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Pete (STZ)

Usefulness of Viewport annotations

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Can someone please explain the usefulness of viewport annotations.

Why would you just not put the notes and dimensions on the model layer, or at least notes on the sheet layer.

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Building Sections @ a scale of 1:100, Cropped viewports of the wall sections @ 1:25. I want to use the same geometry for both. We have tried putting the notes in the viewports, and on top of the veiwports (sheet layer).

If you place the notes inside the viewport when you move the viewport around everything move as one entity, and when you add dimesions they give the correct value.

If you are working with multiple viewports it can be a pain jumping in and out of each of them to add annotations.

So for myself I now prefer to put the annonotations on the sheet layer and the dimensions in the viewport.

If everything in my drawing is at the same scale then I prefer to add my notes and dimensions directly on the design layer.

The biggest disadvantage that I see for having notes in viewports or on sheet layers with geometry in the design layer is that it is harder to collect all the information together and place it into another file.

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Viewport "Annotations" is a slight misnomer if you ask me, because they're not designed simply for text but rather for any 2D object that you want to associate with a viewport but not the design layer it derived from.

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I concur with Christiaan--I use VP "Annotations" to add all sorts of 2D symbols, PIOs, etc. to further detail cabinet and millwork views which might not make sense as part of the 3D model design layer. It can also be quicker and simpler than building an overly detailed model.

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Two reasons (in favor of using VP annotations) come to mind: font scaling and intelligent objects.

Font scaling occurs when you scale the VP. Referenced design layers with fonts will be scaled as a graphic component, therefore you lose control of the font size, etc. Annotations stay at a consistent size in relation to the sheet layer (which can also be a bad thing, if you take it to an extreme).

Intelligent objects are those found in the Dims/Notes tool set, as partially mentioned by others. For example, the Drawing Label object will pull your VP's name and use it as the title. It will also show the correct scale however you rescale the VP. Of course, not every intelligent object is so intelligent -- nor glitch-free. The Elevation Benchmark tool, for example, will not automatically go back to user-defined auto-set reference if moved then moved back.

These said, I'm not really an advocate of using VPs.

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In my plans put all notes and dimensions in the design layer and assign them to classes so that they can be filtered.

If you are drawing 2D sections and elevations, put the dimensions and notes on the design layer.

Use the annotations on ViewPorts for:

3D viewports (live elevations, sections, window schedules)

details from 2D sections.

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I am sure that VW spent a consideralble amount of time in creating viewports to help filter and support multiple similar entities to reside on top of models in paper space. Similar to ACAD...viewport annotations provide the user the ability to create multiple views of the same model with alternate notes that communicate clearly the intention of the model without the need to manage redundant class assignments. As I grow in the knowledge of VW and the logic behind the machine it becomes almost necessarry to follow their lead in using the annotation tools within viewports. Class management is clunky in the model and requires front side discipline to make sure the user is putting things on the proper class.

VW is moving closer to a true model based design system which seperates the notes and dimens from the intelligent information. This allows us to manipulate the model without regard to paperspace. Notes and Dimens are added in a lower level than the model where they should be.

Now all they need to do is reduce the file size to improve speed....

Pete Anthony

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Not knocking any advocate of VPs, but let me put it this way:

Currently there's nothing that Viewports (VP) offer that I can't do with Layerlinks (LL). It's a bold statement I know, but I can claim it because there are so many bugs in using VPs in this current version 12.0.1 of VA.

For example...

Want the power of Issue Manager? Try removing levels in Model Setup or changing layer names, and you'll get a mess:


Want real-time elevations? You'll have to settle for awkward roof corners in your model:



And even if you spend an inordinate amount of time perfecting your model, your lineweights will look amateurish:


Then I can also export all my design layers as layers to Autocad, and they'll get the full contents.

What remains as solid VP performance is in referencing top/plan drawings, which I can do just the same with LLs. Even for pasting detail drawings at various scales I already have an ancient template with the five different layer scales that I use -- plus my titleblock unencumbered with VA glitches.

VP is a good concept. Don't get me wrong. There's just too many bugs right now to be able to relax and feel confident about its efficiency, drawing appearance and versatility.

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As noted by panthony, VW has spent a considerable amount of time (no doubt) working toward a bifurcated model-sheet workflow. However, they just don't seem to get it...

Regress to MiniCAD running in parallel development to early versions of AutoCAD. Complaints from many AEC professionals transitioning from drafting tables was that AutoCAD was too abstract, there was too great a learning curve, unfamiliar territory. Entry MiniCAD. An electronic drafting table with a workflow familiar to drafters. The page was primary.

Then surprise, drafters adopted and co-opted technology, became familiar with a new way of working. An abstracted way of thinking about drawing, their buildings, issuing documents. AutoCAD, with its split MS/PS, becomes comfortable. But it's a hassle managing two distinct and separate sets of data (drawing and annotation).

Meanwhile, development continues on VectorWorks, which sees drafters becoming more CAD abstract-saavy, and acquiesces toward the AutoCAD methodology to implement MS/PS-esque Design and Sheet Layers.

As VectorWorks spends a great amount of effort, mucking the water, grafing on more layer types, viewports, annotations, and places to set scale, AutoCAD managers, users, and standards are returning to a more simplified MS/PS workflow. One that promotes drawing AND annotating in MS while simply printing from PS. Drawings and annotations are now logically re-connected.

And we're left with VectorWorks pushing a half-baked MS/PS variant, and we have no choice but to follow their lead.


A. Design Layers and Sheet Layers are both scaled. VW officially recommends that you scale your drawings in both places to help maintain consistent font scaling. Why?

B. VW recommends that dimensions be placed as viewport annotation...thereby eliminating associative dimensioning. Why?

C. How many places can I add dimensions now? In Design Layers, in Annotation, or directly on the Sheet Layer. What is the point of this? There should be a single direct way to dimension a drawing instead of spending time working out the pros/cons of what to annotate.

I don't want VectorWorks to be an AutoCAD clone, and I'm happy to move past MiniCAD. I just want Nemetschek to find an simple 2D drafting and 3D modeling methodology and develop it with some rigor and common sense toward the end user. It all seems a little flaky and reactionary as is.

Enough for now...

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3dot, while I agree with the gist of your sentiments, I still find viewports very convenient, especially with projects that have multiple submittals that can use the same site plan sheet and model layers with different annotations. Viewports gave us something we've never had - the ability to clip a view without creating an elaborate mask object.

I had been an advocate of being able to clip layer links, which I think would have given us what we really needed without the extra baggage and abstraction you refer to, but I guess the gravitational attraction of the AutoCAD Layout/Paper space model was too strong for NNA to resist.

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One of the main reasons for relying on viewports for annotation is it's flexability for creative artistry. As a designer I find myself needing to create multiple versions of the model for potential client. I perform work for production builders nationwide. In this type of environment I must be able to come up with several versions of elevations for potential use in the end product. VW has provided the perfect avenue to perform complex versions with the manipulation of classes and layers. I can create several floor plan options with alternate roof parameters and the assemble the complex versions in the viewports. This has become a huge time saver in the presentation and eventual mobilization to the final product. I always have a record of the past versions residing on seperate design layers so returning to previous desings is quick and reduces my draw time.

Now the issue is when I perform one off designs for individual clients. Here is where all the benifit comes into play....my clients can be walked through the design process with multiple versions for selection of the final design. They may pick and choose different ideas and options presented on the multiple classes and layers used (even though they have no idea how I structured my model)...they only see the options I've presented. The candy is...I've allready worked all the geometry and design logic out in the multiple redundant model variations so making the final presentation is a breeze in just assembling the proper layers and classes to build the selected variations from the client and then adding dimens, notes and misc graphics to the final viewport.

I can do all of this with ADT but it takes me twice as long so I can now spend more time being creative rather than being draftsman with VW.

Pete Anthony

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From what I can see most of the BIM programs have a 'sheet' philosophy for creating drawings: Allplan, ArchiCAD, Revit etc. It seems to be a fundamental requisite of the paradigm.

All Viewports are is more intelligent Layer Links, but they have a flexibility which Layer Links don't and therefore are a much more powerful way of creating documentation from 3D models and other drawn information.

Having said that I am constantly surprised by the difficulty many users in my sphere have in getting their heads around how Viewports work and what they can do for them. Many of them have/had similar difficulties with Layer Links and Model Views though. For some users there seems to be a complexity threshold beyond which they switch off. Quite how you overcome this I don't know.

One of the advantages of Vectorworks is that you can continue to work in the old ways if you wish. The choice is yours.

Edited by mike m oz

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Mike m,

I appreciate your candid view of the "this is the way I've been doin' it for years...why change" guys. Sometimes when you've got a product that is doing just fine and your making a decent living using the product why change it. To the user that works just fine...however, to the the software manufacturer it is certain death. Can you just imagine where you'd be if you had to draw with the old mechanical arm and pencil and where would we be if we had to ride horses to the office. Change is tough...but necessarry so people may complain but they will still get on board.

Not to long ago I developed a way to heat and cool homes without using conventional fossil fuel powered devices saving literally thousands of dollars. You would think that people would be lining up to get this technology...but they aren't because they have a choice and they are going to stick with what they know even if it means costing them much more in the long run. Now if your builder delivered you new home to you and you found out that he had added several upgrades to the HVAC system that advanced your home to the next level of technology you might complain and moan how it's different and complicated to learn the new ways but eventually you would see the logic behind the addition and would not only accept it but promote it to all the people who were looking to heat and cool thier homes.

That's software...

Pete Anthony

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Pete, that is not at all what I am saying. The general direction VW is going is the correct way and users should adopt the new ways of doing things.

Somehow though the user interface needs to become more obvious so that the complexity doesn't inhibit the useage, and the underlying process integration needs to improve so that the results are better and more automatic (ie less work arounds to achieve the required results).

I am optimistic about NNA's ability to achieve this. The program has come a long way in the 13+ years I have been using it through incremental improvement. I don't expect that to change.

What they should not do though is lock out its existing users from being able to choose how they want to use the program. It's flexibility and adaptability is one of its strengths, and gives it a distinct advantage over the likes of Archicad and Revit.

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ViewPorts rock ... they are indispensable for collating, annotating, and presentation. And they are built on the firm foundation of Layers, Classes, Groups, Symbols and objects. In the old days we had to devise our own Viewports using various Layering techniques and saved views.

The only downside is Viewports are not WGR, but we have print to PDF.

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