Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Seattle VW Users Group Update

Greetings! This letter has been sent to you and other Seattle based individuals interested in VectorWorks. Perhaps you attended the Nemetschek VectorWorks 11 road show that came through Seattle in July or you have dropped in a time or two to the SVUG meetings at the Wood Construction Center. My name is Tom Greggs and I hope to lead the Seattle VectorWorks User Group this fall. I reside in Seattle and make my living using VectorWorks for a goodly part of each weekday. I’m writing hoping to encourage you to join us as we meet periodically throughout the year for the goal of learning how to better utilize this remarkable tool. We don’t have dues. We don’t have a dress code. We are only interest is in getting better at what we do, whether it be stage design, product design, landscaping, cabinet construction, architecture or whatever.
The following is a letter I wrote shortly after our last meeting. If you read it you may get a sense of what the evening was like. If it sounds interesting, stick through to the end and we may talk later in the summer in order to set up our first fall meeting.

In this issue:
Align Layers and Past in Place
3D views and the numerical keyboard

The Seattle VectorWorks Users Group met last month at the Seattle Central Community College Wood Construction Center lecture hall and I took a turn hosting this time and gave Jack McKean—who typically stands at the head of the class—a well earned rest.
My interest is in architecture but the basis of my discussion that night serves anyone who builds up unique elements to form a whole (this assumes that you are using VW Layers for your various parts and are not assembling all onto just one layer). Let me recap what we covered.
What I wanted to show that evening was the importance of the Align Layers command and the Paste in Place command when used in tandem. In my case, the focus was roof editing. If I have a roof on its own layer and I want to modify it somehow in its relation to the wall that supports it, how do I change it without having to make a Layer Link model to see parts in relation and how do I do this quickly?
But before I go on, I'd like to ask if you use your number keys to get Front, Back, Side and angled 3-D views? If you have an extended keyboard, take a look at the grid of keys 1 through 9 on the right side of the board. The cross that forms the middle of the grid all generate straight-on 3-D views. The middle key 5 is Top View. The back key 8 is the back view. The front key 2 is the Front View and so on. The outer corner keys 1, 7, 9 and 3 are all 3-D isometric (angled) views. Wonderfully logical. You do not need a modifier key combination to change 3D views.
Are you still with me? Do you care? If not, skip to the last paragraph. For the rest of you, let's go back to our roof. Why don’t I just make a Layer Link of all the layers and show the whole model? This is because the more I draw, the more lines I have to look through. It’s confusing. If I can limit my layers to just two, I can pick out my wall or window edges more easily. So, If I’m looking at my work in Left Side view (push the #4 key)--and I want to see my wall in relation, first make sure you have the wall layer showing as visible or as gray. Then click Align Layer Views and the wall will spin out of Plan View and align with the roof in the same left view manner. Click on the roof layer then change the pitch or overhang. Then click on the wall layer and change its height as needed to grow it to the roof.
In my demo from that evening, I modified a roof plane that needed a shorter overhang than its adjoining roof planes in order that it not extend into a building setback. I broke that face free and tilted it back and lowered it, swinging the hip rafters off and away from the outer corners in the process. Being able to quickly change views from Top view to Side view gave me a means to readjust hip locations and lower or raise the walls as needed.
In a very real way, being able to accurately adjust one 3D part to fit another meant you could prove to yourself that the roof would work even though you may never have swung a 28-once framing hammer in your life. Once your model is built-out in the third dimension, solving construction problems in VectorWorks means that when you go out onto the job site to confer with the framer, you’ll be imbued with confidence. The first words out of your mouth will more likely be “I think this is how the roof will work” than the more usual phrase of “Don’t hit me!”
We talked about why the Paste in Place tool was an aid in modifying roof faces or other polygons. I won’t go into detail on that one now (this letter is getting a little windy as it is). We also talked about why the nudge tool presents a special challenge for cabinet makers and how buying an extra pair of glasses with a focal range set just for CAD work reduces eye strain. Plenty more tips were donated by those attending.
And this is partly why I love going to the SVUG meetings. I get info’ that helps me over certain hurdles that have hung me up for a while. It is so nice to be given a free tip or two that removes an impediment to smoothly using VectorWorks. Thanks to everyone that attended and shared.
Oh, and the other important reason I look forward to attending the SVUG meetings is that it gives me a chance to stop for dinner at a great Vietnamese restaurant just down Jackson.
So here’s the real reason for this letter. Would you consider attending a future meeting? What would you like to cover: simple stuff or complex? Do you have a particular interest or perhaps a bit of knowledge you might like to share? Let me know your thoughts as an aid for planning another meeting after summer break. I hope to cover each meeting with a follow-up e-mail in similar fashion to the above.
Also, of course, let me know if you want off my list or if there are others you may know who use VW and may want to be included.
Jack McKean, as most of you know, has been putting in lots of time in the past few years making sure that the hall was booked, that Nemetschek was notified and indeed had sent out announcements to registered users about our upcoming meetings. He then has put aside time to organize himself and host those SVUG evenings pulling most of the lecture duty. Jack: a hearty thank you from all of us.

Tom Greggs
Greggs Building Design

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