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Tom Klaber

Mac v PC / VW2017Feltron

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@JimW - What is the split on Mac v PC?  I am thinking we need to start thinking about a slow switch over to Windows, but there is a perception that VW PC users are rare - and that is scary to some people here.  While I do not think that is the case - the only 'Office" I ever worked in that had VW on a PC was my home office.  It might comfort them to know if 50% of people use it on a PC.

Also -  I am a little bit of a data infographic nerd, but it would be fun if you guys would release a  Feltron-like report on some of the fun usage statistic you guys gather.  -What is the split for Mac vs PC?  What are People's favorite tools.  How many Cntl-Zs on an average day.... just because I do not think you have enough going on.

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About 60% Mac and 40% Windows (Globally that is. In the US alone it's closer to 70/30 and in the UK it's closer to 75/25. Japan and China are much heavier on the Windows side.) This fluctuates over time but recently I've seen a rise in Windows users, probably due to Macs currently limited hardware selection. There used to be a lot of differences in UI between Mac and Windows, but now the only major remaining ones I think are:

 

1) Tabbed Documents - Currently only available on Mac but this will be coming to Windows too. Windows documents can't leave the main application window yet, though I suspect this will also change with the introduction of tabbed docs.

 

2) Color Picker - Vectorworks uses the default OS color picker on both OSes and the Mac one is just better. Eyedropper color selection being the key item in my opinion.

 

There may also be issues with Fonts brought from one platform to the other, but that's sort of outside of Vectorworks.

 

As far as those kind of reports, I fully plan to share them once the Analytics system allows for a little tweaking (and fixes the issue where pie/bar charts don't always add up to 100% in their labels ;) ) as well as once I get a clear picture from the bosses on what can be shared and what can't. I don't want to hinder the progress towards more open development with a silly misstep on my part.

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1 minute ago, Andrew Davies said:

Interesting to hear.

Is it possible to say how many active licences there are of VWX too?

 

That is one of the numbers along with $ income and other sensitive things like that, that I know for sure I am not permitted to share publicly.

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Wow I had no Idea that most users were on the Mac side.  We use pcs in our office.  We were told that going with pcs makes it easier to connect with the pc servers.

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Just now, Markvl said:

We were told that going with pcs makes it easier to connect with the pc servers.

 

This is true. Apple's network protocols are kinda iffy in a mixed environment for a number of reasons. Going All Mac or All Windows are much more stable choices.

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We run mostly macs and it is not great.  There is nothing on the Mac side we need except that the brass is more comfortable with them.  We are starting to explore replacing our inhouse server with AWS or Google Cloud - which I am hoping will allow us to be a little more platform agnostic.  

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we're seriously considering moving to Windows.

Mainly because of limited hardware options on the mac side.

Other reason is that Microsoft Office is just better on Windows.

Plus Outlook has features we want to use that Apple Mail doesn't (or Outlook for Mac)

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11 hours ago, JimW said:

 

That is one of the numbers along with $ income and other sensitive things like that, that I know for sure I am not permitted to share publicly.

Far enough!

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Here in the UK the majority of Universities are Mac for VW so its not surprising that the split is so heavily weighted in favour of the Mac.

 

 

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IF the training centre at the local distributor is an indication, Macs still have the upper hand in numbers. That being said, this may also because a lot of creative software education is heavily on Mac as well, whereas Windows is more used in the technical educations. That being said, I have not noticed any significant differences in working with VW on a Mac vs  VW on Windows.

 

Apart from a few, imho minor, things I don't think there is any major reason to prefer Mac or Windows from a technical perspective. It most likely will come down to either platform preference, costs for hardware or needed software that may be on one platform only.

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It's an interesting change in dynamic as observed by me.

In the early days of VW in the entertainment crowd it seemed everyone was Mac because Mini-CAD as VW was in it's early days was a Mac only software.

In my shop we had all iMacs, you know the jellybean colored ones, but we had 1 Windows based machine so we could run ACAD which is what lighting people drew with back then.

Now I see a 50/50 split and maybe a 60/40 split. (W/M)

I see 3 reasons in no particular order

Cost - You can get a powerful Windows laptop, or desktop for less money than a Mac

Software - In the lighting world there's lots of other programs that we use that only work on PC, and yes many people dual boot their machines so they can jump back and forth, but that gets fishy when you introduce a 2nd computer. VW>BrandMA3D>GrandMA OnPC. The networking to get these all to work means Mac's are not allowed.

Horsepower - which is kind of a dumb term considering we're talking about computers here, but the amount of computing power you can push in a custom build is really impressive. When I'm done with my build I'll have dual liquid cooled video cards, and a liquid cooled main chip.

 

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On 28 September 2016 at 5:52 AM, Tom Klaber said:

We run mostly macs and it is not great.  There is nothing on the Mac side we need except that the brass is more comfortable with them.  We are starting to explore replacing our inhouse server with AWS or Google Cloud - which I am hoping will allow us to be a little more platform agnostic.  

Server in the cloud, we considered this and if you do it you would need a mirror in house just in case the net goes down. You all go home. Speed and reliability is an issue.

Edited by Alan Woodwell

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@Alan WoodwellWho did you use?  AWS, Azure, Google?  Or a Mom and Pop?  It can't possibly go down as much as our current server. 

Edited by Tom Klaber

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Why are you looking to put your files on the Net. Remember, there is no such thing as the Cloud, only someone else computer somewhere else that you have less control over.

 

If you are a single office, you are better off finding someone who can either replace the local server with one that works or fixing the current one. Cloud backup is great, but unless you have Fiber internet server (like 1 gigabit/second or higher), you are likely to saturate the connection and have slow access if you have more that a couple of people needing access at the same time. Cloud backup is great. Storage of large discrete files like VW is not so good.

 

If you really need to have people in multiple locations having access to shared files a the same then cloud could make sense. But even then something like DropBox or Box that would simply mirror changes could be a better option.

 

And no matter what you do, either you or someone you trust needs to understand the details of how the system works. And you need to have backups on a different system. AWS might be 99.999% reliable, but if you don't have copies somewhere else (any make sure it is not with a service that uses AWS), you are risking losing your data.

 

Nothing is truly saved until it is stored in at least three locations on at least two different types of media.

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2 minutes ago, Pat Stanford said:

Why are you looking to put your files on the Net. Remember, there is no such thing as the Cloud, only someone else computer somewhere else that you have less control over.

 

If you are a single office, you are better off finding someone who can either replace the local server with one that works or fixing the current one. Cloud backup is great, but unless you have Fiber internet server (like 1 gigabit/second or higher), you are likely to saturate the connection and have slow access if you have more that a couple of people needing access at the same time. Cloud backup is great. Storage of large discrete files like VW is not so good.

 

If you really need to have people in multiple locations having access to shared files a the same then cloud could make sense. But even then something like DropBox or Box that would simply mirror changes could be a better option.

 

And no matter what you do, either you or someone you trust needs to understand the details of how the system works. And you need to have backups on a different system. AWS might be 99.999% reliable, but if you don't have copies somewhere else (any make sure it is not with a service that uses AWS), you are risking losing your data.

 

Nothing is truly saved until it is stored in at least three locations on at least two different types of media.

 
 

Interesting opinion.  Connection speed is a concern.  Now that we are moving to project sharing, it is less of a worry since we would not longer be working off of the server like we do now - but instead be working on the local working copies.  This has really opened up the option for us not to have to maintain a server in house.  We are still exploring the advantages and disadvantages are.  The issue with the cloud storage like OneDrive is that I am less confident that we can use that as our primary storage - meaning that we would then be splitting our document handling to 2 different locations unless we go full on OneDrive -which I do not see happening.  

 

 

Maintaining our in-house server is very expensive and the quadrennial replacement very disruptive.  I would gladly give up some control to offload the maintenance and future-proofing.  I am a belt and suspenders kind of guy and we surely would maintain backup procedures outside of our VPN.  We are a single office but we have projects going on worldwide and I want our employees to have better access to our information when they are not in the office - even if they simply working from home because their kid is sick.  

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5 hours ago, Tom Klaber said:

@Alan WoodwellWho did you use?  AWS, Azure, Google?  Or a Mom and Pop?  It can't possibly go down as much as our current server. 

LOL, I used to use Telstra Australia's leading provider and they often have a total blackout for a day or so, not common but the question is "What if" and you don't have a backup option in house.

If you are confident that technology is perfect then go for it.

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2 hours ago, Pat Stanford said:

Why are you looking to put your files on the Net. Remember, there is no such thing as the Cloud, only someone else computer somewhere else that you have less control over.

 

If you are a single office, you are better off finding someone who can either replace the local server with one that works or fixing the current one. Cloud backup is great, but unless you have Fiber internet server (like 1 gigabit/second or higher), you are likely to saturate the connection and have slow access if you have more that a couple of people needing access at the same time. Cloud backup is great. Storage of large discrete files like VW is not so good.

 

If you really need to have people in multiple locations having access to shared files a the same then cloud could make sense. But even then something like DropBox or Box that would simply mirror changes could be a better option.

 

And no matter what you do, either you or someone you trust needs to understand the details of how the system works. And you need to have backups on a different system. AWS might be 99.999% reliable, but if you don't have copies somewhere else (any make sure it is not with a service that uses AWS), you are risking losing your data.

 

Nothing is truly saved until it is stored in at least three locations on at least two different types of media.

And to add to the previous I totally agree with Pats comments here.
We have a server that has served us well for the at least the 5 years that I have been at this office and I have tech support 10min away who I now buy all the computers from and for a small fee they maintain it and do a monthly remote checkup etc etc. Expensive to maintain, certainly not, if you regularly monitor all your backup and the health of your system you can often see issues arising long before you have a deadline and you crash 10min before presentation.
That's my 2 pennies worth. 
Years ago we had a huge presentation on a project which included a huge number of images so on Sunday night I copied the file including all the images onto a JAZZ drive (your prob to young to know what that is) and took it home. Came in on Monday and the server had been wiped of all image files by a virus from Columbia.

Lesson learnt. Always maintain your system, and backup on and off site.

Edited by Alan Woodwell

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I completely agree with Pat and Alan's previous comments: They're offering some very wise advice.

 

But if you really want to switch to cloud server storage, before you throw out the old server and jump completely on the Cloud train - I would recommend trying out one of the cloud services on one project for at least a month or more to see how well it will work in a Vectorworks environment.

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I had a look at this last year as our server raid was looking iffy (luckily was a harddrive not enclosure issue). The best recommendation that came back from a couple of people who would normally build their own servers was to look at Synology raids. You can buy a pair and cloud sync them together in-house for the big initial transfer then move one offsite. One is onsite so as long as you have power in the office you have access.   Plus you get syncing apps for most mobile platforms to let you access data with as much security control as you'd get with any of the cloud vendors.

 

It seems to be a best of both worlds as the still hold all the data in your control and hardware.

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Yes Synology raids could be a good solution, am using one myself too and it works well. Make sure you get one of the higher end models and carefully check the specifications as some supposedly lower end models in one series could outperform a higher end model in another series.
 That way you can use a gigabit internal network and have faster transfers than with a cloud service over internet connection.

 

Plus you will be in control of your files yourself.

 

In the past a cloud backup service provider contacted me and claimed they were reliable and secure. Upon my question if they were sure enough of themselves to accept a liability clause in case of data leaks caused by malfunctions on their end for client confidential files, the salesperson first got silent and then said he would have to contact management. Have never heard back from them.


Using cloud storage services may be convenient, but if you are going to use it for (client) confidential and/or commercially sensitive information I'd rather use an in-house server. A simple test is to ask for something like a liability/damages clause in the service agreement. If they are truly confident that they provide a secure and reliable service they may want to discuss with you about this. If they drop the ball (almost) right away, don't use them because in that case an in-house server is probably more secure than their service.

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I have not encountered this personally, but currently Tech Support advises against these specific Synology NAS devices:

 

Synology RS10613xs+ 
Synogoly Disk Station DS414 
Synology DiskStation DS1512+ 
Synology DiskStation DS 214 
Synology DS211j 
 

When using Mac OS X. We have had quite a few users report problems with working with files directly on these storage systems as well as when using Project Sharing in conjunction with them. It is an ongoing bug.

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15 hours ago, rDesign said:

I completely agree with Pat and Alan's previous comments: They're offering some very wise advice.

 

But if you really want to switch to cloud server storage, before you throw out the old server and jump completely on the Cloud train - I would recommend trying out one of the cloud services on one project for at least a month or more to see how well it will work in a Vectorworks environment.

 

Ha.  I like that I am coming off as a cowboy here.  Of course we would never make a change of this magnitude without throughout testing, and even after - assuming all went well - would have a prolonged period of running both systems at once.  

 

Mom and Pop shops are good for candles, not good for technology services.  I have been burnt and seen people burnt too many times by small email hosting companies, photo storage companies, cloud services companies.  When it comes to this stuff, I trust the people with the big institutional clients.  I think we would contract with Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud.  We would maintain a separate backup and a monthly hard copy backup, but I see it less likely that one of these services is going to fold unexpectedly, or not work to recover lost data in the cases that it happens - which is very rare.  


I think these services have matured over the last 5 years - with most major everything running on them.  Maybe they make more sense for high traffic high demand situations, but if it works for Evernote - seems like it should be OK for us.  I am going to try and see if I can not get the budget to start running some small scale tests next year - to see how it goes. 
 

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^ Hehe, my brain assembled "I've seen people burnt by Mom and Pop candle shops." from this.

 

...It's been a long week.

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Wow. Where to start?! I can feel a minor dissertation coming on… 😉

 

Mac vs PC

Yes, the Mac hardware situation is a challenge at the moment, but should be updated this month. With the LARGE exception of video cards, Intel have not been helping things with their CPU upgrades.

 

But more importantly, what are the overheads in IT costs for switching away from Mac going to be? And what happens if you leave? Your bosses will be stuck with a platform they don't know how to use. Macs cost more up front, but are easier to maintain. If you like PCs that much, it's probably better you move to a firm that uses them. My last day job used PCs, and whilst the people at the firm were great, but the most stable PC I have used is a Mac running Bootcamp (Whilst Windows 7 was a welcome relief, clearly I am in the Mac camp.)

 

As far as I can see, there are two reasons for switching to PC – :

  • CUDA/OpenCL,
  • and/or Revit.

On the CUDA front, Architosh had an article showing how Nvidia was hiring macOS based engineers to assist with improving  CUDA/OpenCL, and so I see this changing relatively soon. Without decent hardware updates for video card rendering based solutions, the last couple of years for CGI artists have been rough, and so I can see why some had to transition. That said, we have been testing external render farm solutions, and they can be cheap. This is one area of the cloud your team should be looking into before transitioning all of your hardware.

 

And if you need to be transition to Revit, well that is different story altogether.

 

Cloud vs Server

How about… both?! Even with a fibre pipe, I don’t think it best to run primarily from the cloud.

 

At the moment, Vectorworks uses a lot of bandwidth, and is not particularly cloud friendly. (I think ArchiCAD is better at creating much smaller uploads).  Dropbox seems to be the only solution that partially works, and even then, if using Project Sharing, only by pausing Dropbox, and re-syncing at agreed intervals. But that is not going to fly for non-tech types. Which let's face it, are going to be most people in a studio.

 

In short, I would say you need to have a server solution (Mac Mini with a Raid drive will do), with both local (a second RAID), and cloud backup (Crashplan, Backblaze, etc). If the primary RAID/server goes down, you can plug the backup into a spare Mac and get back up and going in minutes. Get a good IT firm that is responsible for the server. Set it up the way you like, but make them responsible for managing it. That way, you get to focus on your projects, not IT.

And if you have to work across studios or remotely, use something like Dropbox, to pick up the slack. This also makes sense as Vectorworks Cloud Services uses it.

Having learnt the hard way. One cannot afford to skimp on making sure your data is safe, and robust.

 

Similar to my comment on external render farms, if there was an area of the cloud to put to use, I would be investigating Vectorworks Cloud Services, and seeing if it can be used for any heavy lifting.

 

Hope that helps. Cheers.

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