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Adding a pot size/plant size field to the database

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I normally specify a plant's installed size when producing a key, and also directly on the plant labels themselves. An example would be: Japanese Tree Lilac - 6'ht B&B; or: Bodacious Returns Day Lily - 1g (or #1)

I'm just starting to learn about the plant database and when looking through it, couldn't find a place to add that. I can use up one of the comment lines if that's what works. But since so many of the plants (especially trees) are available in various sizes from smaller pots to heavier balled and burlapped, plus various forms like single stem or multi-stem.

I'm hoping to start adding plant pricing into the database, and would need to :) create copies of at least 2 sizes of many of the plants (and several copies - each with a different size and price - of many others).

Also, the plant size is an important specification for bidding, so that really should show up on every plant and in every planting plan.

Did I just miss the field, or is everyone just using comment fields to include this info? I'm running Vectorworks Landmark 2010

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In order to see the real elegance of Ozzie's example, download the file then select any of the plants, then click on the "Data" tab in the OIP...

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Thanks Ozzie and Peter;

That's exactly the information I want to include on my drawings, and of course it'll eventually allow me to do project costing pretty easily. I'm guessing without cost information, the landscape area function would have only a fraction of it's true value.

I'm still not finding any official (VW prefix) field to enter the size information though. Do you add that field, or just use one of the VW-comment fields (maybe that's what you were getting at)? And if you add it, can you make it a VW prefix field, or are they sort of defaults that can't be changed?

I know enough about databases to realize getting the fields right before I start will help later, but I'm also realizing that there are data we don't even realize we need yet. For instance, it might be useful to have a field for "root depth" or "root profile" or "root characteristics" if you were designing a rain garden for instance, or planting boulevard trees (and had read James Urban's book on soil)

I was in one of Eric's Gilbey's webinars earlier this year (using Vectorworks for Sustainable Site Design) and he talked a lot about using the worksheet fields to add info about a plant's attributes such as aspect (slope and solar orientation) and other things that could help plant selection beyond the usual USDA hardiness zones. He didn't exactly say whether you would add new data categories or if you'd just use the 2 or 3 comment fields to do that. I'm fine with either, but I can easily see adding several fields or re-purposing some of the existing fields beyond the few comment fields allotted. Maybe a better question would be: How much trouble will I be in if I start adding fields? Do they show up in the Data tab just like the VW fields do? Can I create the installed size field as a VW field?

Since I'm in Minneapolis, and do most of my work in this region, I'll create at least a Minneapolis database with all the plants that grow in this region. Maybe that's done using the "Favorites" feature (it appears as a check-box in my Landmark 2010) Then I can start adding information like pot size and pricing for those plants. I'm also guessing that there are certain database management techniques that make this work more "sharable" with other designers. Maybe working with the "favorites" method is more a personal, work-flow thing.

Either way, thanks for your quick response earlier!

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That's exactly the information I want to include on my drawings, and of course it'll eventually allow me to do project costing pretty easily. I'm guessing without cost information, the landscape area function would have only a fraction of it's true value

I would be careful about trying to customise things too much ? time flies and prices change

I would probably only add costing information on a per project basis unless you have the need to use that information often and very regularly ? just a thought

Do not worry as you use it and learn about it the landscape area tool is really useful and a great improvement to VW

I'm still not finding any official (VW prefix) field to enter the size information though. Do you add that field, or just use one of the VW-comment fields (maybe that's what you were getting at)? And if you add it, can you make it a VW prefix field, or are they sort of defaults that can't be changed?

If you select a plant in a drawing and right click and Edit or in the RB browser the same go into Definition ? here is the tricky bit ? here you have Scheduled Size ? so this information is entered here

You could probably use one of the Comments Fields in the Plant Database itself also if you wanted to

If you look at the file I posted the other day above and open the Worksheet you will see a little black triangle to the left up the top under the red X ? click it and in the drop down click Database Headers and you should see Row with 3 to left of it with a little diamond to the left of the 3 ? in that row follow it to the right and under Scheduled Size click in that cell

Up the top of the Worksheet beside the green tick =(?Plant Record?.?Scheduled Size?) - this is the formula that grabs the Scheduled Size from the Edit Definition when you right click a plant as above

If you shift your curser to the left still in that row in the Worksheet to under Common Name you will see a formula =(?Plant Record?.?Common Name?)

The Headings ID, Quantity, Common Name, Latin Name, etc can be anything you like ? just select one and again up the top of the Worksheet beside the green tick change it and remember to select the green tick ? it will be whatever you like

So the fields you can populate in a Worksheet with the Plant Tool come from either what is in the database itself, what is in Definition Edit Plant or you could use a symbol for a plant and attach a record

Confused ? I am just typing it

With regard to the rest of your post and I know I will be not popular perhaps saying this ? with every new version of VW I ditch the Plants in the Plant Database and only use my own that I know very well and use ? for me what is the point of having a whole pile of plants that are essentially meaningless because you are not familiar with them

I have found sitting and adding data for the sake of adding it is not how I want to go ? rather if I am doing a project and wish to include a ?new? plant I do it then and also build an individual symbol for it

HTH

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Ozzie;

You answered my question exactly! And it wasn't confusing, as you commented, although I did print out your post so I could have a record of it. I found the scheduled size by right-clicking the plant and editing the definition. I'll try the other technique as well, but that was pretty easy. I'm not opposed to creating custom fields, but having a spot for pricing is nice. I'm a little embarrassed I didn't see that before.

I also added the scheduled size to the tag itself. I had Quantity and Common Name already listed on the top tag position. And while the Scheduled Size wasn't listed as an option on the drop-down list of things you could choose to include on the tag, I chose "custom" and guessed the formula for scheduled size (turned out to be Scheduled Size). Good guess because it showed up on the tag right below the quantity and common name. Just the way I do it when I'm hand drafting. Actually I draw the extension line all the way through; between the Quantity and Common Name above, and the Scheduled size and any comments (like "Trained on Trellis" or "Multi-Stem Form") below. But the extension line has been partly to act as a guide when I'm hand lettering. No need for that any more.

I've been experimenting with fonts for the labels and text on the drawings. I'm trying to keep everything legible, but really like some of the architectural hand lettering fonts. City Blueprint is already on my machine (standard issue Windows font, I suppose), but I've found a couple of nice fonts on-line. I downloaded one called "Flux Architect" on a "free" font site, but if I like it and decide to use it, I think I can do a PayPal thing to make the font more official for commercial use. I also found two others I like called "Mr Hand" and its bold version; "Heavy Hand". I'm guessing I can set whatever font I want as defaults in my document preferences so they always show up on the tags. It'd be nice if the tags showed up as hand lettered, but some of the notes and keys showed up as Ariel or some other machine font.

Also, I agree with you about eliminating (or at least segregating) the plants I know won't grow in Minnesota. I guess I thought I'd be creating a series of separate collections to feature local plants, and maybe even specialized sets beyond that. I notice the plant selection already shows sorted into Perennials, Shrubs, etc. I like that arrangement, but now I just need to eliminate the zone 6 through 10 plants. Although I just started a job for a couple of friends in Texas.

And I agree to a certain extent about adding data on an as-need basis. Especially until I learn more about how to do all this, I'll probably avoid doing a mass change to the database. I should probably figure out how to save it somewhere before I start messing it up. I think Jonathan Pickup has a post about that somewhere. But I'd like to at least enter scheduled size for the core plants I use on a normal basis (maybe only about 200 or 300 tops and some of that is just multiple sizes). I'd normally do this as a winter project (here in Minneapolis we have some down time December through March). But since the plant sizes rarely change that's not much of a risk. I might expect to add maybe 20 or 30 new plants each year and retire only a few. Perennials will still be offered in a 1 or 2 gallon pot next year, and while there might be a few new Hosta varieties offered, they're pretty much a stable commodity as far as pot size goes. What will change will be the pricing. And I can probably add that on an as-needed basis as long as when I add the pricing information, it stays in the database so the next time I use that plant it'll still be there. I've created an Excel spread sheet with all the plant pricing (my plant costs) along with mark-ups so I can move from my non-profit status to making a living at this (that's supposed to be a joke, but it's not as funny as it used to be).

I'm also in agreement with your idea of creating your own custom plant symbols. I've only experimented with this so far, but with hand drafting I used to only drawing a few different symbol types anyway. 3 or 4 for evergreen shrubs, 4 or 5 for perennials and maybe 3 or 4 for trees. Not much variety, but after adding a bit of color, they'd be fine. So I'm not used to having much choice with style. I'm aware of the "cost" in file size of creating a symbol that's too complicated, but I'm not really interested in that anyway. I do like the way some of the Vectorworks supplied 2d symbols look right out of the box. Maybe I could change the color on a few to give variety, but I'm going to be careful about keeping a consistent look for everything. Color coordination between all the drawing elements is pretty important, so having those choices will be nice, but also a lot of work to assemble. I'll try working with the best ones for now, and maybe try creating some custom symbols this winter. Thanks to someone's earlier post on this board, I was able to find the extended set of 2d plant symbols, and that larger set is enough for now. But it would be worth spending time creating my own custom look. There doesn't seem to be a good symbol for Daylily or other Grass-like foliage (Iris, Liriope, etc.) Nor is there much representation for large-leaved things like Hosta. Let's see if I can draw a useful plan first, then I'll try the custom stuff.

By the way, what's the advantage of deleting the database from your previous versions of Vectorworks? Does the transition between upgrades change the way the database works? I know the 2009 and 2010 versions have a different core graphics engine, but did that also change the way the plant list behaved? I bet there are enough improvements to the database (especially the number of fields) that it's just not worth the trouble keeping everything. I really appreciated the inclusion of the Monrovia Plant List, and was wondering how we would be updating this with each year's new Monrovia Catalog. I use Gertens here in Minneapolis for almost everything I plant. So I'll have to manually add anything extra they have until I can figure out how to import their plant list which is available as an Excel spreadsheet. Of course it doesn't have all the fields, but it does have the pricing and scheduled size. It'd be very cool to be able to import and update those things each year!

Thanks again.

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John,

What I meant by deleting the Database was the plants in the database as I only use my own

BTW if you want to you can import Excel data into the database and import out also

So maybe export yours out to understand the fields (columns) - it may be easier if you have correct fields to import new data

Glad I could help

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