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Mark Aceto

Vectorworks Manifesto - One Workspace to Rule Them All

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@Ian Lane starting a fresh thread about unifying a single workspace that adds Menus in the Menu Bar for each modality (FKA "workspace").

 

Past discussions linked here.

 

Issues with current workspace implementation:

  1. Redundant resizing and repositioning of all common window palettes is inefficient
    • Attributes
    • Snapping
    • Resource Manager
    • Object Info
    • Navigation
    • Visualization
    • Basic
    • Tool Sets
    • Preview Features
  2. Redundant editing of a single hotkey across mulitple workspaces (instead of just doing this once) is inefficient – why is this even edited here instead of VW Prefs?
    • Architect BIM
    • Architect
    • Braceworks
    • ConnectCAD
    • Designer
    • Fundamentals
    • Landmark
    • Spotlight
    • (popular third party plugins)
  3. Discovering / knowing / remembering which tools are available in which workspace
    • Can I ignore the Spotlight workspace if I'm using the Braceworks workspace?
  4. Switching between workspaces, primarily to access a single Menu in the Menu Bar is jarring and interrupts / slows workflow
  5. Having to remember which workspace you're working in as you switch back and forth
  6. Editing workspaces is painful
    • Cannot drag toolsets
    • Have to create a toolset (with no icon)
    • Can only drag one tool at a time (possible user error)
    • Have to recreate menus in the same manner which gets really complicated (possible user error)

Solutions to the issues above:

  1. A single consistent workspace
  2. Replace workspaces with menus in the menu bar

I full understand / appreciate / respect the challenge of organizing tools in the "a la carte" manner that users have purchased or subscribed. Therefore, short of a complete rewrite, I see a triage approach to solving these issues:

  • Short Term Must-Haves - VW21 SP3
    • Save all palette (and windows) positions / sizes across workspaces
      • Don't make me resize / reposition the Attributes palette 8+ times
      • This has become especially painful with all of the killer customization added in VW21 (tear-away tabs, docking) that is lost when we switch workspaces
    • Move Workspace Editor / Keys (hotkeys) to VW Prefs (there's no reason any of these settings would change from workspace to workspace)
      • Don't make me edit 8+ workspaces to change the hotkey for Launch Quick Search
  • Short Term Nice-To-Haves - VW21 SP3
    • Drag toolsets from the master library (or another workspace) to the custom edited workspace
  • Long Term Must-Haves - VW22
    • Eliminate workspaces altogether (replaced with the menu solution above)

I realize that pace is ambitious but the UI improvements in VW21 are super slick nice-to-haves on the surface. Improving the current UI/UX of bolting on workspace after workspace is a must-have under the hood. In other words, when I draw an outdoor concert, I use every single workspace (except Fundamentals), so streamlining that workflow is a top priority for me. Honestly, if all of these proposed solutions (thought-starters for now) came to VW22, that would be epic.

 

As VW continues to acquire great partner products, and third party developers continue to write great plug-ins, the current UI/UX that VW is rapidly outgrowing will continue to get clunkier and weigh it down.

 

That said, everyone, please keep the criticism constructive, the conversation positive, productive and solutions-oriented (for both Mac & Windows users). 😎

 

Thank you, VW team, for implementing improvements based on user feedback as demonstrated by the many UI/UX improvements in VW21!

 

Screen Shot 2020-09-21 at 9.25.09 AM.png

Screen Shot 2020-09-21 at 8.06.44 AM.png

Screen Shot 2020-09-20 at 8.47.30 AM.png

Edited by Mark Aceto
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@Mark Aceto Can I ask why you don't create a single custom workspace that includes only the tools and menus you use, organized in custom palettes and menus that suit your workflow, instead of switching between workspaces?  

 

I like the current workspace system, but then again I'm only working with Architect and use a customized workspace. Once in a blue moon I'll have to switch to the generic Architect workspace to use a tool I've removed, then bounce back to my custom workspace.  

 

I agree completely with your suggestions for improving the workspace editor interface, and the need to be able to save palette positions. 

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On 9/21/2020 at 12:11 PM, E|FA said:

@Mark Aceto Can I ask why you don't create a single custom workspace that includes only the tools and menus you use, organized in custom palettes and menus that suit your workflow, instead of switching between workspaces?  

 

I like the current workspace system, but then again I'm only working with Architect and use a customized workspace. Once in a blue moon I'll have to switch to the generic Architect workspace to use a tool I've removed, then bounce back to my custom workspace.  

 

I agree completely with your suggestions for improving the workspace editor interface, and the need to be able to save palette positions. 

 

I tried this years ago, and bailed after an hour of fiddling.

 

I just tried it again by attempting to add ConnectCAD (the least complicated workspace) to a modified version of Braceworks, and got stuck after adding the 1st menu item. There are only 6 menu items, and I can't even find them.

 

I could list a dozen other complications along the way but this is the non-starter:

 

Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 2.19.56 PM.png

Edited by Mark Aceto

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I always only used a single customized Workspace since years.

(VW Provided Workspaces only to check if mine is corrupt)

 

I also thought about creating 2-3 Workspaces for different

Workflows in the past. But seems it was never that urgent

that I ever did.

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3 hours ago, Mark Aceto said:

 

I tried this years ago, and bailed after an hour of fiddling.

 

I just tried it again by attempting to add ConnectCAD (the least complicated workspace) to a modified version of Braceworks, and got stuck after adding the 1st menu item. There are only 6 menu items, and I can't even find them.

 

I could list a dozen other complications along the way but this is the non-starter:

 

Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 2.19.56 PM.png

 

I figured it out, and the solution is ridickydonk.

 

I would have to

  1. Screenshot every parent menu with child menus
  2. Create a new (blank) menu
  3. Rename the menu with the parent menu name: Drawing
  4. Search for the menus (listed alphabetically; not in the same order as the menu I'm "duplicating")
  5. Drag the menu from the left to the right pane
  6. Drag separators from the left to the right pane to match
  7. Create a new (blank) menu
  8. Rename the menu with the parent menu name: Layout
  9. Search for the menus (listed alphabetically; not in the same order as the menu I'm "duplicating")
  10. Drag the menu from the left to the right pane
  11. Drag separators from the left to the right pane to match
  12. Create a new (blank) menu
  13. Rename the menu with the parent menu name: Documentation
  14. Search for the menus (listed alphabetically; not in the same order as the menu I'm "duplicating")
  15. Drag the menu from the left to the right pane
  16. Drag separators from the left to the right pane to match
  17. Create a new (blank) menu
  18. Rename the menu with the parent menu name: Compare
  19. Search for the menus (listed alphabetically; not in the same order as the menu I'm "duplicating")
  20. Drag the menu from the left to the right pane
  21. Drag separators from the left to the right pane to match
  22. Create a new (blank) menu
  23. Rename the menu with the parent menu name: Update
  24. Search for the menus (listed alphabetically; not in the same order as the menu I'm "duplicating")
  25. Drag the menu from the left to the right pane
  26. Drag separators from the left to the right pane to match

And that's not to mention:

  • Tools menu changes from workspace to workspace
  • Document Contexts change from workspace to workspace
  • Object Contexts change from workspace to workspace
  • Where are the icons for stock tool sets?
  • Still need to add workspace tools that are missing from toolsets (now seemingly the easiest part of this task)

It would take me a full 10-hour day, and about 50 screenshots to accomplish all of these super tedious mind-numbing tasks.

 

All that we want to be able to do is drag a ConnectCAD (or any other workspace) master parent menu from the left to the right pane, and everything is duplicated (parent menus, child menus, separators, all in the same order). Same with Tools. The Keys tab doesn't even belong in that window (it belongs in VW prefs). We've been requesting this feature for over a decade.

 

As another possible solution, in case there are technical limitations to this feature request, VW could provide workspaces (they're easily shared and installed), updated with every every release as these inevitably change from year to year. In other words, I could download a custom workspace, and install it.

 

Trying to keep this comment solutions-oriented, is there even a list or matrix of what menus and tools are included in each stock workspace? I recall seeing something like that a few years ago. And then I could just spend an entire day manually doing this every year (like my colleagues do).

 

Screen Shot 2020-09-22 at 2.28.37 PM.png

Edited by Mark Aceto
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Mark 

 

Great idea.  As someone who uses 2 or 3 workspaces constantly, I'd love to see a solution that allows changes to multiple workspaces at once.

 

I'd like to see something simple.  Instead of one column for menus or tools, have one source column on the left and as many columns as workspaces you want to display to the right.  Then you could just drag from the left column what ever workspace you wanted and you could compare workspaces right from the edit window.

 

If that's what you're suggesting and I didn't read close enough, I apologize 🙂   

 

Great topic

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A number of these problems could be solved if Vectorworks provided an "everything" workspace, which has been requested on these forums many times over the years. (Always easier to delete a chunk you don't want than have to manually add stuff in). I'm not sure why this request hasn't been fulfilled since it requires no new tools or commands.

 

Aside from that, the above posts have a lot to take in, and many of the complaints/suggestions are valid. The workspace editor indeed needs to be updated at some point, but there's one quick thing I have to respond to:

On 9/21/2020 at 10:12 AM, Mark Aceto said:

Move Workspace Editor / Keys (hotkeys) to VW Prefs (there's no reason any of these settings would change from workspace to workspace)

 

This is the opposite of true for many users. In fact, different workspaces are often used for the very purpose of having different hotkey configurations. For example, as both a teacher and professional set designer I have a few different workspaces I employ simply due to hotkeys: one is my super-customized workspace I use for work... another is a workspace with only slightly customized hotkeys, which I teach with and share with students (so that most things match the defaults since then it's easier to troubleshoot for them)... and then I also have a workspace from grad school which has entirely different keyboard shortcuts which I don't work with often but is handy to have when I'm working with other folks who employ that workspace. And then of course I also keep the default workspaces with unchanged hotkeys so I can help troubleshoot with students/colleagues that stick with the defaults. I totally understand where you're coming from with this suggestion, but just be aware that it wouldn't jive with everyone's workflows and needs.

 

Workspace editor problems aside, at the end of the day it seems that your biggest issue currently is trying to keep 9 separate workspaces updated. Ideally you'd should just have ONE workspace that you keep updated. Unfortunately right now that means taking a big chunk of time to set it up in the workspace editor... but hopefully an everything workspace will be provided some day (which would also some missing toolset icon issues that arise when you try to do it yourself).

 

 

Edited by Andy Broomell
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1 minute ago, Andy Broomell said:

A number of these problems could be solved if Vectorworks provided an "everything" workspace, which has been requested on these forums many times over the years. (Always easier to delete a chunk you don't want than have to manually add stuff in). I'm not sure why this requested hasn't been fulfilled since it requires no new tools or commands.

 

I have tried to do exactly that.  There is a limit to the number of menus, menu chunks and menu items you can have.  I don't remember what the number is but it's big.  It takes a long time to drag and organize that many menu command.  Unfortunately you hit the limit long before you've exhausted all the possible Vectorworks menu command in a workspace.

 

I don't remember if the limit is from the OS or Vectorworks, but I do know that as you approach the limit things get crazy.

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@Andy Broomell I’m pretty ambivalent about the Keys tab for a few reasons:

  • Editing hotkeys in all 9 workspaces would take about 15 min
  • Most of the solutions, like an Everything workspace, would supersede that anyway

I’m a “pick your battles” guy, so I’m not gonna die on that hill. It’s a “nice to have” for me.

 

Tools and Menus are my top priorities, followed by resizing a dozen palettes x every workspace. Those are my “must haves.”

 

Not for nothing but I’m also a Pareto principle guy: find the solution that takes 20% of resources to improve 80% of the issues (versus the inverse of that). Any of these solutions would be better than none of them.

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30 minutes ago, michaelk said:

don't remember if the limit is from the OS or Vectorworks, but I do know that as you approach the limit things get crazy.


I hit my own personal limit long before I hit Mac or VW’s limits 😕

 

Also, can anyone confirm if all of the Spotlight tools, menus etc are in the Braceworks workspace? Likewise for BIM Architect and Architect? Is there a (paid?) reason why there are 2 Arch workspaces?

 

Considering Fundamentals is a lame duck for anyone that has Designer, that would consolidate 3 workspaces (and remove limits?) right there. Actually, is Designer a lame duck? It’s supposed to be the Everything workspace but it has zero Spotlight / BW / CC anything. So that’s 4 consolidated right there (Pareto principle).

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3 hours ago, michaelk said:

Wow.  Units 🙂 .  Some objects were Imperial only!


And now all of the truss symbols in the RM are displayed in mm lol... Hey, is there a ways to change that?

 

Edited by Mark Aceto

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8 hours ago, Mark Aceto said:

Also, can anyone confirm if all of the Spotlight tools, menus etc are in the Braceworks workspace? Likewise for BIM Architect and Architect? Is there a (paid?) reason why there are 2 Arch workspaces?

 

You can export the workspace to a text file.  (Who knew?).  I did a Find Differences… w/ BBEdit between the Architect and Architect-BIM workspaces.  The BIM workspace is a little smaller and rearranged.  But not that different.

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25 minutes ago, michaelk said:

 

You can export the workspace to a text file.  (Who knew?).  I did a Find Differences… w/ BBEdit between the Architect and Architect-BIM workspaces.  The BIM workspace is a little smaller and rearranged.  But not that different.

 

Amending the workflow above:

  1. Export workspaces as TXT (not documented anywhere)
  2. Open TXT files in BBEdit
  3. Compare files with Kaleidoscope (or any other comparison app) to spot the differences
  4. Repeat for every workspace... 

This is the best possible user experience imaginable 🤣

 

I want to believe, or at least hope, that there's a master matrix XLSX of all tools and menus across all workspaces. From that I could probably use Filter Views in Google Sheets to find the path of, dare I say, "least resistance."

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10 hours ago, Mark Aceto said:


And now all of the truss symbols in the RM are displayed in mm lol... Hey, is there a ways to change that?

 

@Mark Aceto The reason they are all in mm is because the code is in metric and all of our internal scripts for setting up the data are in metric.  It makes it easier if both of the spreadsheets that are used for setup are using the same units and that is why the record in the RM is in mm even though the truss properties will use document units.  However, an experiment was conducted late last year and it was determined that the RM record could be Imperial as long as the spreadsheet to setup the Braceworks part of the symbol was in metric.  As a result, we made a change and decided to ship US manufacturers with Imperial units in the RM record and European, UK, and Australian companies with metric units for all future releases.  You can see this change in some of the later XSF libraries and some of the new James Thomas and Tomcat libraries in 2021as they were released in the 2020 version after the decision was made.  As new truss libraries are released you will see the preferred units for the country of use/manufacturer in the RM.

Edited by JustinVH
Added truss libraries to clarify that this change is occurring for truss. I cannot speak for other types of libraries.
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@JustinVH that's awesome -- thank you! I was just wondering if there was a display setting I was missing but it sounds like you guys already took care of it! 🤘🏼

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On 9/22/2020 at 2:41 PM, Mark Aceto said:

It would take me a full 10-hour day, and about 50 screenshots to accomplish all of these super tedious mind-numbing tasks

I know, I do it with each release...  In the long run, I think customizing my workspace improves my efficiency and earns the 10 hours back and more.  

 

And I hope that your recommended improvements make it into an upcoming release.  I put together a workspace editor wishlist & bug post here:

 

Edited by E|FA
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Just a small pitch for a related old wish.

Key command that are similar but applied in different contexts could be bound under one key and activate the one that suits the context.

 

ie. Save for a normal file vs Save and Commit in Project Files.

Similarly close vs Close and release.

 

 

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On 9/21/2020 at 7:12 PM, Mark Aceto said:

Long Term Must-Haves - VW22

  • Eliminate workspaces altogether (replaced with the menu solution above)

I agree with all of the suggestions except this one, as some have already mentioned menus have their limitations too and i would then like to have multiple menus which equals to workspaces.

 

Some people work across multiple disciplines with (sometimes vastly) different needs regarding workspaces so they do have a place. Having to cram everything into a single menu may eventually turn out to be counterproductive.

 

The single menu as proposed could be a starting working space, i.e.all tools etc. that are added to VW from third parties, extra VW modules etc. should end up there and from there you could then remove the "clutter" to quickly create a new custom workspace. Or you can still start from scratch combined with the other suggestions mentioned earlier in your post.

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8 hours ago, Art V said:

The single menu as proposed

 

I think something got lost in translation, so for clarification:

  • Menu could mean master, parent, or child menu
    • From what we can tell, there is a master menu dedicated to each workspace
    • With the exception of the Tools menu, which changes slightly from workspaces to workspace, it doesn't seem like any other master, parent or child menus change
      • File, Edit, View, Windows, and so on... 
  • The proposed Everything workspace would allow a user to select which Master menus to include in their Menu Bar (BIM/Arch, Landmark, Spotlight, Braceworks... )
    • These master menus would be pre-populated, and organized as they are now (as a baseline starting point)
    • Obviously, we would be able to customize them from there
  • Contexts would have to be thought out, and I would also bet this is sorely overlooked feature with most users (not including the power users commenting in this thread)
    • Long story short, I would like to set contexts in my Everything workspace once, rather 9x across all workspaces

Definitely, no one is proposing a single master menu with every parent and child menu from every workspace lumped together.

 

The giant caveat of course is that everyone's "everything" workspace looks different. However, it does seem like the a la carte organization and management of these workspaces could be cleaned up.

 

Likewise, the palette resizing thing just seems like a no-brainer as no windows offer features exclusively tied to a workspace. Obviously, the Toolsets palette includes content, so I could live with that one changing (especially as it's docked over there on the left).

 

Edited by Mark Aceto
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41 minutes ago, Mark Aceto said:

I think something got lost in translation, so for clarification:

 

42 minutes ago, Mark Aceto said:

Obviously, we would be able to customize them from there

 

Ok that does indeed clarify it 🙂  I got the impression it was about putting all things into a single menu to get rid of having to switch workspaces, but that isn't the case.

 

In that case I fully agree with the whole thing.

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Menus and tools would be my first choice for rebuilding.

 

I hope that the contexts have been implemented in such a way that they are based on the object being created or selected for editing and that the possible manipulations for that object have been taken into account. That would provide consistency in the user interface regardless of how someone may have organized his/her workspace so that you get something predictable.

 

One of the things/issues with e.g. the "intelligent" MS Office ribbon in its earlier days and to some extent even today was that you could never really predict what would show up where until you have used it often enough over a longer time and then hope they didn't change their mind and reorganize things for obscure reasons. VW should really try to avoid getting into a similar messy UI system. Despite all the shortcomings of the VW UI, at least you know what to expect UI-wise 99% of the time.

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