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Christiaan

Easier editing of PIOs en masse

Question

There's a limitation in VectorWorks which I've commented on here (see quote below).

What I'd like is some kind of system for easily editing PIOs en masse. I'm not sure what I think is the best way to implement this but it might include the ability to select multiple objects within a wall and maybe the ability to link PIOs of your choosing so that when you edit certain parts of one of them the others change as well.

The current paradigm of symbols and PIOs means that when you choose to make your symbol using a PIO you lose the ability of that PIO to interact intelligently with the rest of your model. But if you use PIOs on their own they can become cumbersome and prone to mistakes when you need to edit them en masse.

One problem I've had with the loss of intelligence, for instance, when using a PIO-based window symbol was that it meant my windows no longer new which were the left and rights sides of the wall (so they didn't insert how I expected) and I couldn't use PIO features such as wall cavity returns. (and you have the same limitation with regard to records)

My immediate reaction was to suggest that VectorWorks should be altered so that symbols didn't stop PIOs from being intelligent, but, as Islandmon pointed out in response at the time, the behaivoural limitations of symbols can be viewed not as a weakness but as a strength, forcing awareness of precise insertions as well as protecting against undesirable global changes from outside the Resource's container.

So it seems to me that there needs to be a new paradigm altogether, one that makes the editing of PIOs en masse as easy as editing a symbol.

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Furthermore, it would be great if we could set up a library of premade PIO windows and doors, and use them in much same way as we do Wall Styles.

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You're on to something here ...

a special category of Symbol Instances which only include the selected PIOs.

For example, a special PIOResource container for PIO Symbols, only.

Once a PIO Symbol is linked to the PIOResourceContainer it becomes editable as a GlobalSymbol,

but is still limited by the exact context of it's current placement within... say ... a WallObject.

Those PIOSymbol Instances which after editing from within the PIOResource violate their context

would be instantly RedLined on the DLayers.

Similar to the way SiteModifiers work now.

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Repeating what I posted in the PIO discussion that prompts Christiaan's post here: the ideal window tool would be one that automatically creates an interactive window schedule, in the form of a table, showing the window types and instances of different sizes. By modifying the parameters of a type, all instances of that type in different sizes would be modified in the drawing. By modifying the size, or changing the type, of a particular window in the schedule table, that particular window would change in the drawing. Double-clicking on a window in a drawing would take the user to the schedule, where all window parameters could be edited, including the item number. The interactive schedule could also be placed on the drawing as the contract document schedule.

This concept goes beyond "Symbol vs. PIO," somewhat along the lines suggested by Islandmon. In other words, the individual window acts like a PIO in a wall (cuts a hole, knows how thick the wall is, etc.), but it is linked with a window database that is organized at two levels: 1) types (= PIO in some ways, i.e., has editable parameters other than actual size), and 2) instances, which reference only a single window that has a schedule number, a type, and an actual size and height in the wall. There could be a third level as well: global characteristics, that cuts across types in the way types cuts across instances.

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I'm sure you guys already know about creating symbols from a PIO and setting insertion options to "Convert to PIO". If you insert multiples of this symbol and then edit the symbol, you'll see all the parameters of the PIO in the OIP. Changing any of these will change all the PIO's that were inserted from this symbol. At least that's how it works here. Not sure how wall styles work cause I've never used them.

Kinda sounds like what Christiaan is asking for. I keep libraries of pre-configured PIO's saved as symbols and set to insert as PIO's. This has the added advantage of not having to re-set the params for often used configurations....multiple defaults if you will.

Later

Charles

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Charles, this discussion actually started in another thread that focused on the question of PIO vs Symbol. The basis for the current wish list request is that symbols and PIOs behave in distinctly different ways under certain circumstances.

For example, if you change the thickness of a wall PIOs automatically adapt, whereas PIOs converted to symbols do not. Further, the window symbol can only have one size (H & W), where the concept of a window type transcends a particular size and would be more powerful as an organizing/editing system

So we are asking NNA to address these situations and brainstorming on how to reconfigure the window (and door) tools to make them more powerful. Greater power includes being able to globally edit windows or sets of windows. In your way of working, as I understand it, once you insert the symbol and it is converted to a PIO, editing the symbol will no longer affect the inserted instance, only future insertions. Having interactive door and window schedules has long been a desired item, and I can see how that capability and what Christiaan and Islandmon are asking for could be integrated.

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Info Editor by Charles Chandler provides the capability to partially do what you want. Available for US$10 from the Market section of Vectordepot. It is worth getting and playing with. http://www.vectordepot.com/market/

Info Editor allows editing all record data stored in the drawing file. Records are used to store data and PIO parameters in the drawing. This extremely useful tool allows editing of multiple records at one time. This is very handy for items in walls that can not currently be selected and edited as a group.

For example if you need to change all your windows to make the exterior trim thickness 6" instead of 4" you can fire up Info Editor and search for all the window records. The tool will show all the windows and the associated record data. Select all the windows and modify the parameter for the exterior trim thickness.... or you could do this the way you do now, one at a time.

There is some more information on it here: http://www.softwarecustomizationservices.com/products/info%20editor/

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I'm sure you guys already know about creating symbols from a PIO and setting insertion options to "Convert to PIO". If you insert multiples of this symbol and then edit the symbol, you'll see all the parameters of the PIO in the OIP. Changing any of these will change all the PIO's that were inserted from this symbol.

I couldn't replicate this behaiviour Charles. In a fresh file I drew a wall, put a PIO window in the wall and created a symbol out of it. Then I edited the symbol to insert as a PIO. I inserted multiple instances of this symbol into the wall and then edited the symbol by changing the width, but the windows already inserted remained the same width.

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Thanks for the tip Mike, interesting approach, but I avoid plugins if I can because in a medium size office like ours, involved primarily in Design-build contracts, such 3rd party off-the-shelf solutions invariably introduce more complexity. This can be fine in a other offices but not one like ours.

I think Pete gets to the core of the matter in his first post to this thread.

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Most of VW's functionality is provided via plug-ins.

If a third part plug-in does what you need why not use it? Given that Charles Chandler used to work for NNA there is a fair chance that he might know what he is doing.

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I am currently testing the Info Editor.

I tell you. You won't like to be without. I even abandoned the other tool I was using before in favour of Info Editor, in spite of tremendous resistance from its developer (myself) smile.gif

Buy it. Nothing more worth its money.

vsd

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If a third part plug-in does what you need why not use it?

As an example we used OzCad's wall tool plugin recently. It did what we needed it to do at the time (sort of) but it came with a price: increased complexity of drawings, increased likelihood for things not to go smoothly, extra aggravation and training for staff, and upgrade and management overheads.

Given that Charles Chandler used to work for NNA there is a fair chance that he might know what he is doing.

Can you replicate the behaviour he described?

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Is ccroft the same as Charles Chandler?

Christiaan, I can confirm the Symbol-inserted-as-PIO behavior that you describe. I also tried an alternative interpretation what was suggested by ccroft, i.e., editing an inserted Symbol / PIO instance in the OIP. Only the single instance changed, not previously inserted instances. It appears to me that the "insertion as PIO" feature just automatically converts the symbol to a PIO, something that we can do manually with a command, and gives us exactly the same results. In other words, that object is just an "ordinary" PIO with no special powers.

Apologies to Charles Chandler and those who support his third party tools, I have the same kind of issue with them. We've spent a lot of money in the past on third party and in-office customization, only to find that the money has to be spent again when a new version of the program is issued, or that the 3rd party program is no longer supported and/or isn't around any more. I wonder why NNA doesn't bring successful third party software into the tent, and sell it as supported add-ons that would have the prospect of becoming permanently reliable tools? That seems like it would be a win/win/win for all involved.

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When I do a custom selection of, for example, type is door, VW selects all the doors, even in walls. The problem is when I try to edit a parameter in the OIP it just doesn't take. It seems like VW is already there but falls short just shy of the finish line.

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I think maybe Charles (ccroft) didn't mean to use the word "were" (as in past tense) when he said:

Changing any of these will change all the PIO's that were inserted from this symbol.

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Sorry for the confusion on 2 accounts.

I am not Charles Chandler (My last name is Croft)

And while last nite I was sure that I was seeing this en masse editing, today I am not. Believe it or not I thought that I had confirmed it a few times. And no, I didn't stop at the pub on the way home.

What got me going was Christian talking about libraries of PIO's. I don't use vWorks for architecture, and so I don't know about wall styles and rarely use window or door PIO's. Sorry for jumping in.

I can agree, however, that the ability to edit plug-ins as described by Pete would be a powerful feature. I guess the behavior I hallucinated yesterday was just wishful thinking! If there was a link between a PIO inserted from a symbol as a PIO to that symbol definition, then what I described would be quite useful. The problem is that the instances of this PIO would have to know which symbol it came from, and keep a watch on that definition for any changes.

I do understand enough about how the program works to know better. How can a plugin know where it came from?

Carry on!

Charles W Croft

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You guys really ought to check out the documentation for the Info Editor, because it handles this kind of problem in a flexible and elegant way.

http://www.softwarecustomizationservices.com/default.php?page=products

The concept of "definitions" for all or part of an object is useful. Unfortunately, you have to prepare in advance for what you intend to do. If you know that you need to edit each instance, you use PIOs. If you know that you want to gang edit the instances, you use symbols. But invariably, you wind up wanting to do something that your strategy doesn't support. Now you have to delete things and replace them with other things.

The Info Editor allows you to dynamically create groupings of objects. You can dynamically group by the width and height of doors, reducing several hundred door PIOs to just a couple of items in the list. Change the width of one of those items, and all of the doors of that width get changed. Next you can group by the trim dimensions and change all of the 3" trim to 3 1/2" trim.

This means that you do not have to know in advance how you will need to group the objects.

Christian -- while I completely understand not wanting to use third party software, I just can't resist commenting on the fact that you won't spend $10 on a plug-in that fixes this problem, but you will spend an hour griping about it on a list, and the problem still isn't fixed! smile.gif))))))) Don't get me wrong, I DO understand -- it's just that I got a chuckle out of the irony... smile.gif))))))

Cheers!

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Charles, how much of a gap is there between the Info Editor and having a two-directional window/door schedule? Is there any chance NNA would license the tool from you, for distribution as a native part of VW?

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NNA definitely intends to continue to enhance worksheets, and editable database rows are high on their priority list.

But they probably will not do the advanced editing features in the Info Editor, such as the "types" functionality, the user-definable pop-up lists, etc. They already have the "group by" functionality (a.k.a., "sum"), but it's questionable whether they would support editable summed rows, the way the Info Editor does. At one point or another, you have to decide whether you're trying to do an editable query or a report writer, and while editable reports are nice, if you try to combine high-end editing features with all of the presentation features that you need for reports, nobody would ever figure out how to work the thing. So I decided that the Info Editor was still worth doing, even if NNA introduces substantial improvements to worksheets.

I have had many discussions with Sean & others at NNA, before & after leaving, about types of exchanges that could occur between me and them. All that I can say for sure at this time is that I will continue to maintain and support the features that I have done, until/if/when they are completely eclipsed by NNA features. smile.gif

Regards,

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Charles, I take offence and being told I'm griping. Many of the things I've discussed on this forum and with VW engineers in other forums have been implemented. I don't come here to waste my time griping. I come here because I find NNA (and other users) very responsive and hence any discussion on this forum is quite valuable to me and the business I work for. This is a formal part of NNAs feedback system so I find it really strange that you are accusing its users of griping.

I've already pointed out the reasons we avoid 3rd party plugins and none of them mention the monetary cost of the plugin.

As it is I do intend to try Info Editor (and I'd be interested in your answer to Pete's query above) but I highly doubt it will become a standard in our office (for the reasons I've already explained). My reason for posting this thread is to get NNA to fix the limitation that exists in VW in an highly integrated, intuitive and transparent fashion.

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It is so easy to be misunderstood in print, and this has happened, so I owe you an apology. I totally agree that all manner of discussion is valuable, and I think that the points that you have raised are legitimate. Very legitimate in fact. (Remember, I considered these problems to be so acute that I did the Info Editor -- so yes, I concur with your assessments.) And this has been a very interesting thread. I didn't mean to sound derisive, and if I did, I apologize.

Cheers!

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If you don't have Info Editor you simply waist an AMAZING amount of time doing things which can be solved in 2 clicks.

I don't see A SINGLE reason not to use a tool which is not only awesome functional, around since a lot of time (it was called Record Editor before), but also developed from one of the people who made VectorWorks.

You hardly can find a better tool. And Charles is not a whatever third party developer. Dropping interest in the thing in a while.

Do read this -perfectly elementary- page of instructions and get going to advanced nail polishing (or forum writing) while VW does the job for you. BTW, you don't even need to read the instructions. It is self-explanatory.

I truly don't understand your position. The target is to do things fast, isn't it? Not to preserve the team to learn how to click on a list of pios in order to "Change them en masse".

Alternative is only spending one's own time clicking win after win, door after door in each wall.

What is better?

vsd

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Alternative is only spending one's own time clicking win after win, door after door in each wall.

What is better?

We use a thing called Symbols.

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As an example we used OzCad's wall tool plugin recently.

Just to clarify, I meant the WinDoor plugin.

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Then you'll have some pretty bad insertion problems (caps, breaks and so on). Not to speak of the overwork in managing them across a lot of files (lets say 1 project with 200 files, like I have). Even if you are disciplined in taking them only from a predefined library set of your own. Referencing the library. A horror it is.

Much much more efficient to set up styles for them and switch attributes on the fly. Hundreds of them.

PIO doors and Wins are only good for storing in sym defs, but in order to work efficiently, they have to expand to PIO objects when they are placed.

vsd

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