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We have recently been contacted by a practicing Arborist of 15 years, Jon Hartley DipHort(Arb); TechArborA, in the UK, who is also completing his study towards an undergraduate degree in Arboriculture at Myerscough College. He says the course is well respected and has been developed with a focus on real world information that is directly applicable within the industry. Jons’ area of work is dominated by BS5837 trees surveys and this has influenced his year 3 Work Project subject.  He aims to compare and contrast software and online tools that allow the automatic production of a Tree Survey Schedule and Tree Constraints Plan from pre-captured site survey data and says as part of his study he will look at the finished documents and compare them against a manually typed Tree Survey Schedule and a Tree Constraints Plan produced with plain AutoCAD. The following he says, will be considered:

  • Price
  • Data entry method
  • Method of production/ease of use. –This will take into account speed of return of documents and ease of making amendments.
  • Schedule quality, judged for clarity and professional appearance, whether it can be used as a stand-alone document or if it must be bound into a further document as a simple table.
  • Cross platform usability of the Tree Constraints Plan
  • How customisable the product is.

We asked Jon how he would be comparing the products to which he replied..

“I will be using data from a real, but small site. A fictional proposal has been drafted by a tame architect. For control purposes, I am using a manually completed Tree Schedule (TS) and a Tree Constraints Plan (TPP) drawn in AutoCAD 2012, a slow old process! The Plan will have the necessary representations of:

-Stem Diameter
-Root Protection Area (RPA)
-Crown extents at cardinal points
-Tree Identifier
-Depiction of retention category”

We also asked Jon what products he will be comparing with and he outlined the following products of which we have made our own comments:

-ArborTrack (an older suite of tools not actually for drawing as such)
-AutogenCAD (a separate application that you can use to generate some of the information and then pass it on to other CAD software such as AutoCAD or RealCAD to actually draw with and edit)
-Axciscape (a set of tools with major limitations such as no printing or undo/redo functions, poor file import handling and export limitations)
   -Keysoft-KeyTree (an add-on requiring full AutoCAD)
   -PTMapper Pro plus Tree Minder bundle (modules with some useful but limited functionality with respect to drawing)
    -OTISS (another of the separate applications to generate some information and then pass it on to CAD software such as AutoCAD or RealCAD to draw with and edit)

-ArborCAD (a full CAD program with a complete set of Arborists’ productivity tools)

This is a pretty mixed bag of service providers operating three approaches to providing plans. Some, such as ArborCAD provide a full software suite. The other method involves inputting data to enable another CAD programme (such as AutoCAD with the obvious additional cost) to generate the plans. This data entry is either over remote server online allowing upload of data and download of product or use of owned software on your own machine in the office.

As the only complete CAD based tool,  ArborCAD will be included in his study and we look forward to his findings. We also hope to publish them here with his permission as this will be of particular interest to our users as well as our development team.