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# Is top/plan view an evolutionary dead end?

## Question

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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## Recommended Posts

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<< If we want to convert something purely 3d to some kind of plan representation, getting the clip cube to work with fills and so that it can be viewported to a sheet is the best idea I've heard.>>

I too think this is a reasonable idea, but this is a hybrid that sorta works better. The complexity mushrooms if you try to do what the 2D drafter could do, which is show in one plan section, elements cut at different heights. It will not, I think, get a better 2D drafted product, but will improve what the 3D drafter does. Not a merger of the two.

I'd add, that Pete Retondos web link leads to some very, very nice work. This is a good data point when we fuss over the back room technique.

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do what the 2D drafter could do, which is show in one plan section, elements cut at different heights.

Can you give an example of what you mean?

If you mean by "2D drafter" what you can generate in top/plan view using, using, say, the window and wall tools I don't find it very intelligent or flexible at all. It struggles to cope with things like two windows above one another in the same story, for example, and as far as I know I don't have any control over what height walls are cut at.

If you mean by "2D drafter", a human drawing it manually, then the top/plan view approach has no advantage over a horizontal section cut because in either case, some manual intervention is required.

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col,

My thoughts tie to the hybrid idea, and which is an extension I think of your original 2 drafters. The Hybrid is the 3D and 2D drafter working together in some way.

The 2d drafter can express vertical complexity in a plan drawing in different ways, using notes, dashed lines, excerpted portions of a wall at a higher or lower height. For him, none of that is an intervention, It's just what he does normally.

For the 2d drafter, as I see it, every line has a meaning and there are no lines which do not mean anything or are remnants of a tool which has trouble clearly expressing itself.

Walls and windows are hybrid tools and would not necessarily be used by the strict 2D drafter. Yet he is still able, with high grade 2D CAD, to draw in a day, what 3-4 very capable people with a pencil could have done. And still draw, in the 2D realm, the best and most accurate 2D drawings. Considering the end use of the drawings, that is a good outcome.

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Ok, but I think it should be feasible for a computer (given good enough 3d information, and programmed well enough) to produce decent 2D drawings. Thus doing what someone with a pencil could do in a day in, say, 10 seconds.

There's still a role for a human, of course, to decide where to add annotations, or pull out certain sections in more detail and so on. That would be much more difficult to automate. If you mean that aspect of the job as one where complexity would mushroom, then yes I agree with you.

Personally I'd like to focus my time on doing the design bit of the job, and also the bit where I decide what information is to be presented and how. And not spend the hours doing what is essentially just geometric projection - a skill, but quite a tedious one really. Ideally the computer takes that workload from me - I build in 3d; it produces the correct 2D geometry and then I organise that into a format good for whatever purpose is needed.

I think VW kind of pretends it can do that (if you watch the promo videos and go through the tutorials), but the reality at the moment is that it can't (expect in certain limited circumstances), without significant manual intervention. That said, it's a lot better than it used to be, to the extent where I think it's just about worth starting to rearrange my workflow in the hope that things will continue to improve in that direction.

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I look at it this way - and I should start by clarifying that I am not an architect. I draft concert tours and large live events.

I do everything in 3D and I build everything as a hybrid symbol. I don't use Auto-hybrid. I actually draw the 2D and the 3D shapes myself. This gives me the ultimate control over what I am seeing in plans while working with one master 3D model. I don't like it when computers think for me.

Yes, this takes more time to layout, but consider this: I can make a section viewport, front elevation, and isometric views from that model in minutes. So the time that I am saving from when I had to manually draw all those views (with a pencil even) makes me not even shrug at the time spent on a good clean hybrid symbol that I produced.

My only wish is that the interplay of 2D and 3D within Hybrid symbols was better i.e. that you could view both at once somehow (like using the B key to xray).

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Perhaps ( and I shudder to bring it up ) we are recognizing that the visual aesthetic of drafting is changing due to the age we are in. A lot of 2d plan work that is valued is symbolic in nature, and not a true representation of what is really there. This was most likely a function of speed at the time that those symbols were developed.

We now might be in a time when the conventions of 2d drafting are slowing us down, not speeding us up.

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Perhaps ( and I shudder to bring it up ) we are recognizing that the visual aesthetic of drafting is changing due to the age we are in. A lot of 2d plan work that is valued is symbolic in nature, and not a true representation of what is really there. This was most likely a function of speed at the time that those symbols were developed.

We now might be in a time when the conventions of 2d drafting are slowing us down, not speeding us up.

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Perhaps ( and I shudder to bring it up ) we are recognizing that the visual aesthetic of drafting is changing due to the age we are in. A lot of 2d plan work that is valued is symbolic in nature, and not a true representation of what is really there. This was most likely a function of speed at the time that those symbols were developed.

We now might be in a time when the conventions of 2d drafting are slowing us down, not speeding us up.

I think you might be right to an extent. There might be an argument for changing some conventions. But in the main the issues are to do with legibility.

For example, if VW gives me a floorplan with a thick "cutting plane" line at a location where two objects abut each other, but it doesn't merge them, that is not a drawing convention issue. That's simply a line that shouldn't be there, because it has nothing to do with how the real building will be constructed.

But as regards the issue of 2D drafting slowing us down - yes. I've seen it suggested here in another thread that maybe we'll eventually largely do away with 2D drawings altogether. We won't give the builder a pile of sheets of paper but a properly constructed 3d model from which they can extract all the information they need. I think I'd welcome that, to be honest. It would probably result in better design.

Edited by col37400
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Perhaps ( and I shudder to bring it up ) we are recognizing that the visual aesthetic of drafting is changing due to the age we are in.

The forum glitch allowed you to bring it up twice :-)

I think people still appreciate a good visual drawing. Often they don't want to pay for it up front but clear communication saves money in my experience.....

I do everything in 3D and I build everything as a hybrid symbol. I don't use Auto-hybrid. I actually draw the 2D and the 3D shapes myself. This gives me the ultimate control over what I am seeing in plans while working with one master 3D model. I don't like it when computers think for me.

Yes, this takes more time to layout, but consider this: I can make a section viewport, front elevation, and isometric views from that model in minutes. So the time that I am saving from when I had to manually draw all those views (with a pencil even) makes me not even shrug at the time spent on a good clean hybrid symbol that I produced.

Yes. This is how I work too. Once and a while I use the Auto Hybrid but often backtrack later.

My only wish is that the interplay of 2D and 3D within Hybrid symbols was better i.e. that you could view both at once somehow (like using the B key to xray).

Definitely. Even if the view didn't move when switching between them I'd be happier. Symbols have become difficult to edit it using 2d shapes as guides. Not sure why, but its frustrating.

Kevin

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do what the 2D drafter could do, which is show in one plan section, elements cut at different heights.

Can you give an example of what you mean?

Are these the sort of plane view you are talking about.

These are cut at window and below, you can cut one at any height.

Edited by Alan Woodwell
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So I remember a time when I was using too much eradicator fluid & my boss said to me

"These things we draw are representations of what we want to build, you're taking more time to draw the intention of what we want to build than it will take to actually build it."

I know folks want the best looking and most clear drawings with the least effort, but I'm afraid much of this discussion strikes me as an example of what I was attempting to do in the 1980's with pencil & paper.

Palladio built lots of great stuff with very basic plans.

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Jim Smith makes a good point that is similar to some others, namely that less specific drawings, which lend themselves to the hybrid approach, better serve the end purpose of an architect or similar professionals.

I have marveled at the general nature of drawings which were used to construct some impressive edifices, and which were drawn in ink, only reproducible by tracing, and for which a 13 story buildings was described on 5 sheets.

This strikes me as a delicious irony---that the high tech tools that allow us in theory to do very specific drawings, push us to do implicit drawings.

I have also listened in years past to a lot of skilled draftsmen, who also said "less is more."

So while it is a good point to consider, when I do that, I disagree with it. There are many reasons, and I sense that in different parts of the world the nature of construction differs to the extent that in some very developed countries, the tradition tends toward the approximate and less specific. That's fine, I do not argue that they should change.

The main reason I disagree, and I don't mean to say that my view should be the view of everyone else, is that in my experience, though, more specific and more accurate is more difficult, a lot more tedious, it gives far more predictable results, with less to argue about.

Also, the drawings we do in my part of the world, form the basis of contracts and as in all contracts, implicit or equivocal language is the seed of argument. One of the main downfalls of hybrid in my view, is that it is relatively approximate, even though the dimensional tolerances may be too small to measure. That dimensional tolerance may give a false sense of achievement. It is the equivocation that is a natural result a technique that must be approximate in comparison to the more laborious 2D technique, that I think leads to less predictable, and thus less acceptable results.

Really appreciate the thoughts I see in this thread.

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So I remember a time when I was using too much eradicator fluid & my boss said to me

"These things we draw are representations of what we want to build, you're taking more time to draw the intention of what we want to build than it will take to actually build it."

I know folks want the best looking and most clear drawings with the least effort, but I'm afraid much of this discussion strikes me as an example of what I was attempting to do in the 1980's with pencil & paper.

Palladio built lots of great stuff with very basic plans.

There's doesn't need to be a conflict between "clear" and "simple" drawings.

My issues are not to do with being prevented by the VW system from doing elaborate drawings. I am prevented from doing somple, clear drawings, without my intervention. It's as simple as the matter of where a section line should and shouldn't be shown. I'm less troubled by the fact that maybe multi-component walls might not join completely correctly than the fact that when I try and produce a straightforward GA drawing with no wall components shown, there are lines in lots of places they shouldn't be, which make the drawings confusing. Likewise, basic stuff like the fact that a vertical section through a staircase created from the stair tool is a mess, again reducing the clarity of the drawing.

Regarding Palladio - those days, they were dealing with hugely less technically complicated building technology than we do now.

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Bumping.
Death to Top/Plan.

The more I get into a more soup to nuts BIM workflow - the more Top/Plan feels like it is making me draw everything twice.

While the features are slightly dispersed, it seems that most of the capability to move away from this segregated mode on is there.   If I switch between Top and Top/Plan - it seems like a disaster, but with closer inspection - it is not as far off as it seems.  Rectangles and 2D objects already display correctly.  Hybrid symbols do not do as well, but a live Hidden Line or Open GL rendering takes you most of the way there.  Walls do not do well - but here too VW has a procedure in place - live section the walls at a predetermined height.  You could then use the section style or wall components as you do with a section.  Slabs need to be better at their ability to show their 2D fills in 3D - so hatches and fills will continue to be visible.  Maybe "Plan" rather than a special segregated drawing mode - is just more of a specialized rendering setting that solves these issues - some sort of Polygon / Open GL / 2D / Hidden Line hybrid.

Add this to the VW Vission 20/20 - no more Top / Plan.

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What do you mean by "live hidden line" or "live section [of] the walls"? I'm not sure I follow.

Edited by line-weight
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3 minutes ago, line-weight said:

What do you mean by "live hidden line" or "live section [of] the walls"? I'm not sure I follow.

I mean that these views would not be static like they are now - but update live as you move the model - like the way OPENGL does not require a redraw every time you move the view.  Currently, hidden line needs to be recalculated.  Live section - is the same concept - like the clip cube already gives you this - again not requiring recalculation but updates 'live' as you interact with the model.  The idea would be to come up with a rendering style that recreates the Top/Plan view we have now - but also can seamlessly move into 3D without having to have objects with separate "Top/Plan" and "3D" states but generate all views with the same process.

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I understand hiddenline, wireframe or other shaded modes as one of the opengl modes.

At least it looks like in Microstation or my 3D apps.

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39 minutes ago, zoomer said:

I understand hiddenline, wireframe or other shaded modes as one of the opengl modes.

At least it looks like in Microstation or my 3D apps.

It is weird.  Hidden line seems to rotate fine - but when you finish - it then asks you if you want to re-render - even though it seems as if it has the view you want ready.

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Yes, currently it is not an OpenGL GPU task but a normal CPU render task.

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On 14/07/2016 at 6:24 AM, P Retondo said:

I'm not sure if everyone posting here realizes that hybrid 2d/3d objects, such as walls, were the founding innovation of VectorWorks, then MiniCAD. When Richard Diehl launched this software, AutoCAD was far and away the dominant market player (it still is). There were a few startups in the CAD world that tried to tackle 3d, and I believe that VW and Archicad are the only real survivors. Revit came much later and was absorbed by Autodesk.

Back then, 2d drafting was the thing a CAD program HAD to do. The idea that an object could be both 2d and 3d held a lot of promise, and despite the glitches it's still a workhorse for us. If we want to convert something purely 3d to some kind of plan representation, getting the clip cube to work with fills and so that it can be viewported to a sheet is the best idea I've heard. I don't see any huge engineering hurdle there. But let's refine, not dismantle, the Top/Plan view.

If anything the shame is this approach hasn't been pushed further as the programme developed.  After all sections and elevation are as much in need of drafting convention for information clarity as plans are yet we still suffer from having to overlay vast amounts of disconnected information over these views to turn them into credible documents.

To me the failing is not to have taken Hybrid further as the 3D developed and let us have other planes of hybrid representation that could augment the model cut if not completely replace it depending on the situation.

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On 15/07/2016 at 7:27 AM, grant_PD said:

Perhaps ( and I shudder to bring it up ) we are recognizing that the visual aesthetic of drafting is changing due to the age we are in. A lot of 2d plan work that is valued is symbolic in nature, and not a true representation of what is really there. This was most likely a function of speed at the time that those symbols were developed.

We now might be in a time when the conventions of 2d drafting are slowing us down, not speeding us up.

Sure language evolves and drafting is a language like all others but...

I think this is a line CAD/BIM companies have been pushing to hide the fact they had missed the point for the last 20years and want to sell it as an upgrade when it isn't. They want a revolution to suit the technology, not us.

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Would that hold spotlight users from working if Top Plan View would be dumped and

replaced with a better real time horizontal Section View that recognizes things above

and below cutting plane, multiple scales and gives complement plans like in Archicad.

And if that Section View would be available in all 3D dimensions, even vertical and

you can manipulate elements like in normal views.

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Yes it would completely destroy their workflow.

In Lighting Design you do a schematic light plot. In the schematic the lights are represented in greatly simplified line work that allows the type of the light to be identified, but often has little or nothing to do with the actual design of the lamp.

Hybrid symbols are used so that in Top/Plan you can get the schematic view of the symbols with "label legends" show the critical text information (channel, dimmer, color, accessories, etc.) They 3D portion of the hybrid symbol then contains the true 3D model of the light.

Often lights that are identified differently on the 2D drawing actually have the same body, so there is no easy way to tell them apart. A light with a 15° throw does not look any different when hanging on a pipe than one with a 60° throw. But it is critical that the correct light get hung in the right place.

It is a different workflow. It is not just 3D modeling. It is a REQUIRED combination of a 2D schematic plan and a 3D model. Without Top/Plan I don't think you can do this without doing a lot of extra work to manually make symbols with lots of extra classed to simulate the hybrid aspect of symbols.

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Why shouldn't real sections be able to show schematic lights symbols with their annotations.

They should do in Architecture too, like being scale dependent, not just cutting the simplified

3D Model.

So is Top Plan View thought for Spotlight (2D Landscape) users only ?

As for Architects Top Plan View is just a kind of nice presentation illustration for residential

floor plans. Far from any construction drawings.

Unfortunately VW Sections too.

And don't want Spotlight users the same Top Plan View schematic light Symbols in Elevations

or Sections with adjustable front and back depth planes ?

Edited by zoomer

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