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Model Set Up (Revisited for 2019)

Guest Wes Gardner

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I understand. Thanks for your thoughts.

Since I have your attention.  :-)...

I also do not use window or door styles in my work.

 Mainly because, unless I am missing something, when trying to globally change all the trim on your windows, again, using a macro to select all the windows, if you are just using window styles, the macro for selecting all the windows does not function. ??

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Guest Wes Gardner

@Kevin K, regarding your window question, if the window style is set up such that the trim is set to "By Style" (the bent arrow icon), then yes, all the windows will change if you change the trim in the style.  If, however, the trim is set to "By Instance" (the slider icon), then no, you'll need to go around and adjust each one.  Think of a style as a symbol where you can specify which parameters are "fixed" and which parameters are adjustable.


I honestly believe styles are the way to go...



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  • 5 months later...
On 12/15/2016 at 7:55 PM, zoomer said:

Thanks a lot for the updated Stories and Level Tutorial.


Nevertheless I think the Story and Level System is unneeded complex on one side and not very flexible

on the other. I needed to go through the your first Tutorial to understand how it is meant and even back

to the old VW feature release videos (former Model Setup) even to understand where that complexity



It is hard to understand that System.

The reason for me is the integration of an auto-create Layer feature into Levels.

While being a nice feature to auto-create Layers when creating Stories, when you use a lot of Stories,

I see it as a low priority feature and add on that makes things complicated when included in this way.

Like when you start to add multiple Default Levels with same nam, just for the sake of auto-creating a

Layer or not.

Multiple Layers used on a single Story were mandatory as long as there didn't exist any Levels.

(former Model Setup)

Like for for Slab+Wall or even more Layers as the only option to parametrize height levels of PIO's.

Today, since we have Levels, at best, you want only 1 Layer per Story.

If you want to have more Layers per Story it is just for organizational purposes or as a drawing aid.

In most cases it really works for my by 1 single Story Layer. And it is easy to bind a Layer to a Story

later or while creation. I even never thought of any other way to need to do this nor did in a different




If you exclude all those Layers from Stories+Levels System,

you have a simple System that any user can understand.

Set Stories for each Story = normally your Finish Floor Levels

Set different Levels = Height Levels that you can bind your PIOs top and bottom boundaries in Z axis.




If there wouldn't exist Stories in VW, it could be even done by Layers only, which could include these

Levels. So why Stories at all ?

Currently the only advantage or flexibility from having a Story definition is the Automation to adapt all

adjacent and following Stories Z level, if you change the vertical Z level of a Story in between of these.

(+ "the auto creation of Layers")

Beside that Stories are mandatory because needed as they carry the Levels, there isn't much use of

these if we are talking about buildings with less than 4 Stories only.

Stories are useful when having a certain amount of these. And this is exactly where you will need a

a certain Flexibility and parametrical options which are currently not available.

Why not include something like Story Styles or Default Stories, so that you can parametrically adjust

the height of all Standard or Basement or Technic Story Prototypes of your skyscraper in one go ?

Which would also allow to create 27 new Stories on top of Story 1 by using Story Prototyp "Standard"

by its Height setting of 4,15 m. And change that to 4.28 later in one go, to satisfy the engineers

and the client.



Level's Flexibility.

The Default Level Setting currently does nothing more than prevent you from creating each Level

again from scratch when creating a new Story.

What I initially expected is, and even the term "Default Level" implies it, that when you change a Default

Level's height, all assignments in Stories will follow.

Like the Architect designs all Windows nicely from ceiling to floor, then client says, no, too expensive,

make balustrades, you will want to adjust your "Window Bottom Level" to +90 cm to comply clients wish

in one go.


And beside the tangling duplicates of Levels with identical names caused by the "auto create Layer"

feature. This will also happen when you want to use a Level Type having a different unique height setting

in a special Story. So there needs some recognizability, if it is still a (better linked) Default Level or

a unique Special Setting of Level, beside just the height entry and the need to remember which was your

default height.

And those duplicates will stay appearing in every Story's option - until the last used copy of it will finally

be found and eliminated manually.


And those "duplicates of Levels with identical names" only happen because you currently can can

(and maybe will) choose one single Level only into your PIO setting.

But such a Limit is not necessary by itself.

Of course there could be an option to choose more of these :

"Window Top Level Default" + "Window Top Level A= delta + 30 cm" + Window Top Level B= 1.36 m",

what ever Level applies to the Window in the current Story. The Window would still know what to do.

(Given that only one of these Levels can happen at each Story)


Generally I think it is simple, therefore better, that PIO's let you choose only one Level at a time, as they

currently do. So therefore such Level "Types" and their names have to be unique in each Story.


But there is a need for a clear UI in a Story Setting, which of those identical named Levels is which.

Where I propose to only show that one Default Layer + a checkbox to unlink from its default values

with an input field for the alternative height in that Story.

(So this way also allowing to re-link to default height binding, if needed)

And for as it is now, at least that Levels that have an additional Description Option that you can differentiate

clearly between a  : "Window Top Level (Default)" and its "Window Top Level (Custom-A)" counterpart.



Coming Back to the "the auto creation of Layers"

I think it should happen in the Stories creation settings options, as a simple checkbox behind each Level

to avoid redundant Levels. Maybe set the Layer name Suffixes in the Levels Box.



I still don't get why there is 

a) a need for a "Level Type" Box, instead of doing that in the Default Levels Box


b) if, why it is in the Layer's Tab of Organisation Toolbox and not in Stories Tab



"Stories : CANNOT be copied and pasted into a another file."

I think this is not nice at all and there is no need for that limit.

There could be (hidden or not) Default Story Settings included in any File.

So that VW is aware of what a an Elements Story information is (Like 4rd Floor above ground) and will

keep that information for later use.

So when I drag and drop a 3rd floor Window into another File without explicit user created Story Information,

VW will ask :

The Object you try to insert hast Story information, (looks your Files misses that), will you

a) discard that Story information and put it in using its height based on ground level

b) Keep that Objects Story Information and even copy all Story Information from the other file as you still

didn't create your own, as I told you


c) convert that Story Information of the Object to adapt to the Story Settings provided in your file


That Limit is especially irritating as there generally is no option in VW,

when transferring Elements from one Layer to the other, to decide wether to do make that possible jump in

height levels between these Layers or just, for organization/visibility purposes, keep the Objects "World"

height level over ground.

(Imagine you had the wrong 1st Story's Layer active when creating new objects in correct World Height

of 3rd Story, because snapping to the correct height level elements of the proposed Layer. 

If it is a crowded drawing and you can't drag, you will need to open your calculator and start thinking about

what your delta height differences between your Stories may have been)





I've just spent a couple of hours finally trying to get my head around storeys, to decide whether I want to attempt using them on a drawing I'm currently setting up.


Everything @zoomer says above is absolutely spot on. He identifies all the things that are confusing when you start out trying to understand what's going on, and more stuff that I don't quite follow right now but I'm sure I would find out if/when I started using storeys for real, and I suspect it is all exactly right and will reflect the frustrations of many users. I expect most of this feedback will be ignored. Ho hum.



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I use Stories+Levels in any project and am pretty comfortable with it.

Just because they are there.

As long as no changes in Levels happen, I am fine with it.

Maybe working with Layer heights and absolut heights in (Wall) Styles

would be not only simpler but even more flexible - don't know.



But meanwhile something lets me doubt about using the Story System

or even Layer heights in VW at all.

Collaboration with other Software. Where I am the only one with VW.


No matter how other Software does BIM itself or IFC/Revit Exchange.

All have BIM Stories, but now one uses Layer heights !

Everything except VW is in real World, or better Project height or level.


It is a real problem for me that we still don't have any option in VW,

when assigning Objects to another Layer,

which may have a different height,

that we can optionally keep the Object's World Height


Default of moving it in Z, according to Layer Height Differences.



As an example,

I could now replace and update my simplified Interior Walls easily with

more developed Walls from IFC or Revit imports.

But if I want to keep Layer Heights, no matter if Story based or manually,

for now, I would have to tediously bring over Story by Story and each time

carefully select the replacement Geometry and move it back down manually

in Z by the negative delta of Layer Height.

Which is no fun at all.

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56 minutes ago, zoomer said:


It is a real problem for me that we still don't have any option in VW,

when assigning Objects to another Layer,

which may have a different height,

that we can optionally keep the Object's World Height


Default of moving it in Z, according to Layer Height Differences.



As an example,

I could now replace and update my simplified Interior Walls easily with

more developed Walls from IFC or Revit imports.

But if I want to keep Layer Heights, no matter if Story based or manually,

for now, I would have to tediously bring over Story by Story and each time

carefully select the replacement Geometry and move it back down manually

in Z by the negative delta of Layer Height.

Which is no fun at all.


I agree; this is something I would like to have too.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

I do wonder why we need Level Types at all. To me it seems overly complicated to have Level Types and then Default Storey Levels and then to finally have to apply these to the actual Storey. Let's drop Level Types entirely. 

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I understand the frustration regarding level types.

Yes, the implementation could be easier.


Show a cross section of the structure based on what one wants to build with labeled levels.

Editable level names of course.



Foundation walls

1st level floor sytem

1st level walls

1st level additional levels as mentioned in below example

1st level ceiling

1st level roof

Ability to set vertical references for windows doors etc.


We need to have templates or have VW ask us how many story(s) building, and what levels would we like implemented with what heights.

That is what they are currently trying to do without asking.


Lets say we have a residential design that has different levels (multiple floor elevations) within a given story.

Lets assume a 1 story home.

We have our main level,  we have a sunken living room level (floor elevation down 7") from main floor,

we also have a raised kitchen level (floor elevation up 7") from main floor.


We would need to have these different levels with individual offsets (vertical elevations) within the 1st Story.

How would one go about defining the vertical offsets of the (3) floor levels (platforms) within the Story without levels?


We could label them as level 1 for main floor, level 2 for sunken floor level 3 for kitchen floor.

This would not inform us or anyone else which number is relative to which level.


Create (3) separate slabs for each level with own offsets?  Seems tedious.

Maybe name them as Child levels as they are not at same elevation as the Parent (main floor) level?

Maybe name them as sub levels as they are not at the same elevation (vertical offset) as the main level?


Food for thought




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1 hour ago, line-weight said:

It seems to me that 95% of the problems with levels / stories are to do with user interface design. The basic thing is fairly sound and not actually all that complex. But as usual, VW somehow manages to implement it in a way that is almost as if it's deliberately designed to be as confusing as possible.

 I hate to say it, but it makes you wonder if confused users = more training revenue.

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3 hours ago, taoist said:

Here is a sample of what I am talking about.


This is from Allplan.



I really like Allplan.


The only problem I had with Teilbilder (VW Layers ?) and Layers (VW Classes ?)

was that you had to open that management Window to switch Teilbilder/VW Layer

and it was not in realtime (20+ years ago ?)

Maybe it is much better today.


But that was something that made me enjoy VW,

Classes and Layers equally and at the same time.

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  • 2 months later...
On 5/29/2021 at 8:52 AM, MaltbyDesign said:

@Ben Beaumont I just wish that the whole setup was more intuitive than it is. Considering how much discussion and confusion there is around storeys, layers and levels suggests that the user experience could be made less complicated than it is. 

Exactly my opinion as well, it's either -- 

  1. Vectorworks has not done a good job of clearly and simply explaining how Levels / Stories / Levels / Level Types are supposed to be used or;
  2. Levels / Stories / Levels / Level Types as designed are more complicated than they need to be.
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17 hours ago, Ron Kwaske said:

One way I found to get around the 'confusing aspect' of using stories & level type is to create a spreadsheet to help simplify the math.  I use stories with a finished floor level (FF) and a Joist Bearing level.  On the left side of the spreadsheet, enter desired floor to ceiling heights, along with the thickness of the floor/ceiling assembly.  On the right, it gives me all of the elevations I need to enter.  547177259_ScreenShot2021-08-26at10_33_44AM.thumb.png.39f2f3123f8a3826391cbdaed0499169.png 

(I also custom build the stairs instead of using the stair tool, so I have the spreadsheet calculate that as well - shown bottom right).


That's interesting; do you just have 3 'levels' for each of your storeys? Are they chosen because they are the convenient heights to hook the bottoms and tops of your walls to?


I have been using levels partly as a way of fixing various useful datums for the model (previously I've actually resorted to writing them on a bit of paper pinned by the screen) because it lets me store that info "in the file".


In practice I'm finding that levels aren't really that useful for drawing the model because there are so few objects that you can set relative to them (pretty much just walls and slabs?). In particular it seems a major omission that doors and windows can't be set relative to them but really I'd like to be able to set any object's z height relative to one of my levels.


I still end up getting the calculator out to work out where certain things should be, now referring to my 'levels' set up instead of my bit of paper. But maybe a spreadsheet is a good idea.


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