Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Novedge online Webinar Series 004 - Quick Concept Design in Vectorworks

Today we had our last online webinar in the Novedge Webinar series, covering How to Create a Quick Concept Design.

Vectorworks has several, very cool, techniques that can be used together to create a very fast concept design. If you can create a quick conceptual design, you can improve the quality of your work though 3D visualization, solar studies and checking your concept against site restrictions.

Although the title is residential concept design, you can use these techniques for larger projects as well.

Video of webinar:

Quick Concept Design in Vectorworks from Jonathan Pickup on Vimeo.

If you have trouble setting up layers, this webinar is for you.

If you want to learn how to setup layers for a building, stage design, or event planning project, this webinar is for you. If you learn how to set up your layers correctly, you can speed up the creation of your concept models and complex building projects.

Register here...

We will learn:
what are layers;
what is layer Z, and delta Z;
using the Model Set up command;
creating your on layers quickly;
Stacked Layers/Unified view.

Suitable for beginners and everyone that wants to set up layers effectively.

Presentation 30 minutes. Q&A about 15 min.
Cost : $35US

As well as the presentation, you will receive an electronic manual that covers this webinar. If you are a subscriber to Short Sharp Training (monthly), we covered this topic in February 2010.
Monday 5th July 2010, 2:00pm
Time zone is shown in Pacific Daylight Time (California), Please check your time zone.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julian Smith, How This Relates to Vectorworks

I have been reading this book recommended by Steve Scaysbrook at the Konstrukshon web site.

This is a great book and I'm enjoying it a lot. I'm at a part where the are talking about three main parts to the way kids learn games. I have been thinking about how these parts relate to learning vectorworks and I have added my comments in the brackets.

1. Playing (learning the rules)
2. Cheating (learning from others)
3. Programing (customizing)

Playing (learning the rules)
This is when you first start to learn Vectorworks. Ideally, you should start with the Essential Tutorial manual, but you can start with the Vectorworks Getting Started guides.
You need to learn the rules when playing with Vectorworks, and the easiest way to do this is with a well structured and easy to use manual. My manuals are designed to be easy to use, and they are well structured to teach the rules for using Vectorworks.

Cheating (learning from others)
Once you have learned the rules, you can start to learn from others. This is where you should be attending the user groups, watching youtube movies and joining community boards like, or www.vector If you were playing computer games, you would be reading FAQ web sites. The community boards, movies and blogs serve the same purpose, to give you the inside information.

Programing (customizing)
Vectorworks has it's own built-in programming language, and a customizable interface. This allows you to change the look of Vectorworks and create your own tools. You can make Vectorworks do pretty much what ever you want.

Vectorworks for Modeling

Nearly everywhere I've been, they has been a discussion about 3D modeling vs 2D drawing. Even when I went out for dinner last night with Novedge, we discussed it. There are many Vectorworks users that think of 2D drawing first, and 3D modeling as some kind of luxury that you do after the real work is done.

I think that as you resolve the conceptual plan of your project, you should be looking at a simple model of the concept. Vectorworks has so many tools you can use for this, and it is so quick.

I had a project once where the concept plan was resolved, but not the form of the building. I had a sketch to work with, but a 5 minute model made from simple extrusions showed some problems with the sketch. The architect and I then spent 30 minutes resolving the concept in 3D, and the result was a better building.

This, to me, is the great thing about 3D. it can be fast it can help sort out early problems with the concept and it doesn't take a lot of effort. Everyone should be modeling first, then creating drawings.

Next week I have a webinar on improving your conceptual designs by using 3D models, site models ane the advantages you get from this. You can register here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Central California User group

24th June 2010, Fresno, California
Thanks again to my sponsor (vectorworks resellers) and (the vectorworks online community) for making these visits possible. 

Due to the airlines, I as really late to the user group meeting, but that's another story. We had a great evening looking again at 3D. Not 3D for working drawings, but using 3D at the really early stages. 

I think that at a very early stage, you can use simple extrusions to create a block model of the project so you can test your ideas. Sure, I know a lot of people start the concept in plan, I'm saying you shouldn't do that, but as well as, you could look at some rough 3D forms. I had a project once where the quick 3D model helped the Architect and I to resolve some really tricky junctions. The 3D model only took 5 minutes to show the problems, and having found them, the architect and I spent about 30 minutes sorting out the problems and resolving the concept in 3D. This was a powerful lesson to me, because I was told not to make a 3D model, but having made one, the architect was very happy to use it to improve the quality of the concept model. 

The favorite manual I showed tonight was the 3D Modeling manual form NNA, the one I wrote. There is some great stuff in there, one of the new chapters is the one on working planes, which we discussed. When you want to draw 3D models quickly and effectively, working planes make it easy. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Philadelphia User Group Meeting

22nd June 2010

Thanks again to my sponsor (vectorworks resellers) and (the vectorworks online community) for making these visits possible. 

I travelled into Philadelphia early on the train with my aunt so I could see a little of this historic city.  Philadelphia is the city were the Declaration of Independance was written and signed, starting the war, and ultimately seperating USA from England. 

The Philadelphia User Group meets at the AIA, which is very nice. Air conditioned an nicely designed.

Again, the topics that most people seem to want to know about are:
When to use 3D modeling
How to use simple 3D modeling
How to have fun with NURBS. 

It seems to me, that there is a challange here. How to get users to see that creating objects is not a luxury that you do after you have done the real work in 2D. 3D can really help at the concept stage, and at the modelling stage to get the plans, rough sections and elevations from the project.

We had a great time ( so they told me) and then my aunt and had to rush to catch the train home.     

Jonathan Pickup, Live from Asbury Park

21st June 2010
Tonight, I went over to New Jersey to attend the New Jersey Vectorworks User Group. They were very kind to invite me over and they provided pizza and sandwiches for the group, about 14 were there.

Some of the users were in my online user group, some had my manuals, but everyone was pleased to see me.

We had several questions about NURBS, which I love showing. I hope everyone learned something about how easy they are to use, and when to use them. In order to cover the NURBS, I also covered working planes.

After a short break, we went back to covering basic concepts: planar objects, extrusion, duplicate along a path, and layers and classes.

I would like to thank everyone that attended, thanks for giving up your time to listen to me. Thank you to and
Novedge are a major online vectorworks reseller, and vectorworking are a great community site.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Where in the World is Jonathan Pickup

Saturday 12th June 2010, 1850 hrs.

I've just to to Auckland airport, and I'm waiting to board my Air New Zealand Flight NZ8 to San Francisco. I made the mistake of not giving my wife the car keys when I got on my flight to Auckland. Luckily, my son was able to bring a spare set for her.

Have gone through all the security checks, now just waiting to board. At the airport the signs tell you that final call for boarding has been made, which made all us late people run to the gate for boarding. We ran past all the shops, past all the duty free. It turns out that the Final Call trick is to get you to the gate, because there is so much security to go through. So, I had a long wait...

Monday 14th June
Have settled in. I'm staying with relatives in Pennsylvania and from here I will be able to visit several user groups in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The weather here is very hot, and when it rains, I've never seen it rain so heavily.
I have had trouble getting my computer online. I brought with me a mobile 3D modem, that will not work here at all. Right now I have hooked up directly to the household modem. Fast, but I can use this permanently. I will have to unplug at some stage.

I'm really tempted to solve my problem with an iPad. wifi, 3G, skype when I want. and my manuals are available on the Kindle app. I have not seen them myself, but I have seen an ipad with my manuals on them, they look great.

Tuesday 15th, Easton PA
Don Marquardt, from the Eastern PA user group gave me a lift up to Easton PA for the user group meeting (a long drive, so thanks Don). We had a great time talking about Why Use 3D. I'm a real fan of modeling projects. There are so many advantages, and so many things you can do with a model to improve the quality of your work. I reckon that in a short time (maybe a couple of hours) you can create your site model, building restrictions, space objects and then you can check for compliance, excavations and site fills, solar studies and so on. It’s great to see these things in a rendered view, and it is a powerful technique. See my blog on Productivity is not Just About Speed.

Wednesday 16th June, Columbia MD
I was due to be in Columbia and the Nemetschek North America for a webinar. However, I started my trip in the car and the GPS would not find a signal. Boy, I wish I had one of those old things, a map. I got lost more than once, and I ended up being very late. So for those of you that we expecting to hear from me on the webinar, I’m very sorry I was late.

I met with several people at NNA when I got there, and all of them were please to see me! I was really please to meet with them all and I was able to talk to everyone, even the CEO, Sean, had time to talk with me.

After the delayed start, the webinar got under way. Usually, I have some people live on the webinar, so I can have a conversation. This time, there were loads of people, and it wouldn’t be fair to talk to just a few. It felt very odd though, like I was talking to myself. There was a lot to cover, so sometimes I went too fast. If I left you behind, I’m sorry.

After the meetings at NNA I went out for a dinner meeting with JessieX. I had a great time. She has so many ideas for social media, I learnt heaps. I will be starting to put some of Jessie’s suggestions in place on my web site and blog.

Thursday 17th June, Columbia, MD
All day I had meetings at NNA. I met so many people there and they work really hard. I know every time a new Vectorworks comes out, I’m disappointed about things that I think should have been included. I know that the R&D team and the engineers are working as hard as they can, and they really do listen to what we say. Just because they don’t do what I want, doesn’t mean they haven’t heard me.

Friday 18th June, Warrington, PA
I had another series of meetings today with some very interesting people from NNA. They gave me so much or their time, that it was after 2pm by the time I got away. I went to Columbia Mall to get some more time on my pre-paid phone (that is a whole story on its own), I I found the Apple store. First time I have ever been to an Apple Store. It really was a lot of fun. The stores are very slick, and there are a lot of Apple devices to play with. There were 2 tables of iPads to play with, but not one to buy. I suspect that with Father's Day here in USA, they have sold all the stock. I hope they have more stock arriving soon, otherwise I will not be able to get my one.

I managed to leave just in time to meet the rush hour traffic in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. So, basically, it was busy on the road all the way home. The GPS still confuses me. It told me to stay in the right lane, but the right lane was exit only... Still it got me back on the correct road in a matter of minutes.

24th June 2010, Philadelphia, PA - Frenso, CA
I needed an early start to get to the airport. The flight is scheduled to leave at 6:22am.  Because of the security checks. I was checked in about 5:00am for my flight.  Strange, I didn't get a boarding pass.  It turns out the United runs a service where they overbook the flight and then issue you a ticket at the boarding gate.  So, even though I paid for my flight in March thus year, they would not let me on the plane. I got all the way to the gate, they even printed me a boarding pass, but the other passenger turned up in time.

I seems they over book the flight, in the hope that some passengers will show up late, or will not show up at all.  So, I was the unlucky one. I guess, now that I know this is how it works, I won't be so shocked. At least I have my seat for the next flight to LA and then on to SF

Good bye Philadelphia, it is an old city by USA standards and they are very proud of the history. The oldest street, the house where the US flag was first sewn, the signing of the Declaration of Independence and so on.

I won't make it a long story, but after 5 hours of delays at LAX, I ended up at the correct final destination of Fresno, CA. I'm not sure what it is but my US flights have not been fun nor reliable. Anyway. I got to the user group about 40mins late, but they were still pleased to see me. My luggage finally turned up at 11pm!

26th June 2010 Fresno, CA - San Francisco, CA.
My bother was really kind taking me all round Fresno yesterday. We visited his friends, the Apple store and anywhere else I wanted to go, like the motorbike shop. Today he drove me all the way up from Fresno to SFO. The dive reminded me of New Zealand, but bigger. Lots of farms, but bigger.

I have been hosted on my trip my NOVEDGE and Vectorworking. They have helped me plan this trip, and they took me out for dinner to meet the team there. We have a very long dinner, finishing about 11pm, and we had a fun time talking about my trip and Vectorworks. Please support these to web sites, they have been very kind to me.

27th June 2010 SFO - Home
It turns out that today is the Gay Pride day, so it is very busy here in San Francisco. But I have all day here before I'm due out at the airport for my 13 hour trip Auckland.

Jonathan Pickup to visit USA

This time next week, I'll be in USA, in Pennsylvania. I have bee arranging to visit the USA for some time now and I have tried to fully book myself. My main reason to visit the USA is to meet the people at NNA that have been printing and selling my manuals for the last year and a half. 

I have offered to visit as many user group meetings as I can and I and now nearly fully booked. The current list of placing I'll be visiting is:

15th June  - ePaVUG EASTERN  * PA * Vectorworks * USER * GROUP, Easton, PA

16th June, online webinar 

The "Ins and Outs" of Popular Vectorworks® Tools with Jonathan Pickup
Webinar June 16, 2010, 1pm to 2pm EDT
17th June Mid-Atlantic VW User Group, Columbia, MA

21st June New Jersey VW User Group, 6-8pm

ASL Design Studio,Inc
1221 Main Street
Asbury Park,  N.J. 07712
Mark Napolitano, (732)861-3843
(sponsored by

22nd June Philadelphia VW User Group 6:30pm-8pm
(sponsored by

24th June Central California User Group 6:00pm

RSVP to 

David Laurence Phillips, AIA 559.456.6118  / (or
(sponsored by
If you live anywhere near these meetings, please come along. I'll add more details when I can.

Friday, June 11, 2010

How Can I Re-shape The Top of a Wall?

There are two main ways to reshape the top (or bottom) of a wall. The first method uses the 3D Reshape tool, and the second is to use the Fit Walls to Roof... command. If you have Vectorworks architect you can use either, but if you do not, you can only use the first method.

Change to a 3D view.

Use the 2D Selection tool to Double click on the wall. You will see several blue handles on the wall.

Vectorworks has selected the 3D Reshape tool for you. Check the Tool Bar. To move the handles (peaks) on a wall, use the first mode.
To add a peak, use the second mode.
to remove a peak, use the third mode.

Move your cursor to the handle at the start of the wall. The cursor will change shape.
Click once.

Move your cursor along the wall to the place you want.
Click once.
Click once on the new peak to create a new peak.

Move your cursor down to make a vertical part on the wall.
Click once to finish.

Click once on the new peak to create a new peak.
Move your cursor across to make a horizontal part on the wall. 
Click once to finish. 

Click once on the new peak to create a new peak.
Move your cursor up to make a vertical part on the wall. 
Click once to finish. 

In front view the wall should be the shape you want. The walls are not quite vertical, they are 1mm off vertical, but that’s the best I can get.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Vectorworks user group Meeting in Fresno

24 June 2010 at 6:00 pm Jonathan Pickup will be there to talk to our Central California V. W. User Group. . . 

So, if you are in Central California,  come alone and meet me. 

XTRA Kills My Emails

It turns out that my ISP has changed its email policies . When I send emails from a separate email address than the one registered with my ISP, my emails are not being sent. I have no idea when telecom introduced this system, they did not bother me with any details about this.

I was talking to a friend yesterday and I said, "did you get my email?" Imagine my surprise when he told me that he has not had an email from me since the 3rd of June. What has been happening? It took a long time to sort out that this was not my fault. I found that if I use my .mac or gmail account to send my emails they were sent successfully. So, it finally occurred to me that the problem was with my ISP, they must have changed something.

It turns out that they have brought in a new system to control spam. Rather than tell their customers, XTRA will let their customers find out for themselves. And rather than warn their customers that the sent email will not be forwarded on, XTRA will just wait for you to find out on your own somehow.

I have just spent most of the morning on the phone to XTRA. The tech support people are helpful, but that is not the issue. The issue is that XTRA have decided on a change to the security system, and have not warned the users that they will have to add passwords to their ISP accounts, and they will have to change the mail settings and ports, on all accounts, for me and all the members of my family, on all the computers.

Shame on you XTRA! you should have told us in advance...

So, if you haven't had my emails for a while, I'm sorry, XTRA has been killing them...