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Custom Plant Catalog


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Hi All and thanks for reading.

I have started a sheet with all of the common plants I use. See Image.

Most have been created by me as they didn't exist in the database.

Is there any reason for me to place them in a custom catalog?

If so, how do I go about doing it quickly instead of individually?

Cheers and thanks.

Capture.JPG

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

There is no reason to create a catalog, you already have plants styles with the data you want, I would place the file within your workgroup folder so it is easily available to pull from and export to, if you add or change anything.

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  • 4 weeks later...

@Scott Lebsack, I can't agree. There is reason in that. If one wants/ needs their plant styles to be data rich, in order to provide detailed information to their clients or stakeholders, it is painstakingly time consuming to add all the data you want and trust to plant styles one by one.

 

What I do when I have a new project and I am devising a planting palette for it, I prepare a spreadsheet with all plant data I NEED AND USE normally. I then use that spreadsheet as a plant catalogue, to import all that data to VW plant styles. Of course, I do that only when I have a number of new species. Once created, the styles can be reused in the future and even tweaked for improvement. Species with similar characteristics may be created quickly by duplicating one style and tweaking the dfferences.

@BJRobinson, you seem to have a reasonable collection of your favourite and reliable plants already. If the only data fields you use in your schedules are Latin Name, Scheduled Size and Root Protection, then probably you are better off populating them directly in a plant style as you go. Otherwise, see my first paragraph here.

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On 8/11/2022 at 7:16 PM, Michal Zarzecki said:

@Scott Lebsack, I can't agree. There is reason in that. If one wants/ needs their plant styles to be data rich, in order to provide detailed information to their clients or stakeholders, it is painstakingly time consuming to add all the data you want and trust to plant styles one by one.

 

What I do when I have a new project and I am devising a planting palette for it, I prepare a spreadsheet with all plant data I NEED AND USE normally. I then use that spreadsheet as a plant catalogue, to import all that data to VW plant styles. Of course, I do that only when I have a number of new species. Once created, the styles can be reused in the future and even tweaked for improvement. Species with similar characteristics may be created quickly by duplicating one style and tweaking the dfferences.

@BJRobinson, you seem to have a reasonable collection of your favourite and reliable plants already. If the only data fields you use in your schedules are Latin Name, Scheduled Size and Root Protection, then probably you are better off populating them directly in a plant style as you go. Otherwise, see my first paragraph here.

Thanks Scott.

I think I understand what you are doing.

Do you keep the spreadsheet as your catalogue? Or do you import it to a VW catalogue once created?

I will have to research how to import the spreadsheet to VW plant styles.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

@BJRobinson to be more precise, I wouldn't invest any time in the built-in catalog or database. Plant styles are easy to use (and reuse) resources, that are able to contain a complete list of data for your plants. Once you have the data in the Plant Style for each plant, catalog data becomes redundant - as long as your plant style resources are easy to find and reuse. The data contained in Plant Styles is also available to worksheets in Vectorworks without additional work.

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1 hour ago, jeff prince said:


Unless you are a landscape architect who uses and publishes their plant information extensively outside the vectorworks  universe.

 

VWX is losing its understanding of how professionals work and interact with their product.

 

plant styles can’t collect a limitless amount of photos or contain other useful graphics, a database can.

 

Plant styles can’t make stylized plant books for projects, databases can.

 

Plant styles can’t be added to in the field using an iPad, databases can.

 

Plant styles can’t publish information to the web, databases can.

 

Plant styles can’t be connected to a wholesale price list and be updated automatically.  You guessed it, databases can.

 

The reasons for using a database over a plant style goes on and on….

 

Database information management is fundamental, locking info up in proprietary objects in the software will lead to increased duplication of effort.

 

Sounds like this is the way to go Jeff.

So where do look for how to make a database and how to use it with VW.

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3 hours ago, BJRobinson said:

 

Sounds like this is the way to go Jeff.

So where do look for how to make a database and how to use it with VW.

 

Currently, a wonderful tool for managing plants is included in Vectorworks - the FileMaker Pro plant database.  This is where Vectorworks houses all of that data and plant images.  Further, if you know and own FileMaker, you can customize the database extensively to hold more images, different data for purposes outside Vectorworks, etc...

 

Sadly, I have had the feeling and seen indications that Vectorworks will likely abandon the FileMaker plant database.   You can see examples of this throughout the forum where vectorworks employees say stuff like, "use plant styles instead of the database because they are so much better..."  I'm not sure if it is people towing the company line to make objects and data more proprietary or if it is a simple lack of awareness of how landscape architects have traditionally had to deal with large volumes of plant information outside a drawing software.  This same logic can be extended to specifications systems working their way into BIM from a programmer's mentality instead of a wholistic project management approach.

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It would help if the Plant tool actually contained all the same fields as the Plant Catalogue.  We have had the experience of checking the update catalogue option when editing the symbol and it exported the data and got rid of all the previous data.

 

Landscape architects work in a range of different projects and need to be able to manipulate a lot of data but really at a bare minimum it shoudl be easy to do the following:

2D and good 3D Graphics

Plan Graphics - switch between Black and White, any chance of linking the pot volume to the pot graphic options - manually having to do this in two locations is just annoying.

3D - really needs to be more compatable with other rendering programs and provide better graphics in service select - have I missed something, where are these in service select? 

How do you do shadestudies with the trees - ie/deciduous trees create less shade in Winter etc.  Most projects now have some sort of requirement to be able to accuraltey model shade.  Plus with 3D rendering/videos it is kind of a given.

Very Basic Schedules - Minimum Latin and common name, pot volume, Qty, minimum installation - most councils also now need exotic, Native Indigenous, some also requested evergreen or deciduous.

Plant Photographs

 

 

Exitsing Tree Tool needs more fields.

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@designit did you know you can attach additional data to plants with Records?  That is one easy way to customize Plant and Existing Tree objects for some of the purposes you mention.

 

in terms of 3D, you can add any kind of model to a plant object you wish to facilitate rendering or shade studies.  You can even simultaneously include different 3D models and graphics with the use of a classing strategy.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@BJRobinson I agree with @jeff prince in the benefits of maintaining a database but for the purposes of everyday usage I just keep a drawing such as yours in my favorites folder and hide all other libraries in the plant tool to minimize visual clutter. Having worked with both catalogs and the VW plant database, I'm not sure which one is easier. The Filemaker plugin feels more user friendly to me. I would create a plant schedule in your resource drawing with all the fields you want to save, export it as a csv, then import it into Filemaker with its own title and assign the fields you want to the VW specific fields. It's been awhile since I messed with a custom catalog but the help page is here 

 

@Katarina Ollikainen Thanks for the thoughtful tips and info for what's coming up. I will gently echo some of @jeff prince and @designit frustrations. I currently find plant data management one of the most frustrating aspects of VW, not in that it can't take care of the basics, but in that it has the potential to manage some much more information efficiently but stops at handling what the casual landscaper is looking for in data management. I will collect my thoughts on that and post it to the roadmap.

 

I do not keep an extensive library of plant graphics, I have defaults based on my favorites and what's locally available that populate in a drawing while generating concepts. Then I make specific schedules based on availability when developing a plan. In most cases, like @jeff prince I use the Filemaker plugin for capturing plant data because using the form next to whichever data source I'm using. That said, I find the scripting for adding data to a particular project from Filemaker to be clunky and annoying. I'm also aware that support for Filemaker does not come from VW and therefore has some risk built into it, so I've begun exploring catalogs as another option. This has turned out somewhat useful in that for whatever reason, I made catalogs according to supplier, which captures pricing and size information, but data input is tedious with the catalog method. the Filemaker method is nice in that a full dataset can be pushed into the database and have relevant fields assigned to VW.

 

In general, I find VWx user success content around data management to be sorely lacking.

 

Cheers

 

PWF

 

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Peter, thank you for your input, the issue with plant data has long been a hot discussion point. I'll reiterate my request for everyone to also add any constructive comments you have regarding how to make these processes more suitable for your specific workflows to the roadmap - this is really the most efficient way to get your ideas through to the developing team. I would also be grateful for concrete examples on output so that we can take these into consideration. If you or anyone else is willing to share, please send examples directly to me, kollikainen@vectorworks.net. 

This is really the crux - yes, it is important to identify what's not working, but it's even more important to look at where you want to go (as a skier I would say 'look at the space between the trees; where you look is where you'll go).

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just to add my own professional practice two cents in...

I work as a chained monkey in an Landscape Architecture practice which only wants efficiency from me.

 

I need a readily available library of plants which remembers the way I have a relatively limited selection of plants set up.

I love discovering new plants but unless they are tough and commercially available, they ain't gonna get far in my current process.

 

I DETEST the way that I have to adjust every species that I import into a project from the plant libraries which have the same wrong setting every single time. 

There should be a setting for changing all imports to a certain format: IE: LATIN NAME with nothing in that top box otherwise it just doubles the name up.  etc. etc.

 

I started saving my changes to say 'yes' at the plant catalogue dialogue box... but cannot see any way of using them in an easily accessible library. Pointless system.

 

Then I switched the data source to be 'Vectorwork Plant Database' and almost put my fist through my monitor. What a horrid slow ugly clunky system. Crashed my machine several times. HATE IT.  HATE IT.  HATE IT. 

 

I then tried exporting individual plants to the OBJECT STYLES / PLANTS library but that's about a dozen clicks when it should be one. And no matter what I change that file name to, it insists on thinking its name should be "Exported Plants".

   

Losing the will to live.

 

Now I've made VW file which I will slowly save all the plants I usually use into it and have that sitting in the OBJECT STYLES / PLANTS library and hope that works. 

 

Yes, we are all different in our needs, but it shouldn't be this hard.

 

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

I fully understand your need for a solid library with a limited palette. This is the reason I suggest creating your own library with Plant styles, just as you're saying you've moved to. This way you 'own' the plants and the data - they're' ready baked' and prepared to use in your design. This is the absolutely most efficient way of working with plants in Vectorworks and what I recommend to everyone.

Just make sure you have a solid backup system for your library file, preferable both in the cloud and on a hard drive (separate from your working machine) - I know, this should be a no-brainer, but you would be surprised over how often this is forgotten 😉.

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