Blog Archives

Will you be developing a version of the Bridge Designer for the iPad (or iPhone, Android, Windows tablets, HTML5, etc.)?

We are always interested in taking the Bridge Designer software to the next level. However our software development team currently consists of one person working in his spare time for no pay. If you think that new versions of the … Continue reading

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My Mac OS X installation was working initiallly, but now it’s not. What’s wrong?

First make sure you installed the Bridge Designer software, rather than running it directly from the downloaded disk image. To do this, follow the instructions in the Readme file that comes with the image: In the Finder that appears after mounting … Continue reading

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I am in the “Design Project Setup Window” and can’t click the Next button at the bottom of the screen. What’s wrong?

Unfortunately, this is a bug in Java that we can’t control. In Windows 7 and 8, if you are using a font scale over 140%, some of the Bridge Designer’s dialog boxes become unusable. To fix the problem, you’ll need … Continue reading

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My bridge bends too much. Shouldn’t that be considered in judging whether or not a design is successful?

In the Bridge Designer, your design is judged to be successful if it passes the load test–if the truck is able to drive completely across the span without causing a collapse. Thus, to be successful, your structure must have adequate … Continue reading

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My bridge design is perfectly symmetrical, but the load test results on one side are different from those on the other side. Is this a bug in the software? If the bridge is symmetrical, shouldn’t the load test results be symmetrical too?

This is not a bug in the software. In order to have symmetrical load test results, three conditions must be present: (1) the structure and all its members must be perfectly symmetrical, (2) the supports must be symmetrical, and (3) … Continue reading

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Why does the cost of my design go up when I reduce the size of a member?

To understand the answer to this question, you need to understand how the Bridge Designer calculates the cost of your truss. Run the Bridge Designer and load any of the sample bridge designs. Now click the Report Cost Calculations button, … Continue reading

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How can I reduce the cost of my bridge design?

To reduce the cost of your design, you’ll need to learn a few basic principles of structural engineering. To do this, start up the Bridge Designer, and click the Help menu, then click “How to Design a Bridge.” On the … Continue reading

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May I use the Bridge Designer software to design an actual bridge?

No. Please, don’t even think about it.  The Bridge Designer software is intended for educational use only. The loads, structural analysis methodology, and design algorithms used by this software have been simplified considerably from the procedures used to design actual … Continue reading

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May I make additional copies of the Bridge Designer and distribute the software to others?

Yes. The Bridge Designer is in the public domain. You may make unlimited copies of the software, and you may freely distribute copies to others.

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In the Bridge Designer, which deck elevation, support configuration, deck material, and loading do I use to enter the contest?

You may use any available deck elevation, support configuration, deck material, and loading. Each of these configurations has a different site cost, and each will significantly affect the cost of your bridge structure. Your challenge is to find the one … Continue reading

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How can I learn how to use the Bridge Designer software?

Start up the Bridge Designer, and click the Help menu. Then click “How to Design a Bridge,” and follow the step-by-step procedure provided.

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I’m using the Mac version of the Bridge Designer. It works fine, but it’s different from all my other Mac applications. Can’t you make the Bridge Designer fit better in the Mac environment?

Maybe. We have very limited resources for Mac compatibility. Some Windows look and feel is therefore present in the Mac version. One example: if you use menu “Meta” accelerator key combinations (like Meta-S to Save), you’ll have to switch to … Continue reading

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The software runs fine in the Drawing Board mode, but the Load Test animation doesn’t work at all. The screen is blank, the computer freezes, or a box appears saying that the graphics system has failed. What to do?

The Bridge Designer uses your graphics card aggressively, just as advanced computer games do. Consequently, it is sensitive to graphics driver software problems. Try starting the Bridge Designer with the icon titled “Bridge Designer 2nd Edition for older computers.” Still no … Continue reading

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I’m trying to run the Windows version of the Bridge Designer and it’s not working. What to do?

The Bridge Designer installs best using an account with Administrator privileges. If you’re working in a lab or other environment where you don’t have Administrator privileges, seek the help of a System Administrator. Still no luck? The Bridge Designer requires … Continue reading

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I’m trying to run the Mac version of the Bridge Designer and it’s not working. What to do?

The Bridge Designer installs best using an account with Administrator privileges. If you’re working in a lab or other environment where you don’t have Administrator privileges, seek the help of a system Administrator. Still not working? Contact us for more … Continue reading

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Why does the Windows Installer mention the American Society of Civil Engineers?

We’re grateful to the ASCE for allowing us to use their signature on the Bridge Designer distribution. Their certificate guarantees that no one has tampered with the installer between us and you.

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Why is the Macintosh Standard Setup download so large?

Apple recommends that Java applications like the Bridge Designer include a copy of the entire Java runtime environment. This is a big download package, but it’s the safest and most trouble-free way to run the Bridge Designer on a Mac.

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Why can’t I run the Bridge Designer Standard Setup on my Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) or earlier Mac?

We’re Sorry about this. Apple and Oracle made it so. See the “Old-Style Graphics” answer above. Oracle Java won’t run on OS X versions earlier than Lion (OS X 10.7). If you have a valid installation of Apple’s Java 6 … Continue reading

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Why am I only able to use “Old-Style Graphics” for the load test animation on my Mac?

This is a good news, bad news story. Bad news: In 2012, Apple dropped support for Java, which underlies the Bridge Designer. Good news: Oracle picked up Java, offering it free as a third party application. Bad news: Oracle’s Java–currently the … Continue reading

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Is it possible to do a silent installation of the Bridge Designer software?

Yes. For the Windows installation of the Bridge Designer 2016, the command is setupbdv16j /S.

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I’m trying to submit a design to the contest web site, and many of the links are not working. What’s wrong?

The contest site requires that Javascript (though not Java) be enabled for your browser. Some extremely security-minded people and schools may disable Javascript as a precaution. It will have to be turned on again before you can submit your design. … Continue reading

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I showed my design to a friend, and then he copied it and submitted it for his team. Now he’s ahead of me in the standings–with the design he took from me! Can you disqualify him for cheating?

No, sorry. What your (former) friend did was not nice, but it was not cheating. There are no restrictions on collaboration during the Qualifying Round. And the rules state, each team is responsible for safeguarding its own designs. When you … Continue reading

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When I submit a design, the message on my Team Home Page gives me my “unoffical standing.” What is an unofficial standing? When does it become official?

The contest rules strictly prohibit the use of inappropriate Team Names. The rules also allow only one team per school to be displayed on the contest Scoreboard. In order to enforce these rules, our Contest Coordinator reviews each registration before it is … Continue reading

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Why does the website reject duplicate bridge designs?

The website automatically rejects any design that is structurally identically to any previously submitted design. We use this system to ensure that there will not be several teams tied for first place. In the process, we reward the team that … Continue reading

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How many designs may I submit?

You may submit as many designs as you like until the end of the Qualifying Round.

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