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Design Options - procedure?


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Hi...

I'm new to Vectorworks. I'm working for a residential design firm and come from an AutoCAD basis. I'm trying to clean up a previous employees files... and they are a mess... everything in on class:none, and there are layers like crazy.

The firm has some base models of homes, and then a set of available options. What I'd like to do is figure out the proper procedure for setting up these options so I can, hopefully, turn on and off these options based on client selections.

My thinking right now is to class everything properly as their objects, then add layers for the options. Then, creating viewports in the sheets with each option and annotating them. If it was an option which changed more than one drawing (say the plan and elevation) my thinking was to create a class to put the viewports on, and turn them on or off through the whole document, thus making the options easy to work with.

Is this thinking correct? I know someone else has solved this already... I just want to do it right because there's alot of setup... and as I am working on some new designs, I'd like to set it up correctly from the start.

Thanks.

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Layers are where objects are located (ground floor walls, ground floor ceiling.... everyone will have their own ways of doing things)

Classes are what objects look like (paint red, wood pine....)

Viewports on the sheet layer will not belong to a class as you will not have to turn them on/off

I usually have an invisible class where I place objects that I do not want to be seen (once again a personal pref)

I am sure others do things differently

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Yes, Classes define WHAT is placed and Layers define WHERE it is to be placed. So the kitchen sink is in the Plumbing-Fixtures CLASS and ON the First Floor LAYER. Simply put, layers have elevational implications - think "platform framing", Layers stack on top of one another. There is a third organizational element - STORIES, but start with the concepts of Classes and Layers first, build yourself a simple project.

And please, do EXACTLY like you've described - CLASS EVERYTHING. This will result in the most flexibility in controlling the "look and feel" of your objects as you develop your set of drawings. This is accomplished via CLASS OVERRIDES within the individual viewport.

In the actual "model space" or what we call Design Layers, you can use LAYERS to view the various floors of the building. By creating First Floor Layer, for example and a second floor layer, you'll be able to turn the first floor OFF to see only the walls on the second floor. Walls will all exist in the "Wall-Exterior" CLASS but be viewed separately via turning the LAYER in which they are placed ON and OFF. Make Sense?

This same scenario holds true for ALL objects.

I've attached an example file of a wall that has been altered slightly from what ships with Vectorworks. It has been set up in the Wall Style to "Use Class Attributes". The Wall Style is found in the Resource Browswer. Use the "Saved Views" to explore how/why this was done.

Edited by Wes Gardner
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Hi Barkest and Wes....

Thanks for your reply... I have gone thru and made symbols and wall types and all sorts of things to use classes, and have set up most everything to be displayed as their class shows them. I haven't gotten into the overrides in viewports as yet... mostly because I haven't had too... but that's a useful thing to know. I am re-drawing all of our models of homes now to be classed and layered properly. Nothing was on a sheet layer, everything was on design layers.

I understand the layers in VW being associated with building levels, and have gotten used to working with that, so no worries there.

Mainly I am interested in the best procedure for various design options. If we offer a house with 5 different kitchen configurations (some that affect layouts of adjoining areas), what's the best way to arrange the elements so that I can turn them on and off quickly.

They way I have it set up now works well for turning things on and off through an entire set of documents... it's just cumbersome to set up... and can get confusing as I have layer names, viewport names and possibly viewport class names (if I put viewports on a class of their own).

The reason I came up with putting viewports on a class when viewed on the sheet layers is not to change the way they look... just wether they and all of their associations are visible. If I turn off FirstFloor-OptionA for the whole document (and I've set it up properly), every drawing that has to do specifically with Option A (elevations, plans, sections) will turn off. It just takes alot of setup... which may be unavoidable.

Thanks again for your reply.

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Wes said:

"And please, do EXACTLY like you've described - CLASS EVERYTHING."

I disagree. My advice would be to class only what you need to class at the moment. Keep it simple. As time goes on, your need to class additional items will grow. Classing everything will needlessly slow you down. If you don't have a good reason to move something out of the None class, then don't. Eventually you may, but that is a day coming in the future. Today you need to get your work out efficiently.

I see by your post above that you have gotten the idea so my advise may be for other new users of Vwks. In that case, carry on.

Otherwise I agree with Wes.

Regarding the second part of your question, I would create 5 classes, one each for each design scenario. Select the relevant components from your Layer and move them into Class 1 (using the Object Info Palette), duplicate (or copy and paste) and/or add additional elements and move to Class 2 and so on until each design scenario has the correct elements created and in place in the correct Class. Turn one set on and the others off (invisible). Create a Viewport of your floorplan. You may choose to duplicate that Viewport (or a crop of the key area) 5 times on the Sheet. Select each one in turn and in the Object Info Palette, turn the key Class to visible and the others to invisible. Each duplicated Viewport view will only show the preferred elements of that scenario.

Putting Viewports on a Class leaves me queasy. Anybody else?

Tom

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I agree with Tom to keep it simple and add more classes when needed. As landscape designers we produce three different concepts initially for clients. When we do this we create separate layers for the base plan information then create three additional layers called Concept 1,2&3.

We find this effective as we also need to control class visibilities in our sheet viewports such as plant-tags.

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I often spend a few minutes at the end of the day with the Eye Dropper to put things in their correct classes. I select an object, move it to the correct class, pick up the class with the Eye Dropper tool. I then turn Class visibility to Active Only & all I see is the Active NONE Class, & as I use the Bucket on other items they vanish as they are now in the correct class.

Rinse & repeat

I have few layers Title, PDF/Image, Import, Export, Grid and each floor & Roof and sometimes Structure. We also have layers called Sketch 1, 2, 3 as required.

Classes are legion, each project adds its own assortment of new ones and neglects others

Edited by Jim Smith
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I've done a number of modular projects where one file is 10 buildings. I

Suggest you figure out a smart index for your sheet numbers. Each time you get a new option create a new sheet layer with a unique number.

When you start getting a large set of drawing numbers or type, another option is to

1) remove the title block.

2) export a drawing

3) import the drawing as a PDF.

4) create a symbol of the PDF. Store your PDF symbols in a symbol folder.

5) insert the single PDF back into the sheet layer.

6) put your title block back over the symbol PDF.

Why this a good:

1) the PDF is a finished drawing that you know has been checked and does not have any errors.

2) to swap out a drawing simply use the replace symbol button.

3) symbols of complete drawings can be accessed throug the resource browser.

If this type of organisation fits your options model, setting up a drawing become very fast.

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I've done a number of modular projects where one file is 10 buildings. I

Suggest you figure out a smart index for your sheet numbers. Each time you get a new option create a new sheet layer with a unique number.

When you start getting a large set of drawing numbers or type, another option is to

1) remove the title block.

2) export a drawing

3) import the drawing as a PDF.

4) create a symbol of the PDF. Store your PDF symbols in a symbol folder.

5) insert the single PDF back into the sheet layer.

6) put your title block back over the symbol PDF.

Why this a good:

1) the PDF is a finished drawing that you know has been checked and does not have any errors.

2) to swap out a drawing simply use the replace symbol button.

3) symbols of complete drawings can be accessed throug the resource browser.

If this type of organisation fits your options model, setting up a drawing become very fast.

I find it simpler to have a sheet layer for each design option and just number and name it accordingly. Once you set up your viewports on the first option, you can copy the layer with it's viewports to get exactly the same where you then can just change the class/layer visibilities

Using layers for design options is the most flexible and easiest to use as you don't have to turn on/off classes while working on the drawing.

Edited by DWorks
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I've attached an example file of a wall that has been altered slightly from what ships with Vectorworks. It has been set up in the Wall Style to "Use Class Attributes". The Wall Style is found in the Resource Browswer. Use the "Saved Views" to explore how/why this was done.

Wes,

Any chance of posting that file in a VW 2011 version?

Thanks.

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Thanks everyone for your help... I guess it shows that there isn't a single technique which works for the majority of situations and users. I wonder if this means there's a short coming in the software, or if it's a testament to it's flexibility.

A design options sort of thing might be pretty useful for this situation... if it doesn't add too much complexity to the software.

If it were smart enough, you could draw everything the first time on option 1. Then, when you switch to option 2... you make your changes, and the software "registers" the original option, and the changes for the new option... it would only need to track what you actually touch. This way it updates everything that's associated with that option, and isn't intrusive.

Just a thought... it would make this software MUCH better for me... and I'm sure I'm not alone... yet if you never wanted to use it... you'd never have too.

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If it were smart enough, you could draw everything the first time on option 1. Then, when you switch to option 2... you make your changes, and the software "registers" the original option, and the changes for the new option... it would only need to track what you actually touch. This way it updates everything that's associated with that option, and isn't intrusive.

Just a thought... it would make this software MUCH better for me... and I'm sure I'm not alone... yet if you never wanted to use it... you'd never have too.

And what would happen when you change the original design option to the others? What if you want to integrate different design options together? ... it will all be a mess. Just using different design layers is so much easier to control.

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And what would happen when you change the original design option to the others? What if you want to integrate different design options together? ... it will all be a mess. Just using different design layers is so much easier to control.

Go to Option A... use a tool that lets you select which elements you want on that option, start clicking. If it's smart enough, it'll let you select which elements show up in which option.

This would be way easier to control than layers, as changes could populate thru certain options, but not others. Thus options could share certain elements. Right now with layers, and viewports you need to create several viewports to show the options you want, and annotate accordingly. A single design option switch would be responsible for changing the entire document.

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And what would happen when you change the original design option to the others? What if you want to integrate different design options together? ... it will all be a mess. Just using different design layers is so much easier to control.

Go to Option A... use a tool that lets you select which elements you want on that option, start clicking. If it's smart enough, it'll let you select which elements show up in which option.

This would be way easier to control than layers, as changes could populate thru certain options, but not others. Thus options could share certain elements. Right now with layers, and viewports you need to create several viewports to show the options you want, and annotate accordingly. A single design option switch would be responsible for changing the entire document.

The problem I was trying to show with this is that there is currently no easy/good way to implement this into the software because we don't have a database-kind of centralized model yet... (which is BIM...)

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My workflow:

Create Layers & Classes consistently as above

For Options use duplicate Layers as needed eg.

First Floor Constant

First Floor Option 1

First Floor Option 2

Control the visibility using Saved Views.

Sheet Layers can also be created from these Saved Views

so for an Opt 2 View

F1_C visible

F1_O1 invisible

F1_O2 visible

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I like to treat the design threads and the presentation threads of a project somewhat separately.

So, Saved Views offer a convenient way to navigate back to a design thread in a project, especially when the Saved Views script palette is open.

SVs also offer a variety of settings not available via SLVPs.

For me there need not be a SLVP for every Saved View and vice versa.

(Of course accessing the model via Viewport Edit>Design Layer is extremely useful - and when SVs haven't been set up this is what I use)

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  • 2 weeks later...

The "none" class is your best friend. When in doubt, put it in the "none" class. Class it when it needs to be classed.

Someone mentioned red paint or pine wood as classes. I would use textures, not classes, for these categories. So if a kitchen cabinet and a bathroom cabinet are both pine, they can exist in different classes but use a common texture. Edit the texture and all objects using that texture will be updated.

I also have a materials class, sub-grouped into wood framing, glass, steel, plywood, hardware etc... If I build a cabinet showing the wood framing, plywood skin, countertop, hinges etc., I can select all these objects and group them. It is the group that would use the class "Lower Cabinet".

Otherwise I would end up with a ridiculous amount of classes like this:

Lower Cabinet-Framing

Lower Cabinet-Plywood

Lower Cabinet-Hinges

Upper Cabinet-Framing

Upper Cabinet-Plywood

etc. etc. etc.

Groups are a great way to hide and unhide stuff, even within objects.

I also design a lot of furniture for theatrical sets that I've designed. I've found that designing the furniture in a separate file greatly reduces the class clutter in my main document. I import these pieces as design layer viewports on a layer called "Furniture".

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I do theatrical design, and so not only sometimes have options to present, but things that change or in different locations within the same show. I tend to put large units in their own layer (the stage is a layer, the grand staircase is a layer, etc) and use classes for materials (steel frame, sheeting, trim, etc). So I can look at just the stairs, or just the stair frames, or everything together.

Sometimes to present options I will create a unit with all its different classes, then select the parts that will change and make them a group. I have classes called option 1, 2 etc. that I only put groups into, so I can turn them on and off.

Using symbols adds even more flexibility. If I have a drawbridge, I make it a symbol, insert the symbol twice in the drawing, in the up and down positions, and assign the symbols to classes: option 1 and option 2. Now I can look at the same model in different positions. The different parts are still classed inside the symbol, so I can still look at just the frame or whatever.

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Nicholas:

I would love to see your basic drawing template or a screenshot of your class and layer organization. Mine has really improved in the past year or so but I can always use new ideas.

I'm hoping to write a VW tutorial for theatre that focuses on drawing organization and presentation.

I've attached a jpeg of my layers. The ones beginning with TNT contain DLVP's from the drawing of our theatre. (The New Theatre) I've separated them into different layers to make it easier to turn the proscenium off or on for example.

Lighting is for Spotlight and the actual lighting design.

Rendering Lighting is only used for rendering.

Views contains camera views from the positions of selected seats throughout the house.

Furniture and Props and Dressing usually contain DLVPs of other files. Otherwise I'd have a million classes in my main document.

Most of my classes are sub-grouped by Layer name. So the classes on the Soft Goods layer might be labeled Soft Goods-Border, Soft Goods-Legs, Soft Goods-Curtain etc... This organizes the class list nicely.

And since 2013 has an hierarchical display option for classes, they all collapse very nicely under the first part of the name.

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i make much use of the colours for the design layers organization in order to differentiate between the design options. the enclosed screenshot shows one set of the layers for the final delivery, but if i have many design options there are more colours.

in this way i see instantly which layers and when are to be displayed.

rob

edit:

the project is a pre-stories one...

Edited by gester
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  • 5 months later...

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