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New Cable Suite - Preview Features

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With Vectorworks Spotlight 2021, we are giving you a sneak peek into our new Cable Tools. This preview feature of re-engineered Cable tools will present an alternative workflow that will give you more flexibility to work in both 2D and 3D and take advantage of the most current Vectorworks functionality. These objects are compatible with Braceworks so that cable impacts on a system can be calculated seamlessly and without current workarounds. Additionally, the new Cable tools present a condensed interface making it easier to integrate in a 3D workflow. 

This Preview Feature will give you the opportunity to provide suggestions on the Vectorworks Community Board for improvements on a redesigned system for cabling.

 

For additional information, see the Vectorworks help.

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FYI in windows it seems the pallet is missing from the method it shows in the video, i had to physically alter workspaces to see the new cable tools... 

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Checked and yes its there in the spotlight only workspace. The video does not mention that it needs to be in the spotlight workspace, it just says the pallet menu.  My apologies.  I work out of many many workspaces and as soon as I fired 2021 up it just wasnt there, so I just hastily did what I always do and edited the tools into it.  I find the default workspaces do not fit my workflow often.

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On 8/5/2020 at 6:28 AM, JuanP said:

current workarounds


💯

 

Hopefully this alternate workflow won’t be met with resistance.

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On 9/23/2020 at 11:03 PM, Mark Aceto said:

Hopefully this alternate workflow won’t be met with resistance

 

Perhaps.
The 3D snapping is greatly improved, and the different jumper cable path routing options are cool.  Integration with Braceworks is an obvious desirability.

However...

Have you tried to lay out a show with it?  Controlling part ends (cable breaks) is difficult.  Graphic indications of cable breaks are almost invisible.  One can only control cable breaks with the split tool.  This seems cool, but creates separate cable objects which prevents construction of cable build lists.  Even without the use of the split tool, cable parts are buried in a dialog which cripples interactive adjustments.  The cable path tool is cool engineering and kind of fun, but I don't see any advantages, and I do see some drawbacks when comparing its use to just duplicating cables and converting them to the needed type.  Still, the duplicate and convert workflow is available to the new tools, so the user can pick.  How one adjust cables to provide for different swag amounts among different cable runs I cannot determine.  In fact, I cannot figure out how the "Cable Swag (%)" value is applied by the user or how it is incorporated in the graphic display or in the computation of length.  Also, the addition of parts or extra length to provide for different parts of the rig to move doesn't seem possible.  If it is, the method is opaque to me.  3D is cool, but the path is rarely displayed in build documents, and when it is those documents are in top plan view.

As for extracting data from the cable drawing, I see no way to make a list of build list of each of the cable runs, i.e. a list of each cable run, each of which has a list of the parts in the order they are placed.  To make these essential build lists requires hand copying the information from the dialogs, or so it seems.  There seems to be no way to create loom build lists, looms that are made up of different parts of different cable runs.  There is no way of making box packing lists.

 

Understanding the distributor -> cable run -> distributor work flow will take some investment of time.  There needs to be a much better description/example of cable types, their creation and use, since these control all the aspects of the graphic display of cables and the creation of elements of the cable inventory.  There is no provision for different cable inventories.  Have you ever used more than one vendor on a show, or had to change vendors on a show.  There has been no improvement or expansion of assigning data between fixtures and cables. Only cable name and cable number are given to the instrument.  No jumper information is given to the instrument.  No jumper information is given to the breakout.  I could not find anyway to assign unit number or channel to the breakout circuits.  There must be a way (I really hope so), but I could not find it.  There is no way to assign jumper information to the breakout.

 

If you have solved these issues, please, let's have a Zoom meeting and give me a lesson.

 

As far as I'm concerned, there is no way to use the new cable tools on a real show, compared to other options.  This does not mean that these problems cannot be fixed.  I have not seen the task document for this feature, but a much more comprehensive task document than the one I am imagining exists will be required.  The users I have talked to in the last 2 weeks will definitely resist adopting this new workflow.  I imagine there will  be others that don't know of any other option than this new way and will struggle to make it work.

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@Sam Jones I was honestly just trying keep the power puns going in response to "current workspace" because I'm that big of a dork but those are all good points.

 

For me, I leave the LX prepro to my excellent production electricians, so I'm really only messing with audio, video, and utility. I also work with an excellent power vendor that prepros everything (in AutoCAD) from the gennies to the transfomers, plus utility. I would love to convert them to VW... 

 

Anyway, I took a crack at the new preview tools, and also had a lot of questions. I think the big thing for me, and probably my #2 question for the Q&A in a few weeks is that we now have 3 very different modalities for working with cabling, one of which I pay extra for as a VSS add-on:

  1. The OG tools ported from AutoPlot
  2. The new tools (developed in house?) 
  3. ConnectCAD

So, as a VW user, I would just like to know which tools I should get attached to, invest in, subscribe to... and, more importantly, when I can just use one toolset to get the job done? Apologies if that sounds snarky (not my intention).

 

A couple things I did notice:

As usual, the drum I'm banging on is improved communication / managing expectations / a clear roadmap, so I'll bite my tongue until Oct 6 to see what's planned for the future... 

 

Edited by Mark Aceto

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@samjones your points, as always are valid. I always leave the cabling to master electricians so I don’t really utilize the cable tool functionality. 
 

What I do find myself doing on a regular basis as a production designer and production manager is drawing out 3D representations of complicated cable paths. I have found that having a single technician that runs a cable incorrectly during a load-in can bring a complicated production to a halt for a long time while this is rectified.  The time spent extruding along path, calculating specific overall lengths and detailing where and how a cable gets from dimmer world on a catwalk, to a pick, down to the floor for load-in, back up to a grid, back down to a truss structure by way of a chain slider, etc. is invaluable.  

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3D is also a boon to figuring out site lines.  Cables are notorious for hiding there impact on site lines in a 2D drawing.  3D is intriguing if the editing problems can be solved.  I think they can be solved, but the problems are not trivial when one is depending on the tool to control and render cable breaks and editing and keeping track of extra cable needed for rig moves and swag.  That being said, much of what the MEs use AP cable tools for is most easily (for now) accomplished with 2D paths and vertical parameters.  They need shop orders, build lists (both for single runs and looms), the ability to specify extra cable for rig moves, to share data with fixtures about both circuit values and jumpers.  If the actual route is complex, a simple 3D poly as an example of route can be drawn.  I find it interesting that you feel the need to extrude along the path, but that's cool.  I doubt that you would want to create 3D objects for 30 cables that go out to the cable bridges and catwalks to the FOH and it 3 or 4 trusses, but I can certainly see the desirability of describing the 3D path(s).  The new tools are a large and interesting step toward a 3D solution, but they currently don't get enough of the job done.

 

Like Mark, one can become fond of styles as they combine attributes and parameter values into a single conceptualization of the object(s) needed, but many MEs are going to become frustrated investing the time to realign their workflow when classes and attributes can handle the functionality and making changes along the way is easier.  If one puts in the effort (as I think one should), to develop the comprehensive style library needed, then making ad hoc changes will be made much easier by styles.  While styles are an intriguing solution to showing the collective result of graphic needs for an object (good), they have a tendency to hide their modifying source (bad).  Like Mark, I will pay more attention to styles for all the objects that implement them, but I'm not sure I would want to receive the tech support calls that are going to be coming in from MEs.

Looking forward to the next generation of the new cable tools.

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@samjones to your point, I would only render cable “looms” and not individual cables. Just a single path to a particular truss. It’s all about getting lighting, rigging, video and scenic teams on the same page. 

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On 10/4/2020 at 1:00 PM, scottmoore said:

@samjones your points, as always are valid. I always leave the cabling to master electricians so I don’t really utilize the cable tool functionality. 
 

What I do find myself doing on a regular basis as a production designer and production manager is drawing out 3D representations of complicated cable paths. I have found that having a single technician that runs a cable incorrectly during a load-in can bring a complicated production to a halt for a long time while this is rectified.  The time spent extruding along path, calculating specific overall lengths and detailing where and how a cable gets from dimmer world on a catwalk, to a pick, down to the floor for load-in, back up to a grid, back down to a truss structure by way of a chain slider, etc. is invaluable.  

HAHAH, thats assuming that your local crew actually reads the documents you send to them... I cant count how many shows I have added cable Breaks in truss lines and made the warning in big bold flashing neon lighting on the plan and still they do not pay attention... The tools and pre planning are only as god as the crew building it.. I try my best, and just facepalm damn near every time I have a local crew... 

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27 minutes ago, CETLV said:

HAHAH, thats assuming that your local crew actually reads the documents you send to them... I cant count how many shows I have added cable Breaks in truss lines and made the warning in big bold flashing neon lighting on the plan and still they do not pay attention... The tools and pre planning are only as god as the crew building it.. I try my best, and just facepalm damn near every time I have a local crew... 

That is so true. It helps when you are the one signing everyone’s check. 🙂

 

To the point of this thread, it will be interesting to see if adding the 3D functionality to the cable toolset is really all that crucial or is it just easier to direct model things out in 3D when needed. 

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