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Truss Counting


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Hi Everboydy!


I create a custom report to count truss in my drawings for a easy countlist.

Now I made a drawing where i work with hanging positions made of truss. All the trusses that are in a hanging postion are no longer included in my countlist. 


Someone any idee how to fix this?

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  • 1 year later...

@Trodaire . did this work for you?


Looks like I have a similar problem. Should be straightforward, but I can't get it to work!


I would like a worksheet report of Truss pieces (by Model Name) for each Hanging Position. I can easily make a report to list Truss pieces, summarised by Model Name, but I cannot work out how to set the Hanging Position Name as a criteria or how to get  it/them on the worksheet as a column.


Ideally I would like a report that summarises Truss Pieces by Model Name within in each Hanging Position, but for now I would settle for being able to create a worksheet for each hanging position.


I feel like this should be simple - so I must be missing something!



Edited by Benedick_Miller
typo corrections
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Currently if you create a hanging position from trusses it is no longer possible to reference them in a worksheet.


The hanging position is a very old part of Spotlight and many of the original reasons for using it no longer exist, such as associating lighting fixtures and other plug in objects with trusses and pipes (this is know automatic and controlled using the auto positioning settings in the Spotlight preferences)


The 2 main reasons for using it are paperwork, specifically the preformated reports created by the generate paperwork command, which a lot of people still use

and the ability to create hanging positions from any piece of geometry, such as a simple 2D rectangle


To be able to count the trusses in a worksheet you will need to run the  'un-group' command 2 times on the hanging position to revert the trusses back to truss objects.

This will break the hanging position, the first time you run the un-group command you will get a warning dialogue that you are about to un-group a high level object, you can ignore this as it is what you are wanting to achieve.



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@jcogdell  ah! very interesting! I will have another look at hanging positions - I thought that was good practice! I am old!


a couple of points:

  • it is certainly possible to count truss in a hanging position in a worksheet - please see attached file above. That bit worked fine - that was not really the problem.
  • If we no longer use Hanging positions in Spotlight, I still have hanging positions in the real world EG. Truss A, Truss B, and I still need to get a material list of truss pieces per real world Hanging Position - even if we aren't using Spotlight Hanging Positions any more. Do you have a suggestion as to how to achieve that please? Note that in my case putting each hanging position on it's own layer or class is not practical for our company.
  • In Vectorworks help on Hanging Positions I don't see anything about it being depreciated, as you seem to suggest. Maybe the help files need updating on this subject? 




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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

To be clear we have no plans of removing the function at this point, it does however cause issues in several areas


you can't easily add more trusses to the position with editing it or running an extra command

if the hanging position is created as a symbol it can cause problems when using the new MVR file format

It makes it difficult to display the trim heights for trusses and pipes that are inside as the hanging position 'Z' coordinate is not easily accessible in worksheets or with data tags (to the best of my knowledge)

and a lot of the functions that are part of the hanging position can be done just as easily using other tools like spotlight numbering or the instrument summary tool


I will definitely check  your worksheet, I am very interested in how you got that to work. One thing I love about this job is there is always something new to learn


to address your points regarding hanging positions


first you can rename a truss system to whatever you like using the rename system name command in the OIP, this will automatically rename all the elements of the system. By default the system name will reflect the order the truss system was inserted into your design. if the truss system has more than one line because it has corners in the system the line name will be displayed after the '-' in the system name field in the OIP for example T1-2 would be truss system 1 line 2.


Using the 'Truss' record when setting up your worksheet you can access 'system name' and 'line name' in the criteria, combined with the model name and count function you  can create truss counts broken down by the system.


For labeling the truss system, I recommend using data tags, these can display a lot more information than just the name of the position. I tend use a tag with truss system & sub line name and the trim height


Your point about the hanging position help documentation and best practice is well taken and we do need to update this.

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PPS - to be fair the link above is a very old tutorial - maybe it should just be depreciated?

On the new Vectorworks University site things are much better


However, interestingly,  the Getting Started: Entertainment Design has a whole lesson on Hanging Positions "Hanging positions are an important part of the entertainment designer's workflow"




Just saying 😉


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On 2/7/2020 at 8:33 AM, jcogdell said:

first you can rename a truss system to whatever you like using the rename system name command in the OIP, this will automatically rename all the elements of the system

Dear Jesse,

I've been pondering this but how can users easily populate the truss/rigging ID into the position field for the lighting device or any other Spotlight object that hangs for that matter?. 

For Lighting Pipes and Ladders there's a position field which transfers to the Position name automatically for Lighting Devices but not for trusses. So it seems a bit inconsistent:


Truss Objects: Field called 'ID'> Does not go into position name for a Lighting Device.

Straight Truss: Field called 'Name' > Does not go into position name for a Lighting Device.


Lighting Pipe: Field Called 'Position Name'> Does populate Position field of the Lighting Device

Lighting Ladder: Field Called 'Position Name'> Does populate Position field of the Lighting Device


So users have no choice other than to convert the trusses to Hanging Positions in order to populate the Position Name into the Lighting Devices. Also do you think it would be good if Spotlight shipped with some predefined Data Tags as that would help users?






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@Peter Neufeld - has made good points above.


Also, from a lighting design point of view, a single connected truss system may contain several hanging positions, as far as lighting is concerned. For example a simple "box" truss could be thought of as 4 lighting positions. - I don't know the best, or rather the easiest way, to deal with this in Vectorworks. Any thoughts?


Edited by Benedick_Miller
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

@Peter Neufeld Auto populating the position field of the lighting device is currently the main reason to still use hanging positions.

At the moment Trusses and pipes already automatically associate lighting instruments and other load objects with the truss system and truss line they are hung from,

this is necessary for Braceworks to be able to correctly calculate the system.

We are looking at leveraging this to auto populate the position field in the lighting instrument, I currently do not have any info about when this will be implemented.


Regarding the Truss object ID field, this is is the id of that section of truss (if you give it one), the 'Truss system' field further down OIP is the combined name of the truss system and truss line. There are 2 fields that are used to create this, 'Truss System' and 'Truss Line' which can be accessed in worksheets.



@Benedick_Miller Personally I would use the truss line identifier part of the truss system for this, and use a custom data tag to label it

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1 hour ago, jcogdell said:

Personally I would use the truss line identifier part of the truss system for this, and use a custom data tag to label it


Thank you - maybe talking at cross purposes here, or I may have misunderstood: I am saying that my lighting fixtures (& other objects) need to be assigned to a hanging position for organization reporting etc. EG. Unit Number / Hanging position - this is the set-up in spotlight.  Are you saying I need to add a custom data tag to all my lighting fixtures? As I say - maybe I am misunderstanding what you mean? The nice thing about hanging positions is that you drag a lighting fixture on to it and it is automatically associated with it, and this shows up in the object info palette and the lighting fixture dialog. I don't really see how we can easily do without hanging positions ?

Edited by Benedick_Miller
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

 Not for your fixtures but to identify the truss system and sub lines that you would have in the box truss scenario you descibed.


Yes you are correct the ability to auto populate the position field of fixtures when you insert them or move them between hanging positions is currently the main benefit of creating them. Our objective is to eliminate the step of having to create a hanging position to have this functionality with the fixtures and other hung objects.


When the hanging position was first added to Spotlight, trusses and pipes didn't detect and associate fixtures as being attached unless you used the command. Now because of the requirements of Braceworks this automatically happens in the background, what is currently missing is the auto population of the position field with the truss system name.

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