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Navigation should not be tools

Kevin McAllister


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Which applications do you think of ?

VW Views by Num Pad is a nice addition, I like it.

Normally you have to go up to the drop bar and select a view by mouse.

I think changing the view works while using other tools (?)

I also think that the middle button is a No Go.

And I would prefer to have the view change dropdown or buttons at the

bottom of the view Window. Especially if there will be more than one view

at one time one day, finally.

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Almost every other 3d application I use has integrated navigation (ie. trackpad with keyboard modifier) that doesn't interfere with the active tool. You can also make true movements a 3d perspective view.

Vectorworks separates everything into tools and then allows special access to a couple options (notable zoom, flyover but only if you have a middle mouse button, and pan).

In Rhino for example, all navigation is possible using my right hand on the trackpad and my left holding command, option or shift. In Cinema 4D, all navigation is accessible using my right hand on the track pad and my left on the 1, 2, 3 keys. Even if you wanted to use a Space Navigator standard navigation isn't directly available in VW (the orientations are different and you are technically supposed to use the Walkthrough tool).

Standard navigation is pan (translate view), dolly (zoom), and rotate (flyover).

I would love keyboard access to change standard views (until we get multiple editing viewports) but I don't have a numeric keyboard. The best interface for switching views I've seen is in netfabb professional, where you can cycle through the standard views using the space bar. Maybe VW could add this but the list of views to cycle through was user choosable.


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OK, got you.

I just use the Num Pad numbers because I too think VW is hard to navigate view.

In other Apps I don't care about left, right, ... Isometrics, I just rotate.

Or have all 4 views at one time open of course.

As in Modo, I use ALT+LMB to rotate in Cinema.

Panning is unfortunately ALT+MMB.

Zooming (ALT+RMB) by scroll wheel of course.

Where MMB is a not a MB.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Agreed. It should not be required to leave an editing mode to change or even adjust a view slightly.

Especially now that Apple is pushing for the removal of the numpad entirely on their default keyboards we cant be depending on a user having one any longer either. Same issue with the middle mouse button, its really easy to use for some but on a trackpad or magic mouse middle clicking is generally to be avoided.

I don't think that the addition of new view change systems need to throw out the older ones however, unlike things like the Door tool where it would be foolish to have 8 separate tools for each swing type, for instance, view controls and their functionality can be duplicated in multiple areas throughout the UI and doing so just adds convenience rather than confusion. This should allow for adding new view controls without disrupting current workflows that some users are already comfortable with.

Adding this thread to the current requests with a few additional notes.

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Thanks Jim.

It really should take into account other complementary software. There's nothing like having to relearn new navigation for every piece of software. I'd rather just relearn it for one. Some industry standards are clearly emerging.

Maybe there's legacy navigation and new navigation and the user can choose. Unfortunately if everything is tied to legacy aspects VW will continue to be stuck in place.... the only way around this is to opt for a more customizable interface where users can move/assign keyboard commands in a more complex way.


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Yeah, getting tied to legacy stuff is always nasty and hurts progress. You're right in that full UI customization effectively removes that problem, as long as its: 1) COMPLETE customization, no locked off keys and 2) Easily transferable from one install to another and from one version to another, without the user having to reconfigure it manually each year or every time they upgrade a machine.

The current workspace system is certainly better than nothing, but it could be made much more convenient. Many users avoid customizing their UI just because of the difficulty inherent in keeping it customized.

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Boy, I don't know. I agree with Zoomer's (3 year old post) I love the num-pad navigation. I dreamed of multi-view panes for years but when we finally got it last year I hardly used it. I think largely because the num-pad is second nature to me. I even absentmindedly try to use it in 2D aps like Photoshop.  I haven't used Rhino but I  do use Maya, Blender, and Unreal and navigation in those programs is one of the things I struggle with the most.  My navigation wish list is more for things like an XYZ lock (each independent, not one at a time like in the reshape tool), a super quick and boomerang  "hide all but selected" command, as many programs have. Clip-cube is ok but not quite the same especially when your object is adjacent to other objects.  I think we'll agree that Mirror and rotate should not be separate tools with 2-hand shortcuts (Ctrl+=) but something integrated into other tools, like you've mentioned in other places, Kevin. On the other hand, the Pan/space is invaluable. Both in VW and PS. When I'm in other programs like Maya where pan is Alt-MMB I go nuts. But I'd love to see an XYZ lock right there in the view bar. And a gizmo/widget (I refuse to call it a 3D drager!) as part of the basic interface with move/scale/rotate built in and mirror and reshape available with a modifier key. Throw in UV unwrapping and (for godsakes) vertical lighting positions and I'll be happy. 

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I personally am ok with Flyover by CTRL+MMB.

Of course I would prefer important View Navigations with the active Button

which is the left one, like ALT+LMB in Modo, C4D and Blender.


As VW sticks with the non-button MMB, which most people don't have,

I bought 3DCons CADMouse which has an additional real physical MMB.

So since then I am fine Flyover-ing with mouse input.


For my main Pen Input on Wacom Cintiq,

MMB action are also ok as MMB will be assigned to the second Pen Button.

So Boomerang Flyover and Pan is ok there too.


But as a Pen has no Zoom Wheel and there is Boomerang Zoom beside

those strange fixed or walkthrough like Zoom Tools,

I literally die a thousand deaths when VW modeling.

Edited by zoomer
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3 hours ago, zoomer said:


As VW sticks with the non-button MMB, which most people don't have,

No offense, Zoomer, but who doesn't have a MMB? PCs have had them for a decade and Mac has had them for at least 5 or 6 years. I haven't seen a 1 or 2 button mouse in years. I can't imaging working in WV (or PS) without the scroll wheel zoom. I just don't like MMB + modifier key for basic stuff like Mays's Alt+MMB to pan. That just an non-intuitive combination for me. 

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I see no offense at all ...


98% of all usual mice have no more physical MMB.

It is mainly a Scroll Wheel that often offers some kind of MMB click Option

that you can hardly use without accidentally scrolling.

Because of VW I tried many different mouse types to find some rare ones

where MMB Clicking for an important all time used Command would not be

a pain.

It is comfortable with an extra physical MMB Button for me.

But that is why I would never link any essential command to a MMB.


And very few Apps ever use a MMB.

On Apple Mice you even haven't any MMB Option and 99% of Mac Apps

work well with that, beside more Complex 3D DCC Apps like CAD.

On the other hand Apple offers much more than simple linear Scroll Wheels.

And there are a lot of VW Mac Users who draw with their Magic Mouse

in VW anyway.


Zoom Wheel is very important over the whole Operating System and even

more important for any graphical App.

Since the invention of a "Zoom about Cursor", it even takes much of the

functionality over from "Panning".


So yes, using a Tablet with Pen Input like I do, which is missing a Scroll Wheel,

is somehow a self provoked handicap - like using a Magic Mouse.

But any other 3D DCC App I use beside VW does offer a View Navigation

Option by LMB or RMB + Keys, if you are either missing a MMB or a Scrollwheel

or both.


And I think View Navigation in general, should in any case work in a

"Boomerang" Mode and never interrupt any other command or action.

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Ok, I question the 98% maybe its just semantics. I teach at a university and we have hundreds of workstations both Mac and PC and they all have MMB. But maybe you're talking about a true, independent (not a scroll wheel you hold down) button. If that's what you mean then ok. I use a 9 button gammer-mouse that I have programmed all the extra buttons for Flyover, X, TAB, Undo, etc. Any more than 9 and I wouldn't be able to keep them straight. Any less and its hard to decide what would be the most useful commands to assign. But I am completely at a loss when I'm helping a student on their laptop and they don't have a Num-pad.Having to reach up to the view bar to the drop down is incredibly cumbersome.  I know there are keyboard shortcuts but I never remember them because I never use them. And they are all clumsy combos like Shift+alt+5 or something. Dropping the num-pad navigation before we have something si-fi like eye-tracking intuitive vr navigation would be devastating to me.   

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
1 hour ago, SeanOSkea said:

No offense, Zoomer, but who doesn't have a MMB?

This is mostly just the Magic Mouse, I avoid it like the plague even completely unrelated to Vectorworks, but some folk love it. 


44 minutes ago, zoomer said:

98% of all usual mice have no more physical MMB.

I think he just means a physical center button as opposed to a clickable center wheel that you see commonly.

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47 minutes ago, SeanOSkea said:

Ok, I question the 98% maybe its just semantics.


21 minutes ago, Jim Wilson said:

I think he just means a physical center button as opposed to a clickable center wheel that you see commonly.


2 times yes ....



And I agree that VW's NumPad Navigation is the most important and best solution

I have ever seen.

And the biggest deal braker for Multi View Panes, as far as concerning the need for

more than one projection during a command.


Modo (and Blender) also has NumBlock Navigation concepts and it worked well for me.

But VW's approach to use it in a non-abstract way like a physical compass is brilliant.


I also try to use the NumBlock unsuccessfully in other Apps accidentally all the time .


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I'm going to cautiously wade into this discussion since this is my wishlist thread. There is a lot of misunderstanding here about what this wish represents.


2 hours ago, SeanOSkea said:

No offense, Zoomer, but who doesn't have a MMB? PCs have had them for a decade and Mac has had them for at least 5 or 6 years. I haven't seen a 1 or 2 button mouse in years.


I find this statement quite presumptuous. Every desktop Mac ships with either a Magic Mouse or a Magic Trackpad and all of the laptops have trackpads.


1 hour ago, Jim Wilson said:

This is mostly just the Magic Mouse, I avoid it like the plague even completely unrelated to Vectorworks, but some folk love it. 


I don't have a middle mouse button and haven't for a long time. I work with an Apple Magic Mouse which I love. I have a work philosophy where for the most part I want my right hand on the mouse. My tools are laid out in such a way that all of my mousing for tools, menus etc. is towards the top of the screen. I've worked this way for years and its very efficient. I also don't have a numeric keypad and even if I did, its unlikely I would use it for changing views since it would mean removing my right hand from the mouse. All of the keyboard shortcuts I use are accessible using my left hand.  I use the mode bar view dropdown accessed with the mouse. Here's my tool palette across the top of the screen -




I would love to be able to dock my palette, but VW doesn't have a proper way to dock horizontal palettes and hold their proportions (really it doesn't deal well with the snapping or attributes palettes either as you can see).


All of my wishes about navigation are about adding back flexibility. I wish I could assign the view functions from the numeric keypad to the numbers 1,2,3 etc. on the keyboard, but those are baked in. As are the zoom in / zoom out keyboard shortcuts, which also can't be customized. My biggest frustration is that there's no way to boomerang to the flyover tool without a middle mouse button. It speaks how poorly thought out VW is for 3d and for accessibility. In any other piece of 3d software I've used I can hold down a key and the right mouse button and access any navigation feature by varying the combination - zoom/dolly, orbit/flyover, pan/translate. This alternative type of navigation is also useable on trackpads which again don't have a middle mouse button.


Adding this type of simple navigation in a customizable form wouldn't affect any current workflows and would make VW far more accessible than it currently is.




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I think SeanOSkea is not that wrong.

All current Mouses sold have some kind of MB replacement or functionality.

And I think it is not asked to much that users use such devices for complex Apps

like CAD. If someone prefers a Magic Mouse that is fine and I also think there

should be reasonable Options like anywhere else.


I also like the Magic Mouse with its zoom and pan ability, in any Mac Apps

beside 3D or CAD Apps. But that is just the zooming alone that was never

accurate for me and the limited cursor speed adjustments for 3D.

Other wise I would instantly chime in for the boomerang Flyover option.

For me it is the missing real time Zoom only.


I think Mac Users could circumference with an additional Touch Pad for rotation

and zoom. (Or a 3DConnexion Device)

But like me with my Wacom, I think you are also not willing to leave your

(motoric weaker for right handed) left hand from the Keyboard

(or Wacom Remote in my case)



flyover with 3DConnexion Enterprise is totally ok for me but Zooming with

it is not an adequate replacement for a Scroll Wheel.

(Like Wacom Remotes Sensor Wheel)

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

The last few posts I think actually drive home the importance of the original spirit of this wish. If we detach (or at least, allow users to control the attachment) of navigational abilities to keys or combos of their choosing, and remove or at least allow the dual-mapping of commands to other key/mouse combinations, we can address the multitude of workflows and user preferences by allowing full customization and not imposing one method or the other on anyone who prefers the opposite. 

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I would be happy to try a mouse with a middle mouse button but I haven't been able to find a good one that is Bluetooth. I don't want a dongle that can be lost. Its been a while since I've looked for one but I revisit it every once and a while.


I have a 3DConnexion but it I couldn't get it gel with my workflow. I also revisit it once and a while too.



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Sorry if I went off on a tangent about the number-keys. But in a neighboring thread somewhere here I read a post from Jim that said something like "yeah I think the number pad's days are numbered..." or words to that affect, and it sent a chill down my spine. Then I read Kevin's post at the top that said navigation should not require a keypad and I thought, "I gotta jump in here and defend the keypad!"  Maybe its just my work-style 'cause I've always used a full keyboard, but its totally second nature to me. But then I can't imagine working with a drawing tablet--I have a Intuos and now a Huion drawing monitor which I love for digital art but have never wrapped my head around for working in VW.  Any replacement that eliminated the number pad would have to be as easy and intuitive. Kevin seems happy with the drop down but for me that's several steps and moves your cursor away from what your working on. Reaching over with a thumb and taping a key is much less disruptive for me. But Kevin is also right, esp in places like Sub-surfaces where you really do want to orbit around an object in space non-cardinaly and the fly-over tool kicks you out of sub-edit mode. Very disruptive. The num-pad or drop down doesn't but those big 90-deg moves that are fine/desirable when you're building walls are usually too clumsy when your making a tree or something. 

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Kevin, I think we all agree with your initial question.

Navigation should not be Tools, all time available, boomerang

and alternative input for handicapped input device usage.



9 hours ago, SeanOSkea said:

Jim that said something like "yeah I think the number pad's days are numbered..."


I don't think Jim meant that VW thinks that the NumPad should go away.

More that VW should not forever rely on NumPads as (only) input methods.


People are using more and more Laptops, which don't have NumBlock and on the

Apple side there wasn't any full wireless keyboard for years.

I could never live in CAD without a NumBlock for numerical input alone.



14 hours ago, Kevin McAllister said:

I would be happy to try a mouse with a middle mouse button but I haven't been able to find a good one that is Bluetooth.


You coud try (expensive) 3DConnexion CADMouse Wireless.

It offers 3 wireless input modes including bluetooth.



9 hours ago, SeanOSkea said:

But then I can't imagine working with a drawing tablet


Oh, now I realize ...

If Kevin would get his MMB-lesss Flyover alternative - I would use that too !

I could switch my 2nd Pen button to Scroll by click'n'drag.

Then I could scroll in lists again. (Have to use legacy ScrollBars)

I just can't do that in VW for now as there is no Flyover without MMB alternative.



For the Tablet and NumBlock.

Kevin can't imagine to use NumBlock for Navigation.

I tried when in mouse usage and can't even say which hand I use,

left or leaving mouse.

But when you use a tablet and are used to fly over the whole screen

with your Pen all the time, it is even less tedious to fly to your NumBlock

as you don't drop your Pen for that anyway.

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Above I commented that any replacement for the Num-Pad navigation would have to be pretty slick. Well I've downloaded the pre-release of Blender 2.8 and they have  a new navigation method that might just be it. Basically, you hold down the ` tilde key to open  pie menu that has the various views arranged as a compass rose  around your cursor. Then you move the cursor in the direction you want to move your view. This way you don't even have to pause to look at the pie menu you can just hold the key for a second, and push to the right to turn to the right side view. Down and right diagonally for an iso-view etc. Almost like VR pushing the object around on the screen. Pretty cool. I could see using the spacebar for this. Maybe hold SB left-MB stays pan but SB+RMB evokes this nav-move. You can see this demonstrated in the Blender 2.8 features video at about the 0:45 mark. Something to consider. 



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No tilde key, really? Not to re-ignite my MMB controversy  😉 but is that a Euro keyboard  thing? Are you actually in the Faroes? Don't Danes use tildies? 

In any case, I think I'd rather have the spacebar drive that as my hand is resting on that all the time while moving around for Pan anyway. I have trouble with Alt+ as I'm always hitting the windows key on my PC and bringing up the start menu. Not a problem on Macs of course. And three keys to Pan (al la Modo) would drive me crazy. Esp as I spend 50% of my time in VW and 40% in Photoshop where spacebar is blessedly the same. 

I think the compass rose pie menu would be cool. Up is top, down is front. Right and left R&L of course and the diagonals the four iso corners. Maybe alt+Spacebar would bring up Bottom/back/ bottom isos and Left and right could be shortcuts to ortho and perspective? 

Whatever solution meets Kevin's original comment about integrated navigation, need to keep your cursor on what your working on, not make you move to some other part of the screen or one of those nav-widgets all the Autodesk products had up in the right corner for a while. Although it looks like they have have give up on those recently too. Ironically one has just appeared in Blender 2.8. 

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