Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Serving the Seattle VectorWorks Users Group and Northwest VectorWorks users.

In this issue:
•Nemetschek is coming to Seattle to demo Version 12.5!
•Your source for 3D outhouses
•Coffee Break and learn VW at the same time
•The Tipping Point and VectorWorks

Greetings VectorWorks people! Our next meeting is Wednesday, September 20th, 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.
For our first meeting of the fall, Ryan Carmody of Nemetschek will be in town for the express purpose of showing us new and refined features of VectorWorks 12.5.This is also the chance, time allowing, to ask any questions about VW. As of this writing, VW 12.5 has not been released.

One of the important new features since V.12 is the ability to import 3ds models and one of the best sites around to find these free and not-free models is at Turbosquid (love that name). 3ds models are derived from Autodesk’s 3ds Max modeling software. In browsing ‘squid offerings I came upon a darling Honey Bucket outhouse! I realized that no photorealistic rendering of a residence would be complete without a 3D biffy teetering in the distance, especially if it were free to download--and it is.
But that wasn’t the end of it as the Turbosquid site aggregates similar models in a sidebar and there were many outhouses offered, including one done in Poser that looked like the crew at Pixar had built it for an upcoming movie on Pappy Yokum and family:
While the outhouse hunting was fun, I discovered that there are some wonderful models out there that you may find helpful in augmenting your own designs. Getting access to these models requires you to join but there is no charge for membership.
Remember that when importing 3ds models, you may need to scale up by some factor which varies with the scale of the model. You might also check out:
or this small but nice collection of free objects

Pam Lund wrote me with this simple idea: wouldn’t it be great if you could call up a few people whenever and get together over coffee to discuss better ways to use VectorWorks? Anyone could call anyone to get a group meeting going. Interested? Drop Pam a line and ask her to link you together with phone numbers and email addresses and let’s see where this goes. You can reach Pam at plund@spaceplans.com. If you email, put Coffee Break in the subject line.


I’ve just finished reading an interesting book by Malcolm Gladwell called The Tipping Point. He also authored a book called Blink, a #1 best seller. Mr. Gladwell’s strength is in researching and reporting the findings of those who analyze events and then note the triggering mechanisms which moved said events from little to large.
The fascinating aspect of this book is that the triggering actions typically are small. The resurgence, for instance, of Hush Puppy shoes was due to a small group of N.Y. City fashion designers who began wearing them almost as a backlash to fashions of the day. Personality types also factor largely in how information gets out about a product, idea or, in other examples, how the product or event gained a “sticky” nature or is portrayed as such through advertising.
In thinking about VectorWorks and all it represents--the website, the third party books, the people at NNA-- I was wondering, what part(s) might be considered sticky or not sticky and what event might happen which would bring many more people to buy and use VectorWorks. Today I’d like to suggest what I think might be an emerging “sticky” and I’d like to start with a reference to Jonathan Pickup.
What if word got out about VW and the wonderful, easy ways available for learning how to use this complex piece of software? I’m not talking here about Jonathan’s several books, as great as they may be, but rather his blog, which is an emerging method of viewing a two or three minute Quicktime movie on how to do something, anything, using VectorWorks.
This method of learning is far more effective than looking up the same process in any other media. Its lesson is usually immediate and forceful. It is learned in two minutes, then, class dismissed.
What if we could find a site with a whole passel of Quicktime movies, references to blogs, user opinion and even a kind of democratic voting on which techniques should rise to the top of the heap and which thought processes or software choices within VW help or hinder the user?
For a time, Frank Brault managed a site called VectorExpress which might have been a base for this kind of gathering of ideas and how-to’s but it is morphing into something newer and and potentially far more powerful. (I don’t wish to steal Frank’s thunder so I won’t publish his web address here but rather wait until he announces it officially, presumably on the tails of the release of V. 12.5)
This seems to me to be potentially very exciting; where the teacher becomes the student and the student, the teacher, as new ideas, simple to complex, are logged in and debated. The Listserve functions like this to a degree but is linear in form. The future suggests a branch-like structure which would serve many more without a virtual kind of standing in line. The NNA website is moving, very slowly, in the right direction and could one day be very important to the learning process. Look at this rare, but very helpful how-to QT movie from the NNA Knowledge Base on live sections:
and then take a look at Sketchup’s large block of video tutorials, if you have time for a comparison, and consider which one is stickier:
The attraction of a site which contains ideas collected outside the NNA structure is that those thoughts may represent a more battle-hardened perspective (See Convert To Lines #16 and The Wisdom of Crowds at www.converttolines.blogspot.com).
VectorWorks has many, many ways of effectively presenting information as exerience with the Seattle VW Users Group has shown. Ideally, these paths and processes could be explored and presented to all users via simple learning methods such at QT movies, line drawings or simple text explanations.
To paraphrase Kevin Kelly, a writer quoted in The Tipping Point, the first fax machine was worth nothing because there was no other fax machine for it to talk to. As each new fax machine was sold, the network grew and so also grew in worth. Each additional fax machine that shipped increased the value of all the fax machines operating below it. With the leadership of Pickup, Brault and others, when you buy a copy of VectorWorks, you buy access to all the VW gurus, which is infinitely more valuable than the software itself. (Now, that is a sticky idea and if it doesn’t make it into an NNA VectorWorks advertising campaign, then it’s a loss for them AND us.)
The internet, as Malcolm Gladwell notes, is bringing in, paradoxically, the age of word-of-mouth: “.....all of the sophistication and wizardry and limitless access to information of the New Economy is going to lead us to rely more and more on very primitive kinds of social contacts.” Is there a tipping point in NNA’s future? If there is, people like yourselves, who contribute, argue and participate, will play a role.

See you on the 20th!

Tom Greggs
Greggs Building Design
(206) 524-2808

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