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Mbuck

A dozen things that annoy me with VW 2D interface

Question

No doubt both old and new have come across theses problems. AutoCad switchers, would be particularly pleased with such 2D drawing enhancements (NNA needs to target that market much more aggressively). In my opinion AutoCad still has a much more efficient 2D drafting interface but this list if implemented wisely will level the score. I hope my suggestions can enhance VectorWorks and are put on the VW 11 hit list.

1. A new preference setting which prevents dash line styles, which are applied to polylines, polygons or just lines, from ending with gaps at their corner points.

Reason:

? The current implementation makes drawings look somewhat amateurish;

? Competing programs have this feature.

2. The ability to use previous view (zoom previous) whilst in pause/boomerang mode.

Reason:

? Whilst tracing around a large closed object, the most logical thing to do is to zoom back to where you were so that you can once again see the whole object you where tracing or aligning to. The logical way to do this tool, for me anyway, is to use the "previous zoom back arrow" tool, but as you will see if you do this it is not dynamically enabled i.e. it doesn't work whilst one is drawing . This current behaviour is most illogical since all the other zoom tools seem to work in this mode.

3. The ability to lock onto nearest points by giving the user additional functionality (say pressing the P key) to dynamically toggling between a series of the nearest lock-on points.

Reason

? One wouldn?t have to zoom in each time to lock the smart cursor onto the correct geometric point or locus. The correct lock-on point, would be enabled by pressing a key then pressing a particular key and then pressing enter to select the correct point be it a corner, midpoint or along line, screen hits would feed back this information to the user with each press of the key.

? Competing programs have this feature.

4. Changing the position of the fields L (Length) and A (Angle) data display bar. These parameters should be in the initial tab positions, and X and Y should be last.

Reason

? To speed up 2D drafting especially for drawing lines and wall segments.

? See discussion on this subject in the wish list. Others would appear to agree.

5. The Callout tool should have an option which allows the user to dynamically change the shoulder length of the leader.

Reason

? Numerical input is too slow.

? Visually athletics dictates that leader text aligns vertically and leader lines are parallel. Tying to achieve this aim with the correct callout tool is slow and frustrating endeavour.

6. Since hatch patterns are an editable characteristic, which oftentimes need to be redefined on the fly, this need is no different to editing symbols and groups. Why then doesn?t the new double click feature (which is fantastic) open up the hatch dialog so that the hatch can be redefined with the least amount of effort.

Reason:

? Inconsistent interface behaviour

7. A new preference setting which sets the resource browser background colour to black when using a black background to draw.

Reason:

? Especially necessary if symbols are made up of yellow objects. Yellow is very hard to see with a white symbol pallet.

? Inconsistent interface behaviour

8. The trim tool trims around cuts a line to the boundary edge of a closed object, say a rectangle tiled right at 45 degrees. Change this object to a symbol and the line is cut not to the bounding edge but to the bounding box or rather the symbols handle extent. This tool should always cut a line to the objects bounding edge and it should not matter if it is a symbol, group or closed object.

Reason:

? Inconsistent interface behaviour

9. 2D User defined coordinate system.

Reason:

I know VW can have angled grid feature but this is very different to a user defined coordinate system. In VW the angle grid is merely a drawing aide, which allows the user to snap to an angle grid. VW underlying or internal coordinate system is still orthogonal, however. In other words the objects drawn on VW grid are independent of VW?s internal coordinate system orientation. In AutoCad objects that are drawn on an user coordinate grid would be akin to telling VW to rotate or translate its internal grid therefore allowing an object to be drawn on that grid and permanently linked to a new internal coordinate system. This may not seem to be a big deal but is a very powerful feature in AutoCad. To get the feel of what I am taking about rotate VW grid and draw a site plan (buildings and boundaries parallel to that rotated grid, save the drawing making sure the 0, 0 coordinate are set to a particular rectangle, which represents a building on the site. Then, in a new VW drawing with has an orthogonal grid, draw a single rectangle, exactly the same size as the rectangles drawn previously on the site plan. Make sure you set the rectangles 0,0 point a the bottom left corner save to a new file and then reference this rectangle into the site plan which was drawn at an angle, notice the rectangle remains orthogonal. In Autocad the rectangle would be rotated to the rotated user defined coordinate system, a local coordinate system that maybe peculiar to the site plan but not the building. In other words in AutoCad both rectangles would be coincident and at the correct angle which I hope one can appreciate has many advantages Unfortunately, explaining this is difficult is akin to trying explaining the advantages of classes to cad users who have only experienced layers but I hope NNA has got the gist of what I am saying.

10. Consolidate the custom selection tools in to one more intuitive tool who amongst us really understands the custom selection 2 tool is for.

? Clunky and Inconsistent interface behaviour.

11. Build Katerina Panagiotakis?s Class Utilities utility into VectorWorks 11 interface also extending its functionality to layer control.

A complete collection of utilities for managing and manipulating classes

? Classes All On - Turns all classes in the drawing on.

? Class Current - Sets the active class to a selected object.

? Class Delete - Deletes the class of a selected object and all objects in that class.

? Class Gray - Grays all items in the class of a selected object.

? Class Hide - Hides all items in the class of a selected object.

? Class Isolate - Turns off all classes except the class) of selected object.

? Class Select - Selects all objects in the class of a selected object.

? Object Hide - Hides a selected object.

Reason

OBVIOUS

12. Layer linking I can?t explain why exactly but it?s a pain, especially if one layer is in plan view, but unbeknownst to the user, some other layers are in top 3D view and one wonders why he cannot select or snap to objects in on those layers. This must be very confusing for a new user because it often trips me up.

Reason

it?s a pain

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Many good comments here, some of which have been requested often in the past. Some of these requests are to make the programe more like AutoCAD. As much as we hate to think about making VW more like ACAD, I have seen negative reactions on the part of long-time ACAD users too many times to think it wouldn't be important to VW's market share to make the program look and feel more like ACAD - without losing the features and important distinctions that us long-time VW users like.

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quote:

Originally posted by Mbuck:

... L (Length) and A (Angle) ... should be in the initial tab positions, and X and Y should be last ... To speed up 2D drafting especially for drawing lines and wall segments. ...


The built environment -- rooms, wall and roof surfaces, floor and ceiling grids, doors, windows, cabinets, bricks, boards, panels of all kinds, stair treads, parking stalls, city streets, beams, ducts, grilles, light fixtures, switch plates, and on and on -- is made up primarily of things with edges at right angles to each other. The X and Y coordinates specify the lengths of those orthogonal edges, either along the width and height of the screen, or else along some rotated pair of axes as determined by the Grid Angle option of the Set Grid command. Far fewer things that we build or use in construction are departures from the orthogonal system, and so the L and A coordinates, which accomodate them, rightfully have a secondary place in the data display bar.

If you want to speed up 2D drafting, try using the Enter key on the numeric keypad instead of the Tab key to select a coordinate box. The numeric keypad is by far the fastest way to enter numeric data, as any bookeeper knows, and VectorWorks takes full advantage of that by providing this function of the keypad Enter key. Hit Enter once for X and twice for Y, filling in X or Y or both, as you wish. Try using rectangles instead of lines for layout, and AddSurface, ClipSurface, and Reshape to form more complex shapes. With these methods you can easily lay out 4 edges in less time than it now takes you to draw one.

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quote:

Originally posted by Mbuck:

9. 2D User defined coordinate system.


This is perhaps my biggest complaint with VW. I know mentioning the word AutoCad around here makes people all irrational & defensive, so I'll compare it to something a little more obvious: VW inability to rotate the 2D view makes it inferior to MANUAL DRAFTING. If I'm at my drafting table, at least I can ROTATE the sheet of paper and draw! Come on NNA- Let's hear a REAL response on this one & stop telling us that we can rotate the grid angle et cetera. Is this BASIC functionality something we can expect in the future, & if not- why?

-haich

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jan15,

You make your case well on behalf of the many Residential Architects who use VW, but don?t forget that VectorWorks is a general CAD package. For example; my work involves Building Services and Civil Engineering where the layout of individual lines at a particular azimuth is of paramount importance ? where ?vectors? must be drawn accurately and efficiency. VectorWorks is not only used within the residential ?built environment? but should be extensible to the needs of the entire construction industry. I say maintain the good features within VW, those which set it apart from other competing CAD programs. I am convinced that the NNA CAD paradigm, makes the CAD experience enjoyable and this alone sets it apart from its competition. AutoCad in my opinion is more reminiscent of computer programming than drawing. But for the particular issues I have canvassed, I believe VW, would be ?silkiest? CAD package on the market. You must also remember that the whole idea of NNA going to a double precision floating point drawing format in Version 9 was to make VW more extensible to larger projects, i.e. industrial, university and residential precincts and campuses. I have never seen any campus or land sub-division where the buildings or land are on an orthogonal grid. In addition, most prominent contemporary public buildings that I have seen, except maybe the very boring ones, are not entirely on an orthogonal i.e. try to draw Jorn Utzon?s, Sydney Opera House with an orthogonal grid.

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quote:

Originally posted by Mbuck:

... most prominent contemporary public buildings ... are not entirely on an orthogonal ...

Yes, that's exactly what I said. They're NOT ENTIRELY orthogonal.

I said "primarily", but I'll accept your stronger statement, that the built environment is almost entirely orthogonal.

Every building has at least a few lines that aren't on any grid, and many of them have multiple grids, as do the campuses and land developments you mentioned, but none of that detracts from the fact that the great majority of the lines we draw are perpendicular to a lot of other lines nearby. We build a Sydney Opera House or a Bilbao Guggenheim every so often, but only after building a few hundred thousand plainer buildings.

And VectorWorks appropriately places the coordinates that we need constantly ahead of the ones we use only occaisionally.

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jan15,

You seem to have missed the whole point here. The idea of me mentioning these 2D interface enhancements is that if NNA, do not incorporated at least some of these, in my opinion; they will have little chance of enticing ACAD users to VectorWorks. You must agree that encouraging ACAD switchers will strengthen NNA place in the CAD market. This must be good for all of VW users as NNA will have more development money to incorporate those features that you won?t ?burden the wish list with?. I am perhaps uniquely placed to see how AutoCad drafters think. The 12 points that were raised are in my opinion a sound strategy to entice ACAD users to switch to VW. You must understand like you, I am also a one eyed VectorsWork user, but unfortunately the majority people in my office; and the world for that matter, are ACAD users. ACAD would not have that market share if it had an unsatisfactory 2D interface. Based on the many drawings that I translate to VW the majority of people are still drafting in 2D. Only Architects seem to be hooked on 3D. Yet VW?s current 3D interface has a long way to go before it can challenge the likes of REVIT and ArchiCad. My frustration is that on many occasions I have tried but failed to entice ACAD users to switch to VectorWorks. The 12 points are my summary of the objections that they continually raise, when they have on occasion played around with VW. By the way when was the last time you used AutoCad? From your remarks it must have been when it was running on a Mac, version 11 I think, unfortunately for NNA six ACAD versions later all but a few of VW strengths are now part of the AutoCad interface.

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Mbuck,

I haven't missed the point. I just disagree with you. And I haven't written from the point of view of advising Nemetschek on their marketing strategy because they never asked me. But since you insist:

I would say that from a marketing standpoint it's much more important that when people switch, for whatever reason, they find an excellent product, as I did, and therefore won't want to switch again. The product is in fact excellent; the only question is whether people will find that excellence. If it's buried in an AutoCad skin they won't.

Apart from the question of whether those 12 items are the most urgently needed improvements, they certainly won't entice any AutoCad users to switch. I don't know what will, if the much lower price and being blown away by the things they see me accomplish with it haven't done the trick. Maybe a whip and a dark room. That's actually about what it took to get me to try something new, even though I had always felt that AutoCad was a poorly designed piece of software and that any other CAD program must surely be better. I think the reason I resisted change is that learning AutoCad was a painful ordeal and I didn't want to lose my investment, and also I didn't want to go through the same ordeal with another program. And I think I see the same type of resistance in other AutoCad users.

I've managed to persuade several friends to try VectorWorks. They did so kicking and screaming, and constantly came crying to me that they couldn't implement the mickey mouse procedures they had always used in AutoCad. Each time, I asked them what they were trying to accomplish, and showed them a much better way to accomplish it using the greater range of capabilities in VectorWorks. In the end they all thanked me and went out into the world trying to proselytize others.

The VectorWorks interface doesn't throw itself in your face all the time, as AutoCad's does. It's a quiet, understated interface, but with every nook and cranny crammed full of valuable tools. That's what makes it so easy to learn (it's non-intimidating) and so quick and comfortable to use (it's uncluttered). But that also makes it easy to overlook features, to never learn what it can do even after years of use. We have to keep opening tiny doors to see what jewels are stashed there, and then learn what we can do with them. And we have to share those discoveries with each other. I think that's what these forums are really for, not for dictating a 12-point Master Plan that will rescue Nemetschek from a dilemma they haven't said they're in.

Since you've felt free to speculate about both my profession and my CAD experience, and to use your wildly inaccurate guesses to imply that I can't possibly understand the real world of serious grown-up stuff, I may as well tell you this: it looks to me as though you're still in the kicking and screaming stage. I think you need to relax, open your mind to new ways of producing drawings, and discover what VectorWorks can do, possibly asking people in the forum for advice. I could be wrong. I haven't done much land survey or civil engineering work since switching to VectorWorks. Maybe it's not as good for that. But I've used it for a wide variety of other purposes, and I've found it to be very good for all of them, above all 2D drafting. And I don't want Nemetschek to dumb down their product to please a few squeaky wheels who refuse to learn it.

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I agree with item 11. Some of those functions would make a valuable addition if they're not too difficult to incorporate and wouldn't interfere with the already very good system of class/layer management.

Many of the other items seem trivial to me. I can think of dozens of enhancements that would be more valuable than these, but which I still wouldn't burden the wish list with. It's difficult enough just trying to learn and remember all the capabilities the program already has. Of course, I'm no Jorn Utzon or Mbuck.

Item 3 seems especially unnecessary. The present VectorWorks system of snapping to points is superb, and certainly much faster and easier than the AutoCad system, even with the many AutoLisp enhancements for it that I collected and created over the years. In VectorWorks I keep 5 constraints active all the time, with no confusion about what's being snapped to and almost never having to zoom in.

The introductory comment that "AutoCad still has a much more efficient 2D drafting interface" is absurd, particularly for the use of the word "still". AutoCad has been scrambling to catch up with VectorWorks, adding half-baked copies of features which have always been part of VectorWorks' interface. Consider Grips, the Match Properties tool, "Tools" (in name only), Toolbars, the useless imitation of the Group command, "hand" panning, Layout windows, to name a few. There's even a default white background now for AutoCad's Layout windows, and yet item 7 is hawking the old DOS black screen for VectorWorks! You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink Perrier.

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I noticed (in your profile) that you are in Australia... you might consider contacting Julian carr who has developed some excellent add-ons for VW which may give you some of the features you want. Just a thought.

Fred

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Mbuck, I agree with your list in its entirety, and I would add that WGR/layer links should be improved. It is not currently possible to show multiple differing views of the same object on the same sheet without drawing some elements twice.

This TB is full of requests for improved 2d basic drafting tools, which may or may not have a background in AC; check out Carl Burns from last year. These requests do not get the attention they deserve, since 3D is the "hot" thing. The trim/extend tool has actually gotten worse since 8.5.

Folks who consistently react negatively to the suggestion that AC may be superior in some respects probably could not utilize that program to its full extent, notwithstanding its unneccesary complications. It is obvious that it takes fewer or equal steps to draw a line or wall in AC than VW, and the "L" coordinate entry system is 1 reason why. Also, Viewports, coupled with layer management, are a fantastic programming invention, and dramatically increase 2d productivity, for competent technicians.

Suggestions like using the numeric keypad to press the enter key require the right-handed mouser to make unecessary motions, and are not effective drafting techniques.

Instead of comparing wishlist items to AC and automatically dismssing those requests, it would benefit the Wish List TB to suggest comparable or competing wish list items....

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quote:

Originally posted by Bruce Brooks:

... using the numeric keypad to press the enter key require the right-handed mouser to make unecessary motions ...

Or to mouse with the left hand, which turns out to be just as easy as with the right hand after at most a week's practice.

Of course, if avoiding any change in your life is more important than drawing much more quickly and effortlessly, don't do it.

quote:

... comparing wishlist items to AC and automatically dismssing those requests ...

No comments have been made in this thread dismissing requests because of their similarity to AutoCad. It was the original posting, by Mbuck, which brought up the comparison of the wish items to AutoCad, and made that the basis of the wish items, not a dismissal of them. My replies only said that the similarity shouldn't be a reason to recommend them.

These forums are much more valuable if you actually read them.

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