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Subassembly Studio v. Subassembly Composer

Subassembly Studio v. Subassembly Composer

Inevitably the question arises ‘Why should I buy Subassembly Studio when I can get Subassembly Composer for free?’ The answer is simple – you get what you pay for. Very often a ‘free’ tool comes with hidden expenses such as lost productivity resulting from a lack of features/functionality, or just a generally difficult or awkward workflow. Subassembly Studio is exceptionally easy to use with minimal training, and with its extensive feature set an advanced user can produce most any subassembly imaginable.

Here’s a brief comparison of the features of the two applications:
Function/Feature SaS SaC
Basic geometric constructions (offset/elevation/slope) CheckMark CheckMark
Basic links CheckMark CheckMark
Basic shapes CheckMark CheckMark
Basic intersecting geometry (e.g. by slopes, etc) CheckMark CheckMark
Basic daylight slopes CheckMark CheckMark
Basic curved links CheckMark CheckMark
Basic logical constructs (if/then, etc) CheckMark CheckMark
Expressions/calculations[1] CheckMark CheckMark
Surface targeting/sampling/intersection CheckMark CheckMark
Customizable subassembly parameters CheckMark CheckMark
Support for offset, elevation, surface, etc. target parameters CheckMark CheckMark
Advanced curve layout (3-pt, tangents and length, etc) CheckMark Delete
Complex parametric curves CheckMark Delete
Support for X-records (store/retrieve data) CheckMark Delete
Advanced messaging system (event viewer, command line) CheckMark Delete
Subassembly debugging utilities CheckMark Delete
String (text) functions (replace, join list, concatenate, format) CheckMark Delete
Advanced intersecting geometry (lines/curves, multiple elements, etc) CheckMark Delete
Splitting/joining/sampling links CheckMark Delete
Intelligent pipe network components (auto-size, etc) CheckMark Delete
Target parameter collections (handle several targets as a group) CheckMark Delete
Automated target parameter acquisition (by layer, style name, etc) CheckMark Delete
Special structural components for railways CheckMark Delete
Special structural components for road design (structural layers, curbs, etc) CheckMark Delete
Automatically connecting components for rapid subassembly development CheckMark Delete
Ditch constructs CheckMark Delete
Advanced milling and overlay components CheckMark Delete
Real parallel offset of multiple links CheckMark Delete
Automatically calculated shapes (cut/fill or via earthwork/material table) CheckMark Delete
Conditional link components CheckMark Delete
Conditional shape components CheckMark Delete
Complex links CheckMark Delete
Advanced logical components (and/or/not, ‘rollback’, preconfigured ‘if’/’case’) CheckMark Delete
Shape clipping (against a link or complex link) CheckMark Delete
Write log file/export to CSV CheckMark Delete
Advanced superelevation calculations (SE rate from targeted alignment, etc) CheckMark Delete
Obtain information about the current station, start/end stations, etc CheckMark Delete
Transform point coordinates between ‘world’ and ‘local’ CheckMark Delete
Invoke other subassemblies (created with SaS) in single or repeated mode CheckMark Delete
Custom label notes and colors in the subassembly graphic in the designer CheckMark Delete
Support multiple versions of AutoCAD Civil 3D with one data file CheckMark Delete
Secure subassembly catalog files ensure your designs cannot be easily ‘leaked’ to a competitor CheckMark Delete

One feature in particular stands out – the ability to support multiple versions of AutoCAD Civil 3D with a single source subassembly catalog data file. To export to a new version of AutoCAD Civil 3D, you simply open the file in the Subassembly Studio Designer and export…during the export process simply select the proper version of AutoCAD Civil 3D from the supported version list. That’s it. It’s that simple.

In addition to all of the additional features Subassembly Studio offers, there is also a huge difference in usability. Subassembly Composer isolates the geometry from the logic of a subassembly by placing the logic in a flowchart, and the geometry in a ‘preview’ window; Subassembly Studio presents both the logic and the geometry in the same graphic, much like an exploded mechanical drawing. With Subassembly Studio, you can easily see both the logical flow of the subassembly and the geometry associated with each part of the logic. This makes it much easier to visualize precisely which components contribute to which parts of a complex subassembly.

Another very important consideration is that Subassembly Studio is still being actively developed and regularly updated with new and/or improved features.  If you need it to do something it currently cannot do (which isn’t much), we can almost certainly build in the required feature.

So when someone asks ‘Why should I buy Subassembly Studio when I can get Subassembly Composer for free?’ perhaps the question they should really be asking is ‘Why would I even consider getting Subassembly Composer when I can buy Subassembly Studio?’



  1. SaS uses a ‘Reverse Polish Notation’ based calculation system; SaC uses Visual Basic formatted expressions.

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