September 19, 2011
Building and Site Design in One Application
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Building and Site Design in One Application

By Susan Smith


Automatic working plane


Nemetschek’s Vectorworks 2012 bears the theme “Accelerate your design,” which translates to simplifying processes that are tedious and time consuming for users.   Some years ago, Vectorworks announced the addition of the Parasolid modeling kernel to their product line, and now that 3D modeling kernel has been incorporated into Vectorworks 2012. In addition, 100 features have been added to the release.

In the past year the subscription service Vectorworks Service Select has been added to the product line. Initially introduced with partners in Germany and Switzerland, the service was introduced last year in the U.S. and additional European companies like Belgium and the Netherlands.  “It’s been a major advancement for us,” Jeremy Powell, director of Product Marketing, pointed out. “We introduced an optional service so we still maintain you can upgrade from any version policy.” Service is optional but gives a lot of added value including free updates to software, training, and higher level of support for customers.

Since its introduction 25 years ago, Nemetschek Vectorworks has always been available on the Mac platform in the CAD market. Notable is the fact that in the past two years, competitors such as Autodesk have come back to the Mac platform. Nemetschek has been offering cross platform licensing for a number of years now and closely follows the trends of what operating systems people use Vectorworks on. “In the past year we have seen a 17% increase in customers choosing Vectorworks Mac for their platform,” said Powell. As expected, Vectorworks 2012 is going to be fully compatible with OS X Lion.

Building information modeling has been a focus of Vectorworks for many years and continues to be so. The product offers support for the Open BIM IFC file format and offers BIM specifically for architects.

With regard to BIM and GIS, Vectorworks integrates the building and site into a single application. With Vectorworks Designer there is the ability to very easily integrate all the building information along with the site information, which includes powerful new GIS capabilities.

The main focus for Vectorworks is the AEC industry as well as entertainment, design and landscaping. Nemetschek is seeing that companies are returning to reinvesting in technology and skills, evidenced by their U.S. sales which climbed up over 40% over last year, with similar gains noted in global markets.


Optimized 3D dimensions


In the area of 3D, functionality such as automatic working planes, has been added, and for example, instant push pull and 3D dimensioning. This is very similar to what users are familiar with in SketchUp. “As you mouse over objects, the software is intelligently acquiring the working planes that you might want to model something on,” said Powell.  “The same with instant push pull and dimensioning -- it’s very intuitive for our users. We have also added a big feature called Stories that allows users to dynamically link design layers in reference layers to named storage elevations. Multiple layers in an architectural design can be attached to a story, so when
adjustments are made to the building model, things like walls, slabs, columns and stairs all adjust accordingly, based on the story adjustment.”

They have also added a series of other important architectural features related to delivering better intelligence for the building model and making some design challenges very simple. Complex wall joints based off the actual construction components of the wall, new window and door window capabilities to allow a more global reach for the tools so you can do custom offsets in your window sashes, and stairs in particular give customers the ability to model intelligently how stairs link from floor to floor.

Last year Vectorworks integrated the Cinema 4D rendering engine as the driving force behind Renderworks integrated renderer that you get with Vectorworks.


Unified shape tool


“We’ve added the new release compatible with the latest release of Cinema 4D and we’ve added features that speed up processes – favorite Renderworks Styles which allows our customers to easily create resources that are sharable either in a document or across an entire office. Resources can have predefined lighting and render settings that can be dragged and dropped onto a model to get the rendered result,” said Powell.

This is very useful for firms with only one or two people doing visualization – anybody in the office can drag and drop rendering styles.

In the Vectorworks Design Series a feature called heliodon allows you to select a city and get accurate solar data. You can interactively work with an heliodon object to create solar studies and solar animation. A long list of cities is already programmed in and can be added to.

Usability features usually are wish list items from customers. “Features that stay true to our theme of accelerating our design process,” said Powell, “such as 2D xray mode - a great addition that allows people to press a key on the keyboard and see behind objects so that they can select and modify them. There are a lot of scenarios in the design process where that becomes useful. We also have features like drawing hidden line intersection edges which is great for elevation sections, also something simple like new working background options which allow users to set a color for their standard views, which means they can easily identify what kind of view they’re in
at any given moment.”

The GIS functionality in Vectorworks allows you to store georeferenced information on Vectorworks design layers as well as allows you to transform geometry to a different map projection and also a georeferenced coordinate system.  Other added improvements like shapefiles and import/export function round out the offering.

All the mechanical capabilities of the former product MachineDesign have been included in Vectorworks Architect, Landmark and Spotlight. The reason for this is that mechanical is no longer a core market of interest for the company.

Luis Ruiz, architectural industry specialist, gave a demonstration of Vectorworks 2012 showing the BIM features and snapping to an object behind another object. He also showed the ability to switch from a 3D model view to an isometric view, to get values faster, and how the 3D modeling kernel is integrated into the product.

Biplab Sarker, CTO, demonstrated the  push/pull tools and some of the architectural features like using walls and windows. He said that 2D/3D integration is one integration now with one single cursor for both.  The reshape tool can be used by doubleclicking on a 2D object and it will reshape the 3D object. All the user needs to do is click on the object, select the polygon, and see how all the control points happen. “The cursor knows for instance, it’s about to create a push/pull on that 3D object,” said Sarkar. “Before we had an intercept and now we see it in one single place.”

With one drag, you can reshape NURBS curves with great precision and control by moving individual or multiple vertices.

Another feature, Stories has the ability to create different stories for a multi-story building. Each one can contain an amount of layers, that have slab, stairs, walls, drop ceiling, etc. “The use of stories applies really well to multi-level buildings, so it’s not just for a house,” said Sarkar. “If you’re working on a project it’s a way to find coordination. It’s not about creating the model, it’s about getting ready to respond to changes.”

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