With the launch of Vectorworks 2015 last September, we were treated to many new features and improvements of existing tools. The team at Vectorworks was hard at work, clearly, and as usual the list is long.
Among the most touted features are that the application is now “64bit” (which basically means it’s faster and more solid), has new wall tools (including curtain wall styles) and has numerous graphics, workflow & usability enhancements.
However I’d like to focus on my own personal “favourite” new features and improvements in version 2015. Readers of my previous “Best of” lists will know that these are features are not always the most flashy or highly advertised ones, but they are usually very valuable ones for day-to-day use. Sometimes they are obvious evolutions of existing tools, and sometimes they are new features that fill a need that previously required workarounds or concessions.
Now, I’m sure that different features will appeal to different people, depending on how they work and what they do with the application. For me, these are my top 5 features – so far – given how I work.
I am sure more favourites will appear as I continue to use the new version, but here is my list thus far:
A render mode option when switching from Top/Plan to a 3D view
I simply love this. Basically, the moment you switch from Top/Plan view to a 3D view, either via a default number keypad shortcut or the Flyover tool, your 2D view can switch to OpenGL (instead of wireframe) if you wish. This means that you can work in a clean, familiar Top/Plan view and then quickly move to a 3D view that lets you see how your model is really looks. You can actually see the model with solid walls & shapes, rather than as a complex-looking “see-through” wireframe model.
3D surface hatches for Hidden Line renderings
Finally you can have a LIVE black & white surface hatch on any 3D object. This means that you no longer have to add hatching in the “annotation space” of a viewport… OR have to change it whenever the shape or features of the building’s elevation changes. Typically a 3D surface hatch would be the black & white component of a Renderworks texture, but you can also use a 3D surface hatch without any associated Renderworks texture. As a nice bonus, many of the default textures have been updated to already include their own 3D surface hatch. Never fear though… if your favourite Renderworks texture doesn’t currently have a 3D surface hatch, it is very easy to add one!
Classes can now be set to be shown as non-hierarchical
This might seem like a minor change, yet it’s still a great enhancement when using classes and keeping your drawing organized. Quite simply, when the file’s list of classes is shown with hierarchical display OFF, you will see a single, long list of classes. This can be handy for seeing all the classes in a drawing file at once; or if you are new to using classes and would like to see all of the classes you get to choose from in one single list. Personally, since I uses classes quite often (as I want to have great-looking and versatile drawing files) I find it faster to show classes in the hierarchical display. This way, my top level classes form the main list, and any nested classes drop-down and to the right from the main list. This approach keeps my main list relatively short, and much easier to view at a single glance.
Assigning Layers & Classes to Objects
Assigning layers and classes to objects can now be done to objects that you have already drawn, by selecting the object, then right-clicking on the layer/class and choosing “Assign to Selection”. The use of classes can be extremely important in controlling how your drawings look and function, through all stages of a project. Ensuring that objects are on the correct classes is very important. This option gives you one more tool to keep your drawing sorted, and your objects appearing as you desire.
Cropping of imported PDFs
I am sure that you are often provided with a PDF image of materials that you need to refer to while creating a new file, or that you need to include in your new file. Previously, you had to “crop” out parts of the PDF you didn’t want to see, using white filled “masks”. Now you can crop a PDF in the same way that you already could with an imported bitmap/image.
Descriptions for Layers, Classes and Sheet Layers
Here is my bonus 6th favourite new feature! Descriptions can now be written for layers, classes & sheet layers (so others can know what each is for, or if a project simply requires the info. In addition, this information shows up as a tooltip! This capability is incredibly handy for when several users are handling a single file, or when a project is developing over time (and with many options). Case in point: I recently started into a project on a large site. At the schematic design stage, the client kept asking for new options to be produced. Each time I created a new option layer, I could enter a description of why that new option was being explored (i.e. “To maximize square footage balanced with parking requirements” or “To maximize daylighting to interior spaces”). Having such a description built right into a Vectorworks file will avoid trying to keep design rationale such as this in a separate file, or in a text block just sitting on the layer – meaning that future users of the file will understand the rationale.
© Neil Barman Intern Architect AIBC
Do you want to learn more about these and other great new features? Paxar would love to help. Get in touch to find out how we can help you with training to work smarter and become more productive with Vectorworks.
And, if you’ve been using version 2015 for a while, what are your favourite new features? Add a comment below and let us know!