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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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On 19/08/2017 at 6:53 PM, Thomas Wagensommerer said:

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

8 years ago in fact!

8 releases later we are still stuck with top/plan, which just doesn't work for anyone seriously trying to model in 3d.

In your original thread someone comments it's a no-brainer - I agree. I get the impression it's a no-brainer for users, but not for VW's development strategy.

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• Vectorworks, Inc Employee
On 7/31/2017 at 6:47 PM, Tom Klaber said:

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.

The rotated view hidden line is a raster (bitmap) approximation using OpenGL, which does doesn't not support line weights, determining intersection lines, eliminating lots of wall join lines, etc. Nor can it be converted into lines, because it's just unconnected dots. It gets drawn as a placeholder until the final hidden line results can be drawn.

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On 21/08/2017 at 3:05 PM, line-weight said:

8 releases later we are still stuck with top/plan, which just doesn't work for anyone seriously trying to model in 3d.

Not quite. Things are transitioning gradually. You can, for instance, now take a plan section through your model via Clip Cube.

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On 8/21/2017 at 7:05 AM, line-weight said:

8 years ago in fact!

8 releases later we are still stuck with top/plan, which just doesn't work for anyone seriously trying to model in 3d.

In your original thread someone comments it's a no-brainer - I agree. I get the impression it's a no-brainer for users, but not for VW's development strategy.

I completely disagree - top/plan view is an abstraction that allows one to work productively without other distracting elements - it's like any other abstraction that strips out the elements that aren't immediately essential and lets one work on and present essential elements of a model.

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18 minutes ago, Chad Hamilton HAarchs said:

top/plan view is an abstraction that allows one to work productively without other distracting elements

yes i agree... but what happens is i have had my plans all done and nicely build with the top/plan tools and then when i went to 3d (to get elevations and sections from my model) i found out that i was majorly not finished.

then i spend much time doing clean up and trying to get the nice top/plan tools to work with my model...

so now i just work in real 3d only no top/plan tools...yes upfront its slower but in the end i do not have much clean up..

then again I'm not working on buildings...

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3 minutes ago, digitalcarbon said:

so now i just work in real 3d only no top/plan tools...yes upfront its slower but in the end i do not have much clean up..

then again I'm not working on buildings...

No, I'd concur, similar advantages come from modelling buildings in this way too. But I'm not just working in 3D. I'm working in Edit Section In-Place for instance, which is a proper cut through the model, not just an abstraction.

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the problem that i am facing is that when i do things quick (top plan tools) then when i need to make quality fabrication drawings I'm sunk...people do not understand that it takes time to switch over to quality 3d...i have to model everything all over again...its not like the "top plan" tools have a dial on them LOD100, 200, 300 etc and you can just dial up to a higher LOD for the door tool..

the door tool for example is only going to get you so far model wise...

below is a 3" detail of a door jamb in a shipping container...all taken from the model..

the door, door frame, hinges all modeled from actual parts...

took all morning but now i have them in my library,

BOM parts list can be made with ease

the point is there is no free lunch...somewhere you will pay for it

(and yes i did model the spray foam)

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i totally understand the value of "top plan" tools and feel a sense of accomplishment when using them but its a false feeling IF you are producing any 3d views

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1 hour ago, digitalcarbon said:

the problem that i am facing is that when i do things quick (top plan tools) then when i need to make quality fabrication drawings I'm sunk...people do not understand that it takes time to switch over to quality 3d...i have to model everything all over again...its not like the "top plan" tools have a dial on them LOD100, 200, 300 etc and you can just dial up to a higher LOD for the door tool..

the door tool for example is only going to get you so far model wise...

below is a 3" detail of a door jamb in a shipping container...all taken from the model..

the door, door frame, hinges all modeled from actual parts...

took all morning but now i have them in my library,

BOM parts list can be made with ease

the point is there is no free lunch...somewhere you will pay for it

(and yes i did model the spray foam)

The idea of having an LOD selection for 3d parametric tools would be genius - one setting that would add or strip away a level of detail from within the tool settings.

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5 hours ago, Chad Hamilton HAarchs said:

I completely disagree - top/plan view is an abstraction that allows one to work productively without other distracting elements - it's like any other abstraction that strips out the elements that aren't immediately essential and lets one work on and present essential elements of a model.

It just doesn't work, though, in so many scenarios. It fails to produce an abstraction that is presentable. This has all been discussed at great length throughout this thread.

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2 hours ago, Chad Hamilton HAarchs said:

The idea of having an LOD selection for 3d parametric tools would be genius - one setting that would add or strip away a level of detail from within the tool settings.

Yup, that would be great.

First, though, make some 3d parametric tools that construct things in a way that actually resembles how the detail of that element would work in real life construction. Otherwise there is no useful detail in that model to extract. The shortcomings of VW's parametric doors and windows for example have been fairly widely discussed.

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

Not quite. Things are transitioning gradually. You can, for instance, now take a plan section through your model via Clip Cube.

I know - but it doesn't generally give you something that's immediately presentable.

I find myself trying to decide which method makes the least messy plan - top/plan, or plan section as you describe.

The least messy being the one that takes the least fixing-up in annotation layer workarounds before I can present it as something I'd put my name to.

In some cases I even have plans which are made up of two cropped viewports, one top/plan and one plan-section, combined, and patched up in annotation layer.

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6 hours ago, line-weight said:

It just doesn't work, though, in so many scenarios. It fails to produce an abstraction that is presentable. This has all been discussed at great length throughout this thread.

We disagree - from your description of your work, you're working outside the area that VW has developed parametric tools - so you're spending a lot of effort modeling the unique elements you're working with.  Try working with the hybrid tool - it may make your life easier, by providing a link between modeled elements and conventional view projections.  And FYI, we do all our work in 3D.

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5 hours ago, Chad Hamilton HAarchs said:

We disagree - from your description of your work, you're working outside the area that VW has developed parametric tools - so you're spending a lot of effort modeling the unique elements you're working with.  Try working with the hybrid tool - it may make your life easier, by providing a link between modeled elements and conventional view projections.  And FYI, we do all our work in 3D.

The most basic example of where it fails is the generation of a plan within a pitched roofspace. I don't think that buildings with pitched roofs are exactly outside the area that an architectural drawing package should be expected to be capable in.

I've not found it possible to build a 3d model of a roof space, and then have top/plan generate a proper floor plan from that, where the cutting plane understands what's going on. If you have examples where you think you've managed to do this I'd be interested to see them.

Yes you can get some of the way with autohybrids - but they cause so many subsidiary problems that I've given up using them. And top/plan isn't even intelligent enough to know that a join between an autohybrid and, say, a wall is continuous and that you don't want to see a line there.

Edited by line-weight
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On 11/23/2017 at 6:33 AM, digitalcarbon said:

its not like the "top plan" tools have a dial on them LOD100, 200, 300 etc and you can just dial up to a higher LOD for the door tool..

To me it would be better if they stayed that way. The dial should be on the view not the objects. The problem is the current system can't defer the creation of geometry until it's needed it has to create (and recreate in full) every time the object is touched. So would end up slow and unworkable if implemented in the current system.

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On 11/22/2017 at 11:15 AM, digitalcarbon said:

yes i agree... but what happens is i have had my plans all done and nicely build with the top/plan tools and then when i went to 3d (to get elevations and sections from my model) i found out that i was majorly not finished.

then i spend much time doing clean up and trying to get the nice top/plan tools to work with my model...

so now i just work in real 3d only no top/plan tools...yes upfront its slower but in the end i do not have much clean up..

then again I'm not working on buildings...

There's another issue, at least for architects, which has been peripherally discussed here before. There is a disconnect between the time needed, up front, to model the project, the way an architect gets paid, and the time when benefits derived from the model make their appearance. Most architects traditionally get paid roughly in line with the phase of the work completed. Schematic design, design development, construction documents, etc. But a process that relies on extensive development of a 3D model does not follow the traditional phases of architectural work.

Some of the up-front 3D work is design, certainly. But much of it has a direct impact on the final construction documents, when information gets extracted from the model. One could say that an important piece of the effort invested in creating a quality 3D model only receives its compensation late in the life of a project.

In practice this means that an architect who invests considerable resources up front in developing a model is taking a signficant risk. A client could change their minds late in the project, or even cancel the project outright, as has happened to me several times this past year. And then it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to ask for compensation for work done early in the process that doesn't fit neatly into the phase-oriented timelines of normal architectural contracts.

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Dan, what i am finding is that as time goes by i am accumulating quality 3d work that can be used on other projects..

Edited by digitalcarbon
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On 11/21/2017 at 6:09 PM, Andrew Bell said:

The rotated view hidden line is a raster (bitmap) approximation using OpenGL, which does doesn't not support line weights, determining intersection lines, eliminating lots of wall join lines, etc. Nor can it be converted into lines, because it's just unconnected dots. It gets drawn as a placeholder until the final hidden line results can be drawn.

If that is the case - that should be the default mode until you need one of those other features.  Most of the time - line weight for the hidden line is terrible because it is an object setting and has nothting to do with outlining the objects or representing depth.  If I need to convert to lines-  then I could click that on - but otherwise, I want speed.

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I LOVE the LOD settings idea for a view setting.  Similar to the "Hide / Show" Details.  Objects and parts of objects could have a LOD setting to show up or be hidden.  Default LOD settings could be linked to scales.  It makes sooo much sense to fully adopt this new standard in a very direct and obvious way.

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On 11/26/2017 at 6:58 AM, DanJansenson said:

There's another issue, at least for architects, which has been peripherally discussed here before. There is a disconnect between the time needed, up front, to model the project, the way an architect gets paid, and the time when benefits derived from the model make their appearance. Most architects traditionally get paid roughly in line with the phase of the work completed. Schematic design, design development, construction documents, etc. But a process that relies on extensive development of a 3D model does not follow the traditional phases of architectural work.

Some of the up-front 3D work is design, certainly. But much of it has a direct impact on the final construction documents, when information gets extracted from the model. One could say that an important piece of the effort invested in creating a quality 3D model only receives its compensation late in the life of a project.

In practice this means that an architect who invests considerable resources up front in developing a model is taking a signficant risk. A client could change their minds late in the project, or even cancel the project outright, as has happened to me several times this past year. And then it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to ask for compensation for work done early in the process that doesn't fit neatly into the phase-oriented timelines of normal architectural contracts.

I think Vectorworks handles this better than some of the others. Well to be fair most of other experience is with offices in transition to ArchiCad including being trained. The thing that struck me from training was the overhead you mention to get to a workable base. Talking to people in those offices 5+ years down the track they still had the same overhead. Also convinced me that using VW better was more valuable than changing (but this is purely personal).

With Vectorwork a few settings many of which we now have have embedded in our templates much of the early 3d comes cheap and you can set-dress as needed to suit just the views, design exploration and detail that are going to get bills paid. Have to admit getting people in to the mind set of set-dressing the model to suit just the view they are concentrating on can be tricky but very valuable as it really does help defer model building activity down the track to where it's billable.

As digital Carbon comment what really helps is shamelessly reuse of previous work. Keeping the work organised so you can get what you want quickly. Making symbols and types early as in as soon as you think they might be reused.

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16 hours ago, Tom Klaber said:

I LOVE the LOD settings idea for a view setting.  Similar to the "Hide / Show" Details.  Objects and parts of objects could have a LOD setting to show up or be hidden.  Default LOD settings could be linked to scales.  It makes sooo much sense to fully adopt this new standard in a very direct and obvious way.

Me too.

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I want to carry forward this discussion on support for LOD views as a wish, which I think is a great idea.

So what is the consensus on the best way to do this? View setting? Object setting? A mixture of both?

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you could actually do this right now with classes but then your classes would get out of hand

however, maybe we need to add the following

What we have now:

Layers

Classes

LOD

Timing (existing, proposed, phase 1,2,3 etc)

Materials/Products

Disciplines (like fabricator, electrical, carpentry)

I do believe the above would cover everything..

then as you make things you sort into what it is, when its needed & who is responsible

then if you share in a web view...others can turn on and off what they want to see

also if there was a way to save back the Material/Products to a library that we all have access to then we would have a growing VW warehouse of parts

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