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Best Design programs ?? ( Free & $$)  RSS feed

 
Enrique Garcia
Posts: 86
Location: Las Vegas, NV
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I am needing to find out which design programs to use in order to invest my time & money wisely ... Google Sketchbook & Sketchbook Express came up ... there are free versions plus The pro version is $59.99 ... I mostly want to design Permaculture gardens but earth buildings may come into it in the near future .. are there any that allow you to label which plants you are growing ? I've not seen that yet .. also this is for sharing designs with others to put online & to send to others .. so that is a consideration .. i assume all have reached consensus on which is the best ? Thank you in advance ...
 
Cj Sloane
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No consensus - what ever works for you.
Some people like Inkscape (FREE) I have so far stuck with googleMaps or googleEarth and then the free programs that came with my Mac (Pages/Preview:
 
Enrique Garcia
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Location: Las Vegas, NV
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Cj Verde wrote:No consensus - what ever works for you.
Some people like Inkscape (FREE) I have so far stuck with googleMaps or googleEarth and then the free programs that came with my Mac (Pages/Preview:


How do you use the free programs in your MAc ? I have Mac as well but no drawing programs ... i tried using Google EArth .. those tools were useless !! Thanks for Inkscape ... looked groovy .. i may try it .. but if there are tools on the Mac I have I'd like to use them do you use them to draw on Google EArth ? I'm a beginner
 
Cj Sloane
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Get set up in GoogeEarth or GoogleMaps and either save the image, export it, or take a screen capture -hit "shift," "command," "3" at the same time. It'll make a sound like a camera. It should save the file to the desktop as "screen capture at 8:00 or whatever." Then double click on the file and Preview should open. Use the crop tool. Save. Now you're ready to import it into Pages.

Play around. Let me know if you get that far!
 
Enrique Garcia
Posts: 86
Location: Las Vegas, NV
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Thanks !! I got that far ... doesn't look very good .. also my huge pine tree is in the way but i do have a close up picture of my backyard & one of the entire property ...
 
Cj Sloane
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Did you bring it into Pages?
Now try making a box .... INSERT ------> SHAPE ---------> RECTANGLE
A green box should appear. Now go with the box selected to VIEW ---------> SHOW INSPECTOR and play around with the color and opacity. Or, you could do it with the tool bar at the top of the page.
 
Johnny Niamert
Posts: 268
Location: Colo
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With the free sketch-up version you can import google earth captures. They can be switched between 2d/3d. You can simply trace around the site to make a graphic digital model. All the measurements, elevation, area calculations are for the most part simple operations. I know, for instance, the property sub-division I have in mind is exactly 15.062 acres. And the pasture area I plan to use for a permie garden is 3.8728 acres. The field is 315' long on the south, ~280' 4 13/16" long at the north, ~ 561' 1 1/8" on the east, and 575' on the west. Simple to calculate that my site is of average 3% grade.
With this, site planning is much easier. I also know roughly how much seed, trees, bushes, fencing, etc I will need. I really have only begun to scratch the surface. As I understand it, you can also play with sun-angle animations to see best direction for facing houses, greenhouses, etc. My site is almost lined up exactly with N/S E/W.


 
Enrique Garcia
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Location: Las Vegas, NV
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WHAT IS PAGES ?
 
Enrique Garcia
Posts: 86
Location: Las Vegas, NV
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THANKS JOHNNY !! I'm going to take both of your advice & get Sketch up too ... but i don't have anything that says Pages on my Mac .. I looked in the Finder ... but the progress i am making with CJ is good ... but 3D sounds promising as i will need that view too .. so i can show how tall things will be .. i also found the shadows thing not too helpful in Google EArth .. it just got darker
 
Cj Sloane
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Enrique Garcia wrote:WHAT IS PAGES ?


The page layout program that comes with Mac. Look in the iWork folder.
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Neat - I just had a play with importing terrain into sketchup and was able to knock out a reasonable contour map of my parents land in about 15 minutes. I found a good youtube video which helped.



The contours look like a reasonable approximation to what I would expect, given that the land is reasonably flat... it looks good for the surrounding fields but hasn't coped well with the various levelled sections of the garden.
 
Cj Sloane
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If you're using a Mac, there's a free software update to OS X 10.9.1 which comes with a program called Maps. It's pretty close to GoogleEarth but not quite as good. GoogleEarth will show the imagery date and it's more recent than the one Maps is showing. Plus, you can revert back to old images.

The image quality seems to vary based on location, but with both of these programs I can clearly see my cows!!!
Kind of cool and creepy at the same time. Check it out!!!
 
Enrique Garcia
Posts: 86
Location: Las Vegas, NV
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I don't have iWork ... my Mac is a laptop so ... But i did do something like you said in Paintbrush .. from scratch .not yet with the google earth image as that was poor quality tho i will try to impose some color & details onto it now that i know how ... I'm gonna try Sketch up too .. yeah, I wouldn't wanna see my cows from space either ... tho i don't have any ... that is creepy !!
 
Heather Staas
Posts: 23
Location: Western MA, zone 5b
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Ok seriously I'd be happy to pay someone a little something to do one of those contour line maps for me like shown in the video above. I'm WAYYYYYY too technologically retarded to figure it out myself but that was super cool.
 
J.D. Burnette
Posts: 30
Location: Kingston, TN
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From Ben Falk and Darren Doherty via facebook posts: Skethup contours are not very accurate.

In order to get completely accurate you are going to have to survey it yourself old fashioned style, hire a crew (the most economical unless you are doing multiple consultations/site designs), or purchase/build a UAV that can do fly over surveys.

For generalized designs: http://www.hillmap.com/ is a site that provides online topos. You start with google earth and google maps to narrow down your location and generate the USGS topo quad you are in. You can also use this site to estimate slope, and distances. I'd say you could calculate perimeters and area too with a little pencil and paper scratch work.

Adobe Illustrator is the program Ben uses although it is not free. Between that and sketchup I feel that you can design all that you need and is probably above and beyond unless you are doing professional consultations.

To overwhelm you with resources:
https://www.coursera.org/course/maps
https://www.udemy.com/six-steps-of-gis/
https://www.udemy.com/adobe-illustrator-cc/
https://www.udemy.com/illustrator-for-cartographers/
https://www.udemy.com/sketchup-tutorial/
https://www.udemy.com/draft/121068/
https://www.udemy.com/mapping-online-easy-to-create-professional-map-mash-ups/

Hope it helps,
J.D.
 
Enrique Garcia
Posts: 86
Location: Las Vegas, NV
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Thanks so much for all the info !! Hillmap didn;t let me get close enough to my property .. just to the neighborhood in general ... but the other resources were helpful !!
 
J.D. Burnette
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Location: Kingston, TN
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No problem.

Hillmap won't let you get very close via google maps, but google earth you can zoom in closer.

Cheers,
J.D.
 
Josh J.J. Jones
Posts: 44
Location: MO_AR stateline Zone 6b/7a
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The Photographers Ephemeris is a FREE design tool made for photographers that show where light is falling on your land. Very useful to permies when trying to plan where to place greenhouses, gardens, etc. Could be especially useful if you are looking to buy land and have yet to do a site visit.

"The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) helps you plan outdoor photography shoots in natural light, particularly landscape and urban scenes. It’s a map-centric sun and moon calculator: see how the light will fall on the land, day or night, for any location on earth.
TPE is a universal app with optimized user interfaces for both iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch devices." Yes there is an Android app too.
 
Sam Boisseau
Posts: 155
Location: PNW, British Columbia
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I was wondering if there's a program out there that could create an interactive map...

In my mind I see a map of the property/site, and if you click on an element, a popup would come up, and then on the popup you could click on "read more" which opens a new tab...


There would also be "overlays"/layers on the map. E.g. you look at the map with the current May 2014 elements, and then you can overlay the final design, or the 2015 design, or just the new fruit trees etc.

Anything out there that could do that?


Thanks
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 395
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Heather Staas wrote:Ok seriously I'd be happy to pay someone a little something to do one of those contour line maps for me like shown in the video above. I'm WAYYYYYY too technologically retarded to figure it out myself but that was super cool.


Heather,
You don't need to be technologically advanced to overlay a topo map on a Google Earth satellite terrain image. Here is a super easy way to do a simple 2D version that will help you do your planning (though not so "super cool" as the one above in the demo).

First, if you don't already have it, download the latest version of Google Earth. Then, go to this website... http://www.earthpoint.us/topomap.aspx and click on the button that says "View On Google Earth" right near the top of the page. It will open up Google Earth for you. Find your property. After that, just follow the instructions under "Hints" on the same link to overlay a topo map directly on top of the satellite image. When you use the slide bar (explained in the instructions), you can control the transparency, so you can see your house, fields, etc. along with the contour markings giving you the elevations. If you want to draw a fence line or something, create a "path" using the path tool in Google Earth to place it exactly where you want to build the fence, etc. on your property. You can then check the length of the line in several measurements (feet, inches, kilometers, miles, etc.) -- which is handy for calculating your materials needs and so on or figuring acreage. You can also use the view tool to do an elevation profile -- which gives you the exact elevation in feet (or whatever measurement you choose) of any precise point along the path line.

The other programs take a bit of a learning curve to master (which I have NOT done yet), but this is something anyone can do within a few minutes -- really! Have fun!
 
Eric Platt
Posts: 17
Location: East Texas
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It sure would be nice to have an all inclusive app for this.

I would like an iPad app so I could design on site.

Do y'all use iPads or strictly computers?
 
Dave Burton
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There is another thread on permies with links to tutorials on permaculture design software here. I thought it would be useful to make sure both threads are aware of each other.
 
Dave Burton
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I found some cool programs on SourceForge that may be helpful. I'm going to try playing around with one or two of the programs later today.

Paintbrush is a Mac version of Microsoft Paint. This one might be more of what I'm looking for instead of Gimp because it is supposed to have a simpler interface.

*EDIT: I may also try using PaintBox and see if their interface is easier to use.
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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I am not anymore on top of the latest developments. But there were two types of programs mentioned something like paint and vector based. You want the last one
Because only with vector based programs you can draw in scale, these are programs like AutoCAD. If you play on your own trace paper and pencil is the best and as soon
as you want to do anything professional you will need a professional program.
 
Jegar Pitchforth
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There is a lot of data collected by NASA, who maintain the highest resolution topographical maps I know of ( outside recent ordnance surveys) this link is related, but you'll need to do some poking around for the relevant files. http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm/

Once you have a file, I would look at python or possibly R amongst a range of other coding languages for analysis. The advantage of this is that it allows much more advanced soil and water modelling, as well as providing other models depending on what sensors you are using. It really depends on what you want to do with it.
 
Jegar Pitchforth
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This is a good starting point for Australian data (not sure where people are generally based on this forum)

http://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/geographic-information/topographic-maps-data/digital-elevation-data

I realise people have varying levels of skill, so let me know if you're interested in knowing more about a specific thing (modelling water, soil, planting planning etc.) and I'll do my best to help you out.
 
Scott Church
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I've been looking for not only a plot designer, but a full on planner with an array of Permaculture functions, but I cannot find any one stop shops. I want to be able to create designs with the massive knowledge of sites like this one behind me - and easily share what I'm learning with others. The garden planners I've seen are pretty awful, and the mapping software that exists, while free, seems to be complicated and not tailored to a Permaculture bent. Ideally, what I'd like to see would start with a map, and allow you to "drop" perennials and annuals into a space, and then accelerate time to see how they would develop over the next several years. It would have useful information about climate (probably based on GPS location data) and send alerts when frosts were arriving, or when the soil might be getting dry and it was time to water. Users could "upload" their garden profiles and share designs right through the program, so you could see what other permies around you were growing and where you might be able to get knowledge or resources. Topographical data (entered by users or even gleaned from LIDAR) could reveal consistently sunny spots that might go otherwise unnoticed. Maybe augmented reality on a mobile device could even let me do a virtual walk through of the garden before anything is even planted. Of course, it would connect people to experts, too, when the computation got too complicated or new questions not answerable from the app arose.

Does something exist that I don't know of?

Is anybody working on something like this?

Should I?
 
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