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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.

Continued from page 3

Part 3: New Productivity Improvements & Compatibilities Features

We have already touched on the new world-class snapping and selection technology and a few excellent user-interface improvements. Both contribute to increased user productivity overall when using the program. There are of course some specific tool improvements that can greatly speed things up.

The first of these is the new Eyedropper support for Design Layer Viewports. If you use viewport objects as “reference objects” with layer color and opacity over-rides then you are going to love this new capability. In essence, after setting up one such reference viewport, you can quickly mass edit a series of viewports by applying the attributes of the master reference viewport object. (see QuickTime QT-04) 

QT-04 – In this movie we observe the use of the eye-dropper tool applying attributes from one design-layer viewport to several other design-layer viewports. Class and layers, class and layer over-rides, and color and other attributes can be quickly picked up and applied. This is especially valuable when using color and opacity settings for layers in design-layer viewports — saves time!

Of course this eyedropper support for viewports is hardly limited to 2D information. Class and layer attributes, including over-rides all work in any kind of viewport, of both 2D and 3D information.

Also cool is the new Polyline Arc improvements made to the Polyline tool. Two new arc modes allow you to create precise arc segments within a polyline. Very useful to landscape architects or architects doing road, driveway or sidewalk layouts (as this QuickTime movie at Nemetschek NA attests) but equally useful to architects creating moulding profiles for cornices, crowns, casings and related items. In earlier versions of Vectorworks Architect users would have a few different ways of creating precise moulding profiles, including drawing individual arcs, and line segments and then composing them together. A faster method would be to use the polyline tool. But it was clumsy without the arc modes now introduced into Vectorworks 2009. (see QuickTime QT-05 for a quick moulding).

QT-05 – Using the two new arc modes in the updated Polyline tool it is now easier than ever to quickly produce moulding profiles. 

New Import/Export Capabilities

Vectorworks has always had solid if not great import/export capabilities between various industry file formats — especially good on the graphics side due to its use of Apple’s QuickTime cross-platform media architecture. Now thanks to the use of Parasolid there are even better capabilities for file compatibility between both graphics and CAD and engineering software file formats.

You can now import and export Parasolid X_T file format. Additionally, a big new enhancement is the new Drag and Drop import support. Simply drag and drop any of these file formats into an open Vectorworks 2009 window: DXF/DWG, IFC, EPSF, Metafile, PICT, PDF, Shapefile, 3DS, IGES, SAT, SketchUp, Parasolid and of course image file formats compliments of Apple’s QuickTime Media architecture. These would include JPEG, JPEG 2000, GIF, TIFF, PICT, MacPaint, PNG and QuickTime image format, among others. Drag and drop imports the file. (see QuickTime QT-06 below)

QT-06 – This movie shows the new Drag & Drop import support for Vectorworks 2009. Simply drag files from your desktop (or Downloads folder under Leopard) or anywhere to an open Vectorworks 2009 window. This begins the import process. 
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Reader Comments

  1. Posted by:
    Gerrit
    February 24, 2009 02:48 am EST

    Covering both the 2D basic drawing techniques as well as the BIM capacities of Vectorworks and lots of aspects in between, this is a quite complete and professional review. As a long time MiniCAD/Vectorworks user, I also appreciate this article as a well structured “What’s New in this version” guide.
    Thanks, Anthony – good work.

  2. Gerrit,

    Thanks for the feedback. With apps we have reviewed before we will begin focusing more on the “what’s new” aspects and do less of an “overall view” of the entire application. Glad to hear you appreciated that focus.

  3. Dear Anthony,

    I agree with Gerrit that you’ve provided a thorough look at Vectorworks 2009; very good review. Software developers often tout their product release’s features, but I find it’s always helpful to see which new features and improvements new users find compelling. Reviews like your are great because sometimes a “minor” enhancement that gets a small mention in the official literature turns out to be a huge hit. A few years ago, for example, Vectorworks incorporated double-click editing of high-level objects like parametrics, symbols, and groups. That small change made a huge difference in the user experience and efficiency.

    Here’s a short list of new features that I find really compelling in my day-to-day work with Vectorworks, some of which you mentioned, which I take the liberty of posting here, in no particular order:

    –Gray/snap others while in groups
    –Snap loupe
    –New Move and Position features for Doors and Windows in walls
    –Drag and drop files into drawing area
    –Snap to PDF (and the undocumented feature of ungrouping vector-drawn PDFs)
    –Renderworks textures to wall and floor edges
    –“Concave” holes in walls
    –Faster Sheet Layer Viewport renderings

    If you don’t mind the plug, I discuss those features with Patrick Stanford and Dan Jansenson on their PodCad podcast: http://podcad.tv/Home.html.

  4. This is excellent…to hear readers chime in on their views. That’s why we built in this commentary feature into the site itself. Even AppleInsider doesn’t have this…and we are thrilled to see people start using it. And readers should not feel shy about minor plugs and links to their websites. Architosh is a community. – AFR

  5. Posted by:
    TLDesign
    October 1, 2009 07:06 am EDT

    I found the upgrade to 2009 extremely frustrating – stability issues completely blighted the experience. Not until SP4 did most of these issue get resolved. The response from Nemetschek was that all applications when they are first released are inherently unstable. This I accept given the wide range of legacy OS’s out here and platform configurations it is difficult to chart all potential bugs, however in some areas of basic functionality there are some continuing issues. I believe that if reviewers also considered rigorously crash testing application software developers would be a little less blasé about this issue when an application is launched. Instability is a serious drain of productivity.

Comments are closed.

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