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...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

What is Social Capital?

Jessie mentioned to me today about Social Capital. Of course, I went along with the conversation for a while before I said, “What is Social Capital?” I also turned to my favorite search engine to see what I could find out about social capital.

Wikipedia says that the term social capital fist came up in 1916. Who would have thought that is was so old. I thought the term was a new one to describe something related to the Internet. I think that social capital relates to us as humans and as social creatures, and the Internet is just the new way of being in touch.

This is from Wikipedia:

L.J. Hanifan's 1916 article regarding local support for rural schools is one of the first occurrences of the term "social capital" in reference to social cohesion and personal investment in the community.[3] In defining the concept, Hanifan contrasts social capital with material goods by defining it as:

"I do not refer to real estate, or to personal property or to cold cash, but rather to that in life which tends to make these tangible substances count for most in the daily lives of people, namely, goodwill, fellowship, mutual sympathy and social intercourse among a group of individuals and families who make up a social unit… If he may come into contact with his neighbor, and they with other neighbors, there will be an accumulation of social capital, which may immediately satisfy his social needs and which may bear a social potentiality sufficient to the substantial improvement of living conditions in the whole community. The community as a whole will benefit by the coöperation of all its parts, while the individual will find in his associations the advantages of the help, the sympathy, and the fellowship of his neighbors (pp. 130-131)."

When I first saw this, I thought, that can’t be relevant. But I believe I was wrong. I think this definition works well for today. All that has changed is our way of meeting. We now meet online and can choose who our friends are online. You can make friends with people overseas that you have never physically met.

Actually, it reminded me of my high school days when my teachers tried to get us to think, by introducing us to Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan talked about the world becoming a Global Village through the use of the telephone and TV. If only he could have seen Twitter. Now we have the ability to create and join our own global villages, we can belong to more than one village simultaneously and we can know what is going in our villages...

Time To Get The Firewood In

I have a tree in my yard that needs to be cut down, so I have started to cut up the tree and turn it into firewood. While I was stacking the wood, I was thinking about how wet the wood is and how it takes to dry out before I can burn it.

It’s spring here now, and it’s time to start thinking about getting in the firewood for next winter. You can’t cut down your firewood when you need it, because it has to dry out. You have to get your firewood in several months before you need it, so it can be ready for you when it gets cold. This is a metaphor for our businesses. We need to put in the training before we need it so we can practice and be ready.

How do we learn to use our CAD programs? Do we wait until we are in a desperate rush and then try to learn in a hurry? I have some clients that want to learn Vectorworks but they don’t think like a farmer, they don’t get the knowledge in in preparation for the rush, they try to learn when they are under pressure.

Before the recession, i had several clients say to me “I’m too busy right now to learn how to be productive...” There are definite signs that we are slowly coming out of the recession, although it might be a slow recovery. What better time to upgrade your software and learn how to use it really well.