Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Seattle VectorWorks Users Group

In this issue:
• Nemetschek is coming to town this month to demo V.12
• Flogging Viewports
• Using Sketch (VW 11.5 and up)
• The VW 12 upgrade manuals=$, other books on the way

Greetings to all northwest VectorWorks users! As stated above, the VectorWorks demo team, on their way to the JLC Live Pacific Northwest builder’s show, (Dec 01 - Dec 02, Oregon Convention Center in Portland) will stop off in Seattle Wednesday night, November 30th, to demo Version 12. We’ll meet at the usual place, the Seattle Central Community College Wood Construction Center lecture hall, from 6 PM to 8 PM. The hall is located at 2310 S. Lane St. (intersection of 23rd Avenue South and South Lane Street). Parking is available in the gated lot off South King Street, just one block south of Jackson Street. The lecture hall is the building directly adjacent to the parking lot at its south side. Walk up the wooden side-ramp to the second door. If you want a map, try:
As I said in my last newsletter, this upgrade is massive--improvements have been made in nearly all areas of the program. You’ll have to see it to believe it and we’ll have Nemeteschek’s best to take us through the new tools and tricks.
It’s hard to interrupt a smooth workflow to learn a new way to do things, especially if you think your own way works just fine, thank you very much. Or you’re a newer user and danged if they didn’t go and add one more hard-to-learn step to the whole process. Let’s review.
In the old days, we used to assign our developed layers and classes to sheets prior to printing, which we’d compose down on the lower left on a bar that also gave us additional ways for viewing our drawing. With the advent of V.11 and Viewports, this compositional tool was renamed Views (officially located on the “View bar” and not to be confused with “View” located on the mode bar). Nothing changed but the name. If you wanted to continue assembling your drawings there and print from there, you could. You didn’t have to employ Viewports if you didn’t want to. I like Views’ pop-up menu because it helps me create, then segregate my sheets from the welter of layers that inevitably accrue in a larger project. Just managing the whereabouts of the sheets is a job and Views have remained, for me, a logical place to perform that task.
But Viewports, having been invented, now challenge the old way of organizing our drawings, offering more ways to show our projects without having to spend time doing additional work. In other words, do more with less effort.
Right off the bat, Viewports deliver a unique advantage and that is, if you have your View page assembled, once you Select All and turn that into a Viewport, you can then move the Viewport anywhere on the sheet which frees you to compose the page without shifting layers out of alignment with other layers of your model. You can maintain the integrity of your model by making proxy views of the assembled elements which you can then slide about the page without penalty. But there’s more.
For a while now, users have been yelling that they want “croppable views” and “live sections”. This means that they wanted to draw a marquee around portions of their drawings and have those portions assigned to other sheets of the drawing set and, if the main drawing changed, the cropped portion would change too. Same with live sections--if you had sectioned a drawing early in your process, the Viewport made of said section would remain live--it would change as the main model evolved. You could also, if you wanted, create a croppable view of a kitchen, then duplicate it several times, sliding each to a portion of the sheet, then, using the Object Info palette, give each copy a unique view, such as left isometric or a unique rendering, such as Sketch, Custom Renderworks, or Open GL. Now, suddenly, you had many more options to organize your model’s information and views.
Note that when you make your first Viewport, you are called on to create a Sheet to place it on. Can you stick with printing from Views and only use Viewports for a page or two? Yes. You may find that converting each page of your set to a Viewport, when only one or two pages benefit from a Viewport-style display, is too much. On the other hand, users have reported that they’ve gotten into the swing of it and so convert all Views into Viewports and then into Sheets. Some don’t like having to keep track of most project pages in Views and other project pages in the new Sheets pulldown menu. Is this extra work? The answer may depend on how big or what type of model you are drawing. A cabinet maker may love Viewports because he or she can create only one Viewport of the cabinet or furnishing, then duplicate it and array the dupe’s around the sheet and give each dupe’ it’s own orientation and rendering. If you are working predominantly in 2D, Viewports may have less benefit beyond page composition. Big projects with lots of 3D will likely be finished with all Views turned to Viewports, then turned to Sheets.
It may have been an easier stretch of the imagination if Nemetschek had left Sheets in the lower left corner where they were in Version 10 but had allowed us to create Viewports and then send them to those sheets as we do now with objects via the Object Info palette.
Perhaps the desired interoperability of VW files and AutoCAD files precluded this approach, for one of the advantages of Viewports, as I understand it, is that they make big improvements in file compatibility with AutoCAD.
Here is a simple drill which employs both Viewports and Sketch. Draw four walls with fill, add windows and a door. Give them a solid fill* too. Push one of the corner keys on your numeric keypad to move the model to an isometric 3D view. Render it using Custom Renderworks or any of the other choices (but not Sketch). Once rendered, Select All and create a Viewport under the View pull-down menu (top menu bar). You will be asked to make a Sheet for this Viewport. Go back to the same model, unchanged. Now Select All and render again using Hidden Line. Remember this next command: Once your model has been rendered in Hidden Line, go back to the Render pull down menu and go once again to Hidden Line and look at the third option which should read “Line Render Options”. Check the box that says Sketch Hidden Line Results. Choose your sketch quality now. Then, once sketched, select all, make a second Viewport which will be sent directly atop the first solid-fill Viewport. You can test this by going to the Sheet and clicking on the front Viewport (which looks exactly like the back Viewport). You will see the Object Info palette reflect the Sketch rendering. Send it to the back and click on the now top Viewport and you’ll see the O.I. palette show that that one was rendered in Custom Renderworks. Then send it to the back again where it started out. We’re almost there. Now go back to View and Update All Viewports. Shore is purty!
But why can’t I just make Viewports of the same model and then, using the Object Info palette, make one VP Final Quality Rendering or whatever, and the other Sketch? You can, but the Sketch’d VP will be shown as Wireframe, not solid. This is where N.N.A. could improve things by giving us an option on the O.I. palette under Sketch>Render Settings to give the model a solid fill and do away with the clunky method I’ve described above.
*Class Settings affect color and fill and in the case of windows, you are likely to want the window to be in a see-through form, not with a gray window shade blocking inside views which is the default format. In the Object Info palette for doors and windows, you’ll see under Class Settings, Style settings 1,2,3, and so on. Windows also have a Class Setting for glazing called None and 1,2,3, and so on. Intuitively, I would think that None means that the window has no fill but that would be wrong. To give the window no fill, check Style-Glazing 1 and go to the Classes pull down menu and you’ll find there is now a new Class for Glazing 1. Select this class and give all members of this class a no-fill designation. Your window will now be a see-through type.
VW 12 manuals will not be included free for those users buying UPGRADES of any of the new modules. Here’s Dan Monaghan’s post to the VW Listserve on the topic:
“The cost of the printed manual is not $100 dollars. It is $25 for the
Fundamentals manual, and $35 for the Fundamentals + Designer manual set,
I think it's important to note that we didn't "remove" the manual from the
upgrade, but rather replaced it with the Upgrade Companion CD. The Upgrade
Companion provides a faster and more convenient way to learn about the new
and improved technology in VectorWorks 12. It also contains searchable PDF
of both manuals, something users have been asking us for.”

Perhaps a seasoned user only needs to learn a smaller set of commands for the new tools which could be downloaded from N.N.A. or the item could be looked up in the PDF manual or you could opt to put broadband on your work machine and always be a click away from online help. Or you could call the help desk.
On the other hand, this is a BIG upgrade with lots of opportunity/responsibility to help the user make a smooth transition to the new program. On the other, other hand, more third party books are coming out, although they specialize in general usage technique, not tool definitions as the N.N.A. manuals do. Jonathan Pickup will be marketing a new VW 12 Essential Manual shortly and a new Architect manual in a month's time.
Check out his new blog.

Thanks for tuning in. Hope to see you on the 30th.

Tom Greggs
Greggs Building Design
(206) 524-2808

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