Friday, May 28, 2010

novedge Vectorworks Webinar Series - 003 The Problem is Counting, The Answer is Worksheets.

Register here..
VectorWorks offers the possibility of  creating spreadsheets within the drawing.  That means you can count things, create databases, extract information from objects and do mathematical operations and functions without having to leave VectorWorks.

These spreadsheets, or worksheets as they are called in VectorWorks, are linked to the source of information so the worksheet can be updated when the source changes or to put it another way, if you edit the things in the drawing the spreadsheet can be updated easily.

The most powerful worksheets in VectorWorks are databases linked to Symbols or Plug-in Objects listing the data entered in the different fields.  As you add these objects into the file you can update the worksheet and check the information.  An example of this would be a bracing spreadsheet that tracks the bracing objects in the drawing.  As you add bracing objects the worksheet tracks the number, type and length of the brace and puts this information into the worksheet, telling you if you have achieved enough bracing in each direction.

We can classify the worksheets into a few different groups depending on the nature of the worksheets:

  • Count / select objects ( generally symbols ) through the file.  They do not need to have a record attached and they need not be in the same Class or Layer.  We can choose to count symbols on a specific layer or assigned to a specific class.
  • Do mathematical operations with the parameters of drawn objects: 
  • areas, perimeters, volume etc.  
  • Name the objects ( Object Info Palette) and find properties of them and their combinations
  • Create reports using symbols with records and list the field values from the symbols in the report.  

archoncad calendar now available

I have been requested by several people to turn all my sketches into a calendar. I have scanned many of my sketches from my travels, and I have made two calendars. I have used a web site called  You can see the calendars if you click on the button.

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

Terrific Textures

I'm just writing my manual for the user group, all the subscribers will be getting this manual in a week or two. I just wanted to share some of the textures we will be learning about.

There are two textures here. One for the marble and the other for the glass. The marble texture is really easy to make. It has a shinny surface that reflects the window. I like the way the glass has the suggestion of a background reflection. It's a trick really, the texture is made that way.

If you want to join the online session, see this blog post:

What kind of textures would you like to see covered?
marble, glass, brickwork, blockwork, weatherboard... what else?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What Design Layer Scale Should I Use in Vectorworks

When I draw in Vectorworks I like to keep the scale of the design layer at about the same as the scale of the viewports that I will be creating. This has come about from using Vectorworks for a long time, way before we had viewports, when the only way to create drawings with different scales was to use different layers with the correct scale.

Now that we have viewports, could you draw everything on one layer, then use the viewport scale to create the drawings and details? I guess you could, but it will cause trouble. Robert Anderson from Nemetschek North America puts it like this:

" The "Layer Scale" used by VectorWorks is primarily an exigency of "WYSIWYG" drawing. "Layer Scale" exists to allow graphic properties of the drawing or model to be represented properly, as though you were drawing at a particular scale on a piece of paper. It is a scaling value used to allow proper representation for these attributes:
     -Line weight;
     -Line style (e.g. length of dashes);
     -Marker (arrowhead) size;
     -Text size;
     -Hatch scaling;

In "WYSIWYG" drawing, in order to properly display these attributes, there has to be an intended output scale so you can see how the drawing will look at that intended format. The practical upshot of all this is that you should set your "layer scale" to be the same as the predominant output scale of your project. This will necessitate the least amount of attribute-scaling in viewports."

Try to use the minimum of layer scales.

So, if you want details at 1:5, then create a layer scale at 1:5. When you draw the detail, add the notes and dimensions, the details will look correct in the final viewports, with a minimum of editing (and effort), what you draw will be what you get.

There are two short manuals I have written that will help out here:
Creating drawings for a building project
Creating Construction Details

Vectorworks and BIM

the main Vectorworks web site now has a BIM in practice area. I have found a lot of really useful information here. There is a whole page of BIM articles 

Of particular interest is this white paper:

An Introduction to the IPD Workflow for Vectorworks BIM Users:
Many architects and architectural designers, particularly those with governmental or institutional clients, are being asked to “deliver BIM”.

This white paper is nearly 30 pages long, and it sets out:
The reasons for BIM
Integrated Project Delivery: The Basics
The National BIM Standard
Using Vectorworks in a BIM / IPD Project
Appendix: A Detailed Procedure for Planning an IPD Project

I really enjoyed reading his white paper, and I think that this white paper is essential reading.  The paper covers the really important aspects of BIM and Vectorworks will work with this. There is still some confusion over what BIM really is, and what clients expect when they talk about a BIM project, or what is a BIM capable program. 

Do we need BIM? The answer is, we can not avoid it. BIM can reduce waste, reduce errors and increase quality and may increase productivity. So, it will be with us in the future. We are moving from a paper-based physically documented project to a data-rich model based information system, and there is no going back. Even if you only draw in 2D you can still leverage some of the BIM capabilities and advantages such as viewports, associative dimensioning and creating data-rich drawings that allow you to create reports on objects in the drawings. 

In a recent interview, Sean Flaherty, the CEO of Nemetschek North America, stated that
"We offer a whole range of different features and allow architects to choose whether to use them or not. And this is going to continue, even as we build. It's important to remember that there are people out there still not using BIM techniques. We don't want to make them second class citizens"

"in some areas it [IFC] is more popular than others. Scandinavian countries, for example, heavily base their operations on IFC, and the US-government now requires plans to be presented in IFC formats. It is increasingly becoming the global standard for model delivery."

So, if you have to deliver IFC models, you have to use Vectorworks as BIM. In my mind, BIM starts right at the very beginning of the project, even before you have start the conceptual design, and this is where you get the quality benefits of BIM, you can check your concept model against site constraints, site modifiers, solar studies. 

Back to the BIM/IPD white paper...
"Most Vectorworks users use it as a 2D- or 2D-3D CAD product. They may use Vectorworks’ “hybrid design” capabilities to develop a visualization model, then “break” the model to create CAD drawings once the design is approved. Or they may be working in a 2D-only environment, taking advantage of Vectorworks’ graphics capabilities. In either case, the user may be unaware that he can use Vectorworks as a fully interoperable BIM authoring tool, or he may be uncertain of just how to initiate such a workflow in Vectorworks.

Vectorworks is a design tool. Architects using Vectorworks, in the designer tradition of "flexible, versatile, affordable" have always been able to "do their own thing" -- as long as the basis of exchange was the physical drawing. And one advantage of Vectorworks for any architecture firm is that it allows the designer to use Vectorworks to “do CAD” or to “do BIM” or even “just design” as the particular design or architectural problem requires.

The BIM delivery of architecture is (not unfairly) perceived as being a more constrained, less flexible environment in which to work. This is true, not the least because the team is now a larger one and the teammates need a common playbook which will not be so tolerant of improvisation or individual style (at least as far as the processes are concerned)."

There are 2 manuals that I have written to help you into BIM:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Short Sharp Training (Monthly) - May 2010 Simple Stairs in Vectorworks

This month, Short Sharp Training (monthly) looked at the stair tools in Vectorworks 12-2010. Stairs have caused a lot of comment since Vectorworks 2010 came out last year. There are several ways to create stairs in Vectorworks. There a a few tools you can use, some for simple stairs and some for more complex stairs. Then, you can ignore all the tools and use other methods.

As well as stairs we covered:

Extended Podcast 106
Creating a concrete floor symbol to use with the framing member.

Extended Podcast 107
Protrusion/Cutout tool can use used like sketchup.

Beginners Corner 20
Creating Associative Dimensions

The manual was equivalent to 64 A5 pages with over 170 images and 14 linked movies. If you would like this manual, subscribe here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Book Review - Remarkable Renderworks

Remarkable Renderworks - An Introduction to the Basics by Daniel Jansenson, published by Nemetschek North America.

This manual arrived in the post a few days ago, and I have been reading it ever since. I have heard about this book coming out and I am really pleased to see it. Rendering with Vectorworks is not a small topic, and there are some areas that are very subtle, so we need a manual that explains the basics for the beginner, but also explains the subtle parts of rendering for the more advanced user. That is a tricky balancing act, but I think the author, Daniel Jansenson has done this.

Like all the other NNA manuals, this is a quality offering. It is printed in color, on good quality paper and it is spiral wire bound so that it always sits flat on the desk, or, even better, can be folded back on itself.

The manual starts with an overview of the workflow for visualization. This is a great idea, not just for the beginner. It is a reminder to work in a methodical way so that you don't miss anything, or over complicate the project. There are some sage words of advice here.

The early part of the manual is like a quickstart, so the user understands the basics before moving on. After covering several of the rendering methods the manual movies on to textures. The manual covers the task of creating textures in a stepwise fashion. There are many ways to make textures and this manual covers these in a simple, carefully illustrated way. The whole manuals is full of screen shots, typically there are to or three screen shots on every page.

The middle part of the manual covers applying textures to models, and the final part is about lighting and high quality rendering. Again, the manual is full of step-by-step instructions with loads of screen shots. This was my favorite part of the manual, how to create good interior and exterior lighting.

When I first got this manual I thought that Remarkable Renderworks is intended for the beginner to rendering. Now that I have finished, I realize that Daniel Jansenson has created a book that balances the needs of the beginner with the needs of the advanced user to know in detail why things work (or not).

I thoroughly recommend this book if you want to render your models with Renderworks. Unless you are one of the few really good Renderworks users, you will get a lot from this manual, you will learn so much about rendering, in a short space of time. You will repay your investment in this manual very quickly. Go now and get your copy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Remarkable Renderworks - rendering with Vectorworks

I checked my mail box today and look what I found!  I have been sent a copy of the Remarkable Renderworks manual by Daniel Jansenson. 

I've only had a quick look thought the manual so far, but I am really impressed. The manual is printed in color, has many, many clear illustrations and is written in an easy to read style. 

I will be writing a full review, so watch out. Thank you to Lisa at NNA, for sending me the review copy. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

novedge Vectorworks Webinar Series - 002 What is BIM? How does it make you more Productive?

Can BIM Make You More Productive or Improve the Quality of Your Work?

Lots of people talk about BIM (Building Information Modeling), it means as well as creating 2D drawings for plans, sections, and elevations, you can draw walls, floors, roofs and other 3D forms in Vectorworks and use these to create live plans, sections and elevations, as well as extracting non-graphic information from the model like a finish schedule, door and window schedule, and other information like wall areas and glass areas.

If you set up your Vectorworks files correctly, you will find it quicker to draw your projects, the building forms in 3D easily and you can use the model to create drawings and elevations. When you edit the doors, windows or form of the building, you can quickly re-generate the elevations. This is the productivity part, but there is more.

If you use the dimensioning tools correctly, dimensions will update as you change the design. This will keep all views of the model up to date. If you move a door, all drawings that show that door with dimension will update. This manages the risk of changes.

You can use the model at an early stage to check the design against site restrictions, check for awkward junctions, and study the effect of the sun. This is the quality part, where you can check to make sure your design is doing what you wanted.

Join Novedge and Jonathan Pickup to learn more about using BIM with Vectorworks.

Archoncad have created a movie based manual, Introduction to BIM. If you want more information about using BIM with Vectorworks, this is a great introduction.

If you really want to learn more about BIIM in general, buy this book. It has a lot of information, but not many pictures.

Vectorworks User Group - Online Meeting

The dates are now up for the online user group meetings in June. You can register for the meetings at the links below, but you must be a subscriber to register for the meetings.

Session 1  Monday, June 7, 2010, Time: 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM NZST Register :

Session 2  Wednesday, June 9, 2010, Time: 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM NZST Register

Session 3  Friday, June 11, 2010, Time: 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM NZST  Register :

The topic for the meeting is Textures. It has been a long time since we have covered textures, and I have had several users request this topic.  Textures in Vectorworks can make you designs come to life. 

Stop presenting dull lifeless views of your projects. 

Textures can help your clients see what you really have in mind. You can use textures to make things reflect, make things see through, and so on. 

Image props allow you to make things that look like complex 3D objects from a photo or scan. Textures can be a lot of fun, and they can be very powerful. This meeting will get you started, and subscribers get a manual for this meeting with linked movies. 

If you want to subscribe to this service, click on this link and subscribe.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vectorworks User Group - Alaska meeting

Hello Alaska Vectorworkers,
I am pleased to inform you that Jonathan Pickup of Napier New Zealand, will be our guest presenter for our Spring user group meeting. A noted Vectorworks "Evangelist Guru" and trainer, Jonathan is author of many Vectorworks training manuals. Since 2006 he has presented monthly subscriber on-line training sessions for VW skills, tips, tricks and new features called Short Sharp Training.

Our meeting will be here at my humble home "cave-office" at 7:15 PM on Tuesday June 8th. Jon will be on-line at 7:30 PM, at 7331 Ticonderoga.

The topic for the meeting will be "Annotations - fundamentals in using the VW tools to put notes dimensions on the drawing." We will be covering how to create libraries for you notes and setting up your personal standards for dimensions and notes.

I have room for six to eight people, but I'd like to be forced to bring down more chairs. Hope to see you all and more on Tuesday June 8th at 7:15 PM. Please phone to confirm your plan to attend.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Novedge Vectorworks Webinar Series - Stairs

archoncad and novedge have started to present  series of short webinars focusing of various aspects of Vectorworks. The first webinar was today and the subject was about stairs.

How are you supposed to use the stairs? The new stair tool, the custom stairs, the simple stair, what is best and how do they work?

Vectorworks 2010 introduced a completely new stair tool because the previous stair tool had received so many complaints. The old stair tool is still available, but it has been renamed the Custom Stair. I Have heard some complaints about the new stair tool in Vectorworks 2010. I think a lot of these complaints arise because the tools are complex and need to be understood.  That’s what this webinar is all about. 

Suitable for beginners and everyone that has trouble with stairs. I have recorded the webinar and I will embed it here. Be patient, the video seems to take a while to load.

novedge webinar series - 001 Stairs from Jonathan Pickup on Vimeo.

If you enjoyed the presentation and want to get more information about dealing with stairs, you will find a detailed set of movies about stairs in my Vector-workout Guide to Productivity, available from archoncad or novedge

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

EASTERN * PA * Vectorworks * USER * GROUP

WHO: ePaVUG EASTERN  * PA * Vectorworks * USER * GROUP

WHEN: The next ePaVUG meeting will be: Tuesday, JUNE  15th  at 6:30 pm

WHAT: This month we will present "An evening with Jonathan Pickup"

This month our sometimes Skype visitor, Jonathan Pickup,  from New Zealand will be joining us live, in person:

About archoncad and Jonathan Pickup:
Archoncad ( was founded in 1996 providing training and consulting services to architects and design professionals. The principal is Jonathan Pickup who has been training architects and designers since 1993, both in New Zealand and in England. He is based in Napier, New Zealand where he is also an architect. He has written several VectorWorks training manuals for architects, landscape architects, educators and design students. He also organises the New Zealand VectorWorks User Group. He can be contacted at ++ 64 21 743 470 or

The evening's Session:  3D Modeling and Vectorworks

Introduction to 3D Modeling
Complex 3D Modeling
Creating drawings from a 3D model
Model the Guggenheim Museum

Learning Objectives:
Learn basic concepts of 3D modeling and how these apply to architectural design.
Learn how to use 3D modeling to speed up concept design.
Discover how to use 3D modeling tools to create Elevations, Sections, Plans.
Demonstrate the integration of 3D Modeling by creating a model of the Guggenheim Museum.

If you know you are coming and want to join me and possibly Jonathan for a quick bite of dinner and/or a drink before the Meeting, let me know ahead of time.

Please join us, thanks



Offices of:
EASTON, PA  18042      610-253-6536 (office), 610-570-4429 (moblie)

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Novedge Vectorworks Webinar Series

Novedge Vectorworks Webinar Series 
Novedge, the Vectorworks online reseller (, are sponsoring a series of online webinars for Vectorworks. The webinars will allow users to see a few short, important aspects for Vectorworks. We have planned some sessions for beginners and some sessions for more advanced users.

We would like to make the sessions partly interactive, partly presentation, and we want to keep the sessions short, about 30mins depending on the questions and answers.

The series includes 4 webinars: two basic, and two advanced
The registration pages show both the ArchonCAD and Novedge logos (200x200 pixels). 

  1. Tuesday, May 11, 2010 - 3:30 pm PST (May 12, 10:30 am NZ time)
    [For Existing Users]
    Vectorworks Stairs: How are you supposed to use the stairs?
    The new stair tool, the custom stairs, the simple stair, what is best and how do they work?
  2. Monday, May 24, 2010 - 2:00 pm PST (May 25, 9:00 am NZ time)
    [For New Users]
    What is BIM, how does it make you more productive?

  3. Monday June 7, 2010 - 2:00 pm PST (June 8, 9;00 am NZ time)
    [For Existing Users]
    The Problem is Counting, the answer is worksheets.

  4. Monday, June 28, 2010 - 2:00 pm PST (June 29, 9:00 am NZ time)
    [For New Users]
    How can you create a Residential Concept design quickly?