Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If you have this situation where the walls cross over, you can use the wall join tool to join them.

Go to the Walls, or Building tool set.

Choose the wall join tool.

Go to the tool bar.

Click on the third mode, X-Join mode.

Click on the first wall.

Click on the second wall.

Walls are joined.

This shows the wall join with Vectorworks 2010, where Vectorworks is told which part of the wall is the structural core, so the cores automatically join.

If you are using Vectorworks 2009, or earlier, you will have to use the Component Join tool to join the wall components together.

After writing this I realized that I have covered this topic in the Vector-workout Guide to Productivity

Monday, December 28, 2009

Vectorworks Manuals Available at Bookstore

It was pointed out to me the other day that nearly all the Vectorworks manuals are available at the Amazon online bookstore.

I normally recommend supporting you local distributor or reseller, and I still do. If they have the Vectorworks manuals, then pay a little extra and support the local guy, so that they are there when you need them for support.

If you are trying to find good Vectorworks manuals and the local distributor is not keeping the manuals in stock, that can create a long delay for you, while they order the manuals and get them shipped to you. The local distributor in each country should be keeping the manuals in stock. So, if they are making it hard for you to buy the Vectorworks manuals, you have another solution, get them from

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Jonathan Pickup’s December Newsletter

As we head to the end of the year, many people look at the past year and try improve for next year. The beginning of a new year is always a good time to look at your business, to set goals, and to look at things you can do better. I'm a big fan of goal setting, it really helps to focus your efforts on the important parts of your life and your business.

In his amazing book, "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People", Steven R. Covey says that habit number two is to start with the end in mind. So if you set goals for the year, you are starting with the end in mind and then it becomes easier to get where you want.

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it's time to finish of the work due by the end of the year. Then, it's time to plan next year. Plan to spend some time on your business, getting it ready for a productive year. This doesn't mean you have to spend money on your business, just spend some time on it. Look at marketing your business with facebook, myspace and twitter. Look at your Vectorworks and update, sort out and manage your resources. This can save you an hour a day if you sort them out correctly. What would you do with an extra five hours a week? What could you do with 20 extra hours a month?


Get ready for a better, faster way of learning some areas of Vectorworks. If you don't like reading much, then Vector-workout is for you. If just want to get straight into the movies, with out all the words, then Vector-workout is for you. If you are looking for a training resource that makes it easy to dip into, then Vector-workout is for you.

Check out this site:

Short sharp training

This month the short sharp training will be looking at Best Practice for Importing and Exporting DXG/DWG files. There are times where you can't avoid working with consultants and other CAD users that do not use Vectorworks. In these cases, you need to share information with DXF/DWG. What is the best practice to make it run smoothly?

If you have ever had trouble importing DXF/DWG files, if you have had trouble scaling, or if you are scared of working with DXF or DWG files, this session is for you.

For more information, visit this web site:

Monday, November 30, 2009

How Productive Could You Be?

I often meet clients that are not aware of how powerful Vectorworks is. When I show them some productivity techniques, they are amazed at the time savings. The problem is, until I show the clients what they are missing, they have no idea that the tools or techniques are available. When you don’t know something, it’s really hard to ask for help on it.

So, here is a list of things that you should know if you want to Vectorworks effectively and if you want save yourself a lot of time. Ask yourself if you know all about these techniques listed below. If you have heard about these but don’t know much about them, you need to attend training, or buy my productivity manual, if you have not heard about these, then you REALLY need to attend training and buy my productivity guide.

  1. Do you know the best practice for importing and exporting DXF/DWG files?
  2. Do you know that you can use the 2D Reshape tool for all path-based objects?
  3. What is it about the Select Similar (magic wand) tool that makes it so useful?
  4. Do you know how to use Duplicate Array and have Vectorworks calculate the spacing?
  5. Do you know how to create and manage symbols for your office library?
  6. Do you know what snaps (constraints) are for?
  7. Do you know how to create and manage hatches, images and gradients?
  8. Do you know how to create and use a layer and class standard, do you know what a layer and class is?
  9. Do you ever have troublesome walls?
  10. Ever have trouble dealing with roofs?
  11. Do you know how to create and manage viewports on sheet layers.
  12. Do you know how to create and manage viewports on design layers.
  13. Do you know how to use and manage the Callout tool?
  14. Do you know how to use all the annotation tools?
  15. Do you have trouble with the Resource Browser?
  16. Do you know how to use site modeling to create a solar study?
  17. Do you know what the Snap Loupe is?
  18. When should you use the Rotate Plan?
  19. Do you know how to customize Vectorworks to make it work the way you want?

“Jon-I've been going through the productivity workout and it's fantastic!” - William (MA).

There are about 124 movies in the guide, and you can see what’s in the guide by looking at this web site:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Vectorworks 2010 Review by John Helm

Vectorworks 2010

Review by John Helm

Architect with Helm & Melacini Architects


My first thought on writing a review of an update to an existing CAD program is that the readers of the review won’t just be those already dedicated to the program and wanting to know if the upgrade is worth the expense and time to learn new features, but they might also be those looking to change programs or even those architects and others just starting out in their use of CAD. So I’ll first address some issues regarding the choice of which program or programs one might use. I’m also limiting most of my comments to the use of a program by an architect because that’s what I am and it’s what I know.

My approach to the use of the computer is that it should be a tool that makes ones work easier and allows one to be more productive and more creative. An Architect should be able to focus his or her attention on the business of being an architect and as not have to spend months or even weeks to learn to use a new tool. I also believe that in an office there should not be a huge separation between those who know how to use the most important tools in the office, for example the CAD program, and those who don’t.

This brings me to what I consider the most important factors in choosing a CAD program. That is that the program should be easy to learn, intuitive, and available to everyone working on any particular project. It should be available and easy enough to use that the principals, who don’t have a lot of time to spend getting competent on a CAD program, as well as the drafters are able to learn it and use it. And in short it brings me to why I selected a program like Vectorworks some 15 years ago. I can’t really comment on other programs which may or may not do the same things as Vectorworks because I only have second hand information on them and only a limited use of the most popular program Autocad. I should also mention that in order to fit the above criteria one should not have to use several programs to accomplish the goal of producing a drawing or drawing set containing 2D, 3D, text and pictures. That increases the time to learn, adds too many layers of complexity and creates inefficiency in the office.

Here is where we get to my choice of Vectorworks (VW). From the standpoint of graphics it can be a one stop shop, for an architectural office. It’s a design tool, a production tool and a rendering tool that can also be used for most of the graphic layouts an architect might need. The learning curve is short and the way of working with it is from my experience the way architects work.

VW is a complex program and to take advantage of its many features does take some time. But if one is at all competent in using a computer, familiar with Mac or PC graphics programs, word processing, etc. one will find many of the same commands, and procedures. So it presents a familiar face in a way. Starting out just using the basics is simple enough and gives one a feeling of confidence that moving beyond the basics can’t be that hard.

pastedGraphic.pdf Rendered Site Plans

Design can be done all in 3D and those 3D drawings will be or can be the same drawings that become the 2D drawings making up the production drawing set. Client presentations can be rendered printouts, animations, walk-throughs, or even real time views of a 3D model taken on one’s laptop to a client meeting. And if one needs to do a graphic presentation, a competition board for example, pictures, text, 2D and 3D drawings can all composed and printed right in the program.


Create almost anything

In other words, why burden yourself and your office with half a dozen programs when one will do it all. Yes there are other programs that will do some of the individual parts as well or better, but VW can compete with most of them and the results are more than adequate for the majority of what we do as architects.


Complex Models

I’ll talk for a minute about how VW works. Initially we set up a project file entering basic information about floor heights, wall heights, roof etc. Then we set up basic project parameters, dimension style, meters or feet, things like that and then from a drop menu we select the various sheets of drawings needed. That would be for example floor plans, site plans, elevations and so on. We don’t have to do this in any order and they can be changed later. But by doing this the program does a lot of the work of preparing the drawing set for us. We draw on design layers, we put things like electrical outlets, and windows in classes that can be turned on or off as needed. We use the layers as overlays to create various drawings. Drawings are then transferred though viewports to sheets for the final composition of sheets of drawings to be printed. All of this is done in one file which saves a lot of confusion and makes things simpler. If more than one person needs to work on a drawing set, this can be done through the use of references to other drawings called referenced viewports. When drawing a building plan we draw walls, not just lines, that have characteristics such as height, thickness, and finishes, which means that as we draw the 2D plan we are at the same time creating a 3D model. I can go on here but this isn’t an instruction manual it’s just a brief idea of how the program works.

Finally one thing I always hear is, well we had to choose the program our consultants use or that everyone else uses. To this I say who’s in charge here, the architect or the consultants. And do you really want to burden yourself with an inefficient program just because most everyone else is using it. Why not get a step ahead and increase your bottom line with greater efficiency. And of course you can also convert your VW drawings to a format useable by your consultants so it’s not such a big issue anyway.


Paste up Graphics


Construction documents with plans, elevations and renderings.

Note that the renderings and plans show above were all done in our office using various previous versions of VW.


Before moving on to the details of the latest version we might discuss the reasons why one would want to upgrade from previous versions. I’ve already recommended VW as a good choice or even the best choice, so if you are not already into CAD the choice is easy; buy the latest version. But if you’ve been using the program for a while then of course there ought to be good reasons to spend the money to upgrade. From a purely economic standpoint I think there are two factors to consider. Will the new version save you time, meaning money, and do you have enough cash flow during the current slow down to justify the extra expense. Only you can answer the later question except that you may justify the expense by considering the time to learn new features and the fact that if work is slow you have the time to do it. For the first factor I will discuss some features that are in the new version that I believe will more than justify the purchase by time saved. It’s interesting to note that some of the most significant time savers are perhaps the least note worthy in terms of technical development or progress.

As an example of what may be a simple change (not being a programmer I admit I don’t know how simple this was technically) is the ability to change the origin, the rotation and scale of a hatch. On a recent plaza project in Italy we had a variety of hatches all at various angles and scales. We also needed to use the hatches in the detail drawings. And the project underwent numerous changes in the pattern layouts. As a result hatches were not associated; every hatch had to be redone for each area and each change which was a several step process requiring significant time. Most of this time will be saved in the new version. But I am disappointed that they haven’t made a way to make hatches three dimensional. This would be very useful since as it is now one must copy the area hatched and then add a texture to make it show up in a 3D rendering.

Once you get used to using the dimension constraint manager it can save time and also potential mistakes. Walls can be moved and their dimensions update automatically. You can also change the dimension and the wall itself moves, while at the same time the other dimensions in a string of dimensions also changes, as does the overall dimension. One overall dimension changed and not forgotten as often happens when doing it manually might be worth the cost of the upgrade by itself. You can also lock a dimension and its associated walls so that it can not be easily changed. This would be very useful for those areas like hallways where minimum dimensions must be maintained. Also one can save time in layout and design when starting a new project. Walls can be placed in their approximate location and easily adjusted later, with adjacent walls updating automatically.

I think another big time saver will be the unified view tool which replaces the old stacked layers tool. If you do a lot of 3D modeling then this is big. Basically a unified view can be a model of the complete project. From this view one can access any layer, and modify objects while in a 3D view. There is no need to constantly switch back and forth from a model view to a design layer to elevations views etc. It can all be done within a single unified view just switching between 3D, plan and elevations views.

In place reference editing can be a time saver but it depends a lot on how one uses the program. It does not allow one to change referenced drawing files it only works on referenced resources. I think this might be a big help in coordinating drawings on a large project and also on say an apartment project one might turn individual apartment plans into symbols which could be referenced from a master file and changed as needed.

There are several other features which when added together will allow additional time savings. In viewport crops one can now see the entire drawing so there is no more guessing about where to put the crop lines. I like the find resource capability, as I seem to spend lots of time finding symbols and other resources that seem to get placed most anywhere. There is a new connect combine tool for multiple objects. The automatic coordination of sheet numbers seems pretty cool. Sheet numbers are coordinated with drawing numbers and updated automatically if changed in one instance.

So my answer to the first question of economics is a pretty strong, it’s worth it. Now what about some of the other changes and new or revised features?

Here I see a lot of good stuff. And I don’t see anything changed for the worse, (a very important feature) but I do find some of the changes or new features somewhat of a work in progress. For example file referencing has been updated. From my testing of this feature, I see that it works pretty well in 2D but in 3D it seems unpredictable. I tried to reference a floor plan onto a site plan in one case in the same file so it could be rotated. It showed up fine in a 2D view but when I switched to a 3D view the referenced floor plan disappeared. Another interesting thing is that when I referenced the same floor plan to the site plan in another file the same thing happened but also curiously when I turned off unified view and set it to active layer only, then changed to an isometric view, the dimension text showed up on the 3D view. That is a good feature but one that is not supposed to happen. I suspect that part of the problems I’ve had here are due to a lack of computing power, graphic card issues or not enough ram to handle larger complex models. I have seen it work fine on a much simpler model than the one I made. I see the new planar graphics feature as a work in progress as well. It would be much more useful if one could also project text and dimension callouts in 3D. But the ability to see a 2D site plan for example with a 3D model placed on it is very useful. The active layer plane and screen plane views will take some getting used to and I’m guessing a bit of swearing. The good news is that items made in one can be changed to the other with one mouse click. This is one place where the new “magic wand” or select similar tool can be very useful. You select the parameters from a list then click on one instance and all similar items are automatically selected. The problem I have had with this is that I could not get it to select dimensions. I had to revert to the old custom selection tool. It may just be that I don’t know how to use it properly or that it’s not intuitive enough – isn’t that a great excuse for not knowing how to do something.

The wall sculpting tool is useful. I was more excited about it before I tried it. But I still like it. I thought one could stretch the sides of a wall to, for example, fit it to some of the old odd shaped walls one finds in remodels. That can be done but one has to build a 3D object and then combine it with the wall rather than change the wall itself. The result is the same. So far the new stair tool seems great. One has many more options as to how the stair will be constructed. But on my first try, making a spiral stair it placed the railing across the upper end of the stair. I haven’t yet figured out how to remove it, but there must be a way. Corner windows are a nice little feature that I have wanted many times. Cutting holes in walls has gotten much easier.

One thing that I think we worry about is how well our old drawing files will convert when opened in the latest version. So far I can see no problem here. I have opened up some fairly complicated version 2008 files without any problems. In fact I was pleased to see some tree symbols updated and looking much more photo like. There also seems to be a decent increase in rendering speed.

Renderworks is one of the most important aspects of the program at least in the way I use it. There have not been a lot of changes but the ones that have been made are important. They have improved texture mapping and one can put one or more textures on top of each other to create labeling, signage and layered material effects.

Finally I think it’s important to address the issue of being able to transfer files to consultants and clients who need them in a format usable by Autocad. So the question is does this upgrade make that easier. The answer is a qualified yes. One can batch export several sheet layers as individual files which when viewed in Autocad present themselves as formatted sheets that I believe could be printed easily. The problem is that all the VW layers are stacked on top of each other so sorting them out for the Autocad drafter could be difficult. The other option is to export VW saved views. This seems to be a practical option if one needs to send say a floor plan to a consultant. The resulting dwg file looks pretty clean.

There are many other changes and additions that can best be reviewed by looking at the list on the VW website. For example working planes are much easier to access, 3D snapping is improved and so it’s easier to select, modify and align objects in 3D.

Overall this is very much a useful and worthwhile upgrade. There are enough time saving features to justify the cost. And the other improvements will just make one’s working life more pleasant. That is of course after one learns to use them and gets over habits and work around’s used in past versions.

If you are considering updating or purchasing Vectorworks I would suggest having a look at the videos
on the VW website,
Jonathan Pickup’s website

and his videos on Youtube
and you can have a look at many 3D models I’ve created on my website

Finally here is a bit of a disclaimer. I have tried to write an honest appraisal, but I will admit to wishing there were more users of the program I use in my practice because that would make it easier to work with consultants and to find employees who are already trained in using it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What Should a Vectorworks User Group Be?

I have run the Vectorworks user group in New Zealand for several years. For the past 3 years I've run the user group online, with a specific structure, known topics and an electronic manual each month. You can see an example of this on this web site.

This site spells out my ideas for a user group, but when I talk to others, they say that a user group should have more interaction, that it shouldn't be so structured and it should be more about sharing information and tips and tricks. When we started a user group in New Zealand, it was just like that. But the problem I noticed was that some people use the user for learning and not for sharing, or you would get users talking about esoteric topics and beginners would feel left out and they would never come again.

User groups have to teach a beginner something useful at a basic level to help them make them into regular Vectorworks users, regular users need to know more about how to complete specific tasks, and power users learn something. My user group meetings try to follow this structure each month, so everyone take away something from the meeting. There is time for feedback, and sharing tips and tricks, but having a specific topic helps to focus those tips and tricks. Even online I try to get people to share.

Many of my subscribers have been in from the first year. And still they love to come and learn something. I hear that people really respond to the notes I write. This month, I’ve just finished off the notes for my user group. I wanted to cover Annotation, and it has turned into a 35 page manual about annotation. This is typical of my monthly manuals, they cover a huge amount. Luckily, the 35 pages is mainly taken up with screen shots, not words. If you have ever seen my manuals you will know that I like to fill them with pictures and movies, not words. Anyway, back to the users, they keep the manuals, which can be printed, and refer to them again and again. In a multi-person office, the notes get sent around to everyone that needs them.

Writing notes is not easy for most user group leaders, it takes a lot of time that they do not get paid for. Since I write so much, is there anything I can do to help other user group leaders?

I think it should be easier to start a user group, and I'm looking for way to make it easier. I think there should be user groups in every major city, with some of the big cities have 2 or more user groups. I have all the resources need to run a user group. For example, look at the list of topics on this page I have manuals for each topic. If you had access to all these topics, wouldn’t it be easier to start a user group. NNA helps out with suggestions on getting started and will help you find people in your area to attend

If you are intersested, contact me

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

New Vectorworks Community - Vectorworking

Personal Invitation

Join VectorWorking

the New Online Community

for Architects, Landscape & Lighting Designers

Novedge is the proud host of a new online social community for all users and enthusiasts of Nemetschek Vectorworks, with user groups dedicated to each Vectorworks version and complementary products. The new community, called VectorWorking, hosts videos, tutorials, tips & tricks, and provides a unique environment where Vectorworks users can meet, share experiences, and learn from each other.

We welcome you to join this new community and connect with other designers and professionals. Membership is free and your privacy will be strongly protected.

Join VectorWorking Now!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

archoncad November Newsletter

Top 5 Training Tips


  1. Take the attitude that training is really employee development. That will help you think more strategically about what your employees need to learn.
  2. Recognize that formal training programs are only part of the picture. Most real training occurs on the job.
  3. Help employees develop problem-solving skills and the ability to think by giving them work that will stretch them.
  4. Set an example. Your own pleasant attitude and good work habits will influence your workers.
  5. Understand that when you give employees an opportunity to grow, their job satisfaction and your ability to retain them as employees both increase substantially.



One of the best ways to get started with Vectorworks is to attend course, but why attend one of my online courses? The answer is that my courses are different. You learn in small chunks. Each session is one hour long, just long enough to learn a lot, not so long that you can't keep up. Each session has a maximum of four users, and usually no more that three. This means you get individual attendion. Learning online seems strange to many people, but it works very well. You can see my screen and hear me, and, if you want, I can watch your sceeen. This lets me watch you carry out a task and correct you if you make a mistake. Each session has homework, so you practice. this is so important. Those that practice really make fantastic progress. You have two sessions each week, so there is time to practice.

There are courses on a range of topics, for more information please visit this web site:


If you haven't seen Vector-workout, then get ready for a better, faster way of learning some areas of Vectorworks. If you don't like reading much, then Vector-workout is for you. If just want to get straight into the movies, with out all the words, then Vector-workout is for you. If you are looking for a training resource that makes it easy to dip into, then Vector-workout is for you.

At present we have 2 titles avalable under the Vector-workout banner. Both titles cover the same area of Vectorworks, one is written for Vectorworks 2009 and the other for Vectorworks 2010. The titles are called Introduction to Building Infromation Modeling (BIM) and they focus on changing your workflow from 2D drawings only to creating a 3D model with additional data, and using that to create your drawings and schedules. This is an import area of change for Vectorworks users. There is a lot of talk about BIM and what it can do. This is the guide you need if you are not using viewports, live elevations, live sections and worksheets. Order your manual from this site:

Coming in mid-November is a new title called the Vector-workout Guide to Productivity. This resource has all the tips and tricks I have been teaching for the five years, in one convenient place. With over 120 movies, you will find several new techniques that will save you time and effort. I strongly believe you wiill save 15-30 mins a day by following these techniques. That may not sound much, but at 15 minutes a day, you will save 1.25 hrs a week, 5 hours a month. If you want to make more money using Vectorworks get this manual, in two weeks you will re-pay your investment.

Normally, I don't talk about upcomming manuals, but this time I thought it's time to try a new technique, a pre-release sale. If you order now, before the release, you will get a 25% discount. Visit this site for more information:


NNA announced the release of the second edition of the essential turorial and the architect tutorial manuals. These have been updated got vectorworks 2010. Many of the screen shots have been updated and all the movies have been remade. We have also added file formats for vectorworks 2008 and 2009 to enable users with older versions of vectorworks to use these manuals.

For more information, visit this web site:

I have just finished the updates to the Landmark Tutorial manual and the 3D Modeling manual to bring them up to Vectorworks 2010. The landmark manual has a new park exercise that I have been using with my online course. This exercise bring together simple drawing techniques to create a quick landscape plan. The 3D Modeling manual has updated and I have added new exercices on working planes and creating contours. I expect to see NNA announcing these manuals before the end of the month.

Short Sharp Training

This month the short sharp training will be looking at annotation. Without notes and dimensions, your drawings are pretty sad, so this is an important topic. Creating text and a dimension is pretty straight forward, but there are really good ways to control text and dimensions to make sure your drawings look the way you want then too. Then there are the specialist annotation tools like the drawing labels, title blocks, elevation benchmarks and my personal favorite, the callout tool.

There is one free session available, limited to 10 people, with no question and answer time. Subscribers, you have the choice of three sessions to attend, at different times to suit various time zones. You also have more time for questions and don't forget to download your written notes with linked movies.

Users report that even when they know Vectorworks really well, they still learn soemthing from me every month. Even if you learn a small trick that saves you a minute each day, that works out to be a big saving each year. You should subscribe for 6 months, you will re-pay your investment many times over with the skills and techniques you learn.

For more information, visit this web site:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vector-workout Guide to Productivity

For a long time I have been collecting tips and tricks for Vectorworks. Many of these have made their way into my Short Sharp Training (monthly). But there has not been a single place to find all my tips and tricks before. Finally, here it is, all my productivity tips and tricks in one place.

How would you like to be efficient and productive with Vectorworks? Would you like to have a library of movies that shows you the best way to use Vectorworks? Would you like a library of movies that shows you how to solve problems with Vectorworks?

Here it is, the Vectorworks Guide to Productivity 2009. This is the ultimate productivity guide. This is a collection of all my tips and tricks. I have designed this guide for people that can use Vectorworks to a basic level, but want to be really effective. So, you might find there are really basic topics here, and really advanced topics. I have included several basic topics to ensure you are doing the basics well, and the advanced topics for users that need to know much, much more.

There is so much in this guide. I thought about listing all the movies, but the list was too long. Instead I have created a sample of the Guide to Productivity so you can download it and look at the structure of the guide and see several complete movies. Download the sample here.

For a limited time, you can pre-order this guide for a reduced price of $99US from this web site:

Be quick though, when the guide starts shipping the price will be $135US.

Contents (main headings)

Productivity Techniques

Constraint Palette (Snaps)

Object Info Palette

Resource Browser


Layer and Class Standards

Property Line Tool

Drawing Site Plans

Importing and Exporting DXF Files

Site Modelling

Dealing With Walls

Dealing With Roofs



Vector-workout is a downloadable movie based training resource offering fast and easy access to instructive movies, ideal for sharpening vectorworks skills quickly.

Jonathan Pickup, the author, said "a client told me recently 'I'm too lazy to read the manuals, just give me the information. Quickly!' So, I've rethought how to deliver Vectorworks training resources as visual tools. Vector-workout is the result - it's a visual teaching revolution for Vectorworks. As they say, a picture tells a thousand words, and Vector-workout kits do this brilliantly – movies are the perfect alternative to slogging through endless textbooks"

Vector-workout training manual kits use pdf files with embedded self contained movies. When you open the files with Acrobat Reader, you have bookmarks on the left-hand side for quick access to the movies. Acrobat Reader has a built-in search function, so you can type in a word or phrase and have Acrobat search for you.

Vector-workout kits are structured in a logical way, and can be used sequentially. This allows the user to start with basic principles and work though the kit in a structured way, as you would do with a textbook manual. Alternately, they can be used non-sequentially - just use Acrobat Reader to find the specific movie you want and work smarter.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jonathan Pickup's Second Edition of Vectorworks Architect and Essentials Tutorials Now Available

Jonathan Pickup's Second Edition of Vectorworks Architect and Essentials Tutorials Now Available

Columbia, Maryland (October 26, 2009)—Nemetschek North America is pleased to announce that the second edition of Vectorworks Architect and Essentials Tutorial manuals from Jonathan Pickup are now available for purchase. These tutorials offer Vectorworks® software users a different and effective method of learning, combining step-by-step instructions written in a conversational tone with movies. The tutorials are based on version 2010 but can be used successfully with prior versions of Vectorworks software.

The Vectorworks Essentials Tutorial Manual is a must-have workbook for anyone new to Vectorworks. The aim of this manual is to eliminate the mystery of computer-aided design and to give an understanding of how to use Vectorworks. It's designed to build a foundation of essential Vectorworks knowledge to include simple 2D drafting, 3D modeling, file organization concepts, and how to draw a simple building.

The Vectorworks Architect Tutorial Manual is a thorough "project-based" training workbook. The manual walks users through a domestic project and takes them through the process of documenting the existing site and building, preparing and presenting proposed renovations, and finally, creating the working drawings. Along the way there will also be strategies highlighted for creating concepts quickly and checking them in 3D.

These intelligent and approachable instructional manuals are appropriate for both students and professionals and provide a very practical approach to learning the software. The hard-copy workbooks come with a companion CD that contains exercise files for multiple versions of Vectorworks software (2008, 2009, and 2010 formats). The entire manual is also included on the CD as a PDF file with embedded instructional movies. Each workbook retails for $75 plus shipping and handling.

"The tutorial is very thorough, and I appreciate the site survey and topographical guidance," says Lloyd Brown of Highdesert Design Studio in Albuquerque New Mexico. "It has helped me greatly in increasing my productivity and efficiency in using Vectorworks."

To get a sense of the author's style and approach, Vectorworks users are encouraged to read the sample chapters and table of contents posted on the website.

The workbooks are part of Nemetschek North America's self-paced training options. These training materials are for people who like to learn on their own, and at their own pace. For more information and to purchase the manuals authored by Jonathan Pickup, please go to

Jonathan Pickup is an architect trained in New Zealand and in the UK with over 30 years of experience. He has over 15 years of experience in writing and producing Vectorworks manuals and providing customer support. His company, ArchonCAD, is the premier provider of third-party manuals and training resources for Vectorworks. He also runs the Vectorworks On-Line User Group and provides its main direction. For more information, please visit

Nemetschek North America is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nemetschek AG. A global leader in design technologies, Nemetschek North America has been developing CAD software for the AEC, entertainment, landscape design, and manufacturing fields since 1985. For more information, visit

Monday, October 26, 2009

Making Vectorworks Fun

I was reading the Konstrukshon web log the other day. Steve has a movie on the piano stairs. These stairs are next to an escalator. most people choose the escalator, until they installed the piano stairs. Then, 66% more people chose to use the stairs, because they were fun to use.

Next, is the rubbish bin (trash can) that sounds like the world’s deepest bin. The engineers made the bin sound like something falling a long way. In one day the bin collected almost twice as much trash as a nearby bin. People went out of their way to put rubbish in it, just because it was fun.

This got me thinking. If you can change people’s behavior by making stairs or a rubbish bin fun, could you increase productivity by making work fun? If you look at the link, you will see that I’m late coming to this, but I’ve got there at last. You can make work more fun, and you will get more productivity from your workers. Of course it’s not just about giving away a party hat, it is certainly not about letting your workers goof off.

I used to work in a small office. We were not allowed to share a joke, or listen to the radio, or ipod, the boss did not communicate his intensions, thoughts and wishes. It was a very unhappy office and they had a high turnover of staff.

I once worked in the opposite of this in south London. It was a fun place to work, and even after 15 years, I still have fond memories of working in Vauxhall. It was the atmosphere, the bosses and all the staff.

Here are some links to blogs about making work fun:

Managing People - Motivation

Increase Productivity, Profitability, and Morale and Make Work Fun

So, there seems to be some evidence that you can increase productivity by making work more fun.

I like using Vectorworks and I have fun using it. When I attend a user group to answer questions, I like to have fun there too. After all, the people there have given up their evening, shouldn’t they have a bit of fun?

I believe that knowing more about Vectorworks makes it fun to use. Have fun learning, make Vectorworks fun, visit

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Camera Match for Vectorworks 2010 Released

Version 2010 (for Vectorworks 2010) Released!

Quickly and accurately align a 3D model view to a photograph! No more wasted time fiddling with 3D view controls that are just not designed for the task. Camera Match quickly finds the view by placing control lines on a photograph and clicking a button. If the view still needs tuning, Camera Match's powerful live tuning controls get the job done fast. After getting the view set, the CameraMatch masking tool magically brings it all together.


I’ve been using Camera Match for ages, and it is a real timesaver. I’ve shown my clients this tool. They are also very impressed.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

archoncad releases old user group manuals

Each month SHORT SHARP TRAINING uses online training with a concise manual to cover a single task of Vectorworks, allowing you to drill down to the details of the task, along with movies that show you exactly how to complete the task. When you join the subscription service you can access up to a year of back issues. But what happens to the notes after a year?

Several of my subscribers have now asked to be able to access the older back issues, more than a year old. It was suggested by the subscribers that they be able to buy them. Following that suggestion, I have embedded all the movies into the notes. This means that you do not have to subscribe to the Short Sharp Training to see the movies, and it also means you do not have to be online to see the movies. At the end of the year I will convert the old notes and sell them as a downloadable set. You can see a list of the topics covered and when you purchase the notes, you will be sent a link to download the notes.

This was the year the online user group got underway with just a few subscribers.

List of Topics

0701 - Simple Roofs

  • Roofs are easy to build and they are very flexible (editable). Using the standard VectorWorks roof you can make most of the roofs that you want. Once the roof is made you can make the roof framing for the roof. I also wanted to show you how you can edit all the framing sizes for the roof framer.

0702 - Introduction to 3D Modeling

  • Before you can do any sort of complex 3D modeling you have to understand some of the basic 3D modeling concepts. That’s what this workshop is all about, learning the simple 3D stuff that you need to learn in order to make your 3D stuff.
  • Layers for 3D modeling
  • Extrusions
  • Multiple Extrusions
  • Tapered Extrusions
  • 3D Primitives
  • Solid Modeling

0703 - Building a Library

  • There are a few ways to build your office library. This workshop contains valuable information about making your library.

0704 - Intro to Textures and Rendering

  • Rendering in VectorWorks is where you start to enjoy your 3D Models, where you make them come to life. This workshop is an introduction to rendering (which is pretty easy), but rendering is nothing without textures which can make your models into something special.

0706 - Customising Vectorworks

  • VectorWorks works really well, but if you edit the workspace, and customise the arrangement of the tools and menus you can work faster and happier. We will learn how to edit the workspace and add commands to the right mouse button.
  • VectorWorks also has a built in programming language called VectorScript that lets you make your own tools and commands. We will learn how to do some basic programming and learn how to start to make your own tools and commands.

0707 - Annotation

  • Annotation is more than just putting text and dimensions on the drawing, although I will be covering this to make sure you are doing it correctly, there are note tools, tools to store a database of notes and tools for labeling.

0708 - Introduction to Worksheets

  • Worksheets allow you count and schedule stuff in VectorWorks. For example you can count all the trees in a site, schedule all the doors on a particular floor of a project, even find the weight of a bracket in a 3D model.
  • Worksheets are an under used area of VectorWorks and this workshop should open your eyes about what you are able to do with them.

0709 - Making Drawings

  • We use classes, layers, viewports and sheet layers. This workshop shows you how to use these concepts to make drawings

0710 - Dealing with Roofs

  • Roofs for standard houses are easy, but what if you donÕt want a standard roof. This workshop will cover how to create a standard roof, how to edit a standard roof and what yo do when the standard roof wonÕt do what you want.

0711 - Graphics in 2D and 3D

  • This workshop topic will cover 2D graphics such and hatches, gradients and images and 3D graphics such as textures and image props.

0712 - VW2008 - Plants and Wall Styles

  • Plants have been substantially improved in VW2008. This workshop shows you how easy they are to use and how easy plants are to edit.
  • You could re-use your version 12 wall style library in VW2008, but as I show you in this workshop would be better to update your library to use the new wall style capabilities.
  • These two topics are based on VW2008. They will not work on older versions.

you can purchase all these notes here:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

How do you Change the Name of a Viewport?

When you upgrade to Vectorworks 2010, you will find that viewports can have a name and a drawing title. The Drawing Title is the name that Vectorworks will use in the drawing label placed in the Annotations portion of the viewport.

When you update your drawings to Vectorworks 2010, you will have to check the drawing title on every viewport. To do this, you will have to select each viewport, then check the Drawing Title in the Object Info palette.

This could be a real hassle, so I’ve made a special tool that will make it easy to change the Drawing Title.

To use the tool, you click on the viewport.

This will open a dialog box. Type in the new Drawing Title.

Click on the OK button, and Vectorworks will update your viewport Drawing Title and the drawing label if you have used one.

How can you get this tool? This month, my Short Sharp Training (a subscription service) will be covering the upgrade to Vectorworks 2010, and I will be giving this tool to all my subscribers.

If you want this tool, subscribe to my Short Sharp training...