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Differences in Standards using default VWX Library Symbols?

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I'm still wondering if it is only my files / version / default library showing this, however:


There seem to still be random differences in some "standard" lighting instrument symbols that ship with Vectorworks. I say still because seemingly, differences have always existed. Specifically in the Vectorworks Library: Objects - Ent Lighting Instruments. Looking at an ETC S4, for example. Most people will agree that's as standard a unit as you can get. When inserted from the Vectorworks Library / Objects - Ent Lighting Instruments / ETC Source 4.vwx / Source 4 location: several instruments appear to have either a different line weight, or minor differences in the data attached through the Light Info Record. [See image below - 14deg & 90deg are very obviously a different line weight].


Like I said, it seems these symbols have always existed with minor defects in the library, especially in the early days of lighting-specific Hybrid Symbols being provided and updated by VWX. So, many of us chose to go the route of duplicating the VWX provided symbol, and editing a custom version of each instrument type we may use. I still do this today. Whether our goal was to specifically color-code fixtures, or provide unique information in the Record, we also needed to make these basic fixes (like ensuring identical line weight) to the 2D portion of the symbol, as well as correct any discrepancy in the Light Info Record (like basic naming schemes). Example: I seem to remember that some of the S4 symbols around 2010 had their Model Name as "Source4 36deg" and others had "S4 26deg" or another variation. Could these both be recognized without confusion when reading an instrument key? Sure, to someone that is not new to the industry. Does that mean we should be teaching students that consistency with naming doesn't matter? I'd ask the same of any specialty: Architecture, Landscaping, etc. I think the obvious answer is a resounding "no". Of course, back then it was all new and we were happy to accept the symbols provided and do these little corrections ourselves. At least, I was. I found it was also a way for me to dig deeper into understanding the program.


But, that was years ago. I understand that there is a small army at VWX working on constantly updating or creating new symbols for us to use, either in the default library, or in service select libraries. (That is awesome!) I also understand that sometimes it takes broad brush strokes to get the sheer amount of different instrument types and variations into the program as they are requested. However, since these problems existed since at least Vectorworks 2010, I'm wondering if/why there hasn't been a finer-tooth comb ran through some of these older symbols. Especially when they are "industry standard" instruments like the S4.




In addition to the difference in graphic standards between these fixtures (their caps are different, too), there is an odd discrepancy in the "Wattage" field as well. The same (2) fixtures that are a different line weight also contain a random space in between the number 575 and "W". That difference, and the Weight of those same (2) fixtures not being rounded, leads me to believe that these must be older symbols that for whatever reason, weren't updated when all of the others were. And what an interesting choice to leave them with those differences. I take it that this was not on purpose, but rather was just overlooked.




Yes, some of these details are rather small (like the space between Wattage), and they may disappear when quickly looking through paperwork... so feel free to poke fun at my nit-picking. However, I would argue that this isn't just an inconvenience or something that might "look odd" when printing a Plot or a Report. I've found that while teaching drafting standards to beginners, where everything should look uniform, and should present the data as cleanly as possible for ease of communication, it is odd to find some symbols provided by Vectorworks that are a different line weight for no apparent reason.


I've just had quite enough students / young assistants ask me over the years: "Why isn't this symbol like the other symbol already? Isn't it in the same library?" while going through and updating / customizing the version provided from Vwx. So, I'm finally asking!


What IS the reason for this, if any? 

Is there a location where we can post various discrepancies users may find in lighting symbols to make it easier for the symbol team to manage?


P.S. I should say this has happened not only on my personal machine but on several other machines with brand new installs. So, it doesn't seem to be an isolated case of a bugged out library resource that isn't being updated over multiple years.

P.P.S. Before anyone even says it: Yes, I know it is possible to make my own copy of these symbols and therefore fix the line weight and record data to my liking. Hopefully it's clear in the post above, that I am specifically talking about the defaults that are provided by Vwx with discrepancies. Not about how to "take matters into my own hands".


Looking forward to what this great community has to say! Thanks in advance!

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I also have found that some of the symbols do not necessarily conform to a laid down set of Standards, either from a recognised body like USITT or ABTT or a Vectorworks in house set of guidelines. That's not to say that they didn't once and as shown in your illustration, its the later additions to the ETC library that seem to have gone awry.


I have also noticed that some instruments have possibly been supplied by the manufacturer without much intervention from Vectorworks. Take a look at the ADB fixture symbols. The 3D portion is extremely detailed and much more so that most of the other Symbols in the libraries.


I personally find the classing system of the stock symbols over detailed, but I can deal with that. I am aware of a great deal of discussion at Vectorworks about this issue and what is in place now seems to be based on some reasoned rationale.


The best Symbols I have seen are  @MrTemplate Soft Symbols which, as far as I can see conform meticulously to a set of drafting standards throughout.


My pet peeve: I like the fact that Watts is abbreviated with a capital "W" in the Instrument Record. It's a shame that the Instrument Summary tool displays it as a lowercase "w" though!


The content team at Vectorworks seem to be incredibly productive and do a really good job with keeping up with the enormous quantity of new gear that seems to appear on the market every week and I can't think that there isn't a stringent rulebook in place. 


In the world of the "click-click done" user mindset, which most students and new designers need to have to get started, then it would be worth it if some of the older symbols got a bit of an overhaul. 






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Hi all,


Thank you for pointing out these problems in the libraries. We will start correcting this for later release.  Can you list out the most prominent problem lighting libraries for us to prioritize?


Thank you,

Chris Baccala

Content Development Manager

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I have always REALLY RAELLY REALLY Wanted Class control over the graphic. Speaking specifically here about the Lighting Devices, but the comment applies elsewhere as well. The outline of an instrument should be one class, the interior lines another so the user can readily control without having to replicate existing work

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Hey Chris @Chris Baccala,  no problem! The way I see it, the better these default libraries are, the easier it will be to manage them for years to come. Thanks to you and everyone in Content Development for everything you do for us!


I have started a detailed list of issues in a Google Sheet and will soon setup a Google Form for people to fill in and add to the sheet.

Here is a link to (a view only version of) the sheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1t5sY7zBRl4epnXOSteMh_NdAiftlffQFHY8ZIG8j-n4/edit?usp=sharing


As a general starting place, I'd say start with the ETC Source 4 Library, which could use a fine-tooth comb ran through it. I just confirmed several issues that still exist, and they are listed on the spreadsheet above. I would describe all of them as simple fixes: typos, line weights, etc.


When I set up the Google Form, others will be able to add specific errors & discrepancies they've found, and I can summarize that info and get back to you with Library names. However, you might be able to get a head start on some of this since I have typically found there are more errors in a manufacturers symbol library when they haven't been updated in a few years. So, "date last updated" should be a good reference point.


10 hours ago, markdd said:

The content team at Vectorworks seem to be incredibly productive and do a really good job with keeping up with the enormous quantity of new gear that seems to appear on the market every week and I can't think that there isn't a stringent rulebook in place. 


I fully agree, @markdd! I imagine there is a rulebook of standards that they are using, otherwise how could they output new symbols so quickly! So, it would be great to get as much as possible within that vectorworks standard.


Maybe @Chris Baccala or someone else could inform us why the capital "W" in Wattage attached to a record of a symbol doesn't translate directly into an Instrument Summary? It is curious to me as well. Again, all fixable if you don't use the Instrument Summary tool "as-is". 


10 hours ago, markdd said:

In the world of the "click-click done" user mindset, which most students and new designers need to have to get started, then it would be worth it if some of the older symbols got a bit of an overhaul.


Exactly my point. That way: new users, students, people migrating from other workflows (autoCAD, etc) don't immediately have to go to the wonderful symbols made by Mr. Shelley, who has always maintained pristine standards, as you've said. Of course, it is still a good option.


@Kevin Allen Indeed, another good point. In the default libraries, if you edit the symbols, there are various ways you might find the 2D objects organized. Some have line weight by class, some are just manually set. Some objects / lines / polylines are set to the "correct" class, others are not. I know you said specifically you were describing Lighting Devices, but I think it's clear at the symbol level there are differences if a fixture hasn't been recently "touched-up" or modernized.


Thanks all for the responses!

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Hey All,


Here's a link to a Google Form I quickly setup to gather this information from fellow users.




Feel free to share with various circles you are in. The more data we have, the more useful it will be for @Chris Baccala and the team!


To start out, do not be afraid that your issue has already been reported by another member. I say, assume you are the first to report it. It will be easy for me to sort through the raw data later, remove duplicates, and report back to Chris & Team with the results.


Depending on how many reports of symbol discrepancies I receive, I'll attach the "live" results to another spreadsheet that can be viewed & searched before submitting. That would prevent a dedicated person from wasting an hour or more adding every Symbol discrepancy they are aware of all at once, when it already has been reported. I imagine that eventually, a quick search through that spreadsheet could save some time.


Any feedback on the form itself - reply below or message me and I can make changes for clarity.


Thanks in advance for any input!

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