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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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line-weight,  i agree with your original post.  the Top/Plan view is an old paradigm and does not fit with 3d work & makes a mess of things...

spent 5 years with an office that needed to have good plans and we were using 3d to generate everything else.  i ended up doing a lot of patching in annotations

then when we adjusted the model...i had to go through 34 sheets and review all the patchwork and adjust...

you cannot have a dynamic 3d model paradigm covered in static 2d "wall paper".  shackles of progress

since the start of 2015, being on my own, i have left all hybrid junk in the past.  it's not allowed in any of my symbols nor projects.

the result of that is that everything is clean and no patching is needed.

granted I'm not working on any buildings that have doors and windows & i understand that Top/Plan view has developed graphic standards that are difficult to reproduce in pure 3d

still i have an idea of how i would tackle a building in all 3d and the headache of pushing the envelop in an all 3d building is not as scary as sticking to and old paradigm that requires me to spend most of my time patching things up in annotations.

that's one of the hope i had for a VW Browser version. the regular VW can stay the same for all those who use it that way BUT the VW Browser version can be a new paradigm

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13 hours ago, Tom Klaber said:

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.

Oh ok. Yes I agree. The way you'd written it, I thought you meant it was something that already existed. I wondered what I'd missed!

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1 hour ago, digitalcarbon said:

i have left all hybrid junk in the past

While I understand that in general.

I have problems with revisions where I find custom solid modeling

extremely tedious for changes.

For Example,

I think I have seen some bath tube like pool constructions in concrete in your videos.

If I use 1 Slab and 4 Walls PIOs with Auto Bound,

when I need to extend that pool for 2,325 m,

I just move 1 Wall.

If I have a tube from a Solid,

I need to Push Pull 2 times, the inner and outer "wall" surfaces.

Where I even have to care about + - and can't reuse the former number value and

have to enter it a second time manually.

I would not care if I could select that "Wall" (and other objects at the same time) by 3D Modify's

Sub Selection marquee and just pull it over, like I was used in the past somewhere else.

And that was just a simple example where you can say that that is not such an issue and

no software tools are perfect.

But normally these revisions concern multiple Solid parts where you have to repeat those steps

with said limitations over and over again and that makes Solids Modeling in VW impractical for me.

So I try to use PIOs as often as possible - even if I don't really care about their 2D ballast.

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zoomer, i hear ya...

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2 hours ago, Pat Stanford said:

Yes it would completely destroy their workflow.

@Pat Stanford's point is very well stated and one of the key reasons why lighting designers like myself have been such advocates of this software. It is the need to produce schematic 2D plans populated by large amounts of information whilst simultaneously being able to dig deeper into 3d to check lighting angles, shadows and see a lighting rig in a 3d space without having to draw several instances of the same object. After the initial design stages, many lighting designers use the software to create highly detailed renderings. The marriage of 2d drafting with 3d modelling and rendering is incredibly compelling in our world as it allows designers such as myself to really interrogate a design using all the rendering capabilities this software provides.

The 2d Top/Plan environment is not compulsory and it is easy enough to draw in Working Plane only and ignore the 2d aspects of the software which many of us find invaluable.

Mark

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markdd, valid point...

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18 minutes ago, markdd said:

@Pat Stanford's point is very well stated and one of the key reasons why lighting designers like myself have been such advocates of this software. It is the need to produce schematic 2D plans populated by large amounts of information whilst simultaneously being able to dig deeper into 3d to check lighting angles, shadows and see a lighting rig in a 3d space without having to draw several instances of the same object. After the initial design stages, many lighting designers use the software to create highly detailed renderings. The marriage of 2d drafting with 3d modelling and rendering is incredibly compelling in our world as it allows designers such as myself to really interrogate a design using all the rendering capabilities this software provides.

The 2d Top/Plan environment is not compulsory and it is easy enough to draw in Working Plane only and ignore the 2d aspects of the software which many of us find invaluable.

Mark

I think this is missing the point.

I 100% agree that 2D is CRUCIAL - for me as an architect as much as everybody else.  What I am arguing is the mechanics that VW uses right now to accomplish this is outdated.  The way that Top/Plan is a completely different thing than the rest - requiring all objects to have these multiple states.  What I am arguing they figure out is a way for 'Top' - to display as Top/Plan displays now - and get rid of this duality as far as how the software handles plans vs everything else.

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• Vectorworks, Inc Employee

For some use cases, Top/Plan is vestigial and seen as something to be removed. For others, it is an integral part of everyday life and even the main reason Vectorworks was chosen in the first place.

Minds many times more clever than my own are VERY aware of this situation, and are actively working on providing solutions that will benefit everyone. It is not something that will fall by the wayside, rest assured.

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i think Tom Klaber nailed it,  back when i worked in the office the plans looked one way and the sections looked another...

if we tried to get the plan to look like the section then the Architect was not happy...but i was because everything was uniform.

this all boils down to having paper in the equation.  if paper was taken out an we used VR (i know, i know years away) then it all becomes a non issue

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Beside VR I still would not want to give up 2D.

2D simplification allows concentration on things without being distracted.

So it does things that 3D does not.

And 3D shows things that 2D does not.

Otherwise for me  it would be for nothing to create some basic sections and

floor plans beside my 3D. For control and design reasons.

Although I need the 3D geometry only.

There is a clip Cube in 3D too but it is nice to have all 2D available at a time.

But I am against thinking of a dead tree paper in that context.

There are mainly PDFs nowadays which most people look at on a monitor.

And the last ones using paper on a may will use augmented reality in the future.

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• Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Pat is intimately familiar with the inner workings of Vectorworks and that gives him a great deal of insight into how much more massive of a task this is than it might seem from the outside.

Having 3D geometry generate the 2D appearance/result is only a very tiny part of the equation, a large percentage of the tools and commands in Vectorworks ONLY work because of the current implementation of Top/Plan in the semi-strange hybrid form it has now and it would be a multiple-year all-hands project for us to try to pull everything forward all at once, to the detriment of many other needs.

We hear you all. We really do. There will be improvements to come.

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Beside that Top Plan View is also a nice clear Illustration Mode for Modeling,

the main reason why I often use it is the fact that is the only true 2D View Mode

that ensures that most tools will be restricted to the 2 Axes you can see and

lock the 3rd (Z) Axis you can't control.

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7 minutes ago, zoomer said:

Beside that Top Plan View is also a nice clear Illustration Mode for Modeling,

the main reason why I often use it is the fact that is the only true 2D View Mode

that ensures that most tools will be restricted to the 2 Axes you can see and

lock the 3rd (Z) Axis you can't control.

That should be the easiest fix.  The most basic solution would be a toggle button that can activate an X/Y only mode.  Maybe this is on by default when you switch to TOP view.

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• Vectorworks, Inc Employee
Just now, Tom Klaber said:

That should be the easiest fix.  The most basic solution would be a toggle button that can activate an X/Y only mode.  Maybe this is on by default when you switch to TOP view.

10 minutes ago, zoomer said:

the main reason why I often use it is the fact that is the only true 2D View Mode

that ensures that most tools will be restricted to the 2 Axes you can see and

lock the 3rd (Z) Axis you can't control.

Wishlist! It's easy for items like this to get lost in large threads.

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how do other cad systems handle this?

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You have a Z-lock, or call it 2.5D snap.

Or better lock any of the 3 Axes by a check box in your "Accu Draw Compass" in Microstation,

("Sticky Z" to force that in Top Views)

26 minutes ago, zoomer said:

But I am against thinking of a dead tree paper in that context.

There are mainly PDFs nowadays which most people look at on a monitor.

And the last ones using paper on a may will use augmented reality in the future.

Forgot the most important one,

In an infinite Monitor Space,

Scale is primarily a matter of LOD, not (paper) size.

Edited by zoomer
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1 minute ago, digitalcarbon said:

how do other cad systems handle this?

I am not sure about the behind the seems tech - but there does not seem to be this dichotomy in Revit.  All views seem to be actual cuts of the model - so there does not seem to be a difference between how sections and plans are created by the software.  I am sure that there is some magic - and the software is intelligently doing something based on the view behind the scenes - but it is not like VW where the plan is segregated.  That said - all 2D work is done on Sheet layers and they do not have design layers at all.  But VW handles 2D objects just find in Top view and it does in Top/Plan view.  I could be wrong - but the handling of 2D objects does not seem as it is the hurdle - its handling hybrid objects - which Revit does better.

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20 minutes ago, zoomer said:

You have a Z-lock, or call it 2.5D snap.

Or better lock any of the 3 Axes by a check box in your "Accu Draw Compass" in Microstation,

("Sticky Z" to force that in Top Views)

That is what the VW "T" key should do.

But it will not activate if there is any edge under your Cursor when you walk along the needed Axis.

In that case you have to find a free space on your drawing.

(I think it would work if you pick an edge parallel but away from your temporary Axis highlight line (?)

And it looses its lock when you are zooming to much.

Or what the SHIFT key could do,

if it would not change axes if your cursor goes more far in an other Axis direction

Edited by zoomer
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3 minutes ago, zoomer said:

That is what the VW "T" key should do.

But it will not activate if there is any edge under your Cursor when you walk along the needed Axis.

In that case you have to find a free space on your drawing.

(I think it would work if you pick an edge parallel but away from your temporary Axis highlight line (?)

And it looses its lock when you are zooming to much.

Or what the SHIFT key could do,

if it would not change axes if your cursor gos more far in an other Axis direction

Ooo - that's better - a key stroke rather than toggle - User defined.

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ok i get the need for the 2d drafting stuff and i actually would likely still use it if i get a house/building project.

with that said...the "work in 3d as much as possible" mind set has caused me to present things differently that the way i would do it in the past...

is it better? not sure..but i like it... and can understand it better & when i understand it better i feel better...

please note the example below...yes i could have done it in Top/Plan view but...i like this...

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There are of course users who rely on top/plan for their workflow.

There are also lots of reasons why you might want hybrid objects which show as symbols in plan view.

Obviously top/plan view can't simply be junked. There has to be a transition; either top/plan gets cleverer, or an "intelligent horizontal section" view needs to be developed in parallel.

Auto Hybrids seemed like a good start. But like so many other VW projects, it was developed to a certain point and then that's it, it seems. For me, auto hybrids could solve lots of problems if they were actively developed and improved. But as they stand they have too many limitations and problems to be useful. Sadly I had to give up with them.

My hunch is that Auto Hybrids could be made twice as good - and perhaps useful in real world use - by investing an extra 10% of development time, compared to the time that must have been spent getting them to their present state.

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I never do anything in 3D, so hope nothing drastic is done to the top/plan view!

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10 hours ago, Claveworks said:

I never do anything in 3D, so hope nothing drastic is done to the top/plan view!

Fear not - nobody is advocating getting rid of 2D workflows.  Just theorizing that if "Top" and "Top/Plan" could be one in the same - it would smooth out a lot of issues.

I would bet - if you only work in 2D drafting tools - that you could work in TOP view now - and not know the difference.

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On 8/1/2017 at 5:51 PM, line-weight said:

There are of course users who rely on top/plan for their workflow.

There are also lots of reasons why you might want hybrid objects which show as symbols in plan view.

Obviously top/plan view can't simply be junked. There has to be a transition; either top/plan gets cleverer, or an "intelligent horizontal section" view needs to be developed in parallel.

Auto Hybrids seemed like a good start. But like so many other VW projects, it was developed to a certain point and then that's it, it seems. For me, auto hybrids could solve lots of problems if they were actively developed and improved. But as they stand they have too many limitations and problems to be useful. Sadly I had to give up with them.

My hunch is that Auto Hybrids could be made twice as good - and perhaps useful in real world use - by investing an extra 10% of development time, compared to the time that must have been spent getting them to their present state.

Really - the issue is we need Auto-Auto-Hybrids.  The fact that an Auto-Hybrid is a thing unto itself is an issue.  Auto-Hybrid should be a viewing technique - not a type of object.  I want some process for VW to create live cuts of all 3D objects without me having to create a specialized object if I want to see it in both plan, and in the model views.

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3 minutes ago, Tom Klaber said:

Auto-Hybrid should be a viewing technique - not a type of object

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.

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