For the next three days, I am attending a training class with Ricardo Rosa, of iBwave on the iBwave Wi-Fi solution. As a WLAN design tool, it has some very interesting and useful features. During my first day of training, I was exposed to exceptional design features and also noticed some areas for improvement in the application.
First, the key areas requiring improvement are in the terms used throughout the application. Many areas seem to have borrowed terms from the cellular and DAS design world that don’t really fit into WLAN design. For example, for now, the application requires you to say you are connecting to a DAS, just to connect to an external antenna. Additionally, some parts of the interface seem to indicate you can do something (like have different channels for downlink and uplink, which, of course, we don’t do in Wi-Fi). Those aside, some excellent capabilities remain.
As you would expect from any application of this type, iBwave Wi-Fi allows you to start your planning from AutoCAD files with building materials (and even furniture) defined. Once loaded, you can customize the materials for your needs.
When drawing walls and other items, features you would expect are there: snap to corners, delete last point (for those accidental clicks) and so on. A full collection of building materials are provided and the database is open for modification as well.
Today was focused mostly on layout plans and project settings. Importing a floor plan, configuring settings and adding walls for a typical single floor building can all be done in 20-30 minutes once you get the hang of the interface. More time, of course, will be required when you have a multi-floor project or massive square footage with a single or multiple floor project.
Scaling a floor plan using Google Earth KML files is a nice feature when working with large buildings. This is particularly useful if you are not able to go onsite first. I will be using this for a project I’m working on for a local hotel this weekend.
When adding APs, as expected, the easiest way to add them is automatically. I NEVER recommend doing this, but it is a feature. Instead, they should be added individually and configured as appropriate. Now, if you want a quick picture of what is possible, the automatic placement can be useful. But, please, please, remember, you must be the expert. Tweak, tune, rip and replace, do what it takes to build a solid design.
The Design Plan view is a nice added benefit that allows you to see the overall topology of the network in a logical way. It can automatically pull in components that have been placed on floors into appropriate areas. The end result is an excellent topological view of the network design.
So far, without question, the 3D modeling feature is my favorite. The ability to nearly instantaneously truly see in 3D space how RF passes through floors is useful.
That’s about it for day one, I’ll be blogging more about my experience tomorrow. Talk to you then!