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Hidden Information Syndrome - Please streamline the user interface

Thomas Wagensommerer


Vectorworks suffers from hidden information syndrome. For no apparent reason, there is information hidden, several levels deep, in too many dialog boxxes.

Just one example: This is a big dialog box with plenty of empty unused space.

Why is the description not directly displayed?

Why is drop shadow information hidden?

Why is there empty space instead of directly displaying the info for roofs and other?

Bildschirmfoto 2016-09-21 um 13.37.00.png

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

It may very well have all started when there was very little screen real estate (I think the first machine I saw MiniCAD on ran 1024x768... yeouch), so having a very large dialog box or many items displayed onscreen at once wasn't wanted or possible. But now that screen real estate is more often at a surplus with huge or multiple displays, it's time for a step back and a rethink. A lot of the continuation of this type of multi-level concealed UI probably comes from engineers wanting to:

1) Maintain consistency (which is only acceptable if consistently GOOD!)

2) Any time they added a new tool, they didn't have to redesign or alter any other tools or command's UIs at all.

I can see WHY it happened over the course of so many years, but I think it is about time we did some spring cleaning. If I waited 20 years between spring cleanings of my house, I think my grandmother's ghost would start throwing rocks at me.

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3 hours ago, Thomas Wagensommerer said:

The object info palette is totally empty for stairs. OK. And then there is this. Windows.

Why is everything visible, even when not needed?

In addition to that there are 20 (twenty) dialog boxes. I counted them.

I dont know what to say...


I use a lot of other software, and in some where you have really really long dialogues, such as 3ds max and adobe lightroom, each section header allows a "roll up" toggle. So if you find that there's a bit you rarely use, you keep it rolled up (showing just the header).

I seems to be a fairly standard across most software these days... and perhaps, like the navigation panel, an alt-click could roll everything up or down.


That would be lovely to see that in an upcoming spring clean. (but please before vw2018!!!!)

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26 minutes ago, Thomas Wagensommerer said:


Windows and doors in VW are already too complicated, nonetheless they still dont do what I need. I think an improved concept is needed not only for the user interface also for the technical content.


I kind of like the Custom Cabinet tool as templet of how a next generation door / window tool could work.  You have a graphical representation of the door - and you are able to click to edit the panels, rails, jambs, muntins, mullions, sills.  That way all the options are not is this HUGE list - but just come up after you indicate that is the part of the object you want to edit.  

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On 27/09/2016 at 8:10 PM, JimW said:

So, opinions on this type of dialog? It has started to become the standard when tools get reengineered/rebuilt. Is this better than the sub-sub-sub dialog box button breadcrumb trails, or nearly as cumbersome?

I guess that would depend on the tool and the number of options.

Even though this is an improvement it might be useful to have an option for a reverse order. E.g. now settings for 2D and 3D for line thickness or colour have to be set through the 2D and the 3D items.

It would be nice if would could start from e.g. line colour or thickness property and then select whether this applies to 2D, 3D or both by selecting those. i.e instead of working from left to right in your window example you should also be able to start in the middle. Of course this would work only for items that are available in multiple categories.


I hope it is a bit clear what I'm trying to convey.

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