Construction Software Should Run on ALL Platforms
I would like to walk into an empty house lot, someone's dining room, a restaurant, or wherever and whip out my phone to do an estimate on the spot. I'd like to do a takeoff (get a materials list) accurate prices, and email the customer (or Bump it to their phone, that'd be something) a file they can do whatever they want with. I guess I'm in the minority.
Last week I had a conversation with a software salesman along these lines. He was one in a line of people I've talked to from a few different organizations lately about construction related apps that run on the web. I think I heard him snicker at me. I am still rather angry several days later.
I talked to our vinyl window manufacturer about their quoting software, and getting it to run in Linux. One guy in their IT department said "Yeah right. I WISH," which was encouraging, but he doesn't write the software. Some company called Paradigm does, and they're not interested in making their software run cross platform.
As a result, I'm looking into other vinyl window manufacturers. I saw a salesman last year, and we were on a Linux box doing a quote in his company's system. Why, oh why, did I not save his card…
I'm running into the same trouble with all the takeoff software company's I talk to, all but one. There's a fellow named Rob writing an app called OpenEstimating. If I understand correctly, he's got it started in Java, but is recoding it in PHP. We've emailed and I've offered whatever help I can (documentation might be the biggest thing I can do for him) and now I'm just crossing my fingers.
Turns out the window salesperson was from a company called Lockheed, and you can find them at http://www.lockheedwindow.com. I found the literature he left while cleaning under a counter this winter. Their vinyl window estimating tool works on whatever I had handy to throw at it. This included four or five browsers in Linux, the usual Windows (XP) suspects, an Android tablet (running 2.2) with a couple of browsers, and my Android phone (2.3) both with Verizon's default browser and with the Android version of Firefox. Their tool works. It's a stellar example of cross platform compatibility.
The hitch is with some of their more complicated windows. Something like a bow or bay requires another app that only runs on Windows. This is too bad, but the majority of the vinyl windows I'd be quoting are regular double hung, casement, or several double hungs mulled together. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only person at work who is interested in being able to quote from something other than a regular computer, so we won't end up doing business with Lockheed. I highly recommend them though. Their windows seem as good as what we've already got, and their quote tools is awesome. AND the people who make their quote tool didn't act like asses when I spoke with them. That always counts for a lot with me…
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