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Record Formats and Symbols - constant values





I think the way that record formats work with symbols doesn't make sense. Or at least there should be a way to link a record to a symbol and that one can choose that the value always stays the same between all symbols (similar to the styles feature first presented with windows and doors).


I give an example that illustrates the problem:


One places the symbol of a chair in a document, then creates a record that contains price information and attaches the record to a symbol. One is happy and has just created a symbol with a record attached to it.

Then one decides to change the price of the chair... One selects the symbol of the chair and changes the price but it only changes the price for that instance.

There should be a way to change the price for all symbols that have that record attached.


For now, what I prefer doing is attaching the price record to a group (inside the symbol of the chair) that contains all the geometry of the chair inside the chair's symbol. That way when I change the price and the record is changed in all symbols. The issue with this is that one can see the data only when inside the symbol and selecting the group. 


So once again, symbols should have the option of changing the record attached to them and this changed value should be reflected on all symbols.


I'd like to know what people think of enhancing the way records and symbols work this way. So please comment below!!

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Will selecting all the chairs with the record you want to change (using Custom Selection) and with the multiple selection, and changing the price field in the data tab portion of the Object Information Palette not do exactly what you want?


I think you may be asking to do something that seems to my mind to be counter intuitive.

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@martinfdc totally agree with your point.


We have a workaround for that in our office. It's a clumsy solution -  but let me get to this at the end of my response. 

But first, in response to @markdd above, I may explain elaborate the situation which @martinfdc  described and we regularly run into. And how what his 'Constant Record Format' suggestion is useful for. 


To preface, we want to our office have FULL BIM. All information is put into one place: Vectorworks. Not have other notes, excel sheets, etc to record information.




Now, let's say a Herman Miller 'LCW' Chair. 

We put this chair in our model on Monday, attach a custom record format (we don't use the IFC records, FYI). We type in Manufacturer, model, etc. Price is missing. 

I ask my staff to check on price on Monday. On Friday, we get a call from the sales, telling us the price. 


By this time, we have put this Chair in the model for 130 instances, over 23 stories, in 52 rooms. 


Yes, we can 'Magic Wand' (select similar) the item and change the Record format all in one hit in Object Info. 

But this is not intuitive, and will take a long time (vectorworks to load all these symbols, across so many levels etc).

Imagine the time it will take to update every small bit of information about each object, if we have 55 different pieces of furniture, plus hundreds of other fittings, appliances, equipment, accessories, artwork to add change Record formats to.

It's not tenable. 


Back to the example of the Herman Miller LCW. My team should be able to select any one of the symbol instances of the 'LCW' Chair, change any piece of information related to it, and it all gets updated across ALL the symbol instances for LCW. 






To make sure information across all symbols are consistent, we make a worksheet that 'summarises' by the item code (see screen shot below)


So if there is anything inconsistent (say price), between the symbols, the worksheet will show a '-' instead of the price.


We then enter the correct information in the worksheet, for it to be populated back into the symbols (it takes some time, not a quick snappy process). 

But there is still a problem. If, after we enter all the correct information into the symbols that are in the model (all 130 LCW chairs), and we add the 131st instance of the LCW chair from the resources library. The worksheet will now display a '-' across all fields. 


Because the LCW instance in the Resource library doesn't have the same 'price' as the ones we entered for the ones in our model. 


Only 'Constant Value Across Symbols' record format as proposed by @martinfdc can solve this. 




We think there are two ways around this:


(1) Create a checkbox for record format (easier)


See mock up below. If you check this, the records across the same symbol will update and remain the same. This is as per @martinfdc's idea for this post. 


(2) Make Records Formats of of 'Symbols in Symbols' identifiable (cumbersome)


Another workaround is to (as is the solution mentioned by @martinfdc), only attach Record format to Symbols that is inside another Symbol. So we have one consistent record inside the Symbol that we edit.

This requires worksheets to be able to identify this kind of 'Symbols in Symbols' quite clumsy. 






We work with so many pieces of information in our model (as should all BIM offices)- and we would like to properly manage this information (what BIM is about). 

This change proposed by @martinfdcis imperative for Vectorworks to be an efficient BIM workflow and useful for information management. It will save my team a lot of time and eliminate a lot of risk for negligence, data conflict or omissions in workflow. 

In 'image.thumb.png.14b172544848132dc04e8b3a3e215055.png

Record format.png

Edited by Amorphous - Julian
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I agree that either a constant field or constant record format would be useful in some situations.


Here is another maybe easier work around for you.  Add a second record named Price to your symbols that has a single field, PRICE$.


Create a worksheet. Create a database row with a criteria of Record = PRICE. Put a formula  of =SymbolName in Column A. Set the Summarize Items Option. Put a formula of =Price$ in Column B.


You should now have a single place where you can enter the price for each symbol definition. If you need more option for a single symbol definition you can use additional fields in the PRICE record or in another record.


When you recalculate the worksheet it will display a dash (–) instead of a number if any of the PRICE$ fields contain a different value.



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thanks for bringing this up @martinfdc!

I have been trying to make greater use of custom records and worksheets of late, and am running into the same basic issue. My work around has been the use of housekeeping summary worksheets like the ones mentioned above. I've even done the "stand alone record supplement" idea that @Pat Stanford suggests. The problem is they're just workarounds, and not solutions that help us get to greater levels of automation insofar as our database management needs are concerned. Architects are overpaid and under-qualified to spend so much time on database management. The fewer steps the better.


If I knew how to write my own scripts, I'd probably explore that option as a more automate-able solution to the worksheet workaround. I can imagine being able to select the specific symbol with the up-2-date record, and then run a script that finds all the identical symbols, and then updates their records to match the primary one. Or, alternately, i'd be happy to have the feature @Amorphous - Julian suggests be added to the 'Edit Record Format' box.


But I think we can take it even further...

It doesn't need to be just about symbols. What about any set of similar drawing elements that are intended to share the same record values (like polygons for example)? I would like to see another check box for 'Constant Value Across Matching Selection Criteria', that - once checked - allowed you to define any drawing object attached to a record in terms of a series of custom selection criteria. Then the whole set of similar objects would receive the same record values whenever a single instance was edited. This would essentially create a fully automated process in line with some of the work arounds mentioned above.




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On 8/31/2019 at 7:15 PM, Amorphous - Julian said:

Thanks @Pat Stanford, but I don't see the advantage of what you are suggesting over what I wrote about above. 


As mentioned above, I already use the summarised worksheet to update the 'price' field to update information across all symbols, but is wrought with problems still (as mentioned in post above).


The biggest advantage of a separate Price record is that it makes it much easier to generate and edit the pricing in a worksheet. Worksheets are only two way editable for fields that contain a single Record.Field value. 


If you want a single list of prices from three different record formats you can certainly AND them together and get them to display, but they won't be editable from the worksheet. If you are working entirely with symbols and just a single record format this is not an issue. But if you are working with different types of objects (lights, truss, cables, or Doors, Windows, Floors, etc.) and each has a separate record format with a price field you will have a much harder time getting where you want to go than with a separate price record.

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On 8/31/2019 at 7:29 PM, markdd said:

Will selecting all the chairs with the record you want to change (using Custom Selection) and with the multiple selection, and changing the price field in the data tab portion of the Object Information Palette not do exactly what you want?


I think you may be asking to do something that seems to my mind to be counter intuitive.

@markdd Yes, I can use the custom selection or magic wand tools for this but as @Amorphous - Julian has explained, it would be much better if there would be an option to make things more automated and therefore less error prone.


Also many times one uses symbols in order to represent the exact same geometry or object, it's usually the case that most of the data attached to a symbol is the same for all symbols. 

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On 8/31/2019 at 9:23 PM, Amorphous - Julian said:

(1) Create a checkbox for record format (easier)


See mock up below. If you check this, the records across the same symbol will update and remain the same. This is as per @martinfdc's idea for this post. 

@Amorphous - Julian I think this is a very good ideas as of to how the harmony between symbols and record formats could be improved.


I'm glad you find this issue important and the examples you give of the trouble this causes in your office are very interesting.

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On 9/17/2019 at 2:54 AM, Amorphous - Julian said:

@mgries Do you have insights to share on this issue after looking into 2020 Data Management?

sorry, not yet. I'm currently working on 2017-2019 projects and have not had the opportunity to begin anything in 2020 yet. I'll let you know when I begin exploring these new features, but I bet others will beat me to it.

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