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Symbol Attributes

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Our office does a lot of retail work and I am looking to revise our system for standard symbols for retail fixtures which are used right across our office. i would appreciate any advice on a system that best suits our needs. In our office we have varying levels of expertise on vectorworks so the system has to be easy to implement no matter your understanding of how VW works. We also do not yet have an office standard for classes so everyone is currently using different systems.

 

The current symbol system is confusing especially for the less experienced VW users on the staff. It uses different classes inside the same symbol so that you need to have viewport visibilities for 2 (or sometimes 3 classes) set correctly to see the symbol in a viewport. For example a symbol for a table will be placed in a class called "Arch-Furniture-Contract". The table will have 2 rectangles inside it to represent the table - one rectangle with a solid linetype placed on a class called "Fixture - solid" and the other with a dashed linetype called "Fixture - dashed".

 

The viewport classes are toggled depending on which view of the table is required. E.g:

- On the main floor plan a solid view of the viewport is required so both the "Arch-Furniture-Contract" & "Fixture - solid" classes need to be turned on.

- On the electrical plan a dashed view of the table is required so both the "Arch-Furniture-Contract" & "Fixture - dashed" classes need to be turned on and the 'Fixture-solid" class turned off.

- On the ceiling plan no view of the table is required so the"Arch-Furniture-Contract" class is turned off in that viewport.

 

This is confusing especially when a symbol gets put on the wrong class. It also means these symbols drag these classes into any drawings they are imported into.

 

I am looking at 2 alternative options:

 

Option 1:

For the table symbol example I would have only one rectangle which is set to say the "Arch-Furniture-Contract" class with the rectangle's linetype and solid fill attributes set to "by class". The symbol itself is placed either in the "none" class (which always has visibilities set to "on") or it could be placed in the "Arch-Furniture-Contract" class. You can then override the "Arch-Furniture-Contract" class attributes in the viewport to get the dashed line with no fill. This is relatively simple and once the symbol is set up pretty easy to implement. Though if the symbol is inadvertantly placed into a different class then that class also needs to be turned on for the object to be visible in a viewport. Also it drags the "Arch-Furniture-Contract" class into any drawings it is imported into and as it is using "by class" attributes the symbol will take on the class attributes of the file it is brought into.

 

Option 2:

For the table symbol I would have only one rectangle which is set in the "None'" class with no attributes set to "by class".  Viewport visibilities are adjusted either by graying the class or overriding the opacity of the class the symbol is placed into.

The plus side is that it is really only dependant  on one class - the class which the user chooses to place the symbol into. No importing different classes into your drawings and the attibutes are the same no matter the class attribute settings. Downside is that you can't override the linetype to get a dashed line instead the table would need to be grayed out or set to lower opacity for some views such as the electrical plans (perhaps not as clear as the dashed line system).

 

Any expert advice on these options (or perhaps someone can suggest a better way that I haven't yet thought of?) would be very much appreciated.

 

Perhaps a wishlist item for vectorworks would be to introduce a "by object class" attribute setting for symbol objects similar to the "by block" setting used in AutoCAD. That would mean symbol subobjects could simply be on the "None" class but take on the attributes of the class the symbol is placed in.

 

Thanks

Boh

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Boh

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Option 1 is what I’d recommend. You can edit the symbol options and have it automatically insert in the None class. I typically have all my symbols insert this way and only worry about classing the objects within them. 

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I would use option 1. but you can save a lot of confusion by creating the symbol so that it ALWAYS inserts on the correct class. your office standard should always control the class of critical symbols. not only will this save a lot of time, but a lot of confusion as well. 

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Thanks Matt and Jonathan.

 

Yes Option 1 is what I first thought to be the best solution and I can see how the symbol insertion options can help, however until we set up standard naming of classes I'm thinking that option 2 might be more bullet proof.

 

Some staff are also not using the resource browser efficiently and simply cutting and pasting symbols (I.e symbol insertion options are by passed) so with option 1 it's highly likely symbols will end up on the wrong class requiring visibility settings to be correct across two classes rather than just one (a situation not too different than the current system)

 

Option 2 also allows one symbol to represent many different versions of the same object if placed on different classes (new, existing, relocated or demolition fittings or fixtures for example) plus perhaps more interesting looking symbols as solid fills and line types can be different (I.e. not set to just "by class").

 

Could an option 3 be using data visualisation? I haven't explored that yet but interested in your thoughts.

 

thanks

boh. 

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11 hours ago, Boh said:

Perhaps a wishlist item for vectorworks would be to introduce a "by object class" attribute setting for symbol objects similar to the "by block" setting used in AutoCAD. That would mean symbol subobjects could simply be on the "None" class but take on the attributes of the class the symbol is placed in.

There is already a similar wish but to be similar to the bylayer setting of objects created on layer "0" (zero), after which it will take on the class settings of the layer on which the symbol is inserted. I.e. to have all attributes set to byclass in a symbol to take on the attributes of the class in which the symbol is inserted. Overrides will be maintained (i.e. attributes other than by class).
 

On thing I did not see mentioned in your question is whether you have a template or not and whether  are using that template or not. (I get the impression that if there is a template that not everyone is using it, but there might not be a template at all at this moment.

 

Regardless of class naming this is what I would suggest:

 

1. Create a basic template with all the classes (and therefore class names and attributes) you will use regularly. Create a library file for additional rarely used classes that can be imported if necessary.

2. Create all the symbols you need and put them in that template or in a library file containing the same classes as the template.

4. Have all parts of the symbol in the proper classes that you want to use.

4. Set the symbol options such that they will be inserted into the appropriate class regardless of active class.

5. Create the design layers you would normally need

6. Create for each plan you need a sheet layer with a viewport at the most used page size and scale (you can always adjust the size and scale)

7. For each plan viewport create the class attribute overrides to get the visual appearance you need.

8. Instruct your staff using Vectorworks to always use the resource browser for inserting symbols. It is up to you and your co-workers to set up a system that makes it relatively easy to find the symbols in the resource browser. If necessary provide some training on how to use the resource browser.

9. Rinse and repeat steps 1-8 for other things as well (e.g. text and dimension styles, hatches, etc.)

10. Last but not least... create a guideline document (manual style if you want) describing the requirements for the drawings including what should be used when, what should be put where, listing classes, design layers, sheet layers, class and viewport settings etc. etc. including  the steps above and what requirements should definitely be met for the finished drawing (i.e. a kind of check list if you want). Provide this guideline document to current and new staff, either for training or for looking up things when they are not sure after a while. Also list the contact person (e.g. author of the guideline or CAD manager/drawing coordinator) in case of questions. Update this document and the templates/libraries whenever necessary. This should increase consistency across drawings and make it easier to continue with someone else's drawing (e.g. during holidays or other absence).

 

You can always change the page size and scale of a viewport afterwards, as that will normally not affect the appearance. The only thing you might need to do at times is to adjust the line width scaling and line type scaling etc. if the difference in scale is such that line width is too thick for your purposes.

 

(the above list is meant as a general overview, it does not contain details on additional requirements that may be specific to your line of work/drawings and I assume you are able to fill those in yourself)

Edited by Art V
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Thanks Art V. Great response.

 

Re the AutoCAD block attributes it was the "by layer" settings rather than the "by block" settings I meant and yes I think something like this should be introduced to vectorworks. It would definitely solve my little symbol attribute dilemma!

 

Re templates, I am in fact just putting together some templates along with a workgroup folder and library which these symbols will form part of.

 

Fantastic suggestions about setting up some office standards. I have been thinking along these lines for some time so it's nice to see it so clearly put in writing! I will be looking to phasing this sort of thing into the office workflow.

 

Until our office agrees on a standard classes then I think the safe way to sort the symbols for the time being is option 2. At the moment it is just a group of about 40 symbols so not too big a deal to change if we later end up switching to option 1.

 

Thanks 

Edited by Boh

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16 hours ago, Boh said:

Thanks Matt and Jonathan.

 

Yes Option 1 is what I first thought to be the best solution and I can see how the symbol insertion options can help, however until we set up standard naming of classes I'm thinking that option 2 might be more bullet proof.

 

I disagree. Option one with the correct class assigned to the symbol is the best way to create your system. If the users are not using the Resource Manager effectively, then you need to train them. You should explain to them why it's important that they use the resource manager to find the symbols and why copying and pasting will lead to trouble. 

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Thanks Johnathan. Yes a bit of office management would help. Our classes have got quite convoluted with different people working on the same/similar projects but bringing in different classes & symbols they use elsewhere, so until that is sorted I'm a bit hesitant about using Option 1 which requires custom classes inside symbols.

 

Perhaps next time you are in Auckland you could help us set up an office standard and in particular help us out with  standard class naming so that imported classes merge into already extg classes. Does Archoncad have a good  tutorial on that?

 

Thanks

Boh

Edited by Boh

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10 hours ago, Jonathan Pickup said:

I disagree. Option one with the correct class assigned to the symbol is the best way to create your system. If the users are not using the Resource Manager effectively, then you need to train them. You should explain to them why it's important that they use the resource manager to find the symbols and why copying and pasting will lead to trouble. 

I'll second this.  When it comes to CAD management with blocks/symbols you can get into bad habits real quick.  I think we're all guilty of that.  With a little training and insistence on the implementation you can create new good habits and the bad ones will fade away.  Takes a bit of time up front but will pay off in the long run.

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1 hour ago, Markvl said:

I'll second this.  When it comes to CAD management with blocks/symbols you can get into bad habits real quick.  I think we're all guilty of that.  With a little training and insistence on the implementation you can create new good habits and the bad ones will fade away.  Takes a bit of time up front but will pay off in the long run.

I have to agree with the others that Option 1 is the way to go. This is especially true is you have symbols containing objects in more than one class.  It'll be better to get them all on board with this standard sooner than later.

 

BTW:  There's a "Set Default Symbol Class" command in the Tools/Utilities menu. This will allow you to set the default class for ALL symbols in the document. It does not effect placed instances, just the default. Just remember that it will effect ALL symbol definitions. :-)

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Thanks again guys. Great to have input from experienced VW users and yes I totally agree that Option 1 is better. However with our office so busy at the moment we really just need a quick fix to sort out some current jobs that were problematic. I've started organising office standards including a standard class naming structure and will look to phase it in along with some staff training when things slow down after the Christmas break.

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Please do not fall into the habit of using a quick fix because you are so busy. This is a little bit like taking the shortcut that ends up with your car getting stuck. It is a false economy to choose a quick fix at the moment.

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On 15 October 2017 at 11:43 PM, Art V said:

2. Create all the symbols you need and put them in that template or in a library file containing the same classes as the template.

4. Have all parts of the symbol in the proper classes that you want to use.

 

Further to Art V's suggestion I have created a new file called a symbol library to contain all the symbols commonly used across our office. The file will be kept in a workgroup favourites folder and will be accessible by all office users so they can quickly import symbols for use in their projects.

 

To get it started I have gone through a bunch of my recent projects and imported lots of symbols from those project files into the library file. Unfortunately this also drags any classes contained within the symbol into the library file. I now have a file with lots of random and out of date classes that don't conform to my class naming system. I need to get rid of these classes so they don't go on to further "infect" future projects that library symbols might be imported into.

 

Is there someway I can quickly get rid of these classes in the library file without changing the appearance of the symbols? I.e. Remove "by class" settings from symbol subobjects then delete the unwanted classes so that the subobjects go on the "none" class but still look the same.

 

i know I can do this one symbol at a time but there are hundreds of symbols...

 

As I understand it the "set default symbol class" command as mentioned by Matt Panzer only sets the class that symbols are inserted into not the actual class of objects inside symbols.

 

If there is no quick way to sort all these symbols then is there an efficient way to find out which symbols contain the unwanted classes? Most of the symbol subobjects will already be on the "none" class so it may not be too big a deal to sort the symbols individually if I can quickly find out exactly which symbols contain unwanted classes.

 

Any suggestions would be very welcome.  Thanks

Edited by Boh

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On 10/29/2017 at 1:44 AM, Boh said:

If there is no quick way to sort all these symbols then is there an efficient way to find out which symbols contain the unwanted classes?

If you do a custom selection (Tools>Custom selection) for an unwanted class you can find the symbols having that class if you leave the "Including components of"'  Symbols checked.

So if you would insert all symbols in a drawing and then do a search for an unwanted class you can then see which symbols have that class.

 

Maybe it is even possible to create a formula in a spreadsheet that lists which symbols have which class in it.

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If one would know what the unwanted classes mean and which wanted classes

are already there to replace with, I would start deleting the strange classes on by one

and in the option dialog assign their objects to the new wanted class.

Edited by zoomer
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37 minutes ago, zoomer said:

If one would know what the unwanted classes mean and which wanted classes

are already their to replace with, I would start deleting the strange classes on by one

and in the option dialog assign their objects to the new wanted class.

I wasn't sure if it would work for parts of symbols as well so didn't want to suggest that route for now. Just tried it with a simple symbol and it works.

 

Though it only works well if the class change applies to all symbols having the unwanted class, which may not necessarily always be the case depending on the discipline and then it should be done symbol by symbol or in smaller symbol groups anyway.

I guess we have some wish list item in the making for an easier custom search for scenarios like this. Will have to think about how to word it.

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That option works reliably.

If you delete a class it is completely gone.

If you choose to reassign parented objects to another class, all these objects

will be assigned to that class.

 

I think there is no problems with Symbols just containing geometry..

 

But indeed, I corrupted some PIO's this way.

I think it was a door in VW 2016 or 2017. As soon as you tried to open settings of that door, VW crashed :)

 

I think it is related to those (unwanted) PIO classes that you can't control in your PIO settings,

always appear disturbingly in your own class standard, although you have not activated such

PIO Components. Like window-sill class or similar.

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2 hours ago, zoomer said:

I think it is related to those (unwanted) PIO classes that you can't control in your PIO settings,

always appear disturbingly in your own class standard, although you have not activated such

PIO Components. Like window-sill class or similar.

Yes, one of those still open wish-list items to solve this standard classes thing.

Industry standards are one things, but they're not the same everywhere and even then it should be possible to adjust the classes to e.g. a company standard without having to redo it all over again and again.

There is a way to rename those classes to some extent but at some point the original classes will turn up again.

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We use Option 1 but with the addition that most, if not all are Hybrid symbols so this would allow your more seasoned users to make more full use of Class info in a 3D setting especially in Elevations & Sections.

 

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On 15 October 2017 at 11:43 PM, Art V said:

There is already a similar wish but to be similar to the bylayer setting of objects created on layer "0" (zero), after which it will take on the class settings of the layer on which the symbol is inserted. I.e. to have all attributes set to byclass in a symbol to take on the attributes of the class in which the symbol is inserted. Overrides will be maintained (i.e. attributes other than by class).
 

On thing I did not see mentioned in your question is whether you have a template or not and whether  are using that template or not. (I get the impression that if there is a template that not everyone is using it, but there might not be a template at all at this moment.

 

Regardless of class naming this is what I would suggest:

 

1. Create a basic template with all the classes (and therefore class names and attributes) you will use regularly. Create a library file for additional rarely used classes that can be imported if necessary.

2. Create all the symbols you need and put them in that template or in a library file containing the same classes as the template.

4. Have all parts of the symbol in the proper classes that you want to use.

4. Set the symbol options such that they will be inserted into the appropriate class regardless of active class.

5. Create the design layers you would normally need

6. Create for each plan you need a sheet layer with a viewport at the most used page size and scale (you can always adjust the size and scale)

7. For each plan viewport create the class attribute overrides to get the visual appearance you need.

8. Instruct your staff using Vectorworks to always use the resource browser for inserting symbols. It is up to you and your co-workers to set up a system that makes it relatively easy to find the symbols in the resource browser. If necessary provide some training on how to use the resource browser.

9. Rinse and repeat steps 1-8 for other things as well (e.g. text and dimension styles, hatches, etc.)

10. Last but not least... create a guideline document (manual style if you want) describing the requirements for the drawings including what should be used when, what should be put where, listing classes, design layers, sheet layers, class and viewport settings etc. etc. including  the steps above and what requirements should definitely be met for the finished drawing (i.e. a kind of check list if you want). Provide this guideline document to current and new staff, either for training or for looking up things when they are not sure after a while. Also list the contact person (e.g. author of the guideline or CAD manager/drawing coordinator) in case of questions. Update this document and the templates/libraries whenever necessary. This should increase consistency across drawings and make it easier to continue with someone else's drawing (e.g. during holidays or other absence).

 

You can always change the page size and scale of a viewport afterwards, as that will normally not affect the appearance. The only thing you might need to do at times is to adjust the line width scaling and line type scaling etc. if the difference in scale is such that line width is too thick for your purposes.

 

(the above list is meant as a general overview, it does not contain details on additional requirements that may be specific to your line of work/drawings and I assume you are able to fill those in yourself)

 

Practically a year on and I can report that our office has made really good progress setting up some office standards and protocols.

 

I was just revisiting this post to see if I'd missed anything. It's been a very incremental process and still on-going but we have some great templates, an efficient class standard, a great symbol library that incorporates our class system for inserting symbols.

 

It's been a bit of a challenge to get it up and running, whilst also staying productive, but our staff are now comfortable using the class system, the resource manager & libraries and, even better, are getting the hang of 3D modelling, rendering, worksheets and project sharing. I'm currently just experimenting with standard naming & auto classing, also trying to incorporate a database system for typical notes.

 

Plenty of tidy ups still to do on the library and I will eventually get around to creating that "Office Stsndards" document. Give me another year!

 

Its great however to see this work coming through in actual projects.

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