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Chris D

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Posts posted by Chris D

  1. I'm having a good look at Version 12 and writing my top ten wishes for various tools in Version 13 - here are my top ten for Symbol Referencing...

    These comments are based on the way Symbol Referencing works in version 12 - i.e. where you can reference symbols from other files via the Resource Browser.


    The Object Information Palette does not identify referenced symbols as such. These objects should clearly be distinguished as a separate object type: Symbol (Referenced) when selected. The symbol name should also be in italics, like it is in the Resource Browser.


    There is currently no way to visually distinguish a referenced symbol from an inserted symbol in the drawing area. How about different colored/shaped Selection Handles, or a chain icon at the insertion point when selected.


    There is currently no way at all to find out the name and location of the source file to which a referenced symbol is linked. Neither the OIP nor the Resource Browser displays this information. The filename and path should be available in a Properties option in the symbol's context menu in the Resource Browser.


    Dragging a symbol from the resource browser defaults to insertion rather than referencing. A modal dialog box should be displayed whenever a symbol is being dragged from an external file. Currently the only way to reference symbols is a two stage process of selecting the symbol in the source file and selecting Reference from the context menu, then dragging the symbol in.


    It is not currently possible to select a symbol from another file, import its reference but NOT place an instance of that symbol immediately. If you reference an external symbol it immediately enters the Resource Browser of the target file BUT you cannot drag the referenced symbol in from there (you must drag it from the browser view of the source file), as the symbol will be imported instead of referenced. I might wish to reference several symbols while connected to a network, but place the instances off-line later. I may also wishes to connect a whole group of referenced symbols, but place the instances at my leisure, without having to browse to the source file again.


    Referenced symbols are automatically updated when a file is re-opened. This does not allow for manual control of updates, such as is available with Workgroup Referencing. Updating could be managed via an Update option in the symbol's context menu in the Resource Browser. Update control also needs to govern drag-updating with a modal dialog confirming any updates.


    Symbol folders and organization in the source file are not brought through to the target file. Respect Source Folders should be an option somewhere in the reference settings. At the very least, referenced symbols should get their own symbol folder automatically.


    Double-clicking on a referenced symbol currently brings up a dialog warning that the symbol is referenced and therefore cannot be edited. This dialog should at least offer the chance to break the reference, but better still would be an option to live-edit the symbol and be able to update the symbol in the source file (subject to file permissions and a confirmation dialog...).


    A reference can currently be broken via the context menu option Break Reference in the Resource Browser, but currently there is no further confirmation. A confirmation dialog would be advantageous from a drawing management point of view. The dialog should show the name and file path of the source file.

    10. NESTING

    As with workgroup referencing, VW does not offer nested symbol referencing (where a referenced symbol contains a sub-symbol referenced from a different source file). Trying to reference a symbol into another symbol will just import the symbol you are trying to reference. Nesting should be enabled for referenced symbols.

    Please feel free to add your own thoughts to this list, or correct me where I'm wrong or misguided!

  2. There are many reasons to upgrade, 12 is a must have.

    I won't repeat all of the reasons here, but you can find my 'review' of 12 if you bring up my recent posts (click on my profile).

    The walls tool is fundamentally better in 12. The ability just to save wall types by name and intelligently amend them is worth the upgrade alone.

  3. I'm not sure there is an easy way...the old (before Version 12) wall tool was badly designed and I always had trouble picking cavities that were only a few mm thick.

    Version 12 makes it easy, you can select each component (cavity) in a list.

    Chris D

    (Franklin Ellis)

  4. Strongly Seconded.

    The selection handles in VW are very crude - more like an early version of Mac Draw than a professional CAD program. VW uses an imaginary box to show the extent of an object rather than presenting handles on the extents of the actual geometry.

    It's interesting that other programs like AutoCAD have always had better selection handles, but have still felt the need to improve them - you can now use the Revit-style glowing-edge and even have the edge highlight before you select an object.

    The selection handles in VW are particularly a problem for new users, as many objects get moved inadvertently when the selection handles are off-screen because the user is zoomed right in.

  5. I can't wait for Intel Macs...you Vectorworks users on PCs have it slightly easier than us Mac people when it comes to exchanging DWGs - at least you can run a DWG viewer to check your export files.

    We know for sure that the Intel Macs will be dual boot (if you buy a copy of XP or Vista)....but what we're really hoping for is some way of running an XP window right there inside OS X. Fingers crossed.

  6. OK, so I've had version 12 (with Architect) for a couple of weeks now, and here is my personal "Review of Vectorworks 12". I'm a UK architect in a practice of 50 or so Vectorworks users, working on Apple Macs. I'm fairly recent to VW, since version 10, having previously used AutoCAD, Microstation, Revit and ArchiCAD. This review isn't comprehensive...just focusing on the features we use most in our office.


    The new interface is good, much more user friendly for novices and has sensibly grouped tools that make the Architect tools more prominent and usable. The tool panel reminds me of Revit (which is a good thing...).

    One gripe I have with the interface though is that the marketing screenshots left out the Attributes and the Constraints palettes, whereas most users have these displayed, and they haven't been reformatted to sit nicely with the tool panel. I thought long and hard about how these could be tidied up...and I'm going to add the following suggestions to the Wish List...

    The Constraints could be added to that unused bit of screen real-estate to the right hand side of the tool-options bar at the top of the drawing window. A simple drop-down button could give quick access. The Attributes palette (line, fill etc) could be more fundamentally changed...it too could be in the position mentioned above...AutoCAD style as a series of drop-downs...but better still, why not bundle the attributes into the top of the Object Info palette. This kind of makes sense - all properties of an object would be in one place: line, fill, shape, size, etc. As the program moves towards a BIM application then this will become more sensible...the default term 'fill' for instance might become 'material' for certain objects. You may ask how the active (current) attributes would be set...well when no objects are selected the active attributes would be displayed.

    The above leads me on to another issue with the interface. I love the Navigation palette, but having Object Info, Navigation and Resource Browser all down the right-hand side is too crowded...and would be worse if Attributes were bundled into the Object Info palette, making it bigger. My solution is to roll-up the Resource Browser. I first make it large - half of the screen size makes it lovely to use, then I simply double-click on the top bar and it rolls up. I keep it at the top of the drawing window, double-clicking on it when I need to use it. Again this could be formalised into the interface - a button on the right hand side of the bar above the drawing window could show or hide the Resource Browser.

    One other little wish is that you could get quickly from the Navigation palette to the Organization palette (one is a cut-down version of the other). How about a double-click on any tab on the Navigation palette takes you to the same tab in the Organization palette?

    A small but significant improvement is that the grips (selection handles) are now colored, which makes them far easier to pick out on the screen. You still can't choose the color or resize them, but that's a minor point. What I do wish is that the selection handles weren't so crude - the 4 or 8 selection handles quickly become lost in a complex drawing of overlapping objects. Compare this to any other CAD program on the market which highlights a selected object much more precisely and clearly at the actual limits of their geometry, not at the limits of the 'imaginary box' that VW uses.


    This palette combines the layer, class, viewport and saved views palettes and is very useful tidy-up with added functionality. You can now copy Sheet layers and manage visibilities for viewports. You can also delete classes and assign the objects from the deleted classes to any other class, which is just fantastic for class management. At long last you can actually sort your layers and classes, for instance alphabetically, or by current visibility. Hey...the palette even supports mouse-wheel scrolling and multi-tap jump-to-name - this is a serious time saver in files with loads of classes.

    Viewport class overrides have also arrived via this palette - I can re-color objects in a viewport based on their class. This alone makes the upgrade pay for itself in our office, as we no longer have to duplicate objects just so that they can be displayed differently in various viewports.


    Thank you lord...or rather NNA...there is someone up there listening! Pan and Zoom work brilliantly with the scroll wheel on my mouse....without modifier keys....hooray. On a Mac with Quartz imaging it's also amazingly fast. I can take a fairly large 20Mb site plan file in full colour and zoom right out in a flash and zoom right back in to the other side of the site in a snap. No stuttering or lag. One thing I found is that it's not as slick with a Mighty Mouse...the scroll ball is just too small for fast zooming...I've stuck with my Microsoft wheel mouse.


    This has apparenty been improved, but it's not immediately obvious how. One feature we've been desperately waiting for in my office is nesting (and nesting control). AutoCAD has had nested Xrefs for years, and you can set the nesting level incrementally. No sign of it yet in VW. There is a new feature that allows independent origins for referenced layers, which is an improvement.

    Resource Referencing (referencing symbols from other files) has also stood still - this needs to be more sophisticated, so that when a symbol was organised into folders in the source file the organisation is recognised in the target file. Referenced symbols should at least get their own folder by default so that they don't clutter up the resource browser. Workgroup Referencing control has also not been integrated into the new Organisation palette, which would have been sensible.


    Nope...there aren't any 2D working planes yet, still and rather bizarrely, just 3D ones. This has to be my biggest gripe with VW and I've said so on this techboard before, as have many before me. I guess this is a factor of the split between the 2D system and 3D system in Vectorworks, a split which I'd be more than happy to see resigned to the historical dustbin one day. There will be many posts in reply to this talking of rotated grids and other methods as a workaround, but there is just no substitute for a proper means to orientate the display to match the geometry...(as borne out by the fact that working planes exist in 3D...).


    The old wall tool, particularly the one in the core program was extremely counter-intuitive. The misnomer Cavities has now been renamed Components and the whole thing is just much much better, with the ability to save named wall styles and replace existing walls intelligently. Combined with the cavity join tool VW now has a very workable way to draw walls. My one gripe is that wall components can't be individually classed...which might be problematic to implement, but would iron out a bug in another new function - viewport class overrides: I can re-color any object in a viewport based on it's class...but I can't if it isn't classed...so those objects which acquire their fill and line attributes from a source other than a class style can't be affected, and thus spoil the whole override feature.


    This feature is implemented very poorly. What VW needed was an object type that worked like Walls, but wasn't called walls so that the objects could be differentiated. Our users tend to use the wall tool to graphically show many linear objects in 2D sectional details - membranes, timbers, steel liners etc. What VW12 gives us is something very limited and also very buggy. The delta figures can't be changed in the OIP, the fills don't work, the properties palette always displays corrugation when objects don't have any, there is no join tool, you can't cut linear objects, hatches oriented to walls don't orient in linear objects...you can't even (as far as I can see) make new object styles or edit the components of existing ones. This feature needs a complete overhaul - NNA please just copy the wall tool and re-name it.


    I haven't used this tool on a live job yet, but playing around with it shows it's limitations. Wall components don't show up in the sections, just the outline. The main problem though is that sections are not live views as such, they are simply viewports. You can't work on a section, you can't use a view to check geometry (without creating viewports), and you can't apply a 2D detail patch onto a live section like you would in a BIM application.


    There is still no way to have the VW Backup folder(s) in a location of your choice. VW insists on littering these folders wherever the files are stored, rather than allowing you to set a folder on a local drive or networked drive to centrally save the backup files.


    The import/export function has been updated but it's too early to say whether the countless conversion problems we experience will diminish. One thing still missing is for VW to recognize DWG files right from the Finder (or Explorer) and allow them to be associated with the VW application, so that when the files are double-clicked VW simply runs a default conversion and opens the file. (The defaults could be set in Preferences).


    Eternal VW niggles not fixed in VW12:

    - Text style was added to the OIP in version 11, but not the text style for dimensions.

    - Origins can be moved but symbols retain the default origin. Also no command to revert to the default origin.

    - Copied and Pasted symbols between files do not prompt user upon duplication, simply keeping originals

    - Custom Select does not select objects within groups

    - No setting to grey layers but still have them snap

    - Purge command still has no 'purge nested objects' setting, meaning you have to run it 3 times in succession

    - Display toggles are still hidden away in preferences - Zoom Line Thickness and Show Other Objects While in Groups should be in the View menu.

    - Please can we have a non-plot setting for classes so that guides etc can be displayed but not printed (you can turn the classes off in viewports, but what if the guides are drawn on a Sheet layer, or you are printing from a Design layer?)

    - Please can we have a lock setting for whole layers, not just individual objects

    - Can we have PANTONE, RAL, NCS, BS color palettes out of the box

    - Can we have a UK version with the correct brick sizes and steel sizes


    Version 12 is definitely worth the upgrade, and is certainly moving in the right direction. I welcome the move towards BIM functionality, but I think NNA would be better to play to their strengths in the short term - Vectorworks is one of the best programs for creating full color, scaled, vector based drawings - but it could be better - if users migrating from other programs could enjoy the Wow Factor, without encountering problems like 'where's the UCS?', 'How do I lock a layer?' etc, then Vectorworks would bolster it's reputation.

  7. This will allow you to place the file somewhere sensible:

    PROCEDURE ClassListOut;


    counter, countClasses : INTEGER;

    outputfile : STRING;


    PUTFILE('Export Class List','Class List',outputfile);


    IF (countClasses>2) THEN BEGIN






    UNTIL (counter>countClasses);





  8. We ditched the Architect version at VW11 because it was of so little use to UK architects, but we are thinking of upgrading again with VW12.

    The real basics would be nice:

    UK Steel sizes to BS 4-1:1993

    UK Timber sizes to BS 4471: 1996

    UK Wall styles - a basic few including Brick and Block cavity

    UK Kitchen cabinet sizes

    UK Window styles

    Terminology should also be region specific.

  9. Wall length can be changed from the OIP just as for lines.

    Select a single wall and it's properties appear in the OIP. Just below the two lozenge buttons for Cavities and Reverse Sides you have two toggle buttons, one with a cross, one with a circle. These allow you to toggle between changing the X and Y values, or changing the Length and Angle of the wall.


  10. Hang on, Hang on....Live Sections??

    I've just watched the video and it seems this is a half-baked implementation of live sections at best.

    Why on earth choose to display the sections straight into a viewport? How can I then add linework, hatches and notes to the section and then use it for details in multiple other viewports?

    A section view should be like any other view - Top view or Front view. The section needs to be usable within the Design Layers side of a file - maybe as a 2D 'image' like a bitmap (albeit a live one), but certainly not as a viewport.

    Why can't a section view even be fully 'live' so that I can actually change the model in section view?

    I think NNA are mixing up a section view as a 'drawing' to go straight on a sheet, with a useful section 'view' through a model as a design aid, a modelling aid, and as a base for detailing.

  11. I'm reckoning the reason why VW doesn't have this is something also to do with the separation between 2D and 3D data - after all it DOES have 3D working planes, just not 2D ones. Maybe the 2D data system just can't do it.

    Lateral thinking...why don't they get rid of this separation...personally I hate it anyway. Can someone tell me if this separation is by design or just for historical reasons.

  12. Layer linking is no good if you have a single building with one wing at 60 degress and one at 30 degrees, but no clean place to split the plan and draw it seperately.

    I don't understand why people say 'we don't need this feature' - just don't use it guys.

    We have 50 staff doing major projects on Vectorworks and this is one of the reasons we get so many errors on our drawings. I regularly take a copy of plans drawn at an angle and rotate them to check them - I usually find a nightmare of not-quite-90-degree walls and lines.

    This feature is clearly not in VW12, so it's worthwhile making a stand here to get it included in 12.5. NNA do listen it seems, there are many features in 12 that have been on this board for ages.

    Well done otherwise NNA - 12 looks good....though have to wait until I get my hands on it to judge properly.

  13. Our bricks here in the UK are 102.5 wide...and that's millimetres! Even with metric, you still need to work to one or two decimal places.

    I work to four decimal places, (but set dimensions only to display 1 decimal place)...not because that's how they'll build it....but just to avoid dimension chains not adding up at the end....or if they don't add up, I can see where the round-up happened.

  14. Mullin,

    We have 40 VW users so buying/tracking 3rd party plug-ins is a pain (especially at upgrade time). Besides, a lot of them are buggy.

    The point is this: display toggles like 'view lineweight' are a frequently used part of the main interface, just like switching between layers, and shouldn't be hidden away in preferences.

  15. Anyone got a script that can operate the new toggle for turning on/off the display of the Page Boundary?

    (Page>Set Print Area>Show Page Boundary)

    ...Or that could tell me how to make one...

    I'd like to add this command to my collection of display toggles that I operate from my right-click menu.

  16. I see that Aqua has been implemented on Macs...

    Nice, but the Open File dialog still doesn't have proper OS X functionality. Columns view still can't be re-sized, making it next to useless.

    We still have to use Finder to open drawings...

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