Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Chris D

VECTORWORKS 12: A Review

Recommended Posts

OK, so I've had version 12 (with Architect) for a couple of weeks now, and here is my personal "Review of Vectorworks 12". I'm a UK architect in a practice of 50 or so Vectorworks users, working on Apple Macs. I'm fairly recent to VW, since version 10, having previously used AutoCAD, Microstation, Revit and ArchiCAD. This review isn't comprehensive...just focusing on the features we use most in our office.

THE INTERFACE

The new interface is good, much more user friendly for novices and has sensibly grouped tools that make the Architect tools more prominent and usable. The tool panel reminds me of Revit (which is a good thing...).

One gripe I have with the interface though is that the marketing screenshots left out the Attributes and the Constraints palettes, whereas most users have these displayed, and they haven't been reformatted to sit nicely with the tool panel. I thought long and hard about how these could be tidied up...and I'm going to add the following suggestions to the Wish List...

The Constraints could be added to that unused bit of screen real-estate to the right hand side of the tool-options bar at the top of the drawing window. A simple drop-down button could give quick access. The Attributes palette (line, fill etc) could be more fundamentally changed...it too could be in the position mentioned above...AutoCAD style as a series of drop-downs...but better still, why not bundle the attributes into the top of the Object Info palette. This kind of makes sense - all properties of an object would be in one place: line, fill, shape, size, etc. As the program moves towards a BIM application then this will become more sensible...the default term 'fill' for instance might become 'material' for certain objects. You may ask how the active (current) attributes would be set...well when no objects are selected the active attributes would be displayed.

The above leads me on to another issue with the interface. I love the Navigation palette, but having Object Info, Navigation and Resource Browser all down the right-hand side is too crowded...and would be worse if Attributes were bundled into the Object Info palette, making it bigger. My solution is to roll-up the Resource Browser. I first make it large - half of the screen size makes it lovely to use, then I simply double-click on the top bar and it rolls up. I keep it at the top of the drawing window, double-clicking on it when I need to use it. Again this could be formalised into the interface - a button on the right hand side of the bar above the drawing window could show or hide the Resource Browser.

One other little wish is that you could get quickly from the Navigation palette to the Organization palette (one is a cut-down version of the other). How about a double-click on any tab on the Navigation palette takes you to the same tab in the Organization palette?

A small but significant improvement is that the grips (selection handles) are now colored, which makes them far easier to pick out on the screen. You still can't choose the color or resize them, but that's a minor point. What I do wish is that the selection handles weren't so crude - the 4 or 8 selection handles quickly become lost in a complex drawing of overlapping objects. Compare this to any other CAD program on the market which highlights a selected object much more precisely and clearly at the actual limits of their geometry, not at the limits of the 'imaginary box' that VW uses.

THE ORGANIZATION PALETTE

This palette combines the layer, class, viewport and saved views palettes and is very useful tidy-up with added functionality. You can now copy Sheet layers and manage visibilities for viewports. You can also delete classes and assign the objects from the deleted classes to any other class, which is just fantastic for class management. At long last you can actually sort your layers and classes, for instance alphabetically, or by current visibility. Hey...the palette even supports mouse-wheel scrolling and multi-tap jump-to-name - this is a serious time saver in files with loads of classes.

Viewport class overrides have also arrived via this palette - I can re-color objects in a viewport based on their class. This alone makes the upgrade pay for itself in our office, as we no longer have to duplicate objects just so that they can be displayed differently in various viewports.

PAN AND ZOOM

Thank you lord...or rather NNA...there is someone up there listening! Pan and Zoom work brilliantly with the scroll wheel on my mouse....without modifier keys....hooray. On a Mac with Quartz imaging it's also amazingly fast. I can take a fairly large 20Mb site plan file in full colour and zoom right out in a flash and zoom right back in to the other side of the site in a snap. No stuttering or lag. One thing I found is that it's not as slick with a Mighty Mouse...the scroll ball is just too small for fast zooming...I've stuck with my Microsoft wheel mouse.

WORKGROUP REFERENCING

This has apparenty been improved, but it's not immediately obvious how. One feature we've been desperately waiting for in my office is nesting (and nesting control). AutoCAD has had nested Xrefs for years, and you can set the nesting level incrementally. No sign of it yet in VW. There is a new feature that allows independent origins for referenced layers, which is an improvement.

Resource Referencing (referencing symbols from other files) has also stood still - this needs to be more sophisticated, so that when a symbol was organised into folders in the source file the organisation is recognised in the target file. Referenced symbols should at least get their own folder by default so that they don't clutter up the resource browser. Workgroup Referencing control has also not been integrated into the new Organisation palette, which would have been sensible.

WORKING PLANES (U.C.S.)

Nope...there aren't any 2D working planes yet, still and rather bizarrely, just 3D ones. This has to be my biggest gripe with VW and I've said so on this techboard before, as have many before me. I guess this is a factor of the split between the 2D system and 3D system in Vectorworks, a split which I'd be more than happy to see resigned to the historical dustbin one day. There will be many posts in reply to this talking of rotated grids and other methods as a workaround, but there is just no substitute for a proper means to orientate the display to match the geometry...(as borne out by the fact that working planes exist in 3D...).

WALLS

The old wall tool, particularly the one in the core program was extremely counter-intuitive. The misnomer Cavities has now been renamed Components and the whole thing is just much much better, with the ability to save named wall styles and replace existing walls intelligently. Combined with the cavity join tool VW now has a very workable way to draw walls. My one gripe is that wall components can't be individually classed...which might be problematic to implement, but would iron out a bug in another new function - viewport class overrides: I can re-color any object in a viewport based on it's class...but I can't if it isn't classed...so those objects which acquire their fill and line attributes from a source other than a class style can't be affected, and thus spoil the whole override feature.

LINEAR MATERIALS

This feature is implemented very poorly. What VW needed was an object type that worked like Walls, but wasn't called walls so that the objects could be differentiated. Our users tend to use the wall tool to graphically show many linear objects in 2D sectional details - membranes, timbers, steel liners etc. What VW12 gives us is something very limited and also very buggy. The delta figures can't be changed in the OIP, the fills don't work, the properties palette always displays corrugation when objects don't have any, there is no join tool, you can't cut linear objects, hatches oriented to walls don't orient in linear objects...you can't even (as far as I can see) make new object styles or edit the components of existing ones. This feature needs a complete overhaul - NNA please just copy the wall tool and re-name it.

LIVE SECTIONS

I haven't used this tool on a live job yet, but playing around with it shows it's limitations. Wall components don't show up in the sections, just the outline. The main problem though is that sections are not live views as such, they are simply viewports. You can't work on a section, you can't use a view to check geometry (without creating viewports), and you can't apply a 2D detail patch onto a live section like you would in a BIM application.

BACKUP FILES

There is still no way to have the VW Backup folder(s) in a location of your choice. VW insists on littering these folders wherever the files are stored, rather than allowing you to set a folder on a local drive or networked drive to centrally save the backup files.

DWG HANDLING

The import/export function has been updated but it's too early to say whether the countless conversion problems we experience will diminish. One thing still missing is for VW to recognize DWG files right from the Finder (or Explorer) and allow them to be associated with the VW application, so that when the files are double-clicked VW simply runs a default conversion and opens the file. (The defaults could be set in Preferences).

NIGGLES

Eternal VW niggles not fixed in VW12:

- Text style was added to the OIP in version 11, but not the text style for dimensions.

- Origins can be moved but symbols retain the default origin. Also no command to revert to the default origin.

- Copied and Pasted symbols between files do not prompt user upon duplication, simply keeping originals

- Custom Select does not select objects within groups

- No setting to grey layers but still have them snap

- Purge command still has no 'purge nested objects' setting, meaning you have to run it 3 times in succession

- Display toggles are still hidden away in preferences - Zoom Line Thickness and Show Other Objects While in Groups should be in the View menu.

- Please can we have a non-plot setting for classes so that guides etc can be displayed but not printed (you can turn the classes off in viewports, but what if the guides are drawn on a Sheet layer, or you are printing from a Design layer?)

- Please can we have a lock setting for whole layers, not just individual objects

- Can we have PANTONE, RAL, NCS, BS color palettes out of the box

- Can we have a UK version with the correct brick sizes and steel sizes

CONCLUSION

Version 12 is definitely worth the upgrade, and is certainly moving in the right direction. I welcome the move towards BIM functionality, but I think NNA would be better to play to their strengths in the short term - Vectorworks is one of the best programs for creating full color, scaled, vector based drawings - but it could be better - if users migrating from other programs could enjoy the Wow Factor, without encountering problems like 'where's the UCS?', 'How do I lock a layer?' etc, then Vectorworks would bolster it's reputation.

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks for taking the time to detail your thoughts! This gives us a good picture of what you think works well and what we should be improving for the future.

Share this post


Link to post

- Display toggles are still hidden away in preferences - Zoom Line Thickness and Show Other Objects While in Groups should be in the View menu.

If you visit www.vectordepot.com/ you can find plug ins that toggle both the zoom line thickness and show objects in groups preferences. You can then add these menu items to your workspace anywhere you like and add keyboard shortcuts to them. Invaluable!

Share this post


Link to post

For Mac users Vectorbits Toggle Preferences Tool provides a better solution for toggling Preferences. Both the VW Preferences and the Document Preferences are combined into one pop-up list which shows the state of each preference via a check mark. It is a free tool.

http://www.vectorbits.com/

For Windows users, and those who want to keep things simple, the Vectordepot solutions are also very good.

[ 12-21-2005, 09:36 PM: Message edited by: mike m oz ]

Share this post


Link to post

One thing still missing is for VW to recognize DWG files right from the Finder (or Explorer) and allow them to be associated with the VW application, so that when the files are double-clicked VW simply runs a default conversion and opens the file. (The defaults could be set in Preferences).

If you are using mac os x you can do this in the finder. Select any dwg in the finder and then apple + I to get info, scroll down to "Open with" and set the default application to VectorWorks.

The next time you double click on a dwg it will fire up vectorworks and import the drawing.

jt

Share this post


Link to post

quote:

Originally posted by mike m oz:

For Mac users Vectorbits Toggle Preferences Tool provides a better solution for toggling Preferences. Both the VW Preferences and the Document Preferences are combined into one pop-up list which shows the state of each preference via a check mark. It is a free tool.

For Windows users, and those who want to keep things simple, the Vectordepot solutions are also very good.

Absolutely must-have, fantastic tools. Especially Vector Move, Stretch and Magic Wand. But MOST of all Vector Align, used tens of times per hour, since I love to draw once and duplicate, move, rotate many.

I've had Toggle Layers and Toggle Class crash VW 12.0.0.

Happy Holidays. We're freezing down here; it's 75? at night!!!

[ 12-25-2005, 01:23 PM: Message edited by: Ramon PG ]

Share this post


Link to post

BACKUP FILES

There is still no way to have the VW Backup folder(s) in a location of your choice. VW insists on littering these folders wherever the files are stored, rather than allowing you to set a folder on a local drive or networked drive to centrally save the backup files.

this one bothers me to no end, and I'm dismayed to see it's still like that. We, like I imagine most any firm of any kind of size, work from files on a dedicated server on the network. Not only does the backup cause considerable lag in drawing when being saved over the network, it also litters my server with VW backup files.

It doesn't help that VectorWorks doesn't clean up after it self either... [Frown]

Share this post


Link to post

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.

Guest
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.

Sign in to follow this  

 

7150 Riverwood Drive, Columbia, Maryland 21046, USA   |   Contact Us:   410-290-5114

 

© 2018 Vectorworks, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Vectorworks, Inc. is part of the Nemetschek Group.

×
×
  • Create New...