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Classes and layers for landscape?

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How do you use classes and layers for landscape projects? Since starting out with VW in August I've tried a few different variants and read/heard different takes on it from the VW university and other sources. There doesn't really seem to be a standard way of doing it, as far as I can tell? The "what" and "where" description seems to fit best for building projects. My current best practice is to use layers as rough sorting, based on the amazing Swedish AMA-standard. From there on I use a finer sorting in classes, also categorised into types by AMA-standard. This allows me to set pen and fill style by class and set ordering through layers. Still doesn't really seem perfect, and I'm considering putting everything into one layer, but would miss the ability grey out other layers.


So how do you use layers and classes in landscape projects?

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hi @Anders Blomberg

I have recommended layers be used for visualization hierarchy (think stacked layers of mylar/vellum with each design layer containing areas of work. For example, From top to bottom...Upperstory planting, building, constructed features, understory planting, surfaces, terrain, base plan, survey, aerial. You could also apply phasing, alternative designs, etc this way.


I recommend classes to be the drawing tool (they line color, lineweight, line style, fill, etc) for elements and/or their components.


Many still will apply design layer-like treatments like making a class for plants-proposed vs plants-existing while there are still plants-component classes. This is up to you, as you could easily do that with design layers too.

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For layers I do something like


1 legal and trees
2 other top level items
3 topography
4 architecture
5 landscape plants
6 landscape hard
8 aerials_and_underlays
9 sheet items


and for classes I expand on these to create a pseudo hierarchy. I found VW confusing for a long time as VW classes have not been implemented in a way that is congruent with either programming and Pattern Language thinking. Just seems to be some programmer's fever dream.


Classes example I use to control visibility with tree symbols:

1 trees_Sym_-O Holder  
1 trees_Sym_-01 basicGraphic  
1 trees_Sym_-O2 CODE  
1 trees_Sym_-03 graphical  
1 trees_Sym_-O4 3D_content  
1 trees_Sym_-05 matureCanopyDIA


I find classes are faster to read when using a dual coding like this, also it enables meaningful sorting. 

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Site model modifiers are more convenient to select and edit if placed on one or more dedicated layers. These items are sometimes difficult to find and select if placed on same layer as site model because of all the intervening surfaces, edges and vertices. Choose layer(s) which site model “sees” in site model settings.


Further sorting, eg color coding, could be accomplished with classes. But watch for naming conflicts. 


 I think your rough and fine sorting is a very appropriate use of classes and layers. 

Also, this can be fluid.  As design progresses, the count of layers, classes, reference files, textures, etc may expand to facilitate visibility, design phases, alternates, etc. The count may contract again as alternates are archived and final construction/maintenance/preservation documents are produced. 


Edited by Benson Shaw
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