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Orthogonal Snapping



I STILL wish that when working in Top, Front, Right, Back, and Left views (aka "orthogonal" views - views in which most but the most super-sophisticated Vectorworks users have absolutely NO perception of the axis perpendicular to the screen (as in, that "screen" plane) ) - I still wish that snapping would be always, permanently, and forever RESTRICTED to the screen plane.  Skewed dimensions in an orthogonal view that go from this point in the foreground to that point in the distance are utterly useless.  Thinking that you are moving an object to the right or left, or up or down, as you see it on the screen,  only to find that it's actually moved closer to you or further away from you (as you'd see it on the screen) is not productive.  Editing a NURBS curve in Top view and then finding that some or most of its points are now at Z=0, 200' below where they should be, is not productive.


SEVEN years and this hasn't been addressed in any way whatsoever.  Can't we at least have an explanation as to the benefits of unrestricted snapping in orthogonal views???  VWIS077



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Have you tried enabling the Snap to Working Plane button in the Snapping Palette? It's not perfect, but makes a huge difference. (What makes it not perfect is that it constantly resets itself). Maybe this button should be enabled by default when you switch to an Orthographic View?


For me it means that I can set a working Plane (or use the Screen Aligned Plane) and then all the dimension objects are placed on that plane while the endpoints of the dimensions are aligned to the snap points I chose.



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I have a keyboard command for the Snap to Working Plane button that I use all the time.  But as you say, it constantly resets itself - every time you switch commands, or even when you deselect all objects.  And it seems to have no affect on NURBS curves.  With or without it, if you move a point on a NURBS curve, the point falls down to Z=0.


The Snap to Working Plane button is completely backwards.  In 3D views, it's necessary to activate it each and every time you want to use it.  In Top/Plan view, it's the Tangent mode, which is on by default.  Why?!?  How many times have I tried to snap a line to the edge of a circle, only for Vectorworks to assume I want it to be tangent?  Usually I don't.  If I did, I'd let VW know...


Sorry!  It's not this in itself - it's the endless array of things like this, especially those that are disregarded year after year.  But thank you for your suggestion!!

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I have no problem with dimensioning Nurbs curves or 3D loci when this button is ON. I don't think it is working properly when reshaping Nurbs though. I'm going to file this as a bug. Both the resetting and the reshaping anomaly seem inconsistent with the way that snap button is described.


My problem is always that it resets itself when I finish using a tool.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hello Willofmaine.

Hello others following this topic.


I would not classify the current behavior as preferring unrestricted snapping as much as preferring to NOT to force working plane snap. As noted, VW even goes so far as to turn off the Snap to Working Plane automatically as tools are changed. I think VW is “afraid” to “leave the working plane snapping ON”.


That is not to suggest that VW is behaving as it should. This is just a quick attempt at an explanation for why you have seen inaction here. Let me apologize for being timid in this area.


I think Vectorworks can consider being bold and working to improve this. To do what you seem to suggest. Can we explore ideas together and see what VW might be able to do to improve here?


To get this started…

What would we call the view that we are talking about? The workflow context? Can we call this Orthogonal With Working Plane Perpendicular to View?  OWWPPV

(we could rename this)


…Following Will's comment about being "backwards" , what if VW automatically turned ON the snap to working plane when entering OWWPPV? You could simulate this now by constantly pressing the keyboard shortcut while working in OWWPPV. This might provide behavior Will describes as "RESTRICTED to the screen plane".


Could something like this help?


Thanks in advance.


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Hi Steve,


Thank you for looking into this!


On the one hand, I appreciate that a prominent advantage of Vectorworks is its flexibility, and that even if a feature reasonably doesn't work for one user, it may very well work for others, in which case user options can be paramount.  But on this particular issue, I can't think of why anyone would ever want to be able to work three-dimensionally in an orthogonal view, which is inherently two-dimensional: anything changed in the axis perpendicular to the screen can't be graphically represented as a change (for example, in Top view, if you change the height of an extrude from 1" to 5,000', it still looks exactly the same (by "work three-dimensionally" here I mean visually; I'm not suggesting to eliminate the ability to numerically enter info, such as the height of that extrude, or for the "Move 3D Selection" tool).  I'm not saying there isn't a reason one would want to work three-dimensionally in an orthogonal view, I just can't think of one, and it seems unlikely that there'd be one.  I say all of that hopefully to the end of simplifying things, maybe as follows:


Make it so that when working in orthogonal views (Top, Front, Right, Bottom, Back & Left), all snapping and all subsequent points are restricted to a plane parallel to the screen, and that plane is established by the value of the coordinate on the axis that is perpendicular to the screen of the first snap.  That was a mouthful...  so for example: let's say I have a NURBS curve, and one of its end points has a Y value of 120".  If I go to a Front View, the Y axis is perpendicular to the screen.  When I snap on that end point to create a new NURBS curve, the first vertex of the new NURBS curve, and all subsequent vertices (regardless of whether or not I click on another object) should use that Y value of 120" (which is a plane parallel to the screen)(and assuming the view isn't changed).  Similarly, modifications to any of those vertices should stay in that same plane parallel to the screen.  


And I'm including points that are created even when not snapping to another object because of the following behaviors, where the first click is to a 3D point with a value other than zero on the axis perpendicular to the screen (let's differentiate between the "parallel plane," and the "zero plane," defined as where points have a value of 0 on the axis perpendicular to the screen):  (((((Okay, "forget" this paragraph.  At first I thought that 3D Polygons and NURBS curves could be initially drawn on the plane parallel to the screen, and that only modifications would move their vertices to the zero plane.  But when I proceeded to finish my description, I found the behavior was inconsistent, for both the 3D Polygon and the NURBS curves.  Sometimes, but not always, both would stay in the parallel plane when initially drawn.  Mostly they wouldn't.  For the 3D Polygon, it seems drawing the second of three legs vertically will keep all of its vertices in the parallel plane (shown second in the screen recording, attached).  If the three legs are all drawn at angles, all but the first vertex fall down to the zero plane.  This seems like inconsistent and unexpected behavior to me.  It made troubleshooting kind of frustrating...))))).


Okay, having read that paragraph and, hopefully having now forgotten it... the first part of the first sentence does however still stand: I'm including points that are created even when not snapping to another object as being among those that should always stay in the plane parallel to the screen (i.e., in the screen recording, the behavior shown in the second attempt is what's desired).  Phew.


In conjunction with all of that, just eliminate the availability of the "Snap to Working Plane" mode of the snap palette for orthogonal views.


The description for that mode says "Snaps and projects smart cursor points to the working plane," so I thought I'd try setting a working plane to the vertical face of an extrude and see if I could draw a 3D Polygon in that working plane, but when I snapped to other geometry, while there was an indication of that object's projected point on the working plane, the 3D Polygon's vertex was created on the geometry that I'd snapped to, and not on the working plane.  So that kinda threw me: what's the purpose of the projected point?  But!  This is another subject, for another day!


I hope this is helpful.  I had a difficult time articulating everything...



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