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ericjhberg

FIX THIS! Irrigation and Design Layers...Broken!

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Our workflow for irrigation in VW has ALWAYS been to separate each station into a unique design layer. This allows for greater control, visibility, and conflict detection.

 

Since the creation of the irrigation tools, this workflow has been compromised. Irrigation components, mainly valves, will magically change design layers when connected to different features. Nothing in VW should ever change design layers unless by User Error or by choice.

 

Additionally, when moving valves and other components between design layers, the will actually lose their connection status. 

 

I understand that irrigation networks are a unique feature in VW and the fact that they can connect through different design layers in the first place is a revelation, but that shouldn't compromise our ability to control it.

 

The following is a simple screenshare showing the issue. FIX THIS!

 

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An additional note to this BUG is that we have found that we cannot really copy and paste-in-place irrigation networks either. Components will lose connection status. Not as big of a deal, only so far as you can switch their design layer without losing connection.

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Hello Eric.

 

It is not broken; the system was designed this way. Each irrigation network should be on the same design layer to maintain the data connections between components. Using multiple design layers allows users to place multiple networks on a site (either to experiment with alternative configurations, or for very large sites that would have more than one irrigation system), without risk of accidentally connecting the different networks. Changing layer visibility and modification settings then allows users to easily focus on and modify one system at a time. In fact, with the way the current tools were designed, if some components are maintaining data connections once moved to different layers, we would be more likely to consider that a bug than what I understand you to be saying.

 

When you refer to your irrigation workflow from the past, that must have been with the old set of irrigation design tools, which were practically just representation tools. These functioned completely differently. The objects were not 'smart' and allowed only a tiny fraction of the current functionality. If your workflow is based on these old tools, it is not surprising that you would need to update it for the current tools.

 

The current irrigation toolset was released in late 2016, and this is the first time I've personally heard this complaint. That is not to say that you can't recommend or request a change in designed functionality for future releases. However, we would need more information about your problem to weigh it against the success users have found with the current functionality. For instance, if you really need to stick with a workflow based on the old tools for some reason, please tell us why. It would be helpful to have an example file, and a detailed explanation of exactly what you want to do. A video with narration and the OIP always visible would be helpful as well.

 

Thank you.

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Hey @LanceF. I'm sorry we won't be able to catch up at the VW Summit this year, @Eric Gilbey, RLA ASLA mentioned you wouldn't be making the trip. Bummer. You'll be missed.

 

So...apologies in advance for the tone here. It isn't great, but my frustration level right now is high. Not a personal thing.

 

4 hours ago, LanceF said:

It is not broken; the system was designed this way

If this is true, the problem here is that the way it was designed only caters to a very specific workflow...and a workflow that is NOT explicitly obvious when using the tools and/or that Vectorworks doesn't back up with any How To or Best Practices guidelines. To this day, I have never seen a document, released by Vectorworks, that tells users how to use the irrigation tools...the way they were designed.

 

When you say:

4 hours ago, LanceF said:

Each irrigation network should be on the same design layer to maintain the data connections between components.

Do you mean that the Mainline and all of the connected components in a system should be on the same design layer? All stations/valves/laterals/heads connected to the network on 1 Design Layer? If so...well this is another reason I get frustrated at VW and Landmark. This workflow is really only suitable for single-family residential practice where the irrigation systems are relatively simple. I would say in the 1-12 station range.

 

We do work that often marries 6 to 10 different points of connection/mainlines, each occasionally with more than 50 stations. I have done systems that have as many as 65 stations on one controller/mainline. The idea of putting all of those stations on one design layer makes me nauseous...so many crossing lines with no way of visually isolating stations. I'm going cross-eyed just imagining it.

 

On a much broader note, my struggle has been that if VW wants to be competitive in the landscape architecture arena, the tools have to graduate beyond the single family residential scale. It seams that so many of them work just fine on a small project, but instantly create headaches and slowdowns when applied to large projects. We are making it work, but it is often a struggle and honestly, not a week goes by anymore when I don't second guess the whole venture. We have a business to run and it's hard when you feel completely out control with the workflows you are forced to use....RANT over, apologies but I had to get that off my chest somewhere so that it doesn't run into my presentation at the summit.

 

I have several sample files I am preparing to share. The problem is that they are all often in excess of 1GB each, making the transfer/storage problematic. The attached video is a small example of the workflow we employ, this is one I am putting together for my presentation Monday about the irrigation tools.

 

Again, apologies for the tone here. Nothing personal, just some pent up frustration. Not an excuse, just an explanation.

 

Thanks for the response.

 

Edited by ericjhberg

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I am by no means an irrigation specialist, but I wonder if you have tried to use Classes instead of Layers to achieve what you're after? It seems like this would an easy and effective solution... 

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13 minutes ago, CipesDesign said:

I am by no means an irrigation specialist, but I wonder if you have tried to use Classes instead of Layers to achieve what you're after? It seems like this would an easy and effective solution... 

 

Thanks @CipesDesign. I agree with the concept/theory, except the Irrigation Suite is heavily reliant on Auto-Classing, which in actuality is a good thing. It helps keep all of the information separate (i.e. valves, pipe-mainline, pipe-lateral, emitters, drip zones, etc.). In order to do this, you would have to manually disable the auto-classing functionality. 

 

Additionally I would add that this shouldn't be the solution. Doing this would be like asking an architect to control the visibility of different floors in a building by class instead of by layer/story. In order to do so, they would have classes like (Wall-Exterior-Floor 1, Wall-Exterior-Floor 2, etc.). That is why we have design layers...to avoid this redundancy.

 

With a heavy use irrigation example that has 50 stations, I would need 50 different classes for valves, lateral, emitters, drip zones, etc.). Then, to visually isolate a station, you would have to find a way to control the visibilities of at least 7 different classes x 50...

 

LandFX (an AutoCAD plugin) has a coded way of isolating stations. Since AutoCAD doesn't have the second organizational level that VW has (layers vs layers), they have developed a tool that detects components downstream of a valve and can isolate those visually from the rest during design.

 

Either something like this or some sort of in between is ideal. Prior to VW2019, I wasn't a huge fan of our separate design layer approach either because 65 design layers in a file was a cumbersome process to navigate, but with layer filtering in 2019 (thank you!) it isn't as bad and almost seems fun.

 

Another bonus I have discovered with our methodology is that the extra design layers do help us with viewport visibilities on complex regulatory submittals. Sometimes half of the job gets submitted to one agency and the other half to a different agency, even though it is one irrigation system. Having different stations in different design layers allows me to easily turn off layers that don't apply to one or the other.

 

I will echo over and over again at the risk of sounding like a broken record...rather than making it work for small applications...make it work for big applications that can be scaled down to meet smaller needs. Our experience has been that scaling up is way more cumbersome and time consuming than scaling down.

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Ah. Auto-Classing. Got it. So what you need is some sort of "container" in which to place various portions of the system. And I agree that Design Layers seems to be the right container choice (it's how I would do it, probably). So keep nudging the engineers and tech support folks. Perhaps if they understand the need they can enact a fix!

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Hi Eric. Thank you for responding and providing more information. As (I hope) you know, your firm is important to us and we value your feedback.

 

I will file an enhancement request, so that we'll have something formal "on the list" regarding this, to be considered for future updates. I will also start a discussion with the rest of the landmark team about what potential changes or additions could be made to accommodate workflows such as yours. And of course, you can talk to Eric and/or Tony during the summit about this particular issue if you like. Bryan may have some thoughts as well. As I'm sure you're aware, we are constantly trying to improve a wide array of tools, so I can't make any promises about a particular change or timeline.

 

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To this day, I have never seen a document, released by Vectorworks, that tells users how to use the irrigation tools...the way they were designed.

 

This is a fair request in my opinion. This sort of thing is typically done outside of my department, but the landmark team can discuss who might be able to make something like this, given everyone's current workloads, and what format it might take. I do realize this is not the same thing (e.g., I don't think it discusses layers), but don't forget about the help documentation.

 

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Do you mean that the Mainline and all of the connected components in a system should be on the same design layer? All stations/valves/laterals/heads connected to the network on 1 Design Layer?

 

Yes, that is how the current tools were designed to work. I will note why you find this to be insufficient for your workflow.

 

Quote

On a much broader note, my struggle has been that if VW wants to be competitive in the landscape architecture arena, the tools have to graduate beyond the single family residential scale. It seams that so many of them work just fine on a small project, but instantly create headaches and slowdowns when applied to large projects.

 

Although I think that many of the tools work well on large projects, know that a broader discussion about how to further accommodate both types of users (and others) is ongoing. We often get conflicting requests regarding simplicity vs versatility, both as a result of small vs large sites and as a result of different industry roles, standards, and practices in the multiple markets Vectorworks serves around the world. We aim to have a product that is as useful as possible for as many as possible, and we will continue to do so.

 

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RANT over, apologies but I had to get that off my chest somewhere so that it doesn't run into my presentation at the summit.

 

Well yes, that wouldn't be particularly great... So feel free to express any frustrations here, via email, or through tech support. We understand frustration and try to keep it in mind regarding the tone of a post.

 

Quote

LandFX (an AutoCAD plugin) has a coded way of isolating stations. Since AutoCAD doesn't have the second organizational level that VW has (layers vs layers), they have developed a tool that detects components downstream of a valve and can isolate those visually from the rest during design.

 

Don't forget about the Select Connected Components command in the Irrigation submenu. It selects everything downstream, and can be used on points of connection, main lines, valves, and laterals. Of course, a selection is temporary, so it doesn't provide an isolated editing environment for whatever was selected.

 

Thank you.

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An enhancement request has been made and shared with landmark engineering and product marketing teams.

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Thanks @LanceF. Great news.

 

I had some great conversations at the Design Summit about this issue (and some other) and really do stand behind our methodology. Ultimately, as long as we have the functionality to visually isolate and work on separate irrigation stations individually, how we get there is trivial.

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Of course.

 

Regarding your last sentence, I will mention this: You could try using the Select Connected Components command on the desired valve, inverting the selection, and then locking the selection. I know this is cumbersome and doesn't provide the visual isolation that you would like in addition, but perhaps it could be useful in certain cases in the meantime.

 

 

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