Jump to content

Why Annotate in Viewports

Recommended Posts

I've found and asked about this in a few related threads, but I guess I'm not satisfied yet. I am a great fan of viewports, they're the best thing since perspectives, but from what I've experienced and from what I've read here so far I can't see the benefits of annotating in them and would like to ask for further input. There seem to be a number of people who do it, and many seem very satisfied with it. I've gone through Katies wonderful extollation of the various capabilities they have, but even there she never states any reason why it would be better to annotate, she even mentions that dmensions will not update with the drawing. This along with the fact that every time any adjustment is made in a drawing layer you have to go to a sheet and edit a viewport leaves me wondering why, so:

How does annotating in viewports provide advantage over placing text, dimensions and other annotations in separate classes or layers?

- I am honestly not looking for a poll, or an arguement, just info.

Link to comment

I'm fully commited to viewports. I do all of my dimensioning, notes, keys, legends etc. in them. If you were to look through my layers, there would be little to no text at all. I do this purely as an organizational trick. Since I draft the entire model in 3d, and use that for elevational work, it becomes a nuisance to have text and notes in the way whilst I look for different views. I don't control the visibility of my text and dimensions through classes or layers, because it just seems to cumbersome to me to set up files that way.

as far as things not updating, it would be nice to have them update in viewports. And it's not out of the realm of possibility either. CADKEY had that functionality back in the 1990's.

I believe the root of the problem (or the beauty of the situation) is that there isn't ONE set way of using classes and layers. They are merely organizational tools, and people are free to use them however they like. Viewports are merely an extenstion of that line of thinking

Link to comment

Like Grant, we model everything fully in 3D and share his desire to keep the design layers "clean". At the risk of being redundant, here are copies of recent posts I've made to other threads on this issue:


We do all our elevations and sections in Viewports by chosing Front/Side/Back of the appropriate design layers (including the 3D Composite layer which has the model layer linked into a whole). We use an enormous quantity of Classes (following a very strict protocol to keep things organized) which enables us to turn off/on what's needed to achieve the desired "look" in Viewports. We frequently use a combination of Crop and Classes to get enlarged segments (stairs, post & beam isometric views, complex concrete steps & grade beams all come to mind) into a Viewport for extra detailing.

The file protocol I'm alluding to is exceptionally "clean" in execution, once one gets his head wrapped around it.


You can have "live" sections if you'll class your exterior walls separately (and possibly even some interior walls). Turn off/on the walls as needed.

You can use hatches and patterns as Renderworks textures. They not only keep their orientation, they will also appear correctly in isometric views in Viewports.

We've taken the "annotate everything in Viewports" approach. As everyone knows, Viewports will benefit from some refinements in future releases, but we've come to the decision to keep the model/design layers and the notes/dimensions/etc. separate. For example, on our framing plans we may dimension to different points than on the floor plans. It's not uncommon to add a few 2D polygons with fills (hatches or solids--patterns seem somewhat limited, when printed, when used in Viewports) in Annotations to help with the visual presentation.


I agree wholeheartedly that one of VW's most powerful features is that it doesn't require one method of working.

Good luck,

[ 04-22-2005, 04:39 PM: Message edited by: Travis ]

Link to comment


I think you and I are on the same approach here, which is sort of like being able to "explode" models apart for the sake of seeing what you want to see in the viewports. Like you I've taken to giving every piece of architecture (scenery in my case) it's own class. That approach gives me the freedom to pick and choose what I'm looking at by turning walls off and on.

Conversly though, I'd be interested to know how others get along without viewports in 3D drafting. I've tried to assemble plates of drawings but find it really confusing when views are scattered across layers. Perhaps someone from the other side of the fence can illuminate their process?

Link to comment

Annotating in viewports is only acceptable (IMHO) if you are the end user of the dwg. If you share files, they can be a real pain. I speak from experience. One civil engineering firm I work with annotates it dwg in viewports -autocad, and to make the dwg workable especially if I need to refer to their info or need their annotations on my dwg in a slightly different layout, can be time consuming. When they work for me, I require them to annotate in model space.

Link to comment


I'd be interested to know how viewports work with autocad. I've seen people use them, and like you they tell me that nothing really goes into the viewport, it's just a cropping and arranging tool.

How do people do all the annotating in model space in 3d? I've tried it and the dimensions don't show up in the viewport. Or do people who annotate in model space just abandon the viewport idea altogether and print from model space (I'm speaking in Vectorworks here.)

Link to comment

I cannot speak to 3D. As a Landscape Architect, most of my stuff is in 2D, more of a civil engineering format. We will sometimes create details in 3D and annotate them in a viewport. But this is something that is not to be edited by someone else. I print and arrange my dwg with several viewports to create the print I want. I suspect this issue could be related to certain disciplines.

Link to comment


I do the same thing and I would love to figure out a way to texture a 2D object. It would really help make the rendered elevations more realistic. Problems like edges of things mostly.


Travis wrote : "It's not uncommon to add a few 2D polygons with fills (hatches or solids--patterns seem somewhat limited, when printed, when used in Viewports) in Annotations to help with the visual presentation."

Link to comment

I agree with Tvetter. If you are sharing files with other disciplines, then annotating and adding notes in the viewport can be a real pain. The only notes, etc. I usually add are notes specific for a sketch that is not part of the overall drawing. For example, creating a sketch for Site Instructions or Change Orders. Here, the annotations come in real handy, as they won't show up if you need to create as-builts later, but all the changes you made are already incorporated.

In the end, it all depends on how you work and what you want to create as an end result, especially if you are working/sharing files with other disciplines.

Link to comment

Grant, I am a reluctant convert to viewports after being very grumpy about how they did, or did not work. To answer your question about how people work without viewports let me say that I used "sheets" (now called save view) and named the view with the drawing name A1.1, S2.1, ME2.2 etc.). By editing the view, & adding layer links much the same result can be achieved as with viewports; but I reluctantly admit, viewports are a better tool..

Link to comment

I'd be interested to know how viewports work with autocad. I've seen people use them, and like you they tell me that nothing really goes into the viewport, it's just a cropping and arranging tool.

Viewports in AutoCAD are similar to those in VectorWorks. You can notate and dimension on them. Some people use them exclusively for notations. The viewports can be arranged to fit any part of the drawing in model space, and in any scale.

Remember that in AutoCAD there are "xrefs" which allow you to reference an external drawing into your current drawing, so viewports aren't as important as with VectorWorks.

For example a typical sheet can have a floor plan along with a few xref'd details arranged on the same sheet. You just have to get the scale right when you xref the detail--divide the scale of the xref into the scale of the plan sheet and insert it at that resultant number. Confusing at first.


Link to comment


We do a similar thing with our details. We Work Group Reference the desired details (we keep all our details in Detail files, by type) and then reference the WGR layers from Viewports.

Scale is set in the Viewport OIP to whatever works. Very slick.

[ 04-25-2005, 09:14 PM: Message edited by: Travis ]

Link to comment


I've not yet "wished" I could texture a 2D object, tho I used to wish I could apply hatches to 3D objects. Now we do that commonly by converting the hatch to an image and then making the image a texture. Since you can apply images to 2D objects, perhaps this is what Jonathan is alluding to.

Jonathan, you phrased your comment as a question but I don't quite understand if it's a question for me or rather a suggestion offered in query form. . .?

With respect to other disciplines: (Let me begin by simply stating I'm far too possesive and controlling!) We send .pdf (only) files of our framing plans to the engineer who imports them into A/C. Since we've worked together so long, we generally have the beam and other structural designations already in place. He adds his annotations (beam sizing/referencing, schedule, etc) and sends it all back as .dxf AND .pdf. We import his layer(s) into a new VW file, touch it up as needed and then WGR the engineering into the main file. From the WGR, we add/create the necessary references to the appropriate Viewports. If something goes haywire, we can always print out his .pdf version to see what should have happened. Any detail drawings he might like to add are sent over one detail per file, which are also WGR'd into the main file. I realize this is a very restricted method that may not have very wide application, but it works for us.

Finally, a comment about dimensioning. We (or at least I, personally) haven't seemed to have problems finding the snap point(s) I want. . .but be aware that rounding is a study in inexactness. We always double-check our segment dimensions against the overall dimensions and adjust decimals or fractions as necessary to make them equalize. This, in fact, is one good argument against live dimensions and the final "push over the edge" that helped us decide to place all dimensions in Viewports. If something gets modified, the dimensions don't self-modify and automatically become erroneous.

Perhaps this will be of some help.

Good luck,

Link to comment


Originally posted by Travis:

You can have "live" sections if you'll class your exterior walls separately (and possibly even some interior walls). Turn off/on the walls as needed.

Can you have the sectioned walls and floors to automatically show some hatch or color according to their class?

Link to comment

Sort of.

In rendered views, a floor's "edge" or side is the color set in the attributes pallet. A wall's "middle" is the color set in the attributes pallet UNLESS a texture has been applied to the "middle". As you know, you can set all attributes either by class or by object.

If you want a hatch, apply it to a 2D shape you've drawn in Annotations "over" the view of the model.


"It's not uncommon to add a few 2D polygons with fills (hatches or solids--patterns seem somewhat limited, when printed, when used in Viewports) in Annotations to help with the visual presentation."

Good luck,

Link to comment

I wouldn't want the Model's wall attributes colors to show in section. I use hatches in plan in order not to have the color confusion. In plans and sections I want to show "cut" objects in a diagramatic way, showing the materials hatch. Or at least some kind of poche.

I guess a quick way could be to convert a copy of the section to polygons and give them a hatch on top of the Viewport.

You'll probably say that that's what you've been saying all along. the problem with CAD and stuff is that you learn by doing. The VW manuals don't seem to grasp that. AT ALL!!

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...