakcad, but problem if it goes belly up... does not seem to have import/export to any of the standard systems as back up or starting from existing plan.

 

anyone else using it?

 

jeff

Link to comment
gavino200

Does anyone know if any of the track plan programs allow you to put down variable length track. I'm trying to use a program to design the overall track plan, but I don't care about using the exact track pieces that I'll finally use. I generally cut a lot of custom track pieces. Currently using SCARM it's very difficult to get "ends to meet" so so speak. If I had a variable piece then I could get close and close the gap.

 

Any ideas?

Link to comment
Martijn Meerts

Most programs should allow you to do this really. I've used AnyRail before with some success, but it's not a free program. Also used RailModeller Pro on the Mac, which is rather nice and easy to use.

 

There's also stuff like WinTrack, which is expensive and rather old looking UI wise, but it does allow you to not only design the track plan, but also the frame, cross sections and even wiring.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Andrew Nummelin
9 hours ago, gavino200 said:

Does anyone know if any of the track plan programs allow you to put down variable length track. I'm trying to use a program to design the overall track plan, but I don't care about using the exact track pieces that I'll finally use. I generally cut a lot of custom track pieces. Currently using SCARM it's very difficult to get "ends to meet" so so speak. If I had a variable piece then I could get close and close the gap.

 

Any ideas?

It may be worthwhile looking at Templot. This is track planning software that is ideal for following prototype principles for those people who like to build their own formations, so transition curves and complex switch and crossing layouts are the situations for which it is ideal. Originally set up for British standards it is now highly customisable. Nice features include the ability to draw over imported maps and to “run” dummy vehicles to check clearances on curves. Developments include work to laser cut sleepers ( ties) to aid building complex formations and to even 3D print the necessary rail fixings. There is a very active and helpful support forum and the program is offered with no charges but voluntary contributions may be made.

Needless to say, there are some downsides like it not being suited to the use of commercial switches, crossings and bits of track. The major feature is that the program features and ways of working are very different from common CAD packages, so one may have to be prepared to put some effort into learning how to use it.

https://85a.uk/templot/companion/templot_home.php

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Madsing

I am using Railmodeller Pro. I confirm that it is very easy to use, and it allows to work with flexible tracks. There is even a function called "Connect with Flex Track" that works very well.

 

126684510_ScreenShot2022-03-09at6_22_51PM.thumb.png.c236108a38a81ab1a1d42d0f36d2fa92.png

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment

Yeah railmodeler pro is pretty flexible, but Mac only. it’s been my goto for a long time now as it’s stable and Mac and seems to have a pretty steady progression of development.
 

A super sophisticated cad track planning software is 3rd planit. Pc only and very robust with many cat options build in. Not cheat at $125. One downside it’s a one guy shop and a long time back he disappeared for a good while there and caused some consternation. Been around a long time and loyal following by some profession layout builders. I used it quite a bit over a decade  ago and liked it but it was like using illustrator to do a simple drawing, at times the features could get in the way, but it’s been revised many times since I ditched maintaining a dark side machine.

 

https://www.trackplanning.com/index.htm

 

xtrakcad also has some flex options, I’ve not fiddled with those options in a very long time though. It’s open source and still supported by a hearty little community. It’s pretty robust but HI is a little wonky and fine if you are working on it for an extended time but coming to it new or after a long hiatus it always seems like steep relearning curve. Over the years I started making notes and cheat sheets that helped a lot. It’s free! 
 

https://sourceforge.net/projects/xtrkcad-fork/

 

when I do rough layouts I won’t bother getting lenghts right to snap up everywhere and just leave some areas with overlapping joints or gaps or some misalignments. Once I’m happy with overall workings I then go back and start lining things up and connecting things and figure out the few custom lengths if needed.

 

jeff

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
gavino200
14 hours ago, Andrew Nummelin said:

It may be worthwhile looking at Templot. This is track planning software that is ideal for following prototype principles for those people who like to build their own formations, so transition curves and complex switch and crossing layouts are the situations for which it is ideal. Originally set up for British standards it is now highly customisable. Nice features include the ability to draw over imported maps and to “run” dummy vehicles to check clearances on curves. Developments include work to laser cut sleepers ( ties) to aid building complex formations and to even 3D print the necessary rail fixings. There is a very active and helpful support forum and the program is offered with no charges but voluntary contributions may be made.

Needless to say, there are some downsides like it not being suited to the use of commercial switches, crossings and bits of track. The major feature is that the program features and ways of working are very different from common CAD packages, so one may have to be prepared to put some effort into learning how to use it.

https://85a.uk/templot/companion/templot_home.php

 

That really is amazing. It's above me in every way - ability to build, ability to learn, even ability to understand railroads. Perhaps in a decade or two I'd be ready for something like that. Thanks for sharing!

Link to comment
gavino200
14 hours ago, Madsing said:

I am using Railmodeller Pro. I confirm that it is very easy to use, and it allows to work with flexible tracks. There is even a function called "Connect with Flex Track" that works very well.

 

126684510_ScreenShot2022-03-09at6_22_51PM.thumb.png.c236108a38a81ab1a1d42d0f36d2fa92.png

 

 

This looks really good. I'm tempted. I think I'll look at some YouTube examples. This view below is especially interesting to me. I'm a bit obsessed with layers and levels.

 

 

 

layers.thumb.png.1625bd951a8543ea06418bae3baa328d.png

 

Link to comment
gavino200
19 hours ago, Martijn Meerts said:

Most programs should allow you to do this really. I've used AnyRail before with some success, but it's not a free program. Also used RailModeller Pro on the Mac, which is rather nice and easy to use.

 

I played a bit with Anyrail a long while ago and I don't recall liking it. RailModeller looks great. I'd probably get the PC version. Otherwise I'd have to use it on my wife's laptop (which is awesome and literally never gets used). But I really hate being confined to one monitor.

 

19 hours ago, Martijn Meerts said:

 

There's also stuff like WinTrack, which is expensive and rather old looking UI wise, but it does allow you to not only design the track plan, but also the frame, cross sections and even wiring.

 

WinTrack looks useful. A bit like SCARM on steroids. Looking at screenshots, my gut tells me it's not for me.

Link to comment
gavino200
6 hours ago, cteno4 said:

Yeah railmodeler pro is pretty flexible, but Mac only. it’s been my goto for a long time now as it’s stable and Mac and seems to have a pretty steady progression of

development.

 

 

Yes, it looks great. I'm definitely leaning toward it. I looks like it's also available for PC now.

 

6 hours ago, cteno4 said:

 

A super sophisticated cad track planning software is 3rd planit. Pc only and very robust with many cat options build in. Not cheat at $125. One downside it’s a one guy shop and a long time back he disappeared for a good while there and caused some consternation. Been around a long time and loyal following by some profession layout builders. I used it quite a bit over a decade  ago and liked it but it was like using illustrator to do a simple drawing, at times the features could get in the way, but it’s been revised many times since I ditched maintaining a dark side machine.

 

https://www.trackplanning.com/index.htm

 

I looks good. I still like the look or Railmodeler though. I'm not really looking for something that adds greenery and buildings. I can just imagine that stuff. All I need is to draw out a schematic to see what ideas fit in what space.

 

6 hours ago, cteno4 said:

 

xtrakcad also has some flex options, I’ve not fiddled with those options in a very long time though. It’s open source and still supported by a hearty little community. It’s pretty robust but HI is a little wonky and fine if you are working on it for an extended time but coming to it new or after a long hiatus it always seems like steep relearning curve. Over the years I started making notes and cheat sheets that helped a lot. It’s free! 
 

https://sourceforge.net/projects/xtrkcad-fork/

 

It does look like a good tool. What's a HI? I'm guessing a something interface. (UI with a typo?). It does look a bit left-brainy to learn.

 

 

6 hours ago, cteno4 said:

 

when I do rough layouts I won’t bother getting lenghts right to snap up everywhere and just leave some areas with overlapping joints or gaps or some misalignments. Once I’m happy with overall workings I then go back and start lining things up and connecting things and figure out the few custom lengths if needed.

 

 

I agree. That's what I want to do. But with Scarm it's a nightmare getting even one part to connect as a single piece.

 

Thanks for all your knowledge and suggestions Jeff.

Link to comment
gavino200

Likely, I'll try RailModdeller. Hopefully for my Dark Side Machines as Jeff says. If I won't work on these things, then I'll bite the bullet and use it on a Mac.

 

Thanks everyone for your help.

 

Edit: Looks like this is some kind of bait-and-switch equine excrement. I guess I'll have to use it on the Mac.

 

Gotta love that "PcMacStore" 🙄🤣😂

Edited by gavino200
Link to comment

Ewwwuuu, that’s one of those slimo sites. You can always tell them by the install/signup ads boxed in there.

 

I think they only sell thru Apple App Store.

 

jeff

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Martijn Meerts

PC version would've surprised me quite a bit since the develop is a Mac fan 🙂

 

As for AnyRail and WinTrack, I both like them and dislike them at the same time. I can use AnyRail reasonably okay, but some features are just weird. WinTrack I've only used for smaller things way back when it had fewer features. It's nice but old fashioned.

 

RailModeller is just generally enjoyable to use, well worth giving Express ago considering you do have a Mac available.

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
gavino200

Playing around with RailModeller now on the Mac. I like it. Actually, I'm glad I have it on the Mac. It's a nice activity for doing while curled up on the couch. The Mac is also, fairly easy to get used to.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
3 hours ago, gavino200 said:

Playing around with RailModeller now on the Mac. I like it. Actually, I'm glad I have it on the Mac. It's a nice activity for doing while curled up on the couch. The Mac is also, fairly easy to get used to.


yep it’s the easiest to use track planning software I’ve used. Seems well supported and updated regularly with decent features additions often. Never feels like bloatqare and I think only one time I remember a major redesign of the interface to scramble thing in your brain.

 

macs are designed that way to be easy to get use to and easy to get stuff done. I had to work developing on both sides of the fence for 25 years and I was so much more productive on the Mac side and with development dramativaaly lower bugs/issues and my software’s (and hardware) lifespan was so much longer. I still have some exhibits running on like 15 year old Mac mini’s and maybe only 1 out of 5 had to be replaced starting at like year 7! These are running exhibit and video systems like 12 hrs a day every day.

 

jeff

  • Like 1
Link to comment
gavino200

I've actually never liked PCs but I've always had them. Sort of the "devil I know", kind of thing.

 

Oh, but I like building them. Can't do that with a Mac, I think. So I guess it's really Windows I'm not crazy about rather than the machines themselves.

Edited by gavino200
Link to comment
chadbag
On 3/9/2022 at 6:02 PM, gavino200 said:

But I really hate being confined to one monitor.

 

I assume the wife's laptop is a Mac from the context.  Why would you be confined to one monitor?  You should be able to plug all the sme monitors into it that you plug into your normal Windows computer.  You may need some adapter dongles depending on monitor and which Mac it is.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment

One nice thing about later Mac laptops is you can plug in just about any monitor (once having the right dongle) and it just works!

 

i had my fill of building pcs in the early 90s BTDT and don’t need to experience that anymore along with finding the driver permutation for the Frankenstein to work graceful and poking bios to make them happy. I got into having the computer and my code making things happening on other devices and communication between everything to do something choreographed, not very different from dcc stuff!

 

jeff

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...