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Stair Comments and Wishes



With every release I take a long look at the Stair Tool and like many of you I end up using the old 'Custom Stair' tool that we now need to pull out of a legacy list in order to use because it is still superior to the new 'Stair' tool that has been around and updated repeatedly for many versions now. Has it been 5 or 6? I've lost count.

I still find it very difficult to get the configurations I need with the new stair tool where the old interface is very intuitive. I'm also finding that the round elements of the new stair tool render with facets in hidden line while the Custom Stair tool does not.

I suggest trashing the new Stair tool entirely and returning to the Custom Stair Tool and adding the following wishlist items.

1. Each stair run should have a +/- offset from center. In this way we can create two straight runs of different widths that can step around a wall when a stair goes from an open tread to a closed tread on one side. A very common stair configuration. Currently the centerlines must match for consecutive straight stair runs. This also helps on stairs where stair runs are different widths.

2. Give us the ability to select a symbol of a railing profile and have the rail be extruded from this shape. We are allowed to do this with the Stringer Profile why not the railing? The third party Vectordecks has done this for years.

3. Give us the ability to select a symbol of a 3d baluster and have it inserted in place of a basic round or square baluster. Vectordecks does this as well.

4. Add a toggle between square or bullnose nosings with the option to wrap the bullnose to the left and/or right tread ends. Give us the ability to control this in one spot for the whole stair or to control it by stair run. (Wrap bullnose tread left, Wrap bullnose tread right)

5. Tread side extensions should be toggled from the set tread width to align with the stringer offset per individual stair run. (Align Left Tread with Stringer, Align Right Tread with Stringer)

6. Maintain our ability to control the visibility of the handrail and balusters from both the left and the right either in one spot for the whole stair or by individual stair run as it is now.

7. Like the new Stair Tool, align risers to the outside face of stringer instead of the tread width or give us the ability to choose.

8. Like the new Stair Tool, give us the ability to show the entire top tread, just the riser and nosing, or neither.

9. Like the new Stair Tool, give us the ability input the floor depth to set if the stringers extend below the floor or stop at the floor.

10. Differentiate between a structural stringer component and a finished trim stringer component.


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Submitted the majority of these as enhancement requests, some added to existing entires.

From what I have heard, the older Custom Stair tool cannot be brought forward directly for technical reasons, so the changes would have to be to the Stair tool and to bring the UI and other abilities from the older tool into it.

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Thanks Jim. I'm not very hopeful that the UI of the new Stair Tool can be built upon to solve its issues. I would be more confident with a ground up re-build being able to address all of my concerns and to bring the best parts of both stair tools together in one place. I don't want to have to take 1 step back in order to take 2 steps forward.

11. Any work here should also be considered in tandem with the Railing Tool so it can be used seamlessly with balcony railings that attach to Stair Objects. Specifically, items #2 and #3 above.


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Well ideally, yes, most heavy tool revamps would be better from scratch, but a lot of the time these decisions will come down to whats feasible in the time allotted, which is more of a logistics thing and not something I'm privy to. (To be clear, I agree with you and would prefer that as well.)

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I always asked myself what could be so special about old Custom Stair Tool of what

the new stair tool could not do ...

Lately I saw some webinars from landscape architect Tamsin Slatter which showed

some pretty nice features of the old tool. So I vote too for including all the former

features into the current Stair Tool.

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Particularly useful with the Custom Stair tool is the ability to set a stairs to appear on two layers set to these levels. We have never used the current Stair Tool for this reason and the interface with the Custom Stair Tool is better. However the Custom Stair has its own weaknesses. The balustrading and handrails in 3D never seem to work well.

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Guardrails need to have custom balusters.

Handrails need to return to the wall.

Handrails/Guardrails at landings need to be controlled independently on each side instead of all or nothing.

All of these features and those mentioned above should also be applied to the handrail tools, which are in need of a major overhaul.

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