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Future VW GUI - Pen and Touch input

Your main input device for VW will be ?  

29 members have voted

  1. 1. Your main input device for VW will be ?

    • I will always prefer Mouse and Keyboard
    • I already use a standard Graphic Tablet + Pen
    • I already use a Tablet with Screen + Pen (like Cintiq)
    • I already use a Tablet with Screen + Pen + Touch (like Cintiq Touch or Canvas)
    • I want to use Touch + Pen input devices beside my Monitor in the future
    • I want to use Touch + Pen input devices as a single Monitor + Input device in the future
    • I want Speech Input
    • I want VR Tools

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With Surface Family from Microsoft and Dell Canvas coming beside existing Wacom Cintiqs,

can a CAD App like VW ever work in a tablet mode - and how ?


1. View Navigation has to be done completely by pinch, ... gestures ?


2. When you activate a numeric or text input field there has to appear an onscreen NumPad or Keyboard ?

(does it work without a TAB ?)


3. There need to be left hand buttons to force RMB Option Clicks and such ?


4. All often used tools have to be all time available as Icons/Buttons ?


5. Toolsets have to always adapt to current Selection or Workflow and appear as a floating bar ?


6. Like a Surface dial is recognized on screen, I want to use the Pen with my NFC plastic Rulers, recognized by Software ?

(Protractor, Compasses, ....)

Edited by zoomer
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I had expected far more people opting for Mouse+Keyboard only.

And maybe they are right at the end.


What I want for me personally is a Monitor Touch Pencil device that sits flat on my table.

So opposed to a sloped Surface Studio position where the dial wheel or other Tools will slowly slide down the screen.

With an option to set it vertical like a standard Screen when used with Apps or Workflows that may not support a

Tablet Mode. Also it should have all attributes of a good monitor like a high resolution or large colorspace.

Screen size should be at least 30". While I think when being larger, like it was at times when you draw with ink and

T-square/Mayline on a 2x1 m table, you would no more sit still on your chair but need to do your gymnastics around

your tablet which for me sounds attractive.


Important is that is not a Graphic Tablet only but a Screen you work on so that you can watch your hands.

Otherwise I see no sense to do larger hand movements as I will do with Mouse usage. Those Wacom attempts

didn't work in the past for me.


It can be an All in One device for standard office use,

as long as it has fast and future proof connections (TB3, USB-C, ...) to accelerate that device with additional and

replaceable workstations to allow long term usage. Or simply as a separate input device like Cintiq/Canvas.

The Monitor Mode Stand could be something external, like a simple easel.

Edited by zoomer
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And I wish to have all kind of haptic objects that will be recognized by the system.


Like programmable Boxes that resemble different Stories, that you arrange somewhere on your tablet

to control current visibilities or other things.

Things like Rulers that tell the machine that you want to draw straight, at an angle or lock to a specific

Axis that way.

Or workflow boxes that will switch Workspace UI to specific tasks. Different Pens or Tools that provide

different settings like Auto Classing, Line Weights and such things.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • Member

I think more people would still use Mouse/Keyboard at this point simply because there is no good CAD program supports alternative interactions, e.g. pen/touch or even the form of "Tangible User Interactions" you mentioned in the last post.

What's surprised me is the result of votes, nearly equal on both ends, might be due to people clicking on this topic are those who already interested in it :-).


I always believe in what benefits Pen/Touch interactions could bring to the designers, especially in Vectorworks.

I am looking forward to it!!


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5 minutes ago, Chih-Pin said:

What's surprised me is the result of votes, nearly equal on both ends, might be due to people clicking on this topic are those who already interested in it :-)


Seems very likely to me.


I'm really curious if it will work for me with the Cintiq Touch - when it finally will arrive

at some point.

You can read a lot about people being lucky using standard small sized Tablets for all

applications including standard CAD.

Not much information about a large 27" Cintiq like the Canvas. Seems to work nice with

Modo, which has an extra mapping for tablets.


There are a lot of possibilities why a large Cintiq may not work well with VW.

It is so large and there is no more room for the physical keyboard. Not sure if an onscreen

keyboard will work. Beside shortcuts for which may be workarounds, architecture in VW is

50% text and numbers though.

There are issues with precision which may lead to unwanted drag actions in CAD/3D when

you just want to select. Risk of loosing wall connections and such.

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I use Magic Mouse & keyboard , sometimes intuos tablet & pen. It's hard to vote on the options as each one is disruptive to current workflows and I would need time/experience with each to evaluate. Speech is very intriguing and probably the diamond in the coals.

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As an engineer, I only have small windows of time in any project where I'm only working in CAD. Many in our office keep VW open on one screen while simultaneously working in spreadsheets, analysis programs, etc. on the other screen. I'm having a hard time imagining scenarios where the other input options listed work well (or at all) for the array of programs we use all at once.

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I can't imagine at all using Speech Input :)


I think mouse/keyboard input is and will always be the fastest input method.

And currently 99% of software UIs are build for that. But there are differences.


Starting with Microstation and 3DSMax, I never used any shortcuts for over 10 years !

All main functions (including "commands") where available directly from the GUI in form

of Tool Icons, not far from where you need them. There was rarely a need to touch the

menu bar at all. These Apps were really optimized for Mouse input.

All mouse action was done uninterruptedly by consistent, very simple LMB + RMB combinations

with a high click frequency. The right hand rested always on the mouse, my left hand did

all NumBlock input. That was very fluid, fast and very easy for me.

That would also work very easily with Tablet, Pen Display or Touch from scratch.


I started to use shortcuts for the first time with Modo, which is very shortcut centric.

Still all Tool Icons available but harder to reach and even hidden behind Tabs or Drop outs.

That is ok as in a 3D App, opposed to CAD, you will spend more time while in a tool and

Object manipulation repeatedly means just the always same automated "Y" / "Space Bar" cycle.

(no need for CMD or ENTER, all reacheable by left hand, right could always stay on Mmouse)

So will also work fine with a small Tablet or Touch, but as a keyboard is highly needed, it will

be harder with large Pen Displays as a physical keyboard will be harder to reach.

(Especially interrupting for me as I need to look back on my keyboard to type)

Such a combination with Icons too far away, but at least all available, could work well nevertheless

if Touch will work with current Icons, when you can use both hands and be able to see what they do.


I think VW with current UI will suffer most under Pen usage by large ways and hidden commands

in menus needing 2-steps.

I see graphic artists with Pen usage in videos that seem to not care very much about, as they often

pull out brush settings in such tedious 3-step way after every second stroke without complaining.

But that does not work for me.



As far as I heard in videos, the Pen+Tablet usage over Mouse,

beside being more tedious because of longer hand travel, has a large positive impact because being

a more natural movement. Better finger precision vs moving the whole hand only.

That is true of course for 2D Tasks like Drawing, Painting, Photo Editing and 3D Sculpting, but as it looks

it is also true for less "manual" Tasks like Video Editing or Animation.

And the next step, overcoming the separation of hand input while looking at the results on a separate

screen, by using a Pen+Display, has an even larger impact.


So while Pen input being slower and more longwinded work, it may be better, easier work and more effective

at the end, for some people.


The rule of thumb to start using Pen input was to lock your Mouse in a safe, being forced to use Pen

input in all Apps, including unrelated Apps like Mail or Excel, to learn and get used to it.

Which is said to take quite some time.

If I remember my first Mouse input attempts or even looking at older people trying a Mouse, which many

of us learned, automated and perfected over decades, I think that makes sense.


Edited by zoomer
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14 hours ago, bcd said:

I use Magic Mouse & keyboard , sometimes intuos tablet & pen.


Interesting I like that.


I would like to do that to as a real Mac User, working with given standard tools only.

But beside Magic Mouse working everywhere else beautifully,

I can't live with speed/acceleration + Scroll Speed for Zoom in any 3D App. Movement

is too slow and not precise enough for me in CAD. I think that is just about getting used to it.
Maybe also related to my large 30" Cinema Display but I think it wasn't better on the 17" MBP

with less screen resolution.

But the Scroll Speed behavior doesn't work in any 3D app for me. Totally unpredictable.

I would need to use Zoom with a shortcut+movement combination, which most Apps provide.

But I think there isn't such in VW (?)



as the Pen Display thank god is finally (!!!) shipping,

I think without keyboard, I will need the View Navigation's Arrows Toolbox Palette as a

replacement for the NumBlock View Navigation, but I can't find it anymore in VW 2017 !

Is it still somewhere ?

Edited by zoomer
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15 minutes ago, bcd said:

You don't have to - just try it!!


"New Sheet A2 with Titleblock, VP Front View 1:100" = 3 seconds

Doing it = 18s


I do not like to speak to Objects.

It's embarrassing for me, even if I am the only one in the room.


It would be more like a polite

"Dear Vectorworks, sorry to bother you but could you please start the move by points tool

so that I can move this line, if you don't mind ?"

"Yes I know I already bothered you yesterday to move a line but it is quite important, again"

"No, I do not prefer to draw a rectangle instead, I need to move that line now, please."

"No, not in half an hour, I would like to move the line now"

"No, I am NOT angry, I just want to move a line"

"No I'm NOT yelling at you"

"No, please, don't cry ...."


I see large space offices with people yelling at their monitors.

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1 hour ago, bcd said:

LOL ! yes we could write a great comedy script.

I think you've got scene 1 down :)







Yes, but beside my personal handicaps communicating with machines,

I think in general, Speech input can be quite effective.

And may also help in better understanding and dive deeper into your work or design.

As trying to formulate words helps thinking and focusing.


Well, perhaps I should stop being shy and exercise a bit with Siri ....

Edited by zoomer
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  • Member



There are a lot of possibilities why a large Cintiq may not work well with VW.

I think replacing one interaction modality to another for the same use cases may not work out here.

We already know that mouse and keyboard are good for precision tasks (for many cases) and fast input of texts.

For the user cases related to that, I don't think they are replaceable. 


The question is what are the best use cases for pen and touch, or other interactions. Just raise few examples here, there are many other possibilities:

  • Touch interactions could be good for navigation purposes.
  • Pen interactions could help the designers to quickly capture the desired curvatures and off-load the design tasks.



Edited by Chih-Pin
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  • Member

I can't imagine at all using Speech Input :)


Me neither :-). But I think there are still some cases that could be beneficial from this input.



As far as I heard in videos, the Pen+Tablet usage over Mouse,

beside being more tedious because of longer hand travel, has a large positive impact because being

a more natural movement. Better finger precision vs moving the whole hand only.




Totally agree!! Natural movement is the key here for touch and pen inputs. Another key is the animation comes with the movements. The "wow" effect from Steve Job's first iphone demo is when he moves the fingers with photo zooming. The user has much more direct control with the UI.


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I would like to type text on a touch screen.

It works well for me on an iPad. It needs the right size and a complete keyboard, not 3 parts, though.

I see people with surface pro/books starting to scribble, handwriting and using their touch screens

for sliders (like video editing)


I think the biggest problem with pens as mouse replacement is that they can't scroll.

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So, finally got my Cintiq27 touch, a used one from eBay.

After some learning, testing and getting used to it, it works great for my.


It is Wacom and not Apple, so a lot of little imperfections with drivers and touch.

But it feels like a reliable tool. I now get my upper body gymnastics and already have

hurts in the back and neck because my body forgot these muscles over time.

But as you always keep moving I think this is a good thing and will help over time.

Even if it would be less effective I will never switch back to sitting still in front of

a vertical monitor and mouse.


Touch or Pen together with the remote buttons does all the normal jobs like email, surfing

and file management work as fast as before but more intuitive for me.

I found all keys or buttons to replace the functionality I had before.

CAD and 3D drawing will not work by touch of course but it works ok with pen input.

Flawlessly in Modo and C4D, VW needs a bit more concentration to not accidentally move

or drag things while selecting. As far as the user interface, pen input works great and tends 

to make UI problems less annoying for me. View navigation by pen + buttons works great.


Onscreen keyboard is not so nice to use with touch as there is no visual feedback (OS X ?).

But you can shrink it down and use it with the pen very easily.

I have my physical keyboard on a box above the screen and use it rarely, for login and some

special shortcuts only. Or to type a real text like in this post.

I may use the 3DConnexion Enterprise again in the future to get a few more command shortcuts

for CAD and 3D.


I am really happy with it.

And already got rid of my old Cinema 30" display.

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40 minutes ago, mjm said:

I gu how does the screen quatlity compare to my MPB retina screen?


Not at all.


It is a tiny little bit denser than my 30" Cinema Display was.

Which 2560/1600 was high res at it's time. Which was better than my 2x 1600/1200 Formac's,

which were fine at their time.

So an ancient resolution with bad text appearance, little blurred by the etched glass for pen

resistance. It is just a 2 year old device but such Wacom's are a bit timeless like a Harley or a

Vespa and quite as overpriced when bought second hand.


If you are interested in current products, I would recommend the coming Cintiq Pro 16" with

4k resolution. Even cheaper than my used 27".

Thought about this. But as my eyes aren't as good anymore, the 27" was the better choice for

me and while 16" pen+touch may still mean some arm movement, I would have ditched my

upper body sport. 16" is just a ¼ of my current screen area.

Overall the Pro 16 may be a much more temporary and better device for most people.

And maybe next year or so there may appear a 27-30" 4-8k replacement for current 27 Cintiqs.




this text was written using a (3x10 cm size scaled) onscreen keyboard with pen.

Edited by zoomer
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it doesn't work smooth with VW.

View navigation is a pain.


A pen has no scroll wheel.

And VW has no continuous shortcut view zoom/rotate/pan control. Especially

a combination for zoom is missing completely.

C4D does this by 1/2/3 keys or ALT+LMB/MMB/RMB or Modo everything by LMB+Shortcuts.


Beside that in my projects, 2017 zoom by scroll wheel lags or is refused anyway, it is a pain

with the remote's sensor wheel too.

It does work a bit more reliable by setting sensor wheel explicitly to "zooming" but then I can't

scroll in lists anymore.


Zoom works pretty well with the standard Touch 2-finger Scroll gesture.

Unfortunately I have Touch deactivated in CAD/3D so that I can lay on my screen with my

whole arms to get more precision.

Seems I have to try these artists's non-touch-gloves to prevent any palm retention errors.



For all other Apps beside VW I can set 2nd pen button to a kind of pan. So similar to wheel scrolling

and it lets me pan in all lists or windows (Preview.app !), but in every direction which is really cool.

For VW that doesn't work and I have to set it to MMB so that I at least have view pan + fly over.


Double clicking with the pen doesn't work well in VW either. I had to set double click to the pen's eraser.

Also tedious to always flip the pen.

Edited by zoomer
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A 27" Cintiq Pen Display with Pen + Touch + micro onscreen Keyboard (Pen driven) + Remote,

works really well for me in all Apps, beside VW.



I will never go back to sitting static in front of a monitor and moving my mouse/hand only,

without watching my hands. I will never again buy any device without Touch + Pen on a full screen.

(Apple, do you hear me)



It works as least as good and fast as Mouse + Keyboard input. Some functionality is even better.



The only problem with the Cintiq for me is that there is not really enough space or reachability for

a physical keyboard with its large boarders around screen.

(Only for Apps that are not optimized for Touch + Pen input)



80% of problems making VW not working smooth with a Cintiq are just things that I already did not

like with Mouse input anyway.



Complex Apps like CAD or 3D work either by touch or Pen input.

As more precision required,btter Pen input only.

Edited by zoomer
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What Vectorworks is missing for Pen + Touch usage :



An Option, beside the 2 temporary View Navigation Tools which work while being in a Tool,

MMB=Pan and MMB+CTRL=Flyover,

for the third missing option => Zoom (= MMB+SHIFT)



Availability of all "Commands" for Palettes with own Icons to allow graphically access and usage.

(And a clear sorting by function types)



Axis locking like the SubD Giszmo allows.



Rethinking of the whole input sequence for translation actions, especially in sub object modes. Like :

- Numeric Dragging

- The Move by Points Tool

- The need to ENTER+ENTER, X+X and ESC+ESC

- Either Positive/Negative input need OR cursor direction recognition

- Translation+Selection Options in Sub Objects Modes



Icon size options.

  • Like 1
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As an Example,

Moving Objects or parts of objects by Drag Tool or Move by Points does not work

when using the onscreen keyboard.

After a Tab needed to be able to release your click,

the first ENTER to accept direction will work after you managed to lift your cursor

keeping the right position,

for second ENTER needed to finally accept the point, VW grabs the Pen Cursor for

a new screen input  (under your keyboard !) and destroys the direction you gave. 


The same strange way VW behaves when you try to take screen shots by a marquee.

(To input funny object highlighting or cursor traces and such to destroy your rendering)

It reacts to the cursor although not being the active App.

When on the other hand VW, activated by the dock icon, does not react to input until it gets

"really" activated by a Click in its screen.


While you get far bette experience with the old legacy CMD+SHIFT+M numeric Move Tool

for Objects, this will not help in any case when you are in a Sub Object Mode and want to

translate something.

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