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Is top/plan view an evolutionary dead end?

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So the basic idea of top/plan view is that it's a kind of symbolic representation of a 3d reality. It's not quite the same as a horizontal section, because drawing convention has it (mostly for good reasons) that in plan view some architectural elements like stairs or doors are shown in a way that's not quite a literal projection of what those things look like from "above".

In vectorworks we can (now) create a plan view of sorts by making a horizontal section.

Or we can go with the "top/plan" view which (in theory) creates much the same but with certain architectural elements show in the proper symbolic way. In reality this doesn't actually work though, as soon as you start dealing with anything a bit complicated. We're given tools like the Auto Hybrid to partly deal with this - effectively the Auto Hybrids let us say "this part of the 2D drawing shall be generated in much the same way as a horizontal section is". So what we end up with is a kind of mashup, where parts of the drawing are generated as a literal horizontal section, and parts are generated as 2D symbols which aren't literal projections. And these bits don't really join together properly, and there are all sorts of reasons why having certain things in these containers makes everything a bit difficult. So it seems basically inevitable that all sorts of things have to be patched up in 2D layers in order to create something presentable.

Essentially in my opinion, "top/plan" view is a mess and just doesn't really work. I don't really see how it can ever work properly in its current form.

Why can't we have a plan view that takes, as its starting point, geometry that's generated by literally cutting the 3D model. Then the symbolic elements like doors and so on are inserted into that in an intelligent way. In my mind it could be as simple (in principle) as a tick box in a viewport setting. So we just have one "plan view" which we can toggle between (a) a literal horizontal section of the 3D model and (b) the same but with things like doors replaced with conventional architectural symbols.

At the moment it seems to work in a completely backwards way - we start off with a 2D drawing that kind of generates the 3D stuff (but not very well) and then we go into 3D and draw all the other bits in a way that either feeds back to the 2D drawing in an unsatisfactory way, or which we just give up on drawing in such a way that will generate things properly in 2D, and chunks of the information end up getting drawn in parallel, once for the 3D model and once for the 2D output.

This just doesn't encourage model-centric drawing, which, I think, is what we're all trying to move to, isn't it?

So, anyway, ultimately my question is whether, in the long term, Vectorworks will move to something more like I describe above, or is the the current "top/plan" view approach here to stay?

Edited by col37400
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29 minutes ago, markdd said:

Essentially you are asking for a Rendering style with the speed of instantaneousness of OpenGL but is in effect a Hidden Line/Autohybrid all rolled into one. With adaptable section views etc etc. 

 

That would be very cool.

Yes.  Precisely.  Then we could get rid of the weird dichotomy.

 

Essentially Top/Plan is just one big workaround that VW created to avoid having to do real plan cuts.  Then they have built on top of it to the point where it is its own monster, a monster that is now holding the software back.  2D drafting tools already work fine in Top view.  So the whole question is as the BIM world develops - is there a more intelligent and integrated way for the software to make those plan cuts.  

 

It would solve some of the issues that you have now with double heights spaces.  What happens if you have two windows stacked and slightly offset?  VW can not handle that in the plan right now.  (I am going to avoid launching into my schpeel about why design layers are also a hindrance).

 

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2 hours ago, Tom Klaber said:

why design layers are also a hindrance

 

ha!....i know exactly what you mean w/o you saying anything...

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2 hours ago, Tom Klaber said:

(I am going to avoid launching into my schpeel about why design layers are also a hindrance).

 

They are indeed, but what would we need to replace them and how would VW transition to that?

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design layers are needed to hold systems 

 

the Eiffel tower steel framing would be on one design layer

electrical another etc

 

then we view it:

plan section

sections

clipped cube 

clipped bubble (follows your head & only shows 10ft out from you)

clipped bubble reverse (creates a hollow with you at the center)

time sequencing (exist, proposed, future1,2,3 etc)

 

 

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the problem is all drafting is a result of dealing with paper & paper is in layers

 

new wine being placed in old wine skins...is the problem

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Just now, digitalcarbon said:

design layers are needed to hold systems 

 

the Eiffel tower steel framing would be on one design layer

electrical another etc

 

then we view it:

plan section

sections

clipped cube 

clipped bubble (follows your head & only shows 10ft out from you)

clipped bubble reverse (creates a hollow with you at the center)

time sequencing (exist, proposed, future1,2,3 etc)

 

 

Yes - except - because now VW does not have the ability to do plan cuts - layers do not hold systems - they represent levels - which is fundamentally problematic.  I agree - that layers would still have a place - though as you describe it not as a Z-height organizer as it is now. 

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1 hour ago, Christiaan said:

 

They are indeed, but what would we need to replace them and how would VW transition to that?

 

Live plan cuts.  

If VW could render live plan cuts then, theoretically, all objects could be on the same design layer.   You would use Stories and Levels to control their Z-Height locations - and plans would simply be the result of what you actually modeled.    So instead of selecting the layer you wanted to work on - you would select a level - that would essentially act as a clip cube.  As @digitalcarbon said - you may still use design layers for other types of file organization, they would not be the principal organizing feature as they are now. 

 

 

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exactly... stories would be just a way to control the standard clipped views...

 

a bit more...these cut "view planes" would be an object that can be selected and emailed to someone.

 

then when they get it then its an invite into your VW browser world for viewing & commenting & it takes them right to the view

(like how a saved views works now)

 

these "view planes" would hold comments of others 

 

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6 minutes ago, digitalcarbon said:

exactly... stories would be just a way to control the standard clipped views...

 

a bit more...these cut "view planes" would be an object that can be selected and emailed to someone.

 

then when they get it then its an invite into your VW browser world for viewing & commenting & it takes them right to the view

(like how a saved views works now)

 

these "view planes" would hold comments of others 

 

oooo - getting fancy.  I was thinking that it could - at least for the start - just piggy back on the viewport system we have now.  

But essentially - you are right in that these clipped views would have to be smart enough to allow you to at least export only the visible objects. 
 

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well since we are in wish mode...if VW was browser based and worked like Onshape then there would be nothing to export...

 

people would just get invited in to your modeling world and not get lost due to the existence of these clipped objects

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Posted (edited)

these clipped objects would be the heart of communication since not everyone can navigate well in 3d

 

then if people wanted them on sheets for THEIR use then they would make as many sheets as THEY wanted 

 

while not bothering me...

 

i just set up the clipped objects as a base set of views...THEY can make more if THEY want

Edited by digitalcarbon
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1 hour ago, digitalcarbon said:

these clipped objects would be the heart of communication since not everyone can navigate well in 3d

 

then if people wanted them on sheets for THEIR use then they would make as many sheets as THEY wanted 

 

while not bothering me...

 

i just set up the clipped objects as a base set of views...THEY can make more if THEY want

 

The idea of letting others into my model to take views or sections as they wish makes me a bit uncomfortable...then I have to model everything in full detail, so that things will be correct wherever someone chooses to slice it. You might say that that's a route to a fully thought through design... but it also takes away my power to decide that certain parts don't need to be drawn/modelled in full detail, in the interests of time efficiency. What you describe might work in an engineering/product design context, but I'm not sure in an architectural one.

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40 minutes ago, line-weight said:

 

The idea of letting others into my model to take views or sections as they wish makes me a bit uncomfortable...then I have to model everything in full detail, so that things will be correct wherever someone chooses to slice it. You might say that that's a route to a fully thought through design... but it also takes away my power to decide that certain parts don't need to be drawn/modelled in full detail, in the interests of time efficiency. What you describe might work in an engineering/product design context, but I'm not sure in an architectural one.

 

We should all, including VW, pay more attention to established standards for Level of Development (LOD).  As clients, regulatory agencies and contracts begin to catch up with BIM standards, we will increasingly see LOD standards required for every stage of a project.  We may put more modeling effort into some areas for preparing good-looking renderings, but overall we need to know and apply consistent modeling standards.

 

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5 hours ago, digitalcarbon said:

the problem is all drafting is a result of dealing with paper & paper is in layers

 

new wine being placed in old wine skins...is the problem

 

Given you make port by doing something very similar to this ....is it really a problem.

 

Funny you say that because paper is still freer than design layers which are always constrained horizontal.

Paper is also a working view not just an outcome.

Not sure we can say paper and drafting are the problem till the system at least gets much closer to an approximation. 

 

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15 hours ago, Tom Klaber said:

 

Live plan cuts.  

If VW could render live plan cuts then, theoretically, all objects could be on the same design layer.   You would use Stories and Levels to control their Z-Height locations - and plans would simply be the result of what you actually modeled.    So instead of selecting the layer you wanted to work on - you would select a level - that would essentially act as a clip cube.  As @digitalcarbon said - you may still use design layers for other types of file organization, they would not be the principal organizing feature as they are now. 

 

 

 

That sounds great. I hatesess dividing a building up among design layers

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Posted (edited)

I remember Biplap telling me years ago that Design Layers were a fundamental low level part of Vectorworks and this was one of the reasons a team work function would be difficult to implement. And now we have team work with check out of abitary objects.

 

I'd eat my hat if the long term plan isn't to do exactly as you describe with live cut plans etc.

Edited by Christiaan
corrected is to isn't
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Posted (edited)

Given that it's seemingly going to be some time before we can move away from top/plan view, I wish there would be some official recognition of its limitations. Because it seems I'm not the only one who ends up doing quite a bit of "fixing up" in annotation to top/plan viewports (and sections and elevations too).

 

That's not what the annotation function is designed for, so it is a messy and unsatisfactory solution. If VW would acknowledge that it's not always possible to create a usable plan without this kind of fixing up, then perhaps they could provide us with a way of making those amendments that's designed for the purpose. And include mention of this in tutorials and so on, instead of pretending there's no issue. It would make life a lot more tolerable while we wait for the stage where viewports don't need any fixing up for presentation. And I think that's going to be quite a long wait.

Edited by line-weight
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2 hours ago, Christiaan said:

I remember Biplap telling me years ago that Design Layers were a fundamental low level part of Vectorworks and this was one of the reasons a team work function would be difficult to implement. And now we have team work with check out of abitary objects.

 

I'd eat my hat if the long term plan is to do exactly as you describe with live cut plans etc.

 

It can't not be the plan.  If your BIM software does not have an answer on how to handle a double height window or a chimney, it is not going to beat out by software that can.  There is a real scenario where VW retreats to lighting, and theater design to leave ArchiCad and Revit to fight it out for AEC market.

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I get that a true horizontal section cut, with all the vertical cut functions and more, would be useful to lot of folks. I'm all for it.

 

I also know that I regularly deal with elements too small to see at any reasonable plan scale. Switches, outlets, sensors and such are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. They REQUIRE a symbolic method which accurate modeling can never achieve. And it's not just 2D stuff, the 3D element is critical as well, recessed lights with 2" apertures, navigating level changes and balcony spaces. Show me a new concept that eliminates the stylized and symbolic nature of plans and I might be willing to give up Plan View.

 

So far nothing I've seen comes even close.

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2 hours ago, RickR said:

I get that a true horizontal section cut, with all the vertical cut functions and more, would be useful to lot of folks. I'm all for it.

 

I also know that I regularly deal with elements too small to see at any reasonable plan scale. Switches, outlets, sensors and such are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. They REQUIRE a symbolic method which accurate modeling can never achieve. And it's not just 2D stuff, the 3D element is critical as well, recessed lights with 2" apertures, navigating level changes and balcony spaces. Show me a new concept that eliminates the stylized and symbolic nature of plans and I might be willing to give up Plan View.

 

So far nothing I've seen comes even close.

Again, I do not think anybody is advocating for a new method of architectural representation. I certainly do not want to get rid of Plans.  Just the internal mechanism that VW uses to generate them.  

 

I am not sure exactly how outlets could be handled, maybe scale detection, maybe a viewported advanced toggel option, but it certainly is not Top/Plan or no plan at all.

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20 hours ago, Tom Klaber said:

Again, I do not think anybody is advocating for a new method of architectural representation. I certainly do not want to get rid of Plans.  Just the internal mechanism that VW uses to generate them.  

 

I am not sure exactly how outlets could be handled, maybe scale detection, maybe a viewported advanced toggel option, but it certainly is not Top/Plan or no plan at all.

Exactly, all we are talking about is the method of generation.

 

The problem with the current top/plan view system is that in many situations it *fails* to generate a plan that abides to standard architectural conventions. And fails horribly.

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On 8/9/2017 at 9:09 AM, Tom Klaber said:

There is a real scenario where VW retreats to lighting, and theater design to leave ArchiCad and Revit to fight it out for AEC market.

Say it isn't so.  Plugging my ears.  La la la la la.

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On 2017-08-09 at 5:09 AM, Tom Klaber said:

There is a real scenario where VW retreats to lighting, and theater design to leave ArchiCad and Revit to fight it out for AEC market.

 

I'm curious what you think is different about the needs of these industries. This scenario you're describing is highly unlikely. VW architectural tools are slow and cumbersome for creating even simple as-built plans of venues. And most scenic models are way more custom than a simple double height chimney or window. We do have the advantage that our standards are more fluid for drawings but there's a lot more usage beyond the light plot that isn't serviced very well at the moment.

 

Kevin

 

Edited by Kevin McAllister
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5 minutes ago, Kevin McAllister said:

but there's a lot more usage beyond the light plot that isn't serviced very well at the moment.

 

I would second that. As Renderworks becomes more capable in VW, the ability to be able to render still images of lighting from the light plot is un-matched by any other software package at the moment. However the parametric tools that form the basis of the Spotlight package are in need of updating and those that have been added recently are heavily skewed towards the events industry. Because of the nature of all our work as designers the parametric tools only offer the basic needs. I would suggest that what is needed are more modelling tools along the lines of the subdivision tool so that we can make bespoke objects rather than the more generic items that the parametric tools will allow.

VW Spotlight was clearly dreamt up along some of the strict McCandless lighting design guidelines which mean that lights have to adhere to focus points etc. But this method hasn't kept up with some of the advances in rendering technology and also and more importantly modern practice where it would seem alien to a young designer to work in the way that VW training materials suggest.

 

Back to the thread though.... Slowly the ways of documenting production lighting are changing and there is increasingly less need to adhere to the strict 2D Top/Plan approach because we can now model our lighting rigs in 3D views. 

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On 8.8.2017 at 8:34 PM, Tom Klaber said:

 

Live plan cuts.  

If VW could render live plan cuts then, theoretically, all objects could be on the same design layer.   You would use Stories and Levels to control their Z-Height locations - and plans would simply be the result of what you actually modeled.    So instead of selecting the layer you wanted to work on - you would select a level - that would essentially act as a clip cube.  As @digitalcarbon said - you may still use design layers for other types of file organization, they would not be the principal organizing feature as they are now. 

 

 

I completely agree - and suggested something like that a long time ago. 

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