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Ryan Seybert

Dynamic Triangulation Block and blocks with Visibility States

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Hello All,


I work for an event production team that is looking at making the switch to Vectorworks Spotlight from AutoCAD.  We're all pretty proficient with AutoCAD, some more than others.  We are looking at making the switch as AutoCAD does not support out industry specific demands.


We have a couple dynamic blocks that I built for use in AutoCAD that are really important to our workflow.  Any help as to how to recreate them in Vectorworks would be greatly appreciated as they weigh in greatly on our disicion to migrate to Vectorworks or not.  See below.


Triangulation block:

When we are on site, we utilize triangulation to mark out where we place our structures and production elements.  

Currently, the process consists of three elements:

  1. Point "A" - simple block with a polar stretch feature that allows us to stretch a line segment along a fixed angle to a designated piece of architecture.  The length the line is displayed on the block and is also exported for use in a spreadsheet as well as printed on stickers.
  2. Point "B" - Exact copy of Point "A" except it is redefined as Point "B" for data export purposes.  Commonly, it is placed 20'-0" from Point "A".
  3. Spike Point - This is the real work horse.  The insertion point is meant to be placed on the point you wish to triangulate.  The block contains two line segments, both with non-polar stretch functions.  One line is stretched to Point "A" while the other is stretched to Point "B".  Each line segment displays its length as well as exports its length for use in a spreadsheet as well as printed on stickers.


Block with Visibilities:

We have several blocks in our arsenal that deploy visibility states for quick drafting as well as exporting data about that particular objects.  One in particular, is a block that contains about 32 different iterations of a stage deck leg, with each iteration being a selectable visibility.  

Each iteration is comprised of two separate blocks: the leg and the foot.  Some examples are:

  • 12" leg w/plastic cap
  • 30" leg w/screw foot
  • 60" leg w/screw jack

When that block is exported, we have a spreadsheet that tells us how many of what are in the drawing, allowing us to order the correct number of parts.


Any help on how to replicate the above described would be greatly appreciated!

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For custom items like this @Sam Jones or @C. Andrew Dunning might be your best bet.


Sam is the author of Autopilot tools for Spotlight. Very useful and inexpensive tools for lighting design.


Andy is the creator of the the Staging Toolkit that at first glance seems similar to your block with visibilities idea.


Hopefully my tagging them will attract their attention like sharks to chum 😉


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Hi Pat,


Thanks for the reply.  I spoke with Andy briefly on another unrelated thread.


Looking forward to their responses.


I can post some screen shots of the tools when I get to my office.



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Jumping in...


1)  What you're describing is definitely the sort of thing VW's Plug-In Objects were created to handle.  So...the potential IS there.


2)  You can get staging tools 2 different ways:  the stock Spotlight set or those we offer (see http://www.landrudesign.com/VWPlugIns.htm).


3)  While at-present the tools don't offer the level of leg detail you cite (the operative phrase being "at-present"), we are absolutely open to suggestions and feature requests.  Many of the favorite features in all of the tools are the direct result of user input, as I'd think many, here, would confirm...


That help?


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Hey all,


Thanks for the replies.  I've attached a few screen shots to better illustrate what we are trying to accomplish.


@C. Andrew Dunning 


1- Are the VW plug-in objects you speak of built into VW or are they third-party add-ons?  


2- I'm somewhat familiar with the built in staging tools.  What I'm interested is when we build a deck on an unlevel surface, being able to drop in the parts we need and be able to retrieve the parts list from the program through some means of data export.  I've attached a screen shot of a large deck we built for a private function.  The deck was built on a field that had a dramatic downward slope.  When we detailed the deck out, we essentially placed each leg (the deck leg tool) and then manipulated the "block/symbol" via the visibility parameters that I built into the tool.  If something like this currently exists with-in VW or a third party add-on I would most definitely be interested in checking it out.  Its one of the major things that my scenic department is adamant on having before making the switch to VW.


Deck Leg tool_10-26-18.JPG

Slopped Deck_10-26-18.JPG

Spike Tool Snip_10-26-18.JPG

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1)  The answer to your question is "both."  For all of the tools in-question, the core functionality and code are identical but some of our versions of the tools have continued to evolve, offering general refinement and additional features.


2)  The need for a leg tool makes perfect sense and, as your existing system demonstrates, would probably need to be a stand-alone tool as trying to work that into a general staging tool would likely be far too limiting to be useful.  FWIW, developing such a tool would be quite doable.  Ping me off-list and we can talk about what that could look like...

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