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Phil hunt

Vectorworks 2017

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To start everyone off, have a look at the main launch commercial:

Followed by the flashier commercials for some of the larger features:

Then, a meaty course of individual feature videos, many of them detailed how-tos on the use and purpose of the new tools and commands:

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Vectorworks is running a special upgrade promotion that ends on September 14th.

There might be a clue in that.

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On the subject of release: We made a special effort this year to include complete guides on how to use the new tools, not just flashy commercials alone. The first batch that comes out the day of release will cover all of the more complex and major features and more will be coming out ASAP.

Basically each of the new features (Irrigation Tools for example is one that you have seen demos of already) will get a full Getting Started Guide level treatment, our motto for these videos has been "Explain The Crap Out Of It" since new things like Resource Manager will affect pretty much every single user.

It may seem like I did them ALL since they include my voice, but the whole User Success team (basically all the tech support reps you've ever spoken to) had a major hand in creating the materials, I think you all will be pleased.

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since they include my voice

That was a wise decision ....

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Well I suppose they figured if they can't shut me up they may as well put it to good use ;)

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Hi Jim,

A few months ago I was really happy to hear you mention that you guys were taking a new approach of sharing more of the development info with us. But since that initial dump of info there has been nothing. It seems like its back to the old ways of doing things again. Has things officially changed back to the ultra secrecy route?

My initial impressions of the first info dump was mixed. I am optimistically impressed with the new resource browser changes, however, as someone that uses vectorworks for presentation, The VR stuff made me bang my head of the desk several times. Not that I think VR is bad, but I hate to see the development resources put into this when the other presentation tools are so archaic.

I know you said you guys had hired a bunch of programmers so I am giving them the benefit of doubt that they are improving the other presentation stuff as well. I am hoping that before we get VR, we will be able to get some decent tools to make some simple animations. I tend to think of that as a logical walk before you run approach. But even before walking, I am hoping to crawl first by allowing us to properly map textures to objects. A crazy thought, I know.

Is there anything you can share with us in regards to mapping and animation? Even a simple, thumbs up or get your pitch fork ready would help out.

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I am able to talk about the features mentioned at the Summit in as much detail as anyone wants to ask for, but not any of the features that weren't in that list. This is effectively a pilot program on whether having a more open development cycle is a good idea or not. I feel that it is. However, part of that means getting feedback to the effect of "Why are you working on Y instead of X?" and there are no easy answers to those kinds of questions.

For texturing and animation creation, I can comment that the direction we are most likely going to be headed for advanced animation and complex texturing work, will be leaning more heavily on our link to Cinema4D. I've actually taken to learning the ins and outs of it recently because of this.

There is no way we could approach what C4D is capable of within a short timeframe. There are so many industry-specific things that we have to focus on, that a lot of the more advanced 3D presentation work that people are wanting to engage in pretty much has to rely on outside software.

While I would of course prefer Vectorworks be made capable of doing anything and everything that a designer may want, management has to pick their battles when it comes to feature development. We are electing to work on giving users tools that do not exist anywhere else in any industry rather than trying to beat specialized software packages at their own games.

EDIT: As to the drying up of development talk, a lot of that is my fault personally. There was more about those features and how they worked and other development concepts I wanted to discuss, but my workload for this release cycle did not permit it. This should be resolved after this year but for now I'm wearing a lot of full time hats and havent been able to give the community the attention I feel it deserves in the last few months. For that I apologize.

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One day I'll be able to click Like for that post..... one day soon I hope....

KM

SUPER SOON!

New forums are extremely nigh (I don't want to roll them out right on top of the release of 2017 for support reasons as I'm sure you all can understand, so it will likely be between now and then or just after release) and I CAN share info about that:

The test import of these forums into the new version went flawlessly. All user accounts, posts, signatures, profiles pictures, post counts, private messages, everything that everyone has ever done on these forums (16-ish years of knowledge and debate!) will be transferred to our new home. When we roll this out, we will probably pick a weekend and lock the forums after alerting users a week or so ahead of time, perform the upgrade, and then the link to this page will bring you to the new forums directly and your old login info will get you in right away.

The wishlist posts will transfer to a forum where any users will be able to go back over past items and like/upvote/promote the post which will give us a much better method of tracking which feature requests are the most wanted. Instead of users having to post "+1s" they will have only to click a single button and then go on about their lives without fear of a 504 error.

You will be able to simply drag/drop files right onto the post to attach them and the restrictions on file size will be significantly relaxed. Images and videos will automagically (one of my favorite words) embed themselves into posts so no more dealing with the file manager.

To start with there will just be the one UI theme which will closely match our main web pages, but I will be poking the design team about creating a dark theme choice for users because lots of white space burns my eyes. I much prefer lighter text on a darker background.

The search actually WORKS and the boards include a tagging system for articles, posts and files that makes it easier to find them later. Users will even be able to make up their own tags they aren't forced to use a set we develop.

Users will have access to a kind of download gallery that allows uploaders (either us officially or individual users) to curate their shared files as well as tag them for easy searching, and even iterate versions of them while maintaining a history of the old versions if they want. (This part might come later, there are some more complex questions about it to tackle regarding legal stuff but we wont let this delay the release of the forum upgrade.)

Separately but sort of related to the forum upgrade (an off-to-the-side project), engineering is working on a method of making bug reporting simpler, possible having it grab bug reports right from posts on the board without users having to fill out a form. I have also seen initial design docs for including the ability to report issues directly from the software itself. The idea being that the easier we make reporting bugs, the more often it will be done and the more problems we will catch and fix.

I get excited about it, if you couldn't tell. Any questions about the forums I can answer freely, none of that is under NDA.

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Thanks Jim…

Reading between the lines of your response and how the updates have been going the past decade, its kind of what I expected. When I originally chose Vectorworks (minicad at that time) it was due to its strong presentation properties. Over the years, vectorworks has lost its focus. Its now the jack of all trades, master of none.

This is exactly why I brought up VR. If the direction is not to be “presentation” oriented, why in the world develop VR. I don’t want to sound rude, but the bland looking textureless VR demo was not impressive to me at all. I would be truly embarrassed to show clients that low level quality of their project and strongly believe it would do more harm than good. We are many years away to where the quality of VR will be even remotely acceptable to present to clients.

BUT… I understand you got to start somewhere and I was hoping that vectorworks had a renewed interest in presentation. In order for Vectorworks to be a successful VR presentation tool down the road, the current mapping and animation tools would need to ramp up quickly so that’s why I hoped there would be improvement in 2017. But then you say the direction leans towards pawning these things off to another program. So what kind of VR will this end up being in the future. That lack of seeing the finish line is what makes me bang my head year after year.

I am one user, so I understand if the direction is no longer presentation, I should move on to something else that targets that. What bothers me though is that everyone is clamouring to just fix the basic tools you have over and over again, yet resources are being wasted on VR, something that is targeted towards a presentation user such as myself, yet its something that I will never use because Vectorworks is not a presentation tool. Do you get what I am saying?

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What bothers me though is that everyone is clamouring to just fix the basic tools you have over and over again, yet resources are being wasted on VR, something that is targeted towards a presentation user such as myself, yet its something that I will never use because Vectorworks is not a presentation tool. Do you get what I am saying?

I really do. A huge portion of the reason I'm focusing on the bug submission and wishlist systems is so that user's voices can either be made louder, or that I can shape feedback into hard numbers that can be more easily used to influence development decisions on behalf of the people who use Vectorworks every day.

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My bet is if there were two wishes in the new votable forum - fix bugs or VR - fix bugs would win by a landslide. Some of my longstanding bugs eat up so much drawing time for workarounds. While there are some people pitching projects with VW, most people are using VW to guide production - drawings, data, models. If I want to pitch something, I bring it into C4D....

KM

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While I would of course prefer Vectorworks be made capable of doing anything and everything that a designer may want, management has to pick their battles when it comes to feature development. We are electing to work on giving users tools that do not exist anywhere else in any industry rather than trying to beat specialized software packages at their own games.

I agree 100% with this statement. Vw shouldn't be trying to reinvent the wheel rather use other software for features they don't have, especially (but not limited to) the software already in their stable.

Thanks for your feedback Jim.

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My bet is if there were two wishes in the new votable forum - fix bugs or VR - fix bugs would win by a landslide.

KM

Or

Energos, Point Clouds, Caustics, Water thingy, ...

Of course all nice features, nice to have - but from Priority - No

I am pretty happy that is just VR only.

When I saw session videos from the previous summit, what will be in

VW 2016 and beyond, they were talking about VW in a browser.

I was really afraid they would put all energy in developing a VW browser

or iOS App for VW 2017.

And this years summit interviews mentioned that VW feels even

over-user-centric. I think in that case VW would look completely different

and VW 2016 maybe would never happened.

Not sure if it is only a small part of the user voices that really reaches VW.

For me it looks like Landscape and Spotlight users are overall quite satisfied.

The largest user base, the architects, not so 100% happy.

And given the largest part of licenses sits beyond the US, beside that there are

local distributions adapted for certain countries, VW, and its core, still looks

completely US centric.

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VR/Webview is probably the only real "bells and whistles" task this year actually, I have something like 20 (after release it'll be about 35) videos for the major features and the other 19 are either very industry specific or focused on improving existing conventions, I think you all are going to be pleasantly surprised.

I also have been working to find a way to clean up the issue of long standing bugs. A lot of the time, even when the bugs are fixed, they get fixed in a full version release and no announcements are made, and there is no automatic alert to let the user know about it. There are also a lot of internal systems here that allow for bugs to become "stale" and appear as if they occurred in 2010 say, but not in 2012 since no one filed a bug AGAIN for that later version (expecting users to file the same bugs over and over again is also not an option I consider acceptable) and then the older bugs sometimes get suck way down at the bottom of a pile while more modern bugs that may or may not be as severe get the attention.

Also, I want to find a way for bugs that get to the point of: "We know X is broken, we can not fix X properly until we do Y and Y is scheduled for 2019" to convey that information to users. It is always better to explain that something WON'T be fixed for a set period of time than to leave the user guessing or sitting on their hands waiting for a fix when it would be in their best interest to develop a more permanent workaround in the meantime.

Ideally bugs would of course be fixed within the version, but it's always better to know than not know, as the past 3 years or so of this more open dialogue on the forums has proven.

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Jim,

Great behind the scenes info about bugs! Communication is key from my perspective.

(I always feel guilty when I ask you about the same bugs over and over.)

Kevin

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Jim,

Thank you for your thoughts regarding working on the problem with bugs!

Two comments:

1. The activities you outline should also apply to illogical or dis-functional functionality.

2. It seems like all the new big added features over the last few years have come with their own sets of bugs and illogical functionality. The effect being to make users wary of investing time in learning and using the new features while adding to the existing stockpile of bugs and dis-functionality.

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Thats another major bug related thing I'm harping on. Currently there are these bug states:

1) "Submitted" - Someone submitted it but no one has confirmed or tested it.

2) "Fixed in Prior Version" - Fixed in a version that was already released. So if you submitted a 2012 bug that didn't exist in 2013 or later, this is what it would be filed as.

3) "Fixed in -versionnumber-" Usually when its going to be fixed in an SP or a full release that isn't out yet.

4) "Won't Fix" - Confirmed that this bug exists, but for technological reasons it will not be corrected. This happens when for instance a bug exists in say something like c4D render engine 13 and we already planned to move to 14. If the bug is fixed by that new version we won't do anything to fix a bug with 13. This also happens if the tool is going to be made Legacy soon. This is the rarest state and doesn't happen that often.

5) "Works as Designed" - This is the most controversial state. There are two main reasons this state is applied to a bug submission:

First: if the issue is user error and nothing is broken at all. This is the most common use of WAD.

Second: If a bug is submitted with the logic that the feature is not working the way the average user would expect BUT it functions exactly as the original engineering document described it should work, this is the state it is relegated to. There is NO automatic method of filing these as a Enhancement Request currently and at the moment this is where I come in, filing them as wishes and attacking people in charge of the features with various office supplies on behalf of the user.

My current proposal is that once an engineer files something as Worked as Designed (Which please understand, isn't the engineer being a jerk, they do NOT have the authority to say that the engineering task they were handed to implement should have been implemented a different way, this is their manager's call.) it should then have the option to go into a state of "Designed Wrong" with ideally a less argumentative name, and that these should get priority over new feature development or other bugs in that particular area of the software.

The biggest problem with Works as Designed though is if I submit the bug and it comes back to me as WAD, I have the chance to act on it and file it as a wish. If one of YOU files a bug and it gets WAD status, unless you are a beta tester, you or I never get notified and it falls into a limbo state. This is where im pushing for an automatic system that dumps all WAD marked bugs into a special list for managerial or industry specialist review, so that someone who uses the software regularly and would be considered an authority on the tool or command in question gets at least a Yay or Nay say on where it should go.

Sorry to ramble on, there is a LOT of stuff I work on in the background that I forget the public doesn't have any idea I do. I intend to share more as time goes on and get your feedback on the issues as well. Please feel free to criticize or offer suggestions regarding anything I have posted.

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Thanks for another great explanation.

5)My current proposal is that once an engineer files something as Worked as Designed (Which please understand, isn't the engineer being a jerk, they do NOT have the authority to say that the engineering task they were handed to implement should have been implemented a different way, this is their manager's call.) it should then have the option to go into a state of "Designed Wrong" with ideally a less argumentative name, and that these should get priority over new feature development or other bugs in that particular area of the software.

I personally vote for BAD or "Broken as Designed". If WAD is an ok term to use from an engineering perspective then BAD is perfectly valid feedback from a design perspective :-)

Kevin

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