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Everything posted by jan15

  1. quote: Originally posted by Ariel: somewhat related to Katerina's original post, does mgSimplify or another keyboard macro utility allow you to make two-key combinations as well? Wouldn't it be great to assign the command, ctrl or shift keys to one of the function keys such that when I, for example,press F5, release, then press L would be like pressing the ctrl+alt+L combination? I have Quickeys on the mac and I don't think it can do that. 1. Long answer: Quickeys IS similar to mgSimplify and EZMacros. I used it when I worked on Macs. I did that for a few years before MiniCad/VectorWorks became available on Windows machines. Before that, I worked in AutoCad on DOS machines. No, they won't do what you suggested. They're Macintosh/Windows-style macro utilities. Only a single key, either alone or in combination with Ctrl, Alt, or Shift can be the macro, or "hotkey". The meaning assigned to the hotkey can be any sequence of keystrokes and/or mouse clicks, but the "hotkey" or "shortcut" that implements that sequence has to be a single keystroke. The reason for that is that in Macintosh/Windows keyboard command input, the release of a key is the "delimiter" that tells the computer you're done typing the command, in the same way as the release of a mouse button tells the computer you're done selecting a tool or command by icon or pull-down menu. Under MS-DOS, keyboard command input is done by a "command line", in which the delimiter is the Enter key. A command consists of any string of characters followed by the Enter key. The Enter key tells the computer you're done typing the comand. DOS macro utilities just substitute one command line for another command line or series of command lines. For example: "ZA"[Enter] as a macroinstruction for: "ZOOM"[Enter] "ALL"[Enter] AutoCad has a command-line system of keyboard input; and it has a DOS-style macro facility built in. So it can have 2-key commands, followed by the Enter key (or its surrogate the Space bar), but you have to press the Enter key or Space bar after EVERY keyboard command. In order for VectorWorks to offer two-key implementation of tools or commands, it would have to completely change the keyboard input system. One way to do that would be to use the DOS/AutoCad system, in which all commands have to be followed by the Enter key. Would you like that? Or maybe all tools could be implemented by a 2-key combination. The computer would do nothing if you press just one letter key. It would wait for you to type another one to finish the tool selection. Or it could wait a second or two to see whether you're going to press another key. If you didn't, it would accept the first key as a single-key tool selection. But then maybe we'd have to wait a second or two before the single-key tool would work. Uh oh. I think it's better to leave VectorWorks alone in this regard. These keyboard shortcuts are a faster way to implement tools and commands, but how many tools and commands are there that you use so often and so repeatedly that they need a shortcut? And how many shortcuts would you be able to remember? In AutoCad, when I could assign an unlimited number of macros, the most I ever assigned was 55, and it was difficult to remember all of those. In VectorWorks, I've got a total of 58 commands and tools assigned to keys, though my keyboard has 74 keys available for such assignment. 2. Short answer: (I just remembered this, after having written all that) Mac OS lets you do something similar to what you want. Windows, too. It's designed for handicapped people. There's a control panel or Extension or something that lets you set the keyboard so that the Shift, Alt, and Ctrl keys can be pressed and released rather than pressed and held. I used that when I first started on Macs.
  2. The only trouble I've ever had in importing DWG files is when someone sends me a file with an attached (but not "bound") External Reference file. When that happens, I just ask them to bind any Xref's and send the file again, and then the file imports with no problems. Importing the externally referenced model file itself is no good, because there's no way to tell which of the hundred or more AutoCad "layers" should be made visible to produce the plan that I'm interested in.
  3. quote: Originally posted by sebastian: Another issue is the, seeming, inabilty to rotate a view in 2d rather than rotating the drawn objects themselves If you just want to rotate the coordinate axes to make it easy to draw things that are not square with the world, as, for example, when working on the plan of a skewed wing of a building, that's easily done by specifying Grid Angle (numerically or by mouse drag) in the Set Grid dialogue box. [ 01-27-2003, 11:57 AM: Message edited by: jan15 ]
  4. The sole improvement in the user interface of version 9 over version 8 was the ability to draw or select an object, then open (double-click) the Object Info palette to look at data on the selected object, and then be able to use a shortcut key to change to the appropriate tool (as determined by that data) without first clicking on the drawing window, so that the next mouse click would be the beginning of some action on the selected object. In version 8, it was necessary to click on the drawing window before the Tool shortcuts would work. If you had just drawn the object, that meant either: -- clicking quickly twice in the same place to get out of the drawing tool without drawing another object, and then clicking again to re-select the object that had been de-selected by that double click; or -- clicking and holding while pressing the shortcut key for the Selection tool, and then clicking again to re-select the object that had been de-selected by that procedure; or -- clicking on the frame of the drawing window to re-activate the drawing window without de-selecting the target object, and then pressing a Tool shortcut key and beginning the action. If you had just selected the object or objects, that meant either: -- clicking on one of the selected objects to maintain the selection set, and then pressing a tool shortcut key; or -- clicking elsewhere in the drawing and then re-selecting the objects, then pressing a shortcut key; or -- clicking on the frame of the drawing window to re-activate the drawing window without de-selecting the target objects, and then pressing a shortcut key. That was all very tedious and annoying, but I assumed it was necessary because the Object Info palette is a different window as defined by the Windows operating system (if I remember correctly, this didn't happen on the Mac in versions 6, 7, and 8). Then version 9 came along and corrected the problem, proving that it wasn't necessary. As long as no data is changed in the Object Info palette, the drawing window stays fully active and the letter keys are still interpreted as Tool shortcuts. Opening the Object Info palette doesn't interrupt the drawing process. Now, version 10 has re-instituted the tedious and annoying process described above. Version 10's user interface has several very gratifying improvements over that of version 9, but could you possibly restore this one advantage of the version 9 interface? Thank you.
  5. quote: Originally posted by Dave M: ....when you have 100 or more layers, it is unacceptably slow. ... Even better, how about adding the hyphenated naming functionality like Classes have. I strongly disagree with this hyphenation idea. I like to use hyphens in layer names, and the system you're talking about would wreck that. It would interpret any hyphen as the designation of a sub-layer. Why on earth would you use 100 layers? Or even 20? You might use that many CLASSES, if you have to follow the AIA standard, or if you think it can "automate" the drawing process, or if you just want something to do to use up time. But layers? Are you confusing the idea of layers with classes? AutoDesk does that, probably to conceal the fact that they don't provide any layering capability. In English, layering means placing certain things on top of other things. In well-designed graphic arts software like VectorWorks and Adobe Photoshop, layering is provided as a way to make sure that one set of objects, on the higher layer, will hide and/or won't be hidden by another set of objects on a layer below. VectorWorks goes the extra mile, as always, even providing commands to control the layering of individual objects within a layer. [ 01-25-2003, 12:59 AM: Message edited by: jan15 ]
  6. quote: Originally posted by Katerina: I'll create a script for this, and then donate it to VectorDepot. Ay carumba! Does this mean what I think? That you're going to write a script that recreates the old Extend tool? Bless you! You'll be a national hero. [ 01-25-2003, 12:46 AM: Message edited by: jan15 ]
  7. I had forgotten that the Tab key can be used to select the coordinate windows and enter values. That's a very awkward procedure. But there's another way to enter coordinates, which I think makes VectorWorks the best program I've ever seen at this task: 1. Hit the Enter key on the numeric keypad. 2. Type in the X coordinate. It's easiest to do this with the numeric keypad -- with one hand; and you quickly learn to do it without looking, using the raised dot on the 5 key to get centered. 3. Hit the same Enter key again (not the Enter key near the letter keys), which locks in the X coordinate you typed (or if you didn't type anything, it locks in the value supplied by the cursor at the time you first hit the Enter key) and then takes you on to the Y coordinate. 4. Repeat until all desired values are specified, then hit Enter again to lock in the last one. 5. When you release the mouse button (or click again), the cursor location fills in any values you didn't enter -- so if you entered all required values, it doesn't matter where the cursor is when you release or second-click. This works especially well if you mouse with the left hand, which is an easy thing for right-handed people to do after a few days of getting used to it. The numeric keypad on a standard keyboard is designed for right-handed people to use with their right hand. You never have to take your hand off the mouse, except to type text, and your right hand moves back and forth between selecting tools with the letter keys and entering coordinates with the keypad. It quickly becomes a very fast and natural procedure for entering coordinates. One click for X, two clicks for Y. To stretch a rectangle vertically, hit the keypad Enter key twice, then type the Y coordinate, then Enter again. To stretch it horizontally, hit the Enter key once, then type the X coordinate, then Enter again. You'll never look at the coordinate boxes again. [ 01-24-2003, 08:39 PM: Message edited by: jan15 ]
  8. quote: Originally posted by Katie: If you still have VW 8 on your computer, can you please explain to me how you were going out selecting MULTIPLE lines and extending them to a boundary box/line with one click? It's not true that you can extend multiple lines all with one click. You can select multiple boundary objects, and you can extend multiple lines EACH WITH A SINGLE CLICK. Comparisons between the old Extend tool and the new Connect/Combine tool can only refer to the useless First mode of the Extend tool. That First mode required dragging each line to the boundary (TWO clicks per line, or click-hold-drag-unclick each line), which is no better than stretching with the Selection tool. It's the Second mode of the Extend tool that we love: select boundary objects, then select Extend tool Second mode, then click once on each line you want to extend. VW extends the end of the line that you clicked on, and extends it to the nearest boundary not already reached. Ah, those were the days.
  9. The beauty of the Extend tool in VectorWorks is tied to the ease with which rectangles and other surfaces can be created. In VectorWorks, I normally draw with rectangles, not with lines, and add and clip them to form shapes which can be easily re-shaped, filled, hatched, and given new line weight and dash pattern. Often it's necessary to fill one of those shapes with something for which a hatch doesn't work, or just extend several lines to the edge of a floor, wall, window, etc. It's easy and quick to select a polygon or surface, and then extend a lot of lines to its boundary, even if the boundary is off the screen. In versions up to 8.5.2, the Extend tool had 2 modes. The first mode was useless because it required dragging the extendee to the boundary. Stretching with the Selection tool would be just as easy. The Second mode is the great tool everyone misses so much: select boundary object or objects, then select Extend tool (second mode), and then click once on each line that you want extended to the nearest boundary. No dragging. You have to click on the half of the line that's in the direction you want it extended. You can click again to extend to the next boundary after that. I'm still using version 8, even though I bought the upgrade to 9, because of this problem and a few others which version 9 had. I'm looking at version 10 now, and it seems to me that it corrects all those other problems of version 9, and sometimes even improves on version 8. But it still doesn't have the very important Second mode of the Extend tool. The Connect/Combine tool only works like the useless First mode of the Extend tool, i.e. by dragging, and only it extends a line in one direction. It's certainly not a replacement for the old Extend tool.
  10. quote: Originally posted by Aikaterini: I wish the program accepted 2 key input instead of 1 key for accessing commands. there are so many commands and we are limited to the # of keys to assign. Single keys are always associated with Tools, not Commands. Options within each tool can be selected by a single keystroke. I use ] for the second option, and [ for the first. And a lot of the Tools have double key options. Try pressing the key for any tool twice quickly and see what happens. For example, pressing the Selection tool shortcut key twice de-selects everything; pressing the Zoom In or Out key twice zooms by a preset increment; pressing the Rotate key twice allows rotating by a specified angle; and pressing an object creation tool key twice opens a dialogue box. Commands are always combinations of Ctrl and/or Shift and/or Alt and another key. But those are either slow (two-handed) or painful (one-handed). I've found some ways to help with that: 1. Use a keyboard macro utility program (which can assign a new meaning to any keystroke or combination). That allows assigning function keys in place of those painful Control-key combinations. I use a macro utility called mgSimplify, which cost $30 after a 30 day free trial. Another one that I found works well and has no problems with VectorWorks is called EZMacros, same price and trial. Some programs have macro utilities built in, such as SketchUp and Microsoft Word. I wish VectorWorks had that. Then all keys could be macro'd, because they would have a different meaning when writing text. 2. With mgSimplify or EZMacros, you can also macro keys that you don't need when writing text, such as Ins ~ and \ 3. Use a Focus brand FK-8200 keyboard, which has 12 extra function keys which can be assigned any meaning you want. It also has a built-in calculator in the numeric keypad, which can send the values it calculates to the screen. The FK-9200 is the same but with a built-in trackball. With all of the above, I have 31 single keystrokes assigned to Tools, and 27 single keystrokes assigned to Commands. 4. Buy a 5-button programmable mouse that allows one of the buttons to simulate the Ctrl key. Then Ctrl-key combinations can be done with two hands (and therefore not painful), but without taking your hand off the mouse (and therefore not slow). Two that I know of that do this are the Kensington Optical Elite and the Microsoft Intellimouse Optical. I also programmed a button to simulate the Shift key, so that I can keep my left hand on the mouse and Nudge with just one finger of my right hand. [ 02-07-2003, 10:46 AM: Message edited by: jan15 ]
  11. I'm still drawing with 8.5 even though I bought the upgrade to 9. But the upgrade only cost me $200, and I think it was well worth the price for other reasons. There's a higher level of precision and therefore better printing and exporting results in 9.5, as others have pointed out, and 9.5 can read and write AutoCad 2000 files, and it has a print scaling feature that does reduced/enlarged printing. So for me it's worth it to have 9.5 just for printing and importing/exporting. (But note that printing in 9.5 can actually be glitchier than in 8.5 if you don't check the 2 new boxes at the bottom of the "Print" window.) And I often convert a finished file to v9 and email that to people instead of a DWG file, so they can read it or print it as it should look, not as it looks with the limitations of AutoCad. The free Vector Works Viewer is intentionally hobbled so that it only reads v9 files. The availability of the Viewer is one of the best reasons to buy the upgrade to version 9. The reason why I don't draw with 9.5 is that speed is important to me, and most of the version 9 changes in drawing tools and commands result in slowing down the drawing process. For example: -- They eliminated the Extend tool. VectorWorks, with all of its other tricks, doesn't need this tool as much as AutoCad does, but there are many cases where Extend saves a lot of time over any other approach. -- They made the interface to the Nudge feature even slower. It had a poor interface in version 8, but I was able to revise that with a macro handler so that it actually worked pretty well. In version 9, it's more cumbersome to use, requiring either contortions or two-hand operation, and it's also more difficult to fix. -- They messed up the automatic-pan-while-dragging feature. This used to kick in anytime you dragged off the screen, but now it only works when you drag to a very precise location near the edge of (but still ON) the screen. This makes it slower and very frustrating to use. On the plus side: ++ 9.5 doesn't grey out the drawing window when you use the Attributes or Object Info palette, so there's no longer that annoying business of having to click somewhere on the drawing window before you're back in the drawing again and can stretch things or change tools. ++ The Trim tool actually works in 9.5, which it rarely did in previous versions, so much so that I learned to live without it, and now I would have to re-train myself to use it again. ++ The bug (perhaps Windows 98 only) that sometimes made version 8 refuse to pull down the list of hatch patterns in a file with more than 30 hatch patterns doesn't seem to affect 9.5. ++ VectorWorks is still much easier to use and much more conducive to producing good readable drawings than AutoCad. I say that after 7 years on AutoCad and 4 on VectorWorks.
  12. I'm happy to see that a lot of the problems with VectorWorks 9 were corrected in 9.5. But I'm still not using it for actual drafting because of the problem with the Nudge feature, which is much faster and easier to use in version 8. I use Nudge a lot, and so for me that one problem still outweighs all the advantages of version 9 over version 8, except for printing, exporting, and the availability of the VectorWorks Viewer to share drawings with non-users. Those key-combinations are the problem. They're okay for an operation that's not used very often, and if the combination keys aren't too far apart. I have no problem with using Ctrl-S for the Save command. I only use that once every few minutes. But the shift-arrow combinations are hard to do with one hand. They take a lot of time, especially when changing direction, and they cause pain in my fingers and wrists over the course of a work week. Taking my left hand off the mouse every time I want to nudge is also too slow and distracting. Nudging is a great feature of VectorWorks. It allows me to move an object like a table or light fixture, or anything that doesn't correlate to a Constraint point, to exactly the right spot in a drawing. I do that a lot, all day long, and especially a lot during the rush period just before print-out, for placing texts, reference symbols, etc, on a crowded sheet and keeping them out of the way of drawing elements. And each nudging session involves lots of keystrokes. In version 8, it's nice to be able to just hit an invocation key once (I use the BackSlash key, which on my keyboard is right next to the arrow keys, and which is mapped to Ctrl-N via a keyboard macro program) and then arrow up, down, etc., as many times as needed and as quickly as the computer can take input, until I find the right spot. And the new system isn't flexible. I can't circumvent it. I can't afford to map four different function keys to the Nudge utility. There are too many other Commands that I use repeatedly throughout the day. I would have to use the arrow keys themselves to execute the shift-arrow combinations. But then I would lose the arrow-panning feature (which has become even more essential in version 9, since the pan-while-dragging feature no longer has the natural feel it had in version 8), and I would lose the ability to move around in a text while editing it. If I could use the left mouse button, or a third button, as the shift key, that might solve the problem, but VectorWorks won't let me re-assign the left button, and none of the mice I've seen support Shift as the function of the third button. Moreover, the choice of a mouse for CAD already has a lot of constraints. I would hate to have to choose between a good mouse and one that can replicate the shift key. [ 08-01-2002: Message edited by: jan15 ] [ 08-01-2002: Message edited by: jan15 ]
  13. Does an expensive video card speed up VectorWorks? Speed was never an issue before. There was never any delay even on the slowest machine. But now I'm starting to do presentation drawings, with lots of solids and patterns and intricate shapes and bit-map images pasted in. And I might start doing 3D presentation drawings. I don't know anything about video cards. The names all sound psycho-violent, so I assume they're aimed at the video arcade crowd. Do they also help with Vector Works? Or are there other video cards that are geared toward CAD? Or is better to spend the money on a faster CPU? The prices I've seen for video cards range from ten dollars to around two thousand! Are some cards really two hundred times better than others? How much do you have to spend to make a noticeable improvement? Any specific recommendations? The motherboard I'm using now is a microATX, with on-board "Trident Blade 3D AGP" video. It apparently has a max. 8 mb frame buffer. Will a PCI plug-in video card improve speed much? I don't have an AGP slot, but I could change the motherboard if that's an important issue.
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