# The connectivity conundrum...

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• Vectorworks, Inc Employee

This forum isn't just about the details - it's also a place for discussing broader philosophy. So I just want to share some thinking about how we model connected stuff. We have kind of triangle involved where knowing any two of the sides implies the third side.

SCHEMATIC

CONNECTIVITY

CABLE PATHS                                            PHYSICAL CABLES

In ConnectCAD we use the equation CONNECTIVITY + PATHS = CABLES. The actual physical cable has a path and connects two things so you might ask "why not just draw the physical cables directly on floor plans?" The problem is that is it really hard to understand the the signal flow in that kind of drawing for anything but the simplest of systems. So that's why we design connectivity separately from the physical cabling.

Physical cables mostly share a limited set of paths - ducts and conduits cost money and space so it makes sense that cables going to roughly the same place should follow the same routes. This why in ConnectCAD we design cable paths and infer the physical cabling. We could easily generate the physical cables as drawing objects using an algorithm. The reverse, generating a connectivity schematic from physical cables is not nearly as simple - imagine the complex rules needed to lay out a meaningful schematic...

So that's why we do things the way we do.

But there are times when designers want to specify the actual physical cabling in detail. Maybe the cables come in standard lengths and we need the junctions to be at specific locations? Maybe we will run several schematic circuits thru a single multi-core?

ConnectCAD already provides a workflow for this. You can draw the physical cabling using the Spotlight Cable tool (following paths if needed) and assign Cable Run IDs to each complete route. On ConnectCAD schematics you can then assign Circuits to use a particular cable run by setting the Circuit.Cable parameter to the Cable Run ID. This overrides the automatic assignment of circuits to cable paths and the length is taken from the Cable(s).

I guess the issue here is that our support for physical cables is very much a manual workflow. And that's why I want to open up the discussion to you. I would like to hear your thoughts.

• 2 weeks later...

The physical cabling aspect of ConnectCad is something I struggle most. Honestly, I've been really stuck trying to use the cabling tools. The help is super confusing, there isn't really very good training material. But most of all, it really seems to require 3d to have it be the most optimal. We do a ton of jobs where we only have 2d, and the time just isn't there to make it 3d. Most of all, I just don't find I need to know every part of the path.

Attached is a screen shot of a project we took over and are updating. This was the set of plans we got from back in 2014. As you can see in the drawing, there isn't a ton of detail. Yet, the detail on this page lists just about everything I'd need to know.  If anything, I'd just like a way to make this. I'd assume the cable type can be called out in a data tag from the cable it self. But the cable pointer should point to either the location, or the name of the cable. Or maybe a combo.

I know there is Electrical and Communication Circuiting which can kind of do this, but it really doesn't tie back to the data in ConnectCad. Maybe it's possible, but I get real lost trying to figure this out. If it is possible, I'd love to see some examples or something on how to do it. If not, I'd love there to be a way to do it.  In any event, I feel like ConnectCad piggy backs so much on the "entertainment" side, and really leaves a lot to be desired in the "permanent install/architectural side" when it comes to this. Even if they are the same tools, the nomenclature is quite confusing.

As a side note, it would also be great if there was a feature to support a multi-type cable. For instance, we use one cable a lot that has (1) Cat6A, (2) Cat6, (1) Fiber, (1) RG6. Those are all kind of different cables within one jacket, or wrap. Even if there was a kind of virtual break in/out interface.

Hopefully I didn't drift too off-topic.

• Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hi Ryan

Actually we are pretty close now to what you are looking for. Our Cable Route Planning tools already allow you to design the physical paths of cables and assign schematic circuits to them. And the cabling diagram you show will be implemented as a view generated from the path model and the schematic.

I think the confusion arises from the fact that Spotlight has its own Cable Tools aimed at the needs of touring shows rather than permanent installs. ConnectCAD has the tools to support permanent installs. We have done our best to integrate our workflow with Spotlight - for example we share the Cable Path object. I agree 100% that 2D is the way most engineering is done. That's why ConnectCAD has its own Cable Routing tool that you use mostly in 2D Top/Plan view to link up the places where cables are delivered (Drop Points). You basically get the 3D for the price of 2D.

Linking up the connectivity designed on the schematic with the actual physical route of the cables is the challenge. Somehow you have to put the data in. A cabling diagram on its own doesn't "know" enough. Just having an arrow pointing to "5TH FLOOR AV RACKS" doesn't tell the software how the cables will get there or even what an AV rack is! That's the challenge we are addressing.

As far as multi-cables go, you can define your own cable types RYAN1, RYAN2 etc. to mean whatever you like so you could always use that to indicate a multi.

Thanks for the input and please do give the ConnectCAD Cable Path Planning tools a try. There is more help than you might think in the Vectorworks online help. I've been trying to get more how-to info included there.

Best

As an entertainment production electrician, this is all of utmost interest to me.  I can use Spotlight, and now Connect Cad to make and document my cable assignments, which is great.  To effectively communicate where cable connections need to occur, or any of the things that would both add the detail to the 3d model, and "tell the story" of the cable plan, well, that's at best, wildly manual.

I second Ryan's comment about seeing examples.  Any demo's of workflow's or sample documents, are so very helpful in maximizing the functionality that likely already exists!

Thanks for the post,

Trevor Gooch

• Vectorworks, Inc Employee

@trevorgooch Just to read back then - the missing part for you is to specify in runs comprising several physical cables in series where the joins go?

Re the below quote - I loaded up the help file and I still don't understand. Since you have made this from the start and been around it every day, it might be a lot easier for you. But for me, as someone who isn't, I just am not getting it. I'm far more visual. There is very little visual anything in the help files. The webinars are great, but there's literally one for this tool, and its entirely 3d. As stated before, I need something purely 2d. Quick easy data.

Quote

Actually we are pretty close now to what you are looking for. Our Cable Route Planning tools already allow you to design the physical paths of cables and assign schematic circuits to them. And the cabling diagram you show will be implemented as a view generated from the path model and the schematic.

I think the confusion arises from the fact that Spotlight has its own Cable Tools aimed at the needs of touring shows rather than permanent installs. ConnectCAD has the tools to support permanent installs. We have done our best to integrate our workflow with Spotlight - for example we share the Cable Path object. I agree 100% that 2D is the way most engineering is done. That's why ConnectCAD has its own Cable Routing tool that you use mostly in 2D Top/Plan view to link up the places where cables are delivered (Drop Points). You basically get the 3D for the price of 2D.

For the below, I don't need to know exactly where the cables physically go, nor do I find an absolute need to have it within the data set as a whole. Honestly, if you used something like the cable "connect tool" with the "arrow" format, that would be great. Really - the Circuiting tool is almost exactly what is needed, with some modifications to work within ConnectCAD. Look at the below pic from the manual. That would be perfect.

Quote

Linking up the connectivity designed on the schematic with the actual physical route of the cables is the challenge. Somehow you have to put the data in. A cabling diagram on its own doesn't "know" enough. Just having an arrow pointing to "5TH FLOOR AV RACKS" doesn't tell the software how the cables will get there or even what an AV rack is! That's the challenge we are addressing.

Yes, but that doesn't get me a break in/out without having to basically create a "device" - unless I'm missing something. Would be nice to have something that is kind of built to be just this where it's easy to have a break in/out. without having to custom make a bunch of things and it virtually knows its individual cables wrapped under one jacket.

Quote

As far as multi-cables go, you can define your own cable types RYAN1, RYAN2 etc. to mean whatever you like so you could always use that to indicate a multi.

• Vectorworks, Inc Employee

@ryanwwRegarding break in/out, we are at that time of year when a lot of the "asks" we hear are stuff that is developed but not yet released. So I think as time goes on we will converge on something closer to what you want.

I agree that more training materials are needed. But that isn't really my department. Tech Support need to hear this from YOU.

On 6/25/2022 at 11:41 PM, ryanww said:

Really - the Circuiting tool is almost exactly what is needed, with some modifications to work within ConnectCAD.

that hand-waving phrase "some  modifications to work with ConnectCAD" hides a lot of issues. And that's what I'm trying to get at here. We can create a circuiting view from a connectivity schematic plus a network of cable paths. All the information is there. You can't automatically create a schematic from the circuiting you have shown above because the layout of devices and circuits has to be entered by the designer. It's good that we are having this discussion but we have to get a bi more specific.

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