May 08, 2006
VectorWorks Design Series Gets a Boost with Google SketchUp 3D Warehouse
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Welcome to AECWeekly! This week Nemetschek
announced their VectorWorks Design Series is compatible with content in the new Google(tm) SketchUp(r)
3D Warehouse that we reported on last week. This compatibility gives all users of VectorWorks Architect,VectorWorks Landmark, VectorWorks Spotlight, and VectorWorks Designer version 12 immediate access to the wealth of 3D content in this warehouse.

Also find out more about Archvision Discovery Viewer in this week's Industry News.

AECWeekly is a news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.

AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, People, New Products, and Upcoming Events.

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Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

VectorWorks Design Series Gets a Boost with Google SketchUp 3D Warehouse

by Susan Smith

This week Nemetschek
announced their VectorWorks Design Series is compatible with content in the new Google(tm) SketchUp(r)
3D Warehouse that we
reported on last week. This compatibility gives all users of VectorWorks Architect,VectorWorks Landmark, VectorWorks Spotlight, and VectorWorks Designer version 12 immediate access to the wealth of 3D content in this warehouse.

Sean Flaherty, CEO of Nemetschek, filled me in on this announcement:

1) It sounds like a good thing to be able to share content so widely. However, do you or your users have concern about the fact that the 3D Warehouse will become available to large numbers of people (perhaps designs will go further than the creators first intended) and if so, will you be providing some sort of privacy protection to be used with VectorWorks files viewed and incorporated with 3D Warehouse content?

SF: We do not intend any specific controls along these lines. As with any file format, VectorWorks provides the interoperability, but the use of material in the format is not restricted or controlled.

The question is a good one, however, and one that hasn't been a big deal in the CAD world up to now: what are the copyright restrictions on 3D models? If you have a model that you want to restrict the use of through agreement, the 3D Warehouse would seem like a bad place to post it.

2) What sort of content do you foresee your users wanting to access that is resident in the 3D Warehouse?

SF: VectorWorks covers a broad range of industries, so potentially all the content is interesting. As they move rapidly into 3D, our architectural users often request an entourage of models to bring a building rendering to life; this includes furniture, automobiles, decorative lights, and other items where an extremely wide variety of manufacturers and designs exist. As a CAD vendor, we offer content from many major manufacturers but might only have one symbol for specialty items like a pool table or nightstand. Sharing sites like 3D Warehouse give users a place to exchange these items in greater variety.

The biggest remaining question is whether planar, faceted models will be sufficient quality for use in more realistic rendering environments. Without NURBS surfaces, models with rounded shapes will have an artificial look if they're shown in much detail. Users will need to judge the trade-offs individually in their projects.

3) Does the acquisition of SketchUp by Google benefit Nemetschek in other ways besides this one?

SF: Not Nemetschek specifically, but I think the industry as whole benefits from the organization that a large, seemingly CAD-neutral vendor brings. DWG is a poor format for model exchange, and 3DS is popular but controlled by a CAD vendor that has a history of trying to control formats to the detriment of competition. Google doesn't seem likely to take SketchUp up market into the more traditional CAD markets, which I think will make this exchange site more popular since the established CAD vendors won't see it as a threat.

4) Will Nemetschek be developing anything specific for the Google/SketchUp platform?

SF: Our immediate plans are to continue improving the translation quality. VectorWorks Landmark has support for georeferencing that isn't yet translated. In addition, the current translator is geared towards architectural models (a popular workflow among VectorWorks/SketchUp customers), and we'll put in options to allow more control over how geometry is translated.

5) As you say, Landmark has support for georeferencing that isn't yet translated, does that mean that VectorWorks will be providing more connectivity for geospatial data in the future? How much interest is there from your users in CAD to GIS translation/conversion, or is the hope that this will be addressed to some degree with Google Maps and Earth?

SF: That statement was in reference to the fact that we don't translate our georeferenced data into a SketchUp-supported format. VectorWorks Landmark currently supports the export and import of SHP files, the current de facto standard for interchange of georeferenced information, as well as internal functionality that takes advantage of georeferencing, such as the mapping add-on Azimuth. SketchUp has also introduced a format, KML, which allows the georeferencing of 3D models and this seems like a logical extension of VectorWorks' SketchUp compatibility in the future.

More on Archvision Discovery Viewer

Last week I also
reported on Archvision Discovery Viewer and described it as a “free” viewer, then later learned that to place the models in documents using Discovery Office there was a charge of US$129.

Randall Stevens, CEO of Archivision, cleared things up for me by writing: “There is a free version of the Discovery Viewer that anyone can download in order to view a SketchUp model that has been published using our tools. This is very similar to the way Macromedia publishes tools for viewing Flash.

We offer 2 versions of the Discovery Viewer for publishing. The Discovery Viewer [Desktop] is $129 and is used to embed a SketchUp model in any Microsoft Office app that accepts ActiveX controls such as PowerPoint as well as to generate HTML code for viewing in Internet Explorer. If a PowerPoint presentation is created that incorporates a Discovery Viewer ActiveX control the recipient of the presentation would have to install the free Discovery Viewer in order to view the model.

We also offer a license for web-based serving of models to be viewed using the free Discovery Viewer. The Discovery Viewer [Server] is $499 and includes a web server license for hosting HTML docs from a web server. Purchase of the Discovery Viewer [Server] also includes a license for the Discovery Viewer [Desktop] for publishing.

You can also visit our website at for more details or to download the free viewer or a demo of the Desktop version.”


Autoweb, a data management and exchange services provider, announced that they are official gold foundation partners in the software category with UGS, a leading provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services.


iKnowledge Solutions, Inc. (iKS, formerly Cadpo) is pleased to announce nine new courses in the knowledge delivery platform. Today's releases are specific to the manufacturing and engineering design programs AutoCAD and Autodesk Inventor: AutoCAD 2007, Autodesk Inventor 10 and Autodesk Inventor 11. is the most comprehensive knowledge delivery system for multiple applications in the PLM industry.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.


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