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Why Vendor Independant Matters

As the adoption of newer 7th generation RTK technology becomes more widespread, and the price range difference between the top end and the bottom becomes less distinct, manufacturers are attempting to differentiate themselves through the use of their software. Unfortunately, as each manufacturer develops their own software, they are disincentivized to provide hardware drivers to other software developers. Consequently, when purchasing hardware, you may be limited in your software options, potentially locking yourself into a specific software ecosystem.

In an ideal world, you would not be constrained by limited software options, and there would be a single software package that allows you to use any hardware you desire. This way, you would not be restricted to a particular hardware brand. For instance, if Sokkia releases a receiver that performs below expectations (check out this video), you could easily switch to Hemisphere or vice versa. With a brand-neutral software company, you would have the freedom to select the hardware that best suits your needs. You could mix and match robot and GNSS brands without worrying about software compatibility.

What Does it Mean to be Vendor Independant?

Pros of Vendor Independance

Cons of Vendor Independance

Who Makes Vendor Independent Software

1. What Does it Mean to be Vendor Indepenent?

At its core, vendor independence in survey software refers to a philosophy that promotes openness, flexibility, and freedom of choice for users. Instead of being tied to a specific hardware manufacturer’s software, professionals can opt for a platform that enables them to seamlessly connect with a wide range of hardware devices, regardless of the brand. Vendor independence ensures that users are not limited by hardware-software compatibility restrictions and allows them to leverage the best tools available in the market to meet their unique requirements.

To illustrate this concept further, let’s consider the example of Apple’s computer, phone, and tablet offerings, which many people already know. While Apple is known for producing excellent products, users may find themselves in a situation where they disagree with a design choice made by the company. Unfortunately, in such cases, they are bound by that design choice and have no alternative. The hassle of having to learn a completely new software and hardware package often outweighs the benefits of changing manufacturers.

One specific instance of this can be seen with the introduction of butterfly keyboard mechanisms in Apple’s Macbook Pro lineup. The decision to implement these keyboards sparked significant controversy, and it took Apple four years before they finally redesigned the switch. You can read more about this issue in this article: “Apple’s Butterfly Keyboards vs Scissor Switch Keyboards.” Regrettably, due to Apple’s walled garden approach, if you wanted a Macbook between 2015 and 2019, you had no choice but to use their hardware.

Pros of Vendor Independant Software

Vendor Independent Software: Embracing Freedom of Choice

In an ideal world, users would not be limited to specific software options, and a single platform would enable the utilization of any hardware device. By adopting vendor-independent software, professionals are no longer constrained to a particular hardware brand. This flexibility empowers users to choose the best-performing equipment for their specific needs, irrespective of the manufacturer.

Hardware Compatibility and Interoperability

The major benefit of vendor-independent software lies in its ability to seamlessly integrate with a wide range of hardware devices. With proprietary software solutions, manufacturers often withhold hardware drivers from other software packages, leading to compatibility issues and limiting users’ options. In contrast, vendor-independent software transcends these limitations by providing a comprehensive ecosystem that supports various hardware brands. This opens up a world of possibilities, allowing users to mix and match different robot and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) brands without concerns about software compatibility.

Reduced Dependence on a Single Vendor

By adopting vendor-independent software, users no longer find themselves locked into a specific hardware brand or tied to a single vendor’s ecosystem. This reduces dependence and allows professionals to explore alternative hardware options whenever necessary. For example, if a particular receiver from a specific manufacturer fails to meet expectations, users can easily switch to a different brand without the hassle of learning a completely new software interface. This freedom of choice empowers professionals to adapt to changing requirements and leverage the best available technology for their projects.

Enhanced Competition and Innovation

Vendor-independent software fosters healthy competition among hardware manufacturers. When companies know that their hardware will be compatible with multiple software platforms, they are incentivized to continually improve and innovate. This ultimately benefits end-users as it drives advancements in hardware performance, feature sets, and overall user experience. The competitive landscape created by vendor-independent software promotes a constant quest for excellence, ensuring that professionals have access to cutting-edge tools.

Cons of Vendor Independent Software

While the benefits of vendor independent software are significant, it is essential to acknowledge some of the potential downsides associated with this approach. Two key considerations are split resources and delayed drivers:

Split Resources

As software companies strive to support a wide range of hardware devices, they must allocate resources to ensure compatibility and maintenance across various brands. This can sometimes lead to divided attention and slower response times for specific hardware-related issues, as developers need to cater to a broader user base. However, reputable vendor independent software providers prioritize efficient support systems and continually invest in resource management to mitigate this concern.

Delayed Drivers

With proprietary software solutions, manufacturers can swiftly release updated drivers specifically tailored to their hardware devices. In contrast, vendor independent software may occasionally experience delays in implementing drivers for newly released or updated hardware models. While this delay may be a minor inconvenience, it is typically temporary, and vendors actively work to address compatibility gaps promptly.

Vendor Independant Software

There are several different software vendors who proport to be vendor independent, but the two with the most developed software packages are Carlson’s SurvPC and MicroSurvey’s FieldGenius. However, in recent years Carlson has moved from a consumer-friendly model, to more aggressively pushing their own rebranded hardware. What this means is that they are removing the drivers of manufacturers who compete them.

Vendor independent survey software offers a host of advantages that empower professionals with the freedom to choose the hardware that best suits their needs, regardless of brand. By eliminating the constraints imposed by proprietary software, users gain access to a diverse ecosystem of hardware options, fostering healthy competition and driving innovation. Although split resources and occasional delayed drivers are potential concerns, the benefits of vendor independence outweigh these drawbacks. Embracing vendor independent survey software empowers professionals.

Bench Mark Equipment & Supplies is your team to trust with all your surveying equipment. We have been providing high-quality surveying equipment to land surveyors, engineers, construction, airborne and resource professionals since 2002. This helps establish ourselves as the go-to team in Calgary, Canada, and the USA. Plus, we provide a wide selection of equipment, including global navigation satellite systems, RTK GPS equipment, GNSS receivers, and more. We strive to provide the highest level of customer care and service for everyone. To speak to one of our team today, call us at 403-286-0333 or email us at [email protected] 

About the Author

Nolan has been working in the surveying field since 2017, starting as a part-time student at Bench-Mark while attending the University of Calgary. He now works in technical support and sales helping customers find the right product for them.

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