Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Serving the Seattle VectorWorks Users Group and Northwest VectorWorks users.

In this issue:
•Our next meeting time and topic
•The evolving Tips and Tricks List
•Thoughts on new tools in V. 12
•New VectorWorks training seminars

Greetings VectorWorks Users! Our next meeting is Wednesday, March 22nd, from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Seattle Central Community College Wood Construction Center lecture hall. 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.
The slant of our first hour will be toward the newer user with a focus on ending up with a better knowledge of the 3D process. I’ll make sure you go away from our get-together with an improved understanding of drawing with VectorWorks.
The list below is for the newer user who will likely encounter stumbling blocks, some due to the software itself but others simply due to the process of drawing in CAD. Feel free to clip this out, amend it, add to it as needed. If you know of other gotcha’s than those written below, drop me a line for the benefit of new and beginner users: those most vulnerable to frustration. Thanks!

1. Is the Snap to Grid button on the floating Constraints palette set to the on or off position? This is a terrific tool if you create a preset grid to help snap to a visible (or invisible) pattern when laying out beam lines or other elements that must align in a grid-like fashion. But after your grid layout work is complete, you may want to turn this button to the ‘off’ position. No matter what size the grid pattern is set to, if you pull a line near one of the coordinates, your snap could be pulled to the grid intersection and you might unknowingly snap off your intended mark. After your grid work has been completed, I suggest you uncheck this box. I set it to ‘off’ by default when I begin drawing.

2. Do you find your doors and windows slipping out of walls when moving them manually? You can lock them in using the Wall Insertion button, second one from the left, on the Mode bar. You can still drop windows and doors into walls when this button is locked. Note also that sometimes a VW symbol that you wish to place touching a wall will be grabbed by that wall. Turning off the Wall Insertion button will stop the grabby action.

3. In VectorWorks, using the Rectangle tool to draw a rectangle or square seems like the more practical way to perform such a task than to draw the same shape using the Polygon tool. But If you double click on a rectangular shape made with the Polygon Tool, you will get editing nodes on all corners and also on the middle of each side. This won’t happen when trying to edit a shape made with the Rectangle tool UNLESS you use the Convert to Polygon pull down command to convert your shape. Only then can you can add or remove corners to your object.

4. Picking up the end of a line seems like something that should be easy the first time. Truth is, you have to move the cursor slightly off-center of the line’s end before you get the comforting cross hair shaped screen hint that tells you you’re locked on UNLESS you have the first button unchecked on the mode bar--the diagonal line called Enable Interactive Scaling Mode (for short). If you uncheck this button, you can easily grab it but then you miss out on being able to stretch the line too since the stretching option gets turned off. I usually leave the buttons set so that I can stretch whenever I want and grab and drag too--I just grab more carefully. But if your eyes are tired or you just want it to work with no questions asked, uncheck the first mode bar box.

5. Layer Options and Class Options read the same from top to bottom but should be set differently in most cases. Do not set Layer Options to Show/Snap/Modify Others because that means that you run the risk of reaching down through several layers (if they are set to a visible status) and clicking on some line which looks out of place. If you move said line or throw it away--not knowing it resides on another layer--you may be surprised and disappointed. Most times I leave this Option set to Show/Snap Others. There are those, however, who love having this reach-down option available to them.
When setting Class Options, DON’T, unless you are free of deadlines or know someone to call in case something disappears. Leave this one set at Show/Snap/Modify Others which means your Class-based object won’t be hidden or made impossible to snap to. Later on when you feel more comfortable with Class Options, you will find some unique and helpful reasons for their existence.

6. Speaking of Classes, what is a “None” Class? If it is None, why is it here? If you are not yet Class-crazed, putting each and every item into a special class you’ve created, I suggest you leave the default Class setting set to None. Think of it as the “Anything Can Go Here” Class or the “Slush Bucket” Class or my favorite, the “Put It Here Until You Have A Better Plan” Class.

7. I use the nudge key combo to move objects all the time, even zooming out to nudge them faster as each nudge bump moves your object the distance of one pixel width. But if you are building precise objects, a pixel nudge may introduce error into your plans. You might be better off moving your object by precise amounts in the Dimension bar as you assemble your parts.

8. Why do my 3D renderings look so poor? Renderworks gives you many choices in rendering your project and as you get better you can choose the mode that is quicker or more stylish or the one that looks more photo-realistic. If you guess wrong, your rendering may look washed out. I personally like Custom Renderworks best with the settings in Custom Renderworks Options set generally to High (but not to Very High). If my old G-4 can render drawings in relatively good time, I’m thinking your machine will work just fine. Also put down a ground plane of an extruded rectangle with a fill or use the floor tool and give it a fill as well. This gives shadows a place to land. One last thing: add a light source. One click of the light tool will add a sun-like light which should give you all the shadows and highlights you need. As time goes on, try giving your objects a texture by selecting one of the many finishes (VW 12) found of the Object Info palette under the Render tab. Note that rendering and texturing in VW 12.0 works better than earlier versions. Also note that Open GL--the fastest renderer--puts a light in automatically for you so you needn't worry about adding one.

9. When using the polygon or polyline tool to make an enclosed shape, make sure you actually hit the endline when closing which can be a problem if there are lots of lines cluttering the area around the endpoint or when the Snap Grid button is on (see #1). You can check on the Object Info palette if the poly is closed since there is a button that will check itself if you have done your job. If not, the button will not be checked. Checking it manually will automatically close the link.
Sometimes, when extruding shapes made from polys, you will find that the shape won’t accept a fill or texture. This is likely due to the poly still being open. Double click on the object which returns it to an editing pane. Click the Close button or zoom in and manually close it and you’ll be back in business.


More thoughts on Version 12
A. One of the best improvements brought forth in VW 12 is something called the Navigation Palette. This will be found in most of the VW modules such as Architect but I don’t believe it is included in the base module called Fundamentals. The Navigation palette contains in one place tabbed, list views of Classes, Layers, Viewports, Sheets and Saved Views. The beauty of this scheme is that you can quickly jump from group to group turning elements on or off or making them gray or invisible. Layers are especially handy since a double click on the layer brings it up on screen as the active layer. If you want another layer to act as a backdrop shown in gray, you can click on and show those layers very quickly. In fact, this palette should help newer users see the relationship between Layers and Classes more easily since the (3) command centers on the Menu Bar--Layers, Classes and the visibility settings under Organize on the Menu Bar have been rendered largely superfluous. The one issue here is that to work most effectively, this palette should always be open and that means you need screen real estate. Two monitors would be the ideal setup if cost effectiveness is paramount or, if you can swing it, one of the big LCD monitors would give you room to spread out.
In reviewing this palette, it is easy to miss the little triangle button on the far right of the palette. Here, you’ll find a pull-down menu for creation of New Classes, Layers, etc., as well as the commands Edit, Duplicate, Delete plus others. Stacking order can also be changed via drag and drop although I did not have 100% success in changing stacking order--sometimes it worked, other times not. Also, Workgroup Referenced items display in italics as in the past. If you don’t see this arrow in the upper right corner of the palette, drag is out toward the right and the arrow should appear.
B. Prior to V.12, Hatches--which are a choice of fill style on the Attributes palette--have never been much of a thrill. I’ve not been willing to create my own and so have left this tool largely unused. WOW--take a look now. Pull down and select Hatch, then, on the button directly below (labeled Default), see what is provided. There are ALL kinds of hatch choices including marsh and mud flats! (Hey, Puget Sound is mud-flat country!)
C. This next tip is a keyboard shortcut that activates the 2d Selection Tool which is your most used tool--the arrow on the primary floating palette on the left side of your screen. Push x. That’s it, no modifier key needed. No need to ever use the mouse again to activate that important selection tool.
D. Dividing lines equally is a function I seem to need frequently. Look under Tools/Drafting Aids/Line into Segments. A locus point can be placed at the beginning and at each point and the reference line can be set to disappear. Another tool that helps in placing either multiple points or single points is the Snap Distance button on the floating Attributes palette--the one on the lower right that looks like a line with a dot on it. Double click this button and a dialog box appears which allows you to input your settings for percentage of line length, fraction or actual distance in feet and inches. Be careful when using the Line into Segments tool. To illustrate my caution, if you have a building 40’ in length and wish to place a locus marker at each 10’ segment but want a 4” diameter column located at each locus mark, you first have to set a locus mark on the edge of your building and move that mark inside 2”. Having done this on each end of the building you then draw a line locus-to-locus and divide from there. Otherwise your centers will not have taken into account the natural offset of your column from the outside of the wall.
E. Many of the Tools palettes and Menu commands in V. 12 need to be reconfigured using the Workspace editor. If you’ve purchased V.12, this may be the time to dig in and learn how to use the editor. It isn’t hard. What’s harder is simply taking the time to look at your usage and then move the commands around to be closer to the mouse cursor or more logical to the way you work.
For instance, in V.12, 3D commands have been placed on the Basic palette on the upper left hand side of your monitor. Should they really go there? Do you need the Spiral tool to be visible? Do you miss not having the Dimension tool here? When was the last time you made an octagon and do you also miss the old Leader Line tool? Shouldn’t VectorWorks Preferences, Document Preferences and Workspaces be together under File? What happened to Cut 3D and Cut 2D Section? I want them back!! And while we’re at it, let’s nest some of the tools we use least.
I have addressed the above by making my own Workspace for Architect. If you haven’t yet taken the time to learn how to use the Workspace Editor and want a copy of this workspace to at least experiment with, drop me a line and I’ll e-mail you a copy which you can place in the VectorWorks folder/Workspace folder. I haven’t eliminated any of the tools in V.12, just rearranged them. If you work in a multi person firm however, don’t ask, as your CAD guru will most likely want his or her own Workspace used.
Los Angeles based Seminars coming up
Vectortasks™ - A Task Based Learning Seminar for Users of VectorWorks®
Class size is set to a maximum of 16 people to allow a more interactive learning environment. Space is going fast. Register now to ensure your seat for this exciting seminar!
Dan Jansenson and Pat Stanford are proud to announce the next session of the new Vectortasks training seminars: 
Fast Track to 2D Production Drawings with VectorWorks®. 
This is a special seminar for people transitioning from other CAD systems to VectorWorks, and current users who need to improve their drafting skills: a fast way of coming up to speed quickly.
For more information and to register for the class please see our web site at http://www.vectortasks.com. 
The Fast Track seminar is intended for people who need a rapid transition into 2D working drawings with VectorWorks, either from scratch or from existing 3D models. The tools and techniques are applicable to most 2D production environments, but the examples are focused on the architectural and entertainment industries. 
Who Should Attend: 
The seminar is intended for people already familiar with computer drawing and 2D design and drafting, and are transitioning into VectorWorks from other CAD programs. This seminar is also designed for advanced beginners and intermediate VectorWorks users interested in improving their skills. 
How the Seminar is Run:
The seminar is a four-day class. It is offered on two consecutive weeks, all day Friday and Saturday both weeks. The class is a hands-on event and participants are required to bring a computer with a licensed copy of VectorWorks 11 or 12. 

Each session will begin with a lecture showing the tools and techniques to be covered. The students will then be given exercises to do. The instructor(s) will be available to answer questions during the work session. Finally, the instructors will complete the exercises on screen, in a step-by-step fashion. 
What Will Be Covered:
•The VectorWorks Interface 
•Basic Tools and Techniques
•File Organization: design layers and classes 
•File Organization: sheet layers and viewports 
•Drawing Tools 
•Dimensioning Tools 
•Annotation Tools 
•Walls: tools, types and styles 
•Symbols and Plug-In Objects 
•Wall Framer/Roof Framer 
•Interacting with Other CAD Systems: import/export–collaborating outside the VW world 
•Interacting with Other Users: collaborative work 
•Scripts (Custom Selection/Custom Tool/Saved Views) 
•Printing & Plotting 
For more information and to register for the class please see our web site at http://www.vectortasks.com. 
The Seminar will be held on two consecutive Fridays and Saturdays, March 31/April 1 and April 7/8. The class duration is 4 days. Class will run from 9:00AM to 5:00PM each day with morning, afternoon and lunch breaks. Total instructional time for the 4 days is 24 hours. 
The Seminar will be held in Hermosa Beach. Exact class location and directions will be provided after registration.
 For more information and to register for the class please see our web site at http://www.vectortasks.com
Dan Jansenson 
(310) 451-5907 
Pat Stanford 
Coviana, Inc. 
(310) 322-4205 
VectorWorks is a registered trademark of Nemetschek North America. Vectortasks is a trademark of Dan Jansenson and PatrickStanford. 
vw_seminar_list mailing list 

(If there is enough interest here in the NW, they may consider traveling. Ed.)

That’s it for this issue. Hope to see you soon!

Tom Greggs
Greggs Building Design
(206) 524-2808

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