Sunday, July 07, 2013

IKEA GALANT Office Planner Tool Impressions

Well, this is interesting. I was surfing the website and saw a link for a GALANT Office Planner on the homepage under Planning Tools. The kitchen planner has been around forever and I've seen it in stores, but this one is new to me. While we're at it, there also appear to be PAX Wardrobe, BESTA Storage, Bathroom, and Children's Storage Planner tools.

Chances are that these have been around for a while. Me being a lazy nerd, I usually avoid apps, flashy programs, and online tools -- did I mention that I still use a $50 "dumb" cell phone?

Ikea Office Planner Tool

Where is it?
As I'm writing this, the planning tools are listed near the bottom of the homepage. They are also available on the website, but on a separate page after following a link at the bottom link bar; look for "IKEA Planners" or do a CTRL+F.

This won't be too detailed because I only played with it for 30 minutes and am not really in the market for new furniture. Okay, that's not entirely true: there's stuff I'd like to buy, but don't want to pay for at the moment.

It appeared to be a Flash based program and only took 30 seconds for it to load into my browser (Internet Explorer 10) with high-speed internet. Right-clicking opened the standard options menu and showed "Office Planner 1.0" at the top. I ran it off a desktop with relatively more advanced hardware than your basic, cheapo off the shelf computer, so can't say how it'd do a "regular" system. For me, it ran very smoothly.

Everything was 3D in that I could change the view from top-down to almost any angle, rotation, and distance in between. Furniture could be manipulated with simple drag and drop. Walls would disappear from view when the view was zoomed in close enough to avoid obstructing the view. And there were simple drop-down menus to choose furniture and other room items to insert. These were dragged and dropped from the menu onto the 3D model space for insertion.

A measuring tape tool and going total of all Ikea furniture products added to the model were also available. A video-based help menu was also available to get started. I'm a nerd, so it didn't take long to just click on things and figure things out. Measurements were imperial and I did not notice an option to switch to metric.

Getting Started
I was able to start a new project, open a previous one, and save whatever I was working on. The "new" option allowed me to put in the width and depth of a completely empty room, or start in a premade template with set size, paint, furniture, doors, and flooring already chosen.

Opening an existing template showed what the program was capable of and I was quite impressed. A pre-configured boardroom had wallpaper, chairs lined up against two GALANT conference tables placed end to end, cabinets, and miscellaneous items throughout (e.g. laptop, magazines).

As briefly touched upon above, I was able to add various items to a pre-configured room including furniture, decorative items, doors, wall paper or paint, and flooring. Let me expand on that by saying that the drop-down menu allowed me to add desks, workstations, swivel chairs, visitor chairs, storage (e.g. bookcases, cabinets), sofas, side tables, and blocks for placeholders. Obviously (?), all of these products were from the Ikea catalogue. I can't say how complete the list is, but I noticed that the majority of furniture appeared to be from the GALANT line -- guess that's why the page url has "planner_galant" in it. The selection of chairs, sofas, and side tables were from various product lines though.

To really try out the tool, I tried to create my own room from scratch and was mostly able to. I found out that the drop-down menu allowed me to drag and drop extensions, interior walls, and pillars onto the model. These objects were adjustable in size after a single click to activate a menu and clicking a "+" icon to open a menu. It was actually possible to add model a corner of my room where the wall juts out due to a sewage pipe.

Furniture was also easily manipulated by clicking once to open a menu and clicking arrows to rotate the item around. Placement was made easier as the items appeared to snap to the edges of walls.

And it was possible to add props (e.g. miscellaneous room items), cutouts of people, and notes.

I've never played with Ikea planning tools before -- kind of regret that because this was very impressive. The Office Planner Tool felt very intuitive, it looked good, ran smoothly, was pretty customizable, and the learning curve was barely 10 minutes. In terms of usefulness, this beats breaking out PowerPoint and trying to get things to line up using some sort of pseudo measuring system. It also beat my regular measuring tape and imagination approach, which usually resulted in things being ever so slightly too big when I brought things home.

Give it a shot? It's free.

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Alternatives to Ikea GALANT Desks
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