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I can’t stress enough the importance of annotations to a BIM program, especially the ability to use keynotes in a drawing.  Drawing objects are only one-half of the architect’s design documents – notes and annotations are the other half.  A drawn object is meaningless in any set of design documents without an annotation that identifies what the drawn object represents, in the form of a legend, note, keynote, or some other written description.


Keynotes need to be –

  • easy to access
  • easy to extract information from for use downstream, to develop specifications
  • easy to edit, especially global revisions to identical keynotes throughout the document set.


Currently, Vectorworks fails in each of these key areas.  The current notes database scheme is arcane and difficult to use.  There is not an easy way for users to extract information from the notes database – while it is possible report the database to a worksheet, inexplicably, data for the actual note is not accessible in a report.  But the most significant failure in my view is the inability to globally edit identical notes within the program.


Through the life a design project, notes must be revised numerous times, including –

  • refining notes as the design becomes more specific
  • correcting errors
  • coordinating the entire set of notes to a standard


Under the current Vectorworks keynotes design, a task as simple as correcting a spelling error requires finding and changing every instance of that keynote in the documents, a process that is painful, does not take advantage of automation, and is likely to introduce errors.


Revit is not any better at keynotes documentation – in my view this creates both an opportunity and a threat for Vectorworks.  We can spend more resources to implement a functional keynotes system and move ahead of other programs in this regard, or wait for Autodesk to develop a better keynotes scheme and fall behind.

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