A Guide to Purchasing Software


 

Introduction

Many times  over the telephone, or during trade shows, we are asked to compare our software with our major competitors.  Since our founding in 1986, we have declined to respond directly to such questions, for it is our belief that our job in presenting our software is to describe and demonstrate its capabilities in an honest and truthful manner, leaving the job of comparing programs to the consumer.  We have a great deal of respect for our major competitors, who have been in the industry for the same length of time as we have, and have also put forth an incredible amount of time, expertise, and money in developing their software to the degree of excellence that they currently enjoy.  Of course, the same should be said for our own software, Cabinet Pro.
 

 


 

  So this page covers a sensitive area, where we want to be careful not to offend our competitors nor unjustly compare our program features to theirs.  In fact, we have not worked with their software so a true comparison is really not even possible.  However, the comparisons that are being made on this page are general enough to be relatively accurate and non-offensive, and have come about as a result of observations, talking with customers, and knowing the general capabilities of their software, as well as ours.

In choosing a software program for your shop, you should compare a number of features of the software you are considering with the features of similar software.  This process of comparing software packages can be somewhat confusing, especially for a first-time buyer.

 

  Although we have a rather thorough comparison chart listing the features of the various programs we offer, this page reflects an honest attempt to compare our program with our major competitors, so as to give you an idea of what kind of general categories are offered by the major software vendors for the Kitchen and Bath Industry.  Probably the most effective tool that you may have is your ability to ask the right questions to a given software vendor.  We have compiled a list of questions that you might want to ask when interacting with a salesperson representing any software package in this industry.  This list, of course, is not exhaustive, but will at least give you an idea of some important issues you should address.

 

 


 

Our Standard Policy is that we do not comment on the software of our competitors, especially if the competitor is not present.  Our software is marketed and sold on its own merits, not on what we might consider to be our competitors' shortcomings.  In general, it is your job to compare the various features of our software with those of our competitors.

 

 

 

The following chart describes the rating system we will be using in the features listed below:

Rating

Meaning

A+

Substantially Better than our major Competitors

A

Somewhat Better than our major Competitors

B

About the same as our major Competitors

C

Somewhat Less than our major Competitors

D

Substantially Less than our major Competitors

Feature

Description

Our Rating

How important are Cutlists and Door Reports to you?

If you compare our cutlists to others in the industry, you will find there is no equal to the formatting choices, accuracy, and completeness of our cutlist reports.  This is the area on which we have concentrated the most since our beginning in 1986, and in which we take great pride.  Our cutlist reports include numerous choices for batched cutlists for entire jobs, chosen rooms, or a single cabinet.  Our door and drawer reports are also able to be customized by the user.  The drawer box reports, edge banding reports, and material summaries are but a few of the outstanding features of our cutlist capabilities.

A+

How important is Program Cost to you?

Obviously, cost is a factor in any purchase.  If it is true that "you get what you pay for", then selecting a program would not be confusing at all.  One would simply purchase the most expensive program available.  But what if a given company had values that did not revolve around making the maximum dollar?  We at Cabinet Pro LLC have a different vision in mind than simply making money.  Our aim, since 1986, has been, and continues to be, to provide a very high quality software for a very affordable price to as many people as possible.  We strive to keep our prices low by keeping our overhead down, our representatives at a minimum, and our advertising costs reasonable.

A+

How important is installing the program on Multiple Computers?

Cabinet Pro and Door Pro are designed to synchronize information so that one computer's data is a mirror image of the other.  Work on your laptop at home or in the field and then easily transfer the information to your desktop at your office.  And if your computer breaks or is stolen, you are not charged anything else to install the program on a new computer. (See the Note on Keys below.) A

How important is Networking computers?

Do you need to have more than one person operating Cabinet Pro at the same time from different computers, sharing the same information and inputting different jobs simultaneously?  Cabinet Pro and Door Pro allow networking with our Network module, where not only can you select which files are to be shared from a selected computer on the network, but where you can also assign permissions to each user as to what he/she is allowed to view or change in the program. A+

How important is Job Scheduling to you?

Although we have plans to include this in future updates, Cabinet Pro does not presently support Job Scheduling..

D

How important is bidding and pricing to you?

For bidding purposes, Cabinet Pro takes into consideration material costs, hardware costs, edgebanding costs, door style up-charges, lineal foot charges, square foot charges, cabinet list prices, installation charges, finishing charges, customer discounts, overhead, local and federal taxes, and just about any labor charge you can think of, as well as user-defined costs.  In addition, the program then graphs the charges in your job as bar graphs, pie charts, and stacked graphs, for easier viewing.  We have what are called "Smart Hardware Rules" where the appropriate hardware is automatically assigned to each cabinet during design!

A

How important is CNC Support for Cabinets and Doors to you?

Our competitors support CNC routers via a link to CAD/CAM software packages.  We do not.  Cabinet Pro supports CNC routers by generating the g-code directly without a CAD software package.  There are pros and cons to these two methods.  Our method is less expensive, requires tech support for one program rather than two, and is less prone to error for two reasons:  because one program is used rather than two, and because the exporting routines and importing routines of the programs involved are eliminated.  Our software is designed specifically for the Cabinet manufacturer, whereas CAD software is more general in nature, and written for a wider audience.  CAD software allows free-lance drawing, whereas Cabinet Pro produces 3D renderings according to how parameters and variables are defined.  The drawback is that Cabinet Pro does not allow alterations of graphics without altering the parameters that govern them.  The advantage, however, is speed, efficiency and and manufacturing precision.  In addition Cabinet Pro offers what we call, "Smart CNC Rules" that place machining at the precise locations while designing! 

A

How important is CNC Non-Cabinet Support to you?

Our CNC support writes g-code for cuts and drilling patterns that are specific to cabinet making, and it does this very well.  But our software is much more limited than a CAD software package that one of our competitors may export to.  We are limited to making dado cuts, drilling patterns, holes, arc cuts, and rectangular cuts, whereas a CAD software package can make statues, intricate signs and carvings, and much more.  What our software does for the cabinet manufacturer, it does extremely well.  But what it does not do for the person who needs more intricate designs, it does not do at all.  So if you need this type of more intricate CNC support, you would need to purchase a CAD software package in addition to Cabinet Pro.  An inexpensive, yet capable software solution costing in the neighborhood of $500 is V-Carve Pro, out of England.

D

How important are Versatility and Customization of Cabinets to you?

Our program is extremely versatile in the design of custom cabinets.  There are only a very few programs that can make long custom cabinets with one continuous faceframe covering the entire face, or one-of-a-kind entertainment centers with multiple openings as a single cabinet.  Two out of the three major competitors of Cabinet Pro are also outstanding at this function, as is Cabinet Pro.

A+

How important is Company Stability to you?

We have been in business since 1986.  Our major competitors have been in business the same length of time, plus or minus a few years.  After 20 or so years of being in business, company stability has already been proven by all of the companies providing full solutions to cabinet shops, and is not really an issue.  However, due to our low overhead, and our policy of making sure everything that is purchased by our company is paid for so that we have no debt, we are able to weather financial dry periods better than most.

A

How important is Ease of Use to you?

Regardless of what any salesperson tells you, any program that performs a multitude of tasks for custom cabinet makers will involve a learning curve to master the software.  Although we strive to make our software as easy as possible, it is, unfortunately, not easy to learn and will require dedication on your part to understand all facets of the software.  Our competitors are no different.  Perhaps a better question would be, "How dedicated will you be to learn whatever program you decide to purchase?"

Whichever program you purchase, make sure you are committed to learning and using it!  If you do, then you will have a program that will be like another employee to you.  If you do not, then you will have wasted your time and money.

B

How important are Presentation Renderings to you?

We offer three different qualities of 3D Renderings.  We offer Hidden Line drawings, Standard Presentation renderings, and Premium Presentation renderings. 

We have chosen to concentrate on the manufacturing end of a cabinet business, while our presentation graphics are mere representations that are intended to be drawn quickly and rendered within seconds.  The degree of quality of these renderings is left to the user, based upon his/her needs.

B

How important is a UserID and Password to you?

Both Cabinet Pro and Door Pro utilize an optional Security System where a UserID and Password can be required to use the software, and where each user may be allowed only certain aspects of the software, while other aspects are turned off to that user.  Alternatively, this option may be turned off so that a UserID and Password are not used and any particular user has full permissions to operate all aspects of the software.

A+

How important is Multiple-Router Support to you?

Do you have more than one CNC router?  Cabinet Pro CNC allows simultaneous support for multiple routers so that one cutlist may be sent to one router, while another cutlist may be sent to a different router.

A

How important is Grain Matching to you?

Cabinet Pro allows you to match the grain of your drawers, of your doors, or of your doors and drawers. Depending upon your setup, you can have Cabinet Pro optimize your doors and drawers so that they are cut out in the same area of a given panel to ensure continuous grain, either horizontal or vertical.

A

How important is Technical Support to you?

From what we have heard from our customers who have owned other software, we excel in this area quite a bit.  Compliments in this area fill our Letters of RecommendationHowever, we recognize that a dissatisfied customer from one software package can be somewhat biased, so we are assuming that, because both our competitors and Cabinet Pro LLC have been in business for quite a while now, that we all recognize the importance of providing excellent technical support.  Those software companies that advertise "free" technical support usually have these fees buried in their increased prices or in their charge for "optional" updates.  We have chosen to keep our prices low and let the customer decide whether or not he/she requires technical support or program updates.  Read more.

A+

How important are Pre-packaged Cabinet Catalogues to you?

Our program is exclusively for the manufacturer, either modular or custom.  As a result, we do not support pre-made cabinet catalogues distributed by large cabinet suppliers who have lines of modular cabinets.

D

How important is Inventory Control to you?

Truly Automatic Inventory Control is very rare in Cabinet Manufacturing Software.  In fact most of our competitors do not even offer Automatic Inventory Control.  But Cabinet Pro handles this very well.  Panels, Lumber, Hardware, and Accessories are automatically deducted from Inventory. Hardware Assemblies can be broken down into sub-Assemblies and processed together or separately.  Inventory In-Stock reports, Re-Order Reports where Re-Order points are assigned per Inventory Item, and a number of other features make Cabinet Pro stand pretty high in this area.

A+

 

A Note on "Keys" (or Dongles)

n 2005, I received a telephone call from a company that provides "dongles", sometimes called, "keys",  to software providers.  Dongles are small mechanical devices that attach to a port of a computer, allowing a specific software program to operate on that computer.  Without the dongle, the software does not operate.

When I told the salesman on the other side of the phone that we did not use dongles in our software, he informed me that our competitors did, and that we were losing out on a guaranteed source of income, because our customers would either lose the dongles or break them, thus requiring replacement. 

He asked, "Did you know that your competitors charge somewhere between $500 and $1,500 per replacement dongle, or per additional dongle?"  He referred to our competitors by name and I was impressed that he knew who our competitors were.  I answered, "yes, I was aware of their replacement charges.."  He then asked, "Do you know how much we charge them for the dongle?"  I answered, "No." 

$17 dollars was the answer! 

  My response to the salesperson was something like, "Being able to sell a dongle for $1,000 that was purchased for $17 represents quite a profit margin.  But I would rather risk losing money because a few of our customers might pirate our software, than knowingly extort this kind of money from our customers as standard policy.  So we are not interested, now or in the future, in making such outrageous profits from your dongles.  I don't think that is an honorable approach to business, so thank you, but we are not interested."  We haven't been contacted since.  Perhaps the use of the word, "extort" was a bit too strong.

We have not ever, do not now, and never will in the future protect our software with "keys" or "dongles".

If more seats are needed, then a reasonable fee is charged. And if your computer breaks or is stolen, you are not charged anything else to install the program on a new computer.

-Frank D. Jimenez


 

Privacy Notice:  Cabinet Pro LLC does not release, sell, or give away, now or in the future, your email address and other information requested on this site to any party or organization for any reason whatsoever.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Free Technical Support
 

Technical Support Offered by Cabinet Pro LLC
In the spirit of full transparency, you can read a full explanation of our Technical Support policies. But in a nutshell, we offer full FREE support for the most recent version of our software, and we offer FREE technical support via email for old versions, some of which date back to 1986.  There is a nominal and optional yearly charge for updates if you wish to receive them and the full technical support that comes with them.


We at Cabinet Pro LLC have always chosen to be very transparent with our costs and our prices.  How many of our competitors advertise their prices?  Generally you have to call a salesman to find out how much you will be spending.  Not so with Cabinet Pro LLC.  We list all of our prices as well as all of our Company Policies for all to see.

bullet

we keep our prices low and affordable

bullet

we post our prices in a spirit of full transparency for everyone to see

bullet

we do not issue "keys" (read more on this subject)

bullet

we give truly free support for life

bullet

we do not now or in the future use "keys" or "dongles"

bullet

we do not have mandatory yearly maintenance fees

bullet

we offer optional yearly updates at an additional cost that is reasonable

In the spirit of full transparency, you can read a full explanation of our Technical Support policies. But in a nutshell, we offer full FREE support for the most recent version of our software, and we offer FREE technical support via email for old versions.  There is a nominal and optional yearly charge for updates if you wish to receive them throughout the year, and the full technical support that comes with them. 


 

 

 

 

 

Some Do's and Don'ts when looking for a software package

Before you call one of our representatives, or one of the representatives of our competitors, review the Do's and Don'ts below and make a list of your needs from a list of common features.  You should then be pretty well equipped to ask informed questions to our representatives and to those of our competitors.  Know what your needs are and ask the questions that will determine if a given software package will fulfill them!
 

Ask questions that are important to you, not the sales person.

  Software Representatives practice their sales presentation to perfection and are trained to keep control of the demonstration.  By taking the salesman out of his comfort zone, you will see how flexible the software is, how easy it is to go from one screen to the next, and how complicated or easy it is to make changes in the middle of a job.  Remember: whatever software you are investigating will not only be costing you quite a bit of money, but more importantly it will be helping you run your business, and therefore your livelihood.  So ask questions as they come to you during his demonstration.  For example, while you are looking at a beautiful 3D rendering of a room filled with cabinets, point to one of the cabinets and politely ask, "How would I change the material for this one cabinet, raise its toekick one inch, and change the drawer guides and drawer boxes to some other style?"  Once he shows you how to do that (or other changes you may want to see), ask if the cutlist, pricing, and CNC code has been appropriately changed.  And of course, ask to see the changes.

Do not put too much importance on references.

References are fine, but generally they are hand-picked by the vendor so you already know you will hear a positive recommendation.  There is nothing wrong with this, as long as you know what to expect.  You may read some of our recommendations here.

Do your homework!

It cannot be over-emphasized for you to be prepared to ask in-depth questions and ask the Software Representative to demonstrate the making of cabinets you make.  Even though his existing setup will not produce the cutlist according to your method of construction, he should be able to design the style of cabinet you expect, and then show you the bid and cutlist that is currently generated by the existing construction method.

Make sure your questions are answered, not bypassed.

Do not expect a salesman to know the answer to every question you ask, but ask them anyway.  Although you should expect the salesman to be able to answer the majority of your questions, there will be some he or she cannot.  This is to be expected because of the diversity and custom features built into programs designed to accommodate all cabinet shops.  But those questions he cannot answer should be responded with something like, "I don't know how to make the program do what you are asking, but I will find out and get back to you."  That kind of response is honorable and should be respected without affecting your opinion of the software you are investigating.  But if he tries to fake it with a quick answer without showing you how it is done, you might have a problem.

Ask about technical support!

  What is the charge for technical support?  How does the company provide technical support?  Is there a charge per incident? If you are required to purchase another program to generate CNC code, will you need to pay additional technical support fees to that other software as well?  Do not allow your company to be held hostage by being forced to purchase yearly technical support, or forced to purchase technical support per incident, for you will regret it.  Our technical support is FREE under all circumstances, whether or not you have chosen to purchase program updates.  Our specific policies are outlined here.

Ask about program updates!

  What is the charge for program updates?  How often does the company update their software?  If you have an idea for improving the software, how likely is it that your idea will be implemented in an update?

Ask about specific capabilities that are of interest to you!

  We have compiled a list of capabilities that you may want to use when you compare software.  Use this list as well as any other items that are of interest to you, and ask the Representative how his software handles those particular areas.

How does the company handle computer crashes?

  What happens if your computer is stolen or crashes beyond repair?  Will you need to pay a fee or pay for a new program?  If you are provided with dongles, or keys, to operate your program, what cost of replacement can you expect if you lose or break a dongle?  Make sure you get the answers to these questions because it is almost guaranteed that you will have computer or dongle problems in the future.  Our response.

Ask how you are expected to learn the software.

Is there written documentation?  Video tutorials?  Classes to attend?  Onsite instruction?  What are the costs involved in learning the software?  What is a realistic timeline for you to be up and running?  Our response.

Know what your needs are before inquiring about software!

Do you need design capabilities?  Shop Drawings?  Bidding?  Cutlists?  Door Reports?  Face frame and/or Frameless?  Do you need CNC support?  Do you need panel optimization?  How many computers do you need to install the software on?  Do you need Automatic Inventory control?  Determine exactly what your needs are by taking our Needs Assessment survey.

How much will it cost if you want to upgrade?

What costs are involved in upgrading to a higher version of the software later on?  For example, if you are thinking about purchasing a CNC router in the future, can the software grow with your business as well?  How much would the upgrade cost?  Would you have to purchase the program all over again?  Would you have to purchase another program to generate CNC code?  Our response.

Beware of high pressure sales!

Do not allow yourself to be pressured into making a hasty decision.  You have done without software for quite a while.  Take your time to think it through before you purchase.

What are the computer requirements?

Find out what kind of computer you will need.  How much memory will you need?  Disk space?  Our response.

How is the software protected?

Are "keys" or "dongles" used?  If so, what is the charge if they are lost or broken?

How will you edit cabinets or doors?

After a cabinet is totally finished and placed on a floorplan, how easy is it to change every aspect of that cabinet?  What about global changes for all cabinets?  Our response.

How are reports customized?

Don't just view the reports that are generated by the salesperson demonstrating the program.  Ask how they can be customized to your liking.  Our response.

Ask to see the CNC process from start to finish.

If you are investigating CNC, ask the salesman to design just a single machining operation on a cabinet part of a newly created cabinet style that was not already existing in his library.  Then ask him to generate the actual g-code for the part   This is very important.  You will be able to see the steps necessary to setup your machining, as well as how the CNC files are made.  Do not be satisfied with the DXF files that are made, for these are simply graphics files with embedded machining information.  Make sure you are viewing the actual CNC files containing code that will be sent to the CNC router itself!  This way, you will see the entire process, and not be surprised later.  Our response.

Make sure the software will generate the code your machine requires!

If your CNC router requires code that is something other than G-Code, such as Woodwop (Weeke & Homag), Biesseworks (Biesse), HOPS (Holzher) or Xylog (Morbidelli), make sure the software you are investigating supports those languages.  Our response.

Do not ask the sales rep to compare their software with others.

Don't ask a sales representative to compare their product with those of their competitors.  That is an unprofessional question and places the salesperson in an awkward spot. A salesperson will know the software he/she is representing, but will not be familiar with a competitor's software. Remember:  it is the representative's job to present their software, while it is your job to do comparison shopping.  Our response.

Beware of the sales representative who degrades his competitors

This behavior is a statement defining not only the representative's lack of character and integrity, but that of the software company itself, because it is allowed.  Software should be sold on its merits and capabilities, not on the assassination of its competitors.

Make sure the software will support most of the cabinets you build.

No software will create 100% of all cabinets made by all cabinet shops.  But make sure the software you are considering can create the majority of cabinets you expect to build.  So don't ask the sales representative to create the most complicated cabinet you have built.  Instead, ask him to create the most complicated cabinet that you build.  Our response.

Ask a question to which you already know the answer.

For example, find out at least one capability that you know the software you are investigating does not perform, and then ask the salesperson about that capability. You will be able to conclude a lot about the salesperson and the company from his answer.

Get a total cost of the software

Are there hidden costs, setup fees, post processor fees, technical support fees, etc.?  Are there extra costs for face frame vs. frameless construction?  Is there a charge if you change your construction method for all your cabinets or even for one particular cabinet?  Our response.

Ask how one-of-a-kind cabinets are handled.

What if they require a totally different construction method than your usual cabinets because they are built very uniquely?  Can they be saved to a library?  Is there an additional cost to get them configured?  How does the software make unique cabinets?  Our response.

Ask about specific methods of construction.

Just because a program advertises it supports faceframe construction, does not necessarily mean it supports your method of constructing face frames.  Show the salesman your method of making face frames and ask the salesman to reproduce it for you to see.  How does the software handle vertical dividers of different dimensions existing in the same cabinet?  In like manner, make sure the software can be customized to reproduce your method of frameless construction, if you build frameless cabinets.  Our response.

 

 

Click here for a comparison study of Cabinet Pro

 

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