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Railing/Fence: Custom post problems


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I don't think I'm the first to observe that this is a horrible tool. But anyway...

 

I want to make a railing/fence using custom posts, made from 3d symbols. Following the instructions here:

 

https://app-help.vectorworks.net/2021/eng/VW2021_Guide/SiteModel2/Railing_and_fence_settings.htm#XREF_81227_Railing_and_Fence

 

In the Section "Railing/fence settings: Post pane", and then under parameter: Profile, it tells me:

 

You can create a 2D symbol to use as a custom profile, or a 3D symbol to use for the post. Save the profile or post symbol in the current document, or in a file in the appropriate folder in your user folder: [User]\Libraries\Defaults\Railing Fence\Profile Posts or [User]\Libraries\Defaults\Railing Fence\Symbol Posts.

 

After some time I managed to create a file in the indicated position, in my user libraries. In this file I created my desired custom fence post as a symbol and saved it.

 

I'm able in the railing/fence tool settings to choose this symbol, from that file in my user libraries, and I can make a fence that uses it as the post.

 

However - what I can't do, which seems contrary to what it says in the help guide, is choose a symbol that exists in my current document. It seems that I can only choose a custom post symbol that exists in the appropriate folder in the VW library or in my user library. Is this intended behaviour? As a reminder the help guide says (bold is my emphasis):

 

You can create a 2D symbol to use as a custom profile, or a 3D symbol to use for the post. Save the profile or post symbol in the current document, or in a file in the appropriate folder in your user folder: [User]\Libraries\Defaults\Railing Fence\Profile Posts or [User]\Libraries\Defaults\Railing Fence\Symbol Posts.

 

I note that having created my fence using the custom symbol chosen from my user library folder, that symbol now exists in my current document. And if I edit it, then these changes appear in all instances of it in the fence. But if I create a new fence, I can't choose this edited symbol, because it seems I'm unable to choose any symbols in the current document.

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Not sure why you can't select a symbol in the current document. When you click on the Custom Symbol button in the 'Post' pane of the 'Railing/Fence Settings' dialog does it not open the Resource Selector giving you access to your open files + favourites as well as the VW defaults?

 

242147219_Screenshot2021-05-06at14_24_13.thumb.png.6a5be3532dcb95c321ad87c0e5736efa.png

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No, it'll only let me choose something from the library files. If I try and choose something from my open file, it just shows up blank - "no items to show in this view". And the open file definitely contains some symbols.

 

1355424599_Screenshot2021-05-06at14_58_49.thumb.jpg.3749ce80dab43fde23d0f29b2bf659f1.jpg1704471123_Screenshot2021-05-06at14_58_57.thumb.jpg.abee76e8667b4d5725182c829c42004b.jpg

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I recall having the same issue a while back.  What I did to resolve it was choose a custom post symbol from the VW library.   Once I did that it saved the symbol into my current document.   I then copied the symbol in my current document renamed it opened it up and changed it to what I wanted.  I was then able to select the modified symbol in the post/railing setting.

 

 

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I have not used the Fence tool, so this may be off base.

 

If you import a post symbol from the library, does it create a Resource Folder in the Resource Manger? If it does, what happens if you move your symbol into that Resource Folder and either select Refresh Libraries from the Gear menu in the Resource Manager or restart VW?

 

image.thumb.png.2bbcc6e31a9639b2185405eeab025841.png

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32 minutes ago, Pat Stanford said:

I have not used the Fence tool, so this may be off base.

 

If you import a post symbol from the library, does it create a Resource Folder in the Resource Manger?

 

 

 

Do you mean, does it create a folder 'within' the current drawing in the resource manager? No, it doesn't, the symbol just appears at the top level in that file.

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37 minutes ago, TomKen said:

I recall having the same issue a while back.  What I did to resolve it was choose a custom post symbol from the VW library.   Once I did that it saved the symbol into my current document.   I then copied the symbol in my current document renamed it opened it up and changed it to what I wanted.  I was then able to select the modified symbol in the post/railing setting.

 

 

 

Yes, this seems to work for me. Quite confusing, it's like it's somehow tagged that symbol as 'available for fence tool' in a way that's invisible to the user. And that property remains, if the symbol is duplicated and then edited.

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Another thing that's really confusing about the fence tool is that aside from whether you use a custom symbol within the fence post settings...  you can save the whole fence, or rather the fence settings as a symbol, which then appears in the resource browser as a red symbol. But it's not really a symbol, more like a saved set of settings, which to me ought to be called a "style" or something like that.

 

To me it's unclear what exactly it is, this "symbol" that is created. I can use it as a way of applying that bunch of settings to another fence object, but I can't seem to go in and edit the "symbol" and then see these changes applied to all other instances of it. So it doesn't conform to the principles of what we expect a "symbol" to be.

 

Another example of absolutely terrible UI design if you ask me.

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The Red symbol is the Style of the fence.

 

Anything that needs to be considered a Resource (other than images, textures, scripts, etc.) is normally stored as a Symbol. Usually they are stored in specific folders based on what they are. In the screenshot are Style folders that contain Symbols that are actually the data used to define the style. The object(s) are "smart" enough to know that when you specify a Style, to look for a symbol with that name and pull the data they need out of the symbol.

 

image.thumb.png.c48189346f2e06d0c2ad2a654ef08d90.pngimage.thumb.png.37850091e33f32cebf411559977c64ad.png

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How's the user supposed to know this though?

 

When I look at the resource browser showing everything that's in my current file, there's the drop down menu where I can choose between different types of resources. I can choose, for example, "text styles" or "wall styles" as a category.

 

But when it comes to a "fence style" it is under the category "symbols/plug-in objects".

 

And then there are "styles" which are in a "style" folder but under the category of "symbols/plug-in objects".

 

So in fact there are at least 3 different places you might find a "style" - in its own-category top level style folder, in its own-category folder under "symbols/plug-in objects" or simply mixed in with everything else in the "symbols/plug-in objects" category.

 

Furthermore, the "fence/railing" tool invites me to save these settings as a "symbol" not as a style.

 

And, for example if I right-click on a titleblock object it gives me an option to "edit plug-in style" but if I right-click on a fence object I get no similar option to edit the style ... in fact it's still unclear to me whether you can actually edit a fence "style" (which nowhere is named as such).

 

I don't think it's hyperbole to say all this is a user-experience disaster zone.

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3 hours ago, line-weight said:

And, for example if I right-click on a titleblock object it gives me an option to "edit plug-in style" but if I right-click on a fence object I get no similar option to edit the style ... in fact it's still unclear to me whether you can actually edit a fence "style" (which nowhere is named as such).

 

The way I see it with the Railing/Fence fence tool you are only saving a configuration of settings rather than a ‘Style’. These settings are saved as a red P.I.O. symbol + when you insert that symbol into a drawing you are simply creating a new plug-in object based on those saved settings which has no ongoing connection with the symbol definition. I think Hardscapes are the same.

 

If you make changes to the railing/fence object in the drawing there is no way to have these changes reflected in the symbol definition, you just have to create a new symbol + get rid of the original one.

 

So whilst this isn’t great in terms of tool functionality + it would be much better if you could save railing/fences as proper ‘styles’, it is at least the behaviour you’d expect from a red P.I.O. symbol (as far as my understanding of these things goes).

 

But what’s confusing to me is that most other Styles (doors, windows, data tags, plants, etc) are also saved as red P.I.O. symbols + there’s nothing to differentiate these from Railing/Fence + Hardscape symbols in the Resource Manager. Why are these styles not saved as distinct 'Styles' in the Resource Manager in the same way that Wall Styles, Slab Styles + Roof Styles are?

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On 5/8/2021 at 3:12 PM, Tom W. said:

 

The way I see it with the Railing/Fence fence tool you are only saving a configuration of settings rather than a ‘Style’. These settings are saved as a red P.I.O. symbol + when you insert that symbol into a drawing you are simply creating a new plug-in object based on those saved settings which has no ongoing connection with the symbol definition. I think Hardscapes are the same.

 

If you make changes to the railing/fence object in the drawing there is no way to have these changes reflected in the symbol definition, you just have to create a new symbol + get rid of the original one.

 

So whilst this isn’t great in terms of tool functionality + it would be much better if you could save railing/fences as proper ‘styles’, it is at least the behaviour you’d expect from a red P.I.O. symbol (as far as my understanding of these things goes).

 

But what’s confusing to me is that most other Styles (doors, windows, data tags, plants, etc) are also saved as red P.I.O. symbols + there’s nothing to differentiate these from Railing/Fence + Hardscape symbols in the Resource Manager. Why are these styles not saved as distinct 'Styles' in the Resource Manager in the same way that Wall Styles, Slab Styles + Roof Styles are?

 

Yes, exactly, the whole thing is inconsistent and confusing.

 

Took me a while (and quite a lot of frustration) to come to the same conclusion - with the Railing/Fence tool you are only saving a configuration of settings. Nothing in the implementation helps you to understand this quickly, because it doesn't follow a pattern established by the way other tools operate. It doesn't work off an existing understanding of what a "symbol" is, it seems to be something like what a "style" is, and yet it's not.

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I had the same problem when trying to create a custom post symbol in the active drawing. When trying to select a symbol, nothing was available compatible. When I chose one from the Library and as a result it appeared in my Resource Manager, I could subsequently use it when trying to use a custom symbol next time, but nothing custom created in the file.

 

I also second @line-weight's confusion about the Fence style/ symbol. Unfortunately VW doesn't have a consistent approach to styles for different tools. I understand that's because they are different objects and hence are defined differently. Nevertheless, it makes life more complicated - particularly when other colleagues ask you about it and don't understand any logic behind it and need to take it as is.

 

What I consider a missed opportunity is the way Hardscape styles are handled. One can save Hardscapes as symbols in the Resource Manager and separately Hardscape Settings in the program or use Library. How I would love this to work is like everywhere else where styles are used - when one can change the style definition from one place and all objects using that style acquire that change.

 

With Fence style, you save the definition but then you can't overwrite it when you make a change. You need to save it with a new name. Can you imagine saving plant styles with a new name every time you make a change?

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This has got me reading what the official help says

 

https://app-help.vectorworks.net/2021/eng/index.htm#t=VW2021_Guide%2FSymbols%2FSymbols.htm%23XREF_75382_Vectorworks_Symbols


 

Quote

 

Red: When placed, this type of symbol definition is converted to a plug-in object. The object parameters from the symbol definition are applied to the instance when it is placed into the drawing, but the parameters of the instance can be modified, with many variations of the same plug-in object in the file. Changes to a red symbol definition affect future instances, but not existing ones.

A red symbol definition can only be created from an existing plug-in object in the drawing. For example, you could insert a plug-in object such as a door, lighting device, or plant (Vectorworks Design Series required), and set its parameters exactly as needed for the project. Save the plug-in object as a symbol definition, and at insertion, the parameters are set as you defined them when the red symbol was created.

 

 

Am I right in saying that the bit in bold is wrong?

 

Because for example a door style is a "red" symbol definition.

 

But if I create a door style, which gives me a "red" symbol in the resource browser, and then use it to create a few doors in the file, then if I change the settings for that red symbol, it's an edit to the style and all existing instances change accordingly.

 

 

 

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This is the point I was making in my post. That the railing/fence symbols behave as you'd expect red PIO symbols to behave + it's really all the other red PIO symbols for doors, windows, etc that don't behave as expected. you wonder why they aren't black styles like walls, slabs + roofs. This is where the confusion/inconsistency is for me.

However I also said be much better if railing/fences + hardscapes behaved like doors, windows, etc i.e. like styles!

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9 minutes ago, Tom W. said:

This is the point I was making in my post. That the railing/fence symbols behave as you'd expect red PIO symbols to behave + it's really all the other red PIO symbols for doors, windows, etc that don't behave as expected. you wonder why they aren't black styles like walls, slabs + roofs. This is where the confusion/inconsistency is for me.

However I also said be much better if railing/fences + hardscapes behaved like doors, windows, etc i.e. like styles!

 

Agree with everything you say.

 

It seems the "red" symbols need to be split into two sets; there needs to be another colour.

 

Also, each type of 'thing' needs one, consistent, easy to remember and understand name. It's really confusing with the terms "symbol", "symbol definition", "style" and "plug-in object" all flying around.

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Yep. Or just remove the distinction between black wall/slab/roof styles + all the other (red) styles. If possible. I appreciate that these black styles can be created from scratch as new standalone resources from the RM whereas all the others can't. There is probably a reason for this...? Or could all styles be the same in this respect?

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