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Dimensioning and Grid Problems

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'Started working with VW 12 regularly a couple of months ago. I had to hit the ground running to get into production quickly, since old hardware supporting old software was dying fast. Right now, I?m working on just the mechanics of 2-D basic VW and plan to start into 3-D more gradually.

I'm impressed with the features so far and have pleasant revelations every day. My work involves the design & development of large, single-family homes. The thing that is impeding an almost flawless transition is the dimensioning and maybe the grid snap &/or constraints. I?m not sure actually which is causing the problems. I never need fractions for rough framing and have successfully avoided them for 20 years with few errors. Now I?m spending time trying to rid myself of them. I have my grid set to 1? snap w/ reference at 12?. Pixal snap @ 5. I have document setting with ?no fractions?. I keep my grid snap on as I work to avoid problems later. (Maybe that?s what?s wrong). I use simple 4? or 6? walls (with no components.) Anyway, frequently my interior dimensions aren?t adding up to equal the overall. I?ve changed from the ?no fraction? in the OIP and can see my wall and its dimension has somehow shifted into a fraction. This is especially true with most angles. FYI, I use the auto join function continually.

So, is this occurring because of something I?m doing wrong in the initial drawing setup, how I?m drawing my walls, the constraint palette selections, point of origin, zooming, copying and pasting or what? In short, how are objects, walls, etc. getting off the grid to begin with. I use the ?align to grid? or ?move? command frequently to remedy fractional dimensions- but why do I need to? I have much to learn, so thanks for any help.

Mac OS X 10.4.5

Machine Name: Power Mac G5

Number Of CPUs: 2

Memory: 1.5 GB

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Now if you guys got it together with the rest of the world and changed to the metric unit system you wouldn't have these problems.

After all 95.4% of the world's population use the metric unit system. Only the USA insists on still using the somewhat archaic imperial unit system. You use the metric unit system for science - why not for everything else? It is far easier system to use because it is decimal based. Why not join us?

The USA has a population of 296 million whereas the world's population is 6,446 million. Source: CIA's "The World Factbook" www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/xx.html

[ 04-12-2006, 11:16 PM: Message edited by: mike m oz ]

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You read CIA documents?

And you believe them?

Doncha think though it's kinda funny that the "world's greatest democracy" still uses the British Imperial system - do you think they know what the various units are based on?

I guess they just can't bring themselves to use a French system!

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Honestly, all our Site Plans & Elevations are in decimal units of feet/meters... very convenient and field compatible. Ditto for Structural ...

Whereas, the final 'working' architectural plans utilize the older feet & inches which often include the fractional components because 'tradition' around here requires it. Fractions are just another way of describing the fractals .

But in reality it makes very little difference one way or the other as far as I can tell. The nominal dimensions of the materials basically control both the design and the implementation... and everybody knows it. Plans are just lines on paper.

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The other problem with the imperial system is the lack of a logical integrated structure within the different units of measurement. Where is the linkage between feet, gallons and pounds?

The metric system on the other hand is an integrated system where the units do interconnect. For example a litre is a cube with sides of a 100 mm and one litre of water is 1 Kilogramme. Simple and logical.

You Americans saw the nonsense in the Pounds and Pence system of money and quickly adopted a decimal system with your money. Why not the same with measurement? What is even more frustrating is that your politicians actually decided to change to the Metric system back in the 1800's - you just never got around to actually doing it. Come on guys it is the 21st Century - get your arse into gear and do it. I'll get off the soapbox now.

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Amy L :

Let us know if and how you eventually solve this problem. If you zoom in really tight, do the dim lines go to the right place. Also, if you measure the distances between walls with the "tape measure tool," do the distances come out exactly?

My immediate solution would be to just turn off the grid snap. You can enter the correct numbers while drawing, either through the data display bar, the shape's dialog box, or the object info palette (OIP).

Meanwhile just ignore all the chatter about that Commie metric system. And guys, the French government's policies don't necessarily represent all or most of the French people, any more than does the Bush administration represent the American people.

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I went thru this same problem. If you zoom in close enough so you and see the grid you can check if things are really on the grid. I think that sometimes the intelligent object snap tools (which I love by the way) will get in the way and over ride the grid. If you're off in just one spot it can give you the dimension rounding error.


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Thanks for the insight, guys. The metric system will not likely be an option for at least the rest of our lifetimes here in the States, so I'm not holding my breath as to that being a solution to the immediate problem. It would be nice to: just be able to lock onto a vertex & have whole dimensions add up, have objects not mysteriously jump off the grid, be able to move entire strings of dimensions at the same time, have associative dimensions to window & door centers, etc...all without doing the time-consuming work-arounds. I'm assuming that some of these troublesome characteristics are mutually exclusive with VW's other very nice features. As much as I dislike it, annotation & dimensioning is paramount in my work. Nothing is a distasteful as having an angry contractor barking about inaccuracies. I'll listen to any and all suggestions and keep practicing, though.

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Good advice from Jan15. Amy, I think your problem has to do with the fact that even if fractions are not displayed in a dimension value, they may still exist in the drawing and you are getting a rounding error: 9 7/16" + 9 7/16" = 18 7/8", but rounding everything VW will tell you 9" + 9" = 19". Seems like it doesn't add up correctly.

Remembering back to my early days on VW, one of my biggest problems was not paying attention correctly to the cursor cues, which led to my drawing things inaccurately. Over time, as I learned to actually read those cues (and not look away at the last moment before clicking!!), my accuracy has improved.

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In England the 'imperial' system still hangs on in silly ways, like for instance in a timber yard standard length are in length of 300mm ? which is basically a foot of course.

I was born into a metric world, but on the jobs I do in restoration for the National Trust, I've saved an awful lot of time by biting the bullet and setting my units to Imperial fractions: It allows a sense of logic to proportions, and as for the clunky look of converted dimensions ? although it is tedious to have '2.5' instead of 'quarter', base10 is great for most things, but base4, 8, 12, or 16 is very useful.

Is it just me or does anyone else think the portico on the Whithouse is badly proportioned (that's gotta be 'the American system'!) ?

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Jan, et al, Thanks for the suggestions. Dragging the line across the screen and watching the data bar has been practically a way of life. For me, your method would require an extreme mental shift. While designing, I never know exact dimensions. My head hurts thinking about punching in each and every number. I suppose it takes getting used to the idea. Early in the design process with VW, I?ve been trying to do prelim schematics using the rectangle tool in composing a bubble diagram, converting to polygons, and then to walls when everything is just so. There?s some overlap and alignment problems, but it seems that in theory, it should work very well with the grid snap on. I can practically design and annotate a whole floor plan but potentially spend an equal amount of time fixing the few dimensions that won?t add up. Possibly using your method as a spot treatment maybe??

Perhaps it?s a right brain, left brain thing.

Everyone?s suggestions are well-taken. This board is invaluable. Thanks again.

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The idea of punching in the dims seemed daunting to me at first, but now it's actually faster than dragging and watching the display. I'm almost as quick as an accountant on the numeric keypad now.

You might consider dragging to get close and then entering an exact number....with the snap grid off.


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Are you using the numbers that appear in the Data Display Bar to determine the sizes of things as you draw? That could be causing the problem you described (dimensions not adding up).

If you accept a dimension that VW puts in the DD bar by itself, then you may not be getting an accurate idea of the size of the thing being drawn. Dimensions are displayed to whatever decimal place you've specified, but they're always drawn to the highest level of accuracy.

So what you're seeing in the DD bar is often an approximation of the actual size of the object. You could be drawing something 59.9533481" wide, and the DD bar might show it as 5'-0". After a while those differences add up.

You can't even check for that kind of inaccuracy, since the Object Info palette also rounds off sizes.

But if you ENTER the size of the object from the keyboard, then the value you type will be the precise size of the object. If you type 60, the object will be 60.00000000" wide. The numeric keypad is especially good for this, since its Enter key cycles through the cells in the DD bar.

I always enter all dimensions in that way, both when initially drawing, and later when drag-stretching or moving. I never use the snap grid at all (I set it to zero), and my dimension strings always come out exactly as intended.

[ 04-14-2006, 09:14 PM: Message edited by: jan15 ]

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Originally posted by ccroft:

...dragging to get close and then entering an exact number...

Yes, that's it. Don't think about it, just type in the same number as what's shown. Typing it makes it exact rather than approximate.

It does take a little getting used to, Amy, but it's great once you do. And it works especially well with the rectangle drawing method you described. I do that, too. I almost never draw lines, always rectangles and then Add Surface, Clip Surface, and 2D Reshape. On the keypad, Enter to get to the X-dimension cell, Enter again to get to the Y-dimension. It becomes a rhythm.

Of course, the key to making this work is to mouse and type at the same time. And, though noone ever wants to hear this, that means mousing with your left hand, or else getting a separate numeric keypad or a keyboard that has the keypad on the left. As the regulars know, I strongly advocate left-mousing. I didn't discover it until this issue came up with VW, but it turns out to be a better way to work in all programs. It takes about the same amount of time to train your left hand to operate the mouse as it did to train your right.

[ 04-15-2006, 09:00 AM: Message edited by: jan15 ]

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Or I could learn to drive while sitting in the passenger seat (in the UK)?.that would be less difficult. But seriously, this is intriguing. Actually, since my keypad is just left of my mouse pad, I could just shift the chair over 6? and learn to punch numbers with my left hand. It?ll be a challenge that?s certainly worth a shot.

Thanks for your sage advice.

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Hmmm.... Good question. It got me thinking.

And so I played around with it a little, and discovered that if you have the "Snap to Grid" constraint turned on, and all the other constraints turned off, then it works the way you want. No matter where you click, all your endpoints and corners will be on grid points, just like working on a peg board. You won't have to type in any data, or move your chair over.

Sorry I didn't think of that sooner.

[ 04-16-2006, 11:25 AM: Message edited by: jan15 ]

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jan15 says: I'm working on my tax return. It's frustrating, and depressing. Any distraction is welcome.

So typical of Architects. Put everything off 'til the last minute. [Wink]

I've had no luck replicating Amy L's tiny dimensioning errors. Using the same 1" snap, my dims are off by full inches, not fractions.

I did learn that to dimension with only the grid snap on always results in errors, because there's no other reference than the grid. So it's best to turn off the grid snap and use the other constraints for dimensioning.

Also when drawing, especially rectangles, it was easy to get fractional dimensions when the angle constraint was left on because the cursor seeks out even angles.

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I usually work with the Snap to Grid turned off because I always use the Data Display Bar to control the size of the objects I'm creating, or I control the objects (like rectangles and circles) by double clicking on the tool. This keeps my objects the size I want.

When I'm dimensioning I make sure that the Snap to Grid is off, so that I am sure that my dimensions are going to the object (make sure that Snap to Object is turned on). I also keep the sound on so that I can be sure that I have snaped to my objects, keep the screen hints on that you can see that VectorWorks is snapping to the object, snap to the end or corner of an object (never it?s edge) and turn on Associative Dimensioning so that if you change the shape or size of the object the dimension will update for you.

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