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Working Parallel to the Screen

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When working in Top View, Bottom View, Front View, Left View, Right View, Back View, and a View looking directly at a Working Plane, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wish that modifications to NURBS curves and 3D polygons, and that Moving, Duplicating and Copying objects would ALL occur (at least by default) in a Plane PARALLEL to the Screen. I don't know about anyone else, but I have absolutely NO perception of the axis that's perpendicular to the Screen! It's annoying and time consuming to find that an EAP is wandering up and down or that objects that have been moved (using snapping) are far from where they're expected to be. Did I mention that I really wish for this?... VWIS077

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Hm, Im not shure, but it seems only a question of whether the 2D objects are on screen plane or on layer plane. For example extrude along path with a 2D path object in front view results in an object on the x,y plane als long as the path object is on screen plane, whereas an object on layer plane results in an extrude object in x,z plane.

So I think the "wrong results" occur only when 3D modifications are made with 2D Objects in screen plane...?

Edited by halfcouple
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Huh? This is about moving and editing objects in orthogonal views... What you say in your first paragraph about creating EAPs is true, but I'm not sure how it relates? The "wrong results" described above happen very much in Layer Plane mode. In some cases, Screen Plane mode may help limit movement of objects (though not manipulation of objects, it seems...) to a plane parallel to the screen, but, in any case, it shouldn't be necessary to constantly switch between Layer Plane mode and Screen Plane mode in conjunction with switching between orthogonal and axonometric/perspective views...

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Will is absolutely right, this could be easily written into VW with something similar to "constrain to working plane." For those unfamiliar with the problem, when snapping to objects in a 3D view, 3D objects can appear to move in the "screen plane" when they are actually moving backwards or forwards as well. When I want to "move by points" in a 3D view, I construct a rectangle snapping to the two points, drag the rectangle to a white space area, and perform the move by snapping to the corners of the rectangle to be sure I'm not inadvertently changing the location of the moved object with respect to that normal axis. I would love to be able to do that simply by pressing a constraint key.

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Exactly, Pete. Though there actually is kind of sort of a constraint key:

In the Snapping Palette, there's the "Snap to Working Plane" option (it replaces the "Snap to Tangent" option when in 3D views). Unfortunately, it can only be activated AFTER a command is initiated, AND it cancels itself as soon as another command is activated. You might find it easier than your work around, especially if you assign a keyboard shortcut to it... I use it all the time for dimensions, which otherwise are often skewed and meaningless in orthogonal views.

I guess I should try and get in the habit of ALWAYS using "Snap to Working Plane" in orthogonal views... But, it's far from ideal having to activate this snap option every single time an object is moved or edited...

(((According to Vectorworks Help (there's even a video) "Snap to Working Plane" isn't really intended to be used as I'm using it, and accordingly its temporary nature is intended.)))

Which takes me back to my original post: in orthogonal views (and views looking straight at a working plane), at least by default, moving and editing should only occur in a plane parallel to the screen!!

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee


The Reshape tool, when a 3D object is selected, already allows the user to limit their axis movement to a single X, Y or Z direction, so there is precedent.

I see it as perfectly reasonable to by default restrict 3D movement when in elevation (left, right, front, rear) standard views to Z/Y or Z/X depending which was appropriate, as well as restricting Top and Bottom standard views to X/Y only.

I would expect that when you were in a Custom view however, movement should be left unrestricted. Let me know if I seem to have missed the mark.

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The defaults discussed are great as long as there is a way to intentionally defeat the constraint.

I think there should be continuing distinction between Top/Plan (screen only?) and Top (not screen?) or some other way to assure off plane actions when desired. EG Imagine plotting 3d vertices in Top/Plan or Top to define a "roller coaster" path. Assign them various z values. Now draw a NURBS curve connecting the vertices. The easiest view for this is Top or Top/Plan. If the NURBS curve is constrained parallel to screen plane because that's the only offering in Top, the NURBS will be planar rather than roller coaster.

Additional idea is a mod key to temporarily force (or defeat?) screen plane in any view. Cursor should change shape or color for duration.


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
The defaults discussed are great as long as there is a way to intentionally defeat the constraint.

Yep, that is my line of thinking as well. When in those views, I would think similar planar restraint icons to the Reshape tool could appear in the mode bar, but probably be enabled by default. They should keep the setting they were last given in a corresponding standard view i would imagine.

Edited by JimW
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I think the most flexible solution would be to finally get the SubD Gizmo

all over VW in general. That does limit to :

1 axis if you pull its axis handle

2 axis if you pull its face between handles

unlimited in 3D when you pull its center point

+ you can rotate or scale at the same time

In 95% of times I want to do things restricted to 1 Axis only,

and try to workaround by misusing the "T" key.

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  • 1 year later...

I think adding the SubD Gizmo throughout VW in general would be great, at least for working in 3D views.  But in orthogonal views, I'm wondering if it wouldn't just add an unnecessary extra step or two (maybe having to activate it, and then having to select the face between the axis handles)?

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