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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Award-winning Vectorworks Nomad Offers Video Game-like Navigation and More

July 23rd, 2015 by Susan Smith

Vectorworks Nomad received a “BEST OF SHOW” award in the Mobile category from Architosh Magazine’s Annual Awards at the American Institute of Architects Convention (AIA) 2015 held in Atlanta this year.

Vectorworks Nomad

Vectorworks Nomad

According to Donne Martin, cloud/mobile technologies manager for Vectorworks Cloud Services, Nomad is the company’s mobile app available on iOS and Android.

The iOS version is available in both 2D and 3D, and the Android is still only available in 2D but the company plans on catching that version up in 3D. As Vectorworks has a lot of iOS users, this strategy has made sense for them.

Nomad is a companion app to Vectorworks, and you do need Vectorworks software to generate the 3D and 2D models that you see in Nomad. “It’s running the same graphics engine – the Vectorworks Graphics Module that Vectorworks Desktop is running, just on a mobile device,” said Martin.

As the Vectorworks Desktop graphics and modeling capabilities improve, the mobile device gets those features as well.

Markup in Vectorworks Nomad

Markup in Vectorworks Nomad

Vectorworks Cloud Services is the umbrella that holds a number of services, including being able to access your Vectorworks documents wherever you are, with your mobile device. It also is valuable with decoupling inefficient workflows, shifting calculations for generating sections, elevations and renderings, and BIM data from desktop to the cloud.

Nomad was brought to market as a document viewer and annotator based on PDFs generated from Vectorworks in the cloud. This easy to use simple offering was made to make entry for customers into the mobile app simple, and to garner initial feedback in order to hone the mobile app. In the past year Nomad on iOS has been quickly evolving based on this customer feedback.

Vectorworks plans on getting the two apps to the point of having the same feature set and developed simultaneously, where support is available for both as on the desktop where Windows and Mac are supported equally.

With Nomad, you begin with a Vectorworks (VWX) file and once you place that in your Cloud Services folder, it is imported to the cloud. Once it’s in the cloud it will do the remote rendering and start to update elements of your document that need to be updated and recalculated in whatever render mode you set. Once it’s done it generates two outputs – one is a PDF and the second one is a Vectorworks Graphics Module (VGM) file.

Nomad on the iPad

Nomad on the iPad

“It’s a lighter version than the Vectorworks document,” said Martin. “The Vectorworks document can be pretty large depending on what’s in it, and can’t be loaded on a smaller device.”

VGM is the same rendering engine that powers the desktop and the same that powers Nomad on the mobile side. “The VGM file is actually what’s opened up on your device when you’re viewing a 3D model,” said Martin.

Vectorworks Nomad  “gained a lot more power when the Vectorworks Graphics Module (VGM) technology was ported to the iOS environment, powering its new game-like 3D navigation with excellent rendering capacity,” said Frausto-Robledo. “This added much to an already solid cloud-driven solution that allows for dissemination of information, mark-up and round-tripping information back to the CAD/BIM environment.”

Martin said they see two main purposes for their users of Nomad now:

  1. Visualization – For visualizing model to clients or colleagues. For quick looks there are some markup tools as well, and you can send notes to someone in the office. There is not yet support for markup in 3D, but most people use the app for visualization.
  2. PDF generation

PDF generation has the customary gestures such as swipe, finger movements to move around the page, turn the page, pinch gestures to zoom, tap onscreen to get to toolbar if you want to draw some markups.

On the 3D side there are gesture-based flyover and walkthrough features. Flyover allows you to rotate the model about a fixed point. Walkthrough simulates what you see on a video game, with the joystick type navigation movements that are so popular.

“Our focus is to beef up our 3D viewing and eventually unify the 2D and 3D viewing,” said Martin. “We’re starting to roll out more and more features based on visualization. What you see in the navigation palette in Vectorworks, where you’re able to toggle visibilities of layers and classes and different views and jump to different cameras and turn lights on and off, is where we’re targeting.”

Martin predicts that people may begin to prefer Nomad as their viewer and as a visualization tool for sharing design information with architects and colleagues, and for presenting design models that truly can excite their clients.

From company materials:
Key Features of Nomad:

  • Interact with a native iOS application that supports common touch gestures
  • View all exported files through your iOS device
  • Email the exported files to interested parties from your iOS device
  • Create markups with Text, Freehand, Oval, Rectangle, and Line tools
  • Take measurements easily using the Tape Measure tool

Cloud Services Benefits

  • Access Anywhere: access your Vectorworks documents wherever you are—whenever you need them—with your mobile device. The Vectorworks Nomad app gives you more freedom not only to share files, but also to make design decisions from any location.
  • Compute in the Cloud: Vectorworks Cloud Services uses cloud technology to automate and decouple inefficient workflows, shifting calculations needed to generate sections, elevations, renderings, and Building Information Modeling (BIM) data from the desktop to the cloud.
  • Store: Store your files in the cloud and access them anytime and anywhere with up to 5GB of free storage for Vectorworks Service Select subscribers. Changes you make to Vectorworks files at your desktop are automatically synchronized to your private cloud library, allowing you to browse and share your latest designs from any web-enabled device.

Vectorworks Cloud Services Desktop App:

Vectorworks Cloud Services saves time by freeing up desktop computing power. Creating client presentations with desktop-design software often requires a significant amount of user investment to coordinate, monitor, and wait while resources consume the desktop CPU. Vectorworks Cloud Services shifts calculations needed to generate sections, elevations, renderings, and BIM data to the cloud.

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Categories: 2D, 3D, 3D PDF, Adobe, AEC, AECCafe, AIA Convention 2015, architecture, BIM, building information modeling, Cloud, collaboration, construction, infrastructure, mobile, Nemetschek, rendering, sustainable design, Vectorworks, video

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