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Vectorworks 2011 – A Preview in Boston

Nemetschek Vectorworks Inc. introduces Vectorworks 2011 this week with several landmark development milestones.

Several weeks ago Nemetschek Vectorworks Inc. (formerly Nemetschek North America), contacted me about a private preview of the next version of Vectorworks – version 2011. Of course an offer to see pre-release software is something you never want to refuse. After all we live for this stuff!


The company flew up three of its senior staff to meet me in Boston. And for several hours I was treated to a showcase of new features in the next release.

Summarizing Vectorworks 2011

The most important overall change in Vectorworks 2011 is that the program is now, more than ever, a true 3D modeling and 3D CAD environment. The company emphasizes the phrase “true 3D modeling” environment in its upcoming brochures which you can obtain on their website starting today, but the reality is this is both a true 3D CAD and 3D BIM environment. So why emphasize modeling?

Part of the answer is because Nemetschek wants you to know that there is no longer any reason to model anywhere else. No reason to model in SketchUp, Bonzai or formZ or whatever package you like to model in. Or at least that is part of the emphasis. Of course the company also recently announced a new partnership with Maxon about its integration of the CINEMA 4D rendering engine; because of that partnership there is also the excitement that more Vectorworks users will upgrade to the complete Maxon C4D software package. And inside that package there things you can do with modeling that you cannot do with Vectorworks 2011.

But that is another story. The story here is that Nemetschek Vectorworks has dramatically improved its software for serious schematic and final stage 3D modeling. And they did this by introducing a new and improved planar environment and by improving its existing Push/Pull tool. Up in Boston I spoke to Dr. Biplab Sarkar, CTO of Nemetschek Vectorworks.

Lessons from the MCAD World

AFR: Biplab, you guys have introduced serious changes to the 2D/3D workflow by affecting this new Planar environment where you can access and utilize all 2D and 3D tools regardless of what plane you are working on and whether or not that plane is parallel to the screen plane. Why such dramatic change? (see image 01)

01 - Vectorworks 2011 has a new integrated 2D/3D environment, enabling users to draft or model in any view orientation, using any combination of 2D or 3D tools.

DBS (Dr. Biplab Sarkar): Existing users were asking for tool consolidation where the 2D/3D cursor, 2D/3D reshape tool and other 2D/3D tools could work on any plane. They also wanted to draft on arbitrary planes and accomplish things like 3D hatching and 3D dimensioning. So now all the drafting operations can be achieved without changing any view, we took the active working plane approach–which is a well known workflow in the MCAD world.

AFR: So now you can draft and dimension and use symbols like the section cut symbol in 3D views?

DBS: Yes. And you can apply hatching in 3D views, which was very important to many of our customers.

AFR: Vectorworks uses the world-leading Parasolid modeling kernel. And it looks like you have truly added powerful Push/Pull capability in this release. Does it work on NURBS surfaces too? What does it not work on?

DBS: Yes it works on NURBS object or any planar object. This includes lines, arcs, polys as long as they are on the active working plane. The Push/Pull tool works on planar surfaces of almost all solid objects including, extrudes, sweeps, cones, fillets shells and more.

AFR: The new Face Selection Feedback is part of the new Push/Pull tool improvements. I can see how much easier it is to identify that you have selected the planar surface you want to affect with Push or Pull. Can you customize this color?

DBS: Yes, the face selection highlight follows the tool highlighting settings in the Interactive Appearance Settings dialog.

AFR: Is the program now 100 percent Parasolid-based?

DBS: Yes! All objects are now Parasolid based. Several of the newer features like the 3D wall components and slabs with components are making heavy use of the Parasolid modeling engine.

The new Vectorworks 2011 is not just 100 percent Parasolid-based it incorporates brand new features that take advantage of the other new features. One such new feature is the Extract Planar Objects, which can create instant planar objects from a 3D surface in the Extract Surface mode.

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