Sunday, January 14, 2007

CONVERT TO LINES #21

1/14/07
Serving the Seattle VectorWorks Users Group and Northwest VectorWorks users.

In this issue:
•Giving thanks
•Knowledge is power
•A viewports trick
•Thoughts on Sketchup
•More tricks and misc.
•Nemetschek buys ArchiCAD

An archive of past news letters can be found at http://.converttolines.blogspot.com
Note that the site has been updated with improved text and, partly as a result, the URL has changed and no longer uses www in the address.


Greetings VectorWorks users! Our next meeting is Thursday, January 25th, 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.

Sam Krause of Alpha Modalities will be taking us through some of the 3D tools. If you are not a 3D pro, come out and see how to make the most of VectorWorks’ 3D tools and beyond. Take a new step in the new year and little by little, we’ll have you saving time and effort like never before.

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This is a good time of the year to look back and appreciate those who make life easier. In the case of the Seattle VW Users Group, I want to first thank the folks at Seattle Central Community College who extend the facilities there for our use. We’re provided--for free--a really nice lecture hall with overhead projector, secure parking, and staff that wants us to have a great learning environment during the time we are there. From Suan-vinh, the custodian, to teacher Dave Borgatti, from Construction Center administrator Michelle, to others like Ivan Hass who teaches introductory VectorWorks CADD. They all have been willing to go the extra distance to ensure that we have the best experience that can be had. Thank you all!
Two URL’s for the wood construction program:
http://seattlecentral.edu/wood/
http://dept.seattlecolleges.com/woodconstruction/

I also want to thank the larger VW community which, amazingly, wraps the globe. I met an excited landscape architect in October at the JLCLive show which took place at the Convention and Trade Center. She was leaving the VW demo booth having bought her first copy of VectorWorks and was she happy! But then the struggles set in which involved several frustrations that were not of her making. In response to these problems, I went on the NNA Listserv and posted a help note. Several folks from around the world wrote her offering aid. A thoughtful landscape architect out of Wenatchee, Thom Vetter, contacted her with an offer of additional help. Jonathan Pickup called her from New Zealand (she bought his Landmark book). I tutored her for an hour, gratis. She joined the Listserv and called NNA Tech help and did her part to get over the trouble spots. Getting great help is part of the VectorWorks experience. A helping hand is there if you need it. Thanks to all of you who ease the struggles of others, whether it’s teaching an alphabet to a youngster, a CAD program to anybody, or helping with any other challenging endeavor.
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The cool thing about the advent of blogs is that the power to teach no longer resides in the hands of a few entities. I don’t mean to suggest that those pre-blog sources were not quality repositories of knowledge or that there was/is some kind of benefit to the control of that information. Heretofore, dissemination of knowledge has been very costly and that mandril of costs, so to speak, has meant that the shape of the knowledge, as it leaves the form, is sometimes ill fitting. This “one size fits all” approach is currently being augmented with information from several independent sources. One of them is PodCAD, produced by two guys from Southern California: Pat Stanford, and Dan Jansenson. At PodCAD you can listen to audio podcast interviews of persons who are deeply involved in CAD and with VectorWorks. These two have also created a business called Vectortasks for teaching VectorWorks to others. Pat is the leader of the L.A. VW Users Group and Dan has authored the Renderworks Recipe Book. What I really like about PodCAD’s audio interviews is the fireside informality--they’re very relaxing while being informative at the same time. Check ‘em out at:
www.podcad.tv
www.vectortasks.com
www.danjansenson.com
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Some of us, having moved slowly into Viewports, are still nostalgic for Convert To Lines* since the 3D model that provides the basis for elevation views or sections may be complex and in showing these views, the masking process might be harder than the old way of converting to lines and ungrouping, then deleting what’s unneeded. This is a moving target; some projects are going to be easier to mask than others. I recently had a super-tight time constraint in producing some preliminary drawings, both floor plans and elevations. I made a viewport of the 3D model (in this case, created via the Model View tool found on the Visualization palette. Note that you have the ability to duplicate this vp on your sheet and, via the OIP, create new views of each side). I chose to Convert Copy to LInes from one of the elevation viewports. I copied and then deleted the line work atop the viewport, then went back to my working layer (properly called “design layer”) and pasted in the line work which came in quite small, needing scaling by 48 times which happens to match the scale of my drawing: 1/4” per foot or 1 to 48. The advantage here was that I had live vp’s as a backup to my converted lines. I had no time to ungroup roofs and rework them to fit correctly, something I would always do if time were not such an issue. But if I changed something on my floorplan in the last few minutes, I had a vp to aid me in correcting the lines. This workaround is not as elegant as keeping the vp as the primary element on the sheet, but hey, whatever works in love and war.
*In Convert to Lines #19 I wrote about the overall process of converting VP’s to lines.

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Is learning and using Sketchup a good reason to not mess with implementing 3D within VectorWorks? I’ve been watching the Sketchup tutorials and I love how easy and breezy they are.
http://download.sketchup.com/downloads/training/tutorials50/Sketchup%20Video%20Tutorials.html
I can see the attraction of doing quick design development using this non-CAD CAD program (THEY’RE the ones that say it’s not CAD).
I’ve talked to some folks lately who have never utilized VW’s 3D capabilities and I wonder about that. I know that not everyone can haul their organization into the 3D world without some pain. Sketchup seems to be so quick and easy that it might help one develop the general form of a project while also giving the client an early peek at the design too. But then what? For me, 3D informs 2D. It isn’t the nice picture that is important, though if it helps sell the job, that’s great. Where 3D shines is in allowing you to adjust your model toward correctness. If it doesn’t go together in 3D, it will be obvious either in isometric view or via section and so can be adjusted until it is correct. This ability to adjust and fit has proven itself as it allows me to catch mistakes and also helps me to take the design a little further than I might have because I can clearly see where something doesn’t work, either structurally or aesthetically.

Since, as I said, 3D informs 2D. I build up my model in 3D volumes as soon as possible to establish floor levels, structural supports, wall-to-rafter fit and so on. This means that the client can see the project sooner--sometimes MUCH sooner, than later. Lastly, I get to proceed with the assurance of having established 3D markers that I won’t have to revisit to confirm correctness later on so this helps avoid the situation where one late change creates an unintended error someplace else. You CAN get quite a bit of Sketchup-like control using VectorWorks and in addition, be able to keep the key decision-making represented by these precise volumes and all within ONE program.

I have no doubt Sketchup will be used by more and more people but the job of getting your work right and then proceeding to finished drawings while still keeping elevations, sections and other views live throughout most of your sheets--this is where the real money is, in my opinion.

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Misc.
How do you make a section of an object in any other view than in Top Plan View? Sometimes a horizontal cut is preferred. Easy. Make a viewport of the object and turn it to the desired view using the Object Info palette. Then cut your Section Viewport FROM your viewport.
http://kbase.nemetschek.net/index.php?ToDo=view&questId=117&catId=23
I ran into trouble making a Viewport of a building which had wall components turned on (Document Settings>Document Pref’s) and there didn’t seem to be an obvious way to turn them off via the OI palette. Stretch down the palette and click on Advanced Properties and you’ll see a button that will turn off wall components.
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From an NNA Listserv poster:
To put an image on a rug:
Choose Model->Create Image Prop. Import your image file. Uncheck Constant Reflectivity and Create Plug-In Object. You can choose to create a mask or not, depending. This will create a textured rectangular 3D polygon for you, without you having to mess with sizing the polygon for the image aspect ratio and trying to get the texture mapping lined up exactly. Since it is a 3D polygon you can rotate it in 3D, like to make a rug on the floor or something. For vertically-oriented images, if you choose the Create Plug-In Object option you can later resize the polygon using OI palette.
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When you wish to type a plus-over-minus symbol such as when a dimension is variable, on a Mac, hit Shift-plus-Option-plus the + key: ± (if this didn’t translate via e-mail, it looks like a plus neatly stacked over a minus). On a PC, you have to be using a font with a plus/minus symbol already built in. I found such a font on my Windows PC called Universal Math. If I’m incorrect here, PC users, let me know.
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Ok, draw a sloping line. In the OI palette, you see by default a dimension of total height of the line and total length, but not true length. If you click on the round icon below the cross-hair icon, you’ll see the line’s true length AND degree of slope.
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Download and try Ikea’s free 3D kitchen planner. I saw a client run this during our meeting at their home. Impressive, especially for free. Perhaps Google with buy it to go with their free junior version of Sketchup.
http://www.ikea.com/ms/en_US/complete_kitchen_guide/planner_tool/download/index.html
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“Nemetschek AG acquires a 54.3% stake in Graphisoft
Budapest, 2006 December 31. - Nemetschek AG has acquired 54.3% of the 10.6 million shares in Graphisoft SE (headquartered in Budapest) at a price of EUR 9 per share. The acquisition was implemented by exercising the call option with Graphisoft shareholders agreed on December 21, 2006.”

The above was taken from ArchiCAD’s website. Apparently Nemetschek intends to follow up later on to buy greater control of the company by making a public tender offer for all remaining shares. What does this portend for VectorWorks and ArchiCAD and for AllPlan, Nemetchek’s high end CAD program? I surfed the forums of the NNA VW website, Architosh and also the forum at ArchiCAD. There, I found an interesting comment from none other than a past Seattle VW User Group Leader Geoff Briggs. who jumped ship to ArchiCAD about five years ago. (His posts follows the next few thoughts.)

AllPlan is hard to learn and has share only in Europe, I understand. VectorWorks has many more times the seats of ArchiCAD and an upgrade of ArchiCAD costs about the same as a new copy of VectorWorks. VW is easier to learn. What will happen? For the time being, likely nothing, as VW and ArchiCAD continue to grow market share. What will happen is that we will have increased momentum against AutoCad + Revit.

Here is Geoff’s post:
“A very interesting development indeed. While there are some striking similarities to Autodesk's acquisition of Revit there are just as many differences. Autodesk started out as market leader, with their goal to keep it that way. Nemetschek is an underdog looking to make a move. And a bold move they are making. They are now without question the #3 AEC vendor on the planet. They have as much hope of knocking off the top dogs as Apple has of surpassing Microsoft. But hopefully, like Apple of late, they realize that there are more ways lead than in sales.

So where does that leave us? The ink is barely dry and already speculation runs wild. But hey, why not. It's tempting to conjure all the various application merges that could ensue. But remember Nemetschek AG acquired VectorWorks and runs it as a wholly owned subsidiary. Good move on their part as VectorWorks has more users than AllPlan and ArchiCAD combined. That's not by accident. They started with a good product, added a lot of marketing and really put the screws to the little company from Maryland. Now Nemetschek NA is a pretty tight ship. They own Maxon as well, another company with a great product that does very well in an entirely different niche market. C4D [Cinema 4D] is not the rendering engine for VectorWorks, nor is AllPlan the CAD engine. So far plug-ins and co-marketing are as close as these disparate branches have grown.

Does that mean no merging of technology? I sure hope not. Like Wes, I believe something has to happen for ArchiCAD to stay in the game against the Revit juggernaut. (Revit still has plenty of flaws but with all the resources, marketing and programming, that Autodesk is throwing their way they are beginning to push BIM forward in ways that ArchiCAD has failed to do despite having the field to themselves for so long.) But I disagree that all their holdings will (or should) be brought under one roof. Wendy is right about VectorWorks, despite it's not being a true BIM application it is much easier to learn and much much cheaper than any other professional CAD app. Nemetschek will have no problem positioning it as the value leader.

The wild card is AllPlan. Powerful but hard to master. No North American presence, small market share, miniscule mind share. Does it make sense to part-out AllPlan, sending programmers and technology to Hungary? I think it does. Programmers (and cash) are what Graphisoft needs most. They have like 60 to the American's thousands. And unlike VectorWorks, AllPlan competes directly with ArchiCAD, at least in Europe where migrating their existing high profile customers to ArchiCAD would be a huge coupe. I hope their own experience with AllPlan, combined with ArchiCAD's popularity worldwide makes it clear that doing the reverse (assimilating ArchiCAD into AllPlan) would be suicide.

Of course it's not that simple. Autodesk cannot kill ADT (at least not for a while) even if they want too. Likewise NemAG may not be able to kill AllPlan without key customers deserting. And corporate cultures may clash. For the time being if they do for ArchiCAD what they did for VectorWorks that will most definitely get the ball rolling in the right direction.
_________________
Regards,
Geoff Briggs
I & I Design
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That’s all for now. See you on the 25th! (Mark your calendar!!)

Tom Greggs
Seattle VectorWorks Users Group
(206) 524-2808

PS I will follow up with a second reminder just before the 25th, if you don’t mind.

2 comments:

Marjean said...

People should read this.

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