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Management Assistant



In using the VWA 10 Set-Up Assistant, it creates a "matrix" of classes, layers and sheets with a possible combination of 6,000+ choices for a simple 4-story office building (or what used to be simple...). So, now we need a dedicated Management Assistant to figure it all out and help with the 3 different pull-down, pull-up and scrolling menus. If we were to use the VWA system in its current manifestation, we'll need an additional employee dedicated as comptroller for classes and layers, to help with the selection of the proper point-in-matrix space on which to draw any given item.

If not a management assistant, are there any ideas on how to manage the extensive VW system? Is anyone effectively using the VWA set-up assistant? per its designed intention?

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The Matrix to this is already created.

In the VW folder is an Extras folder.

There is a file called VA Sheet-Layer-Class Stds.pdf.

You can print this out or just review it when you need information about what does what in a matrix format.

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We have the class structure .pdf file available for reference, but that does not help solve the logistical challenge of manuevering through the quantity of selections required in order to draw a line on a given class and layer once the set-up assistant has done its job.

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No, we are not using the Task Manager. The last thing we want for CAD is the computer doing more computer stuff requiring more management of non-drawing stuff. The Task Manager does not solve the managment nightmare of huge lists of classes/layers/sheets created by the setup assistant.

The tongue-in-cheek point of the wish list item here is our reaction to the usefulness of the set-up assistant, marketted heavily for VWA10.

Try an experiment - Using the Model Setup and Create Standard Sheets commands, set up a project for a small office building. Then try to work your way around the classes and layers to draw on the correct class/layer. Even if you were to draw the item on the None class for the correct sheet, and using the OIP, select the appr class and layer, it takes too much time. Then change to a different sheet, or whatever, and try again. You'll spend more time seleting the correct class/layer/sheet then you'll spend drawing.

The setup assistant creates a system that is logistically difficult to use, due to the extent of classes/layers/sheets created. If someone is using the setup assistant, particularly to its fully design intent, I would like to know how they do it, how long it takes, and why.......

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I have to agree with Bruce. It can be frustrating and disappointing to realize how complicated my project "has" to be after going through the setup assistant. It really takes the "fun" out of using VW. Wish I felt the same about the software as during the Minicad days. (sigh)

I'm also interested in how the others do it because the SA doesn't work for me.


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

As of VWA9, the use of the setup assistant was not necessary to get full use of VectorWorks Architect. With VWA10, we have further separated out the Model Setup functionality (which we feel may be of use to most users) from the naming / preset sheet standards functionality (which appears to be of more interest to medium sized offices, who would have to set up a layer and class naming standard anyway).

Also, the new Naming Standards command allows you to set up your own naming standards that the VWA standards are "Mapped to", so you are not locked into our proposed standards. So, use VWA as you wish!

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The Task Manager may be something you want to look into.

Basically, you select the operation you want to do -- create walls, place doors and windows, put down furniture, etc, and the Task Manager puts you in the correct layer and class for drawing these objects.

It's takes away the mass-management of class and layer assignment for various objects on the user end since the program will do it for you.

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We are not using the Task Manager for a variety of reasons, some stated above.

Again, If someone is using the setup assistant (in concert with the Task Manager or not) particularly to its fully designed intent, I would like to know how they do it, how long it takes, and why.......

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Well Bruce, I use the setup assistant all the time. I am new to VW, and one of the main reasons I migrated to VW (from ACad), was for the setup assistant features.

I have wasted time trying to understand how it all works etc, and have basically given up trying to fight it.

Now if I wanna draw a bed on a floorplan, I use the create standard sheets coommand, and add the furn/equip plan sheet. It does mean I have TOO MANY layers and classes etc but what can you do?

I did write a script to turn all classes on, and that way if I lose an object, at least I can find it again.

One thing that bugs me the most though, is if I edit one of the standard sheets, then later on have to add another sheet use the create standard sheets command, all the other sheets are reset to the standard. I think there's a workaround for this (layermap thingy), but I'm trying to earn $1,000,000 this year...and mucking 'round isn't helping.

For the NNa people to consider: The matrix does get VERY large...too large really.

And I'm sure it would help everyone understand the setup commands if they were more thoroughly described in the user manual.

Also, we need MORE CONTROL. We don't always want a seperate piece of paper showing furniture! It doesn't hurt the builder to see furniture on his working drawings!

I note that the setup commands are much improved from VWA9 - Thanks you!

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K, we don't use the Task Manager:

1) Becasue the Setup Assistant creates too many sheets/classes/layers anyway, developing an unmanageable drawing file, so we never get that far...

2) The Task Manager is just another diaglog box/pop-up window for checking boxes and clicking buttons, and for all that, with no increase in productivity. You spend more time editing boxes, and opening windows, and sorting through class/layer stuff than you do drawing.

3) The Task Manager represents the "Windows" mentality of gui, and not the ease of use inherent on the Mac (this here's the start of a new argument, I can hear it now....) How about some SIMPLE class and layer management tools?

4) More reasons if need be...., but ask your engineer/designers to develop bulding plans (try a 3-4 story office building), utilizing the full-blown potential of the SA and Task Manager, and see what happens....

With all due respect to the Computer Engineers who obviously spent a lot of time writing the script to create the extensive matrix of sheets/classes/layers, it is not an efficient way for us to draw. Just because you can write a scipt, doesn't mean you should.....

We invested in VWA10, because of VW9 issues, hoping for a real upgrade, with the SA touted as a fantastic tool. Not the case in our office.

Mat, I'd guess your house plans have 10 sheets (drawing pages) with the SA and Task Manager, where you probably could get away with 4.....

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I think it was Sam Clements who wrote at the end of a long missive, that if he had had more time, his letter would have been shorter. This seems to be the state of computeering today, and the setup manager is a good example.

I think it is going in the right direction and I use it, and the borders tool, primarily because I want the issue manager records.

But I have completely changed the way the border tool works in order to use my own border. I place my border on the common sheet and only allow the border tool to place text fields.

My main complaint with the setup tool is the layers are arranged in a way that I find excruciating to navigate.

I used to place all my 3D layers at the bottom of the layers list, in altitudinal order. Above that I had my common sheet, which I called Base. Above that I had all my "sheets".

The bottom 3D sheets were named: "E.foundation", etc for existing conditions and above that S.first, or S.2nd slab, etc. for "source" layers. I used them like pin registered sheets. It was so effective that I never learned to use the classes until the setup manager forced me to.

Above the Base sheet, are the A1.1, A1.2, etc layers, which carried all the 2D info for an output sheet. On top I had "M.existing" and "M.new", "M.newAlt", etc. for layer linked models, etc.

The biggest problem with th current arrangement is that it is so hard to find a particular layer. Previously, I always knew more or less where in the layer list to look for a specific layer.

Also, it has taken me a long time to feel comfortable linking layers or adding sheets, once the setup manager has done, for fear of screwing something up. I don't even know how to place a border on those new sheets so it will link to the text fields, especially the issue manager!?

Personally, I think this effort is worth it because I belive this is how we get the really wonderful 3D benefits to work with the equally beatiful output that VW can make. It is painful at this stage, however.

As Sam said, if I had tooken more time, this missle mighta been shorter- and/or more intelligible. Hope you can understand my comments. Thanks


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Because this topic is rousing a lot of interest, and because i think we may need specific issues to focus on, I am posting a sample of how my layers list might have looked:


















AX1.3 (demo)

AX1.2 (demo)

AX1.1 (demo)



S.3 slab


S.2 slab


S.1 slab




It is very easy to find your layer when thay are not all jumbled together. Human perception wants to find differences in a pattern, not patterns in chaos. The current layer arrangement is too hard to read.


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well to follow the example of Ustation that has 63 equivalate to classes

but that can be limiting on complex projects.

it's good to have the ability to have so many classes.

but the issue is not the number so much.

50-60 classes can be mangaged in the parent grouping system that VW has.

the issue really is navigation, and getting the object on the right combo.

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I agree with the complaints about the Setup Assistant; it creates a document structure that is far too complicated to be practical for my office to use.

In theory the Setup Assistant is a great idea, but in its current state it is not a useful feature for us.

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My two cents: I don't use the setup tools, too much like AutoCAD! Too much bureaucracy. I find it much more efficient to create a layer structure from scratch for each project, and to let it evolve as the project moves from schematic through CD's. BTW, it would be VERY helpful if we could more easily update our sheet definitions when we add classes and layers. Could we have an interactive window that shows all the sheets at once, with all the layer and class options for each sheet? As it is, to edit a sheet we have to open the bottom menu item, select the sheet, do the edit, then start all over again for each sheet. Not to mention the time this takes, one forgets which sheets have been edited and which haven't. I think this more intuitive way of handling layer and class structure is more the "MiniCAD Way," and it would be great if we had better tools to support this style of working - as opposed to tools that try to anticipate all the layers and classes you MIGHT want to have, and create all setups at once in the beginning. When flexibility meets inflexibility, I think flexibility wins in the end.

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Originally posted by P Retondo:

Could we have an interactive window that shows all the sheets at once, with all the layer and class options for each sheet? .... a more intuitive way .... more the "MiniCAD Way"

I agree completely. The layer editor isn't quite as much of an exquisite little jewel as most parts of the VectorWorks interface are. I've often wondered if there could be a better way to edit sheets, but wouldn't want to trade what's there now for an AutoCad-like time waster. Certainly the quick pull-up window for selecting which sheet to display should be kept.

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I made a long comment earlier. Now I will try for a short one.

I don't use classes easily. For me the beauty of Vectorworks is the layers and their similarity to Pin Register, the similarity to real sheets.

But they have height! The genius of Vectorworks!

I do use classes to make a stair point down on one floor and up when on another, or maybe to indicate demolition, though in that case it seems so much easier to simply cut and paste another layer to use to indicate demo, like with a sepia. Classes for me are to get out of a pickle.

I need the layers to be arranged in a way I can find the layer I need. The way they are now, all the types interleaved together is SO HARD to read.


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K, the original idea for this thread was a comment on the usefulness of the SA, and a request for an A/E firms? response effectively using the SA, but to answer your request for the wishlist database...

Provide some simple class/layer tools. For example, AutoCad has a layer toolbar that allows selection of a variety of functions (like turning off or freezing a layer). Also, the layer dialog box in AC is more user-friendly and accurate than the variety of boxes in VW - the total selections of settings in AC can accomplished within 1 box. The selections in AC are more accurate; e.g., you can pick color with a number, versus VW where everyone has to know where the colored square is within the pickbox, and the color wheel is ridiculous from a production standpoint. Keep the color wheel for the artists out there, but provide another accurate simple tool for color selection.

Robert, in regard to your statement way back about Model Setup functionality being useful to most users, I would encourage NNA to reveiw business models of sucessful A/E firms. (For you artists out there, success in this rant means making money....) A/E firms make their big bucks producing 2D documents quickly and accurately, not 3D stuff. When we need 3D stuff, we can perform it in house, or we sub it out, but that work becomes completely different from anything VWA can offer. The ?custom? work that most architects fall into limits their ability to explore effeciencies that is the bread-n-butter of architecture firms that get stuff built. If NNA is marketting to the Pellis, Peis & Gehrys, you?ve got a short list of potential business prospects. Secondly, to sell CAD to MEP engineers, realize they could care less about line weights and multiple layers/classes, etc., they just want their designs on paper as quicly as possible.

We don?t use other cad platforms because we feel the 3D production philospohy is inherently flawed. I have yet to see a set of contract production construction documents for architecture produced in 3D. Everyone using those unnamed platforms will eventually make some mention about the usefulness of the 3D process required just to produce 2D drawings....a waste of time.

For all it?s ease of use, VWA can not do simple 2D production tasks that have been available with other software for the last 4-6 years; e.g., object selection (AC allows the selection marquee to pick differently depending on the direction it is dragged), multiple copying (cc in AC), class/layer tools, viewports/x-ref flexibility, etc......we need 2D tools.

We like VW, but we really like the Mac, hence VW. We are looking forward to being able to match the production capabilities of other cad software, and when we go 3D, we go elsewhere.

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If there is one thing I hate it is having to draw in 2D from scratch. It means I have to figure out all the eaves, draw all the elevations and and sections from scratch. If you have never tried designing in 3D, you'll never know how much easier it becomes. Of course I do a lot of houses, which have multiple odd conditions. Commercial buildings are much simpler (for their size) and the 2D is certainly much more useful there.

I also get terrific milage when I can show my clients their project in a manner they can visualize, and once you get the hang of it, views from interior are actually quite useful.

Views from angles are almost spectacular, although elevation views of models usually have a lot of dropped lines and lines that show which ought to be hidden. (For some reason this is not a problem in isometric or perspectiveal views.)

The biggest time burner for me is cleaning up sections and elevations. No matter how cool the window tool is, it still cannot give me muntins in a top sash different from a bottom one or trims on the sides a different width than on the top.

Actually I believe this thread is defining the direction VW has to go very clearly. It has helped clarify my thoughts on this and I'm very happy you started it.


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But I forget to say that all my CD's start as 3D designs. Plans in particular from VW are beautiful, and adding framing plans, MEP, or FF&E to the plans is no hardship in comparison to the way I used to have to do it. But I never worked in a large AE firm, and this may be the critical comment: if I had to make production documents all day, I'd quit being an architect. So I guess I'll never be a successful AE firm!

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Bruce, I know you are speaking for yourself and not for others, and we are getting a bit off the point of this thread. But, having said that, from where I sit I find the 3D capability extremely useful and efficient, particularly because VW does a decent job of integrating the 3D and 2D interfaces (big room for improvement, I continue to agree and voice support for those points). If you haven't seriously tried designing in 3D and moving from that to 2D working drawings, you should give it a try someday (assuming that you are working in an area where optimizing spatial relationships for functional and aesthetic reasons is important). There is no better way to visualize the result of design decisions from all, not just the orthogonal, points of view.

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Stephen, thanks for the sentiment, but you're missing the point,

P Retendo, Have you tried SketchUp? And of course I'm speaking for myself, and my office, and the accomplished cad designers and technicians we can't hire because we can't offer them a comparable CAD environment.....

I'm not opposed to 2D/3D cad, unless the functionality of 2D work is compromised. We do a lot of 3D work with hand drawings and models (remember school?) before the project gets to the computer.

This TB is full of questions about trim/extend, stair PIO, print issues, font problems, x-ref/viewports, etc., and for all that, the maketting and R&D effort is spent developing useless scritps (SA & Task Manager). The most effective use for the SA seems to be title border set-up, which we don't need. So, we're paying upgrade fees for each version, with no increase in productivity.

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