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Product Review: Nemetschek Vectorworks Architect 2009

In this product review Architosh looks at Nemetschek North America’s Vectorworks Architect 2009, a 2D/3D CAD architectural CAD and BIM (building information modeling) solution used worldwide — and the number one CAD program on the Mac platform.

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Snap Box and Selection Box

Two new visible items in Vectorworks 2009 are the new Snap Box and Selection Box, indicators of which are fully customizable in the application preferences under the Interactive tab. (see image 02). The Snap Box, the larger of the two, indicates the area from which the current snap will be obtained. The Selection Box, the smaller of the two, indicates the area where geometry can be recognized and selected. At their default settings these two new features may confuse and bother existing Vectorworks users. They present a lot of graphical information directly under the cursor (compare the movies below).

02 - New Snap Box and Selection Box preferences allow you to set size of boxes, color, thickness and transparency of line.

02 - New Snap Box and Selection Box preferences allow you to set size of boxes, color, thickness and transparency of line. And you can turn these boxes on or off. To see the new Interactive selection interface technology in action view any of the QuickTime movies in this product review.

However, you can customize them by turning them off or on, choosing just one (say Snap Box) to be on, the other off, or by customizing their line color, transparency and line thickness. Users will have to experiment to find what is most helpful and comfortable.

QT-01 – In this QuickTime we can observe the SmartCursor technology in Vectorworks 2008, much as it has been for many years even in prior versions. Notice that there is no Selection Box and Snap Box indicators like in Vectorworks 2009 (see movie below). Notice too the differences in smart edges (guides for the cursor and relations between objects) versus what Vectorworks 2009 provides below. (Note: To view movies full size click on far right triangle and select Save as QuickTime Movie, save to your desktop and then open.)

A greatly improved feature of the new snap technology is projected guide lines (dashed red) along edges of objects or from vertices. You also get a confirmation that a point has been pre-snapped with a red box. Together these two new features speed up production by providing graphical feedback on items that in the past either took longer to obtain or were not obtainable at all. For instance it is now possible to obtain the half and quarter point distances between two objects and move an item to that point. You can’t do this in Vectorworks 2008 at all! The QuickTime movie below highlights differences in snap technology in Vectorworks 2009.

QT-02 – In this QuickTime we can observe the SmartCursor technology in Vectorworks 2009, complete with new found abilities. For instance, the new smart edges appear as dashed red lines (the color is customizable) while new mid-point and quarter-points appear as “marks” along these lines and the edges of objects. They also appear between objects — a very useful new feature!

We have spent some time on this new world-class snapping technology in Vectorworks 2009 because we think it is a bigger feature than many users realize. And with sharp customization users can tailor it exactly to their needs for optimal performance.

User Interface Improvements

In addition to the excellent new snapping and selection technology — all of which should be categorized as user interface improvements — there are several other interface improvements which contribute to a better workflow.

03 - Navigate back to Design Layer viewport option.

03 - Navigate back to Design Layer viewport option.

04 - Hit the orange button in the upper right to return to your Design Layer Viewport.

04 - Hit the orange button in the upper right to return to your Design Layer Viewport.

05 - The Navigation palette can now open referenced files directly.

05 - The Navigation palette can now open referenced files directly.

The best of these is probably the new Navigate Back to Design Layer Viewport from Design Layers. (see images 03 – 04). And now you can open up referenced files from within the Navigation Palette (see image 05). Lastly, the new Loupe Tool is a unique feature in Vectorworks 2009 that we have not seen before in a CAD or BIM application. By hitting a custom keyboard shortcut in the middle of an editing or creation process you can substantially zoom into the area under the cursor — greatly increasing your accuracy. This makes users more productive because they have to zoom in and out less frequently. (see image 06 below).

06 - The new Loupe tool. Zoom into any area from far back on the drawing to snap more accurately.

06 - The new Loupe tool. Zoom into any area from far back in the drawing to snap more accurately to objects, make quick adjustments and generally deal with zooming in and out less often.

 

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