Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Serving the Seattle VectorWorks Users Group

In this issue:
•Our next meeting time
•Version 12.0 demo'd
•Viewports primer
•New mouse tricks
•Tools removed in v.12

Hello and welcome, Northwest VectorWorks users, and hello to the Seattle VectorWorks Users Group! We won't have a December meeting due to the holidays but I'll send out a letter in January with a date likely set for the third week of that month. I think I'll also set forward our start and finish times from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. instead of the usual 6:00 to 8:00.
We had a full house in late November to see the latest and the greatest version of VectorWorks as demo’d by Katie and Dan from Nemeteschek. They stopped off in Seattle on their way to the Portland Journal of Light Construction trade show. We ran over our planned meeting time by an hour and a half so many of us had a pretty good glimpse of the program. V.12 is really loaded with improvements but like any learned routine, v.12 asks us to reaquaint ourselves with the revised location of old commands and learn new ones too. If you find yourself frustrated with quickly locating the correct command or tool with deadlines looming, go to Workspace and try changing to the "Classic" setting which puts you back into an arrangement more like v.11.5.
Editing the palette's setup for your own particular need is evermore practical. A couple of 3D tools have been put into the primary "Basic" tool palette which had previously been all 2D. The newer user might click a 3D tool by mistake and find themselves in 3D land, unable to get the 2D tool they were after to snap to anything. Removing the 3D tools from this palette may appeal to many. For those who happen to enter this Twilight Zone, learn the key command for Top Plan View--you'll find it a very useful way to return in one piece.
You'll also have more palettes in 12 but will be able to fine-tune their shape to better fit a small screen, as was confirmed by one of our demo attendees already using 12. If you have two monitors, you'll be happy for the extra screen real estate.
VectorWorks 11 and 11.5 were substantial upgrades because they introduced Viewports which challenged the way we have, in the past, created pages for printing. Allow me to digress a bit for the benefit of those still digesting the concept of Viewports.
Some of us have grabbed the opportunities provided by Viewports and others, myself included, are slower. We prefer to save the occasional Viewport back to what used to be our Save Sheet collection (in the lower View bar) but re-termed in v.11 as Save View. I might want Viewport views of a kitchen, for instance, but prefer not to use Viewports on all pages of my planset. This process goes somewhat against the grain of the program which would rather have us turn all Saved Views into Viewports which we’d then assign to new Sheets.
That process works well for some. For instance, really large projects are well served using Viewports. Imagine a new wharehouse that you’d set up to draw at 1/16" scale. Using Viewports, you could capture portions of the drawing and array them convienently on Sheets for printing knowing you'd never be able to get the whole project printed on one sheet. You can show them at a new, larger scale too. As the drawing fills out over time, the Viewport can be refreshed.
Small projects work well with Viewports. A desk, designed in 3D but showing in Top-Plan, can be turned into a Viewport. By sending it to a new Sheet, you can duplicate it three times and have an array of (the same) four views of the object. But each view can be substantially changed via the Object Info Palette to show new info, for instance, going from top-plan view for the first image to left isometric view for the second or perspective sketch view with an oil paint background on others. Thus you can present your client with one page showing very dynamic views of your object.
VectorWorks 12 supports mouse scrolling, zooming and greater context right-clicking. I have a neat little Logitec roller ball mouse I bought for $20 from Comp USA which has the typical left/right buttons but also long, narrow scroll button on each side of the roller ball. I can scroll vertically AND horizontally with these buttons. If your mouse has a wheel, you can pan by holding down the wheel and moving the mouse--a one-handed operation. Rolling a mouse wheel also zooms you back and forth.
I still mostly hold down the spacebar to turn the cursor into a hand when I want to drag around a drawing. Note that this method does not interupt any process so you can be in the middle of using a tool and still move your drawing about.
Context (right button) clicking gives you some new options, among them finding/changing layer scale. If you don't use this method, changing a layer's scale requires far more mouse clicks than before. A great new right-click tool is Force Select. You can be in any view and select a layer element or class element from among the clutter of others and have the program send you back to that layer or class where you can then edit the item. This is a boon for larger, complex drawings.
Two tools were taken out of v.12 prematurely, in my view; Cut 3D Section and Align Layer Views were removed. I've since put them back in my revised workspace. For those of you cutting sections regularly to test and adjust the fit of key 3D elements in your drawings such as roof plane-to-wall plate, you will miss this tool. A new tool has been introduced that is somewhat like Align Layer Views called the Stack View tool. It has some benefits over Align Layer Views but as of this writing, there is no way to measure between the elements shown in the model revealed thus making it a visual tool only and so, limited. In my next Convert To Lines, I'll talk you through editing a workspace to bring these tools back, if so desired.

Happy Holidays

Tom Greggs
Greggs Building Design
(206) 524-2808

No comments: