Maryland-based Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc, will soon publicly unveil its new Vectorworks 2014 product line featuring some dramatic new software technologies and a range of new features and improvements the company is betting will be very well received by its loyal and growing user-based, now totaling nearly a half million.
Much Better 3D and the New Vectorworks Graphics Module
This year’s annual update to the Vectorworks CAD/BIM product line included some really interesting news that some industry observers may not have noticed. New in Vectorworks 2014 and its industry product series is a dramatically better interactive 3D OpenGL-based visual environment. This is huge news for existing users who sometimes opt to model in rival dedicated programs like Trimble’s SketchUp, despite the fact that Vectorworks has the world’s leading modeling kernel, Parasolid, under the hood.
Unlike in past versions, working in OpenGL 3D mode in Vectorworks 2014 comes with several key improvements. First among these is that the entire scene stays “persistently rendered” in OpenGL while orbiting or navigating a scene. Try orbiting a large model in Vectorworks today in any version other than what is coming and many times the entire scene converts to 3D wireframe mode in order to handle the change being demanded of the screen redraw. Additionally, there is full OpenGL occlusion support which means that things behind things stay that way and prevent you from selecting them on accident–a problem that the ClipCube partially solved in version 2013. Lastly, the new OpenGL persistently rendered mode is much faster and of higher quality–users will experience interactive light aiming and faster OpenGL shadows by default.
To pull this off the company rewrote their entire OpenGL render pipeline from scratch. In the process the company developed a new rendering engine they have named Vectorworks Graphics Module. We will discuss the new VGM in more detail in another article but suffice it to say it is a multi-component software engine that solves problems that other available third-party rendering API providers can’t quite solve at the moment. The next result is fast scenes on both Mac and Windows platforms.
Patent Pending Tech
Still in the area of 3D and better modeling, the company also has some patent-pending technology called X-Ray Select, which is quite cool and powerful. In a sample movie a user in navigating an OpenGL rendered kitchen scene and is able to peer into the refrigerator, Superman style, and see its contents in wire-frame mode and select an item in the frig and pull it out onto the kitchen counter.
Excitingly, the CAD company is starting to introduce what some in the industry call global modifiers or transformers, though they are just the beginning right now. New is the ability to select an object (solid, solid faces, or NURBS surfaces) and perform a twist function on the entire selection.
Other Major Features include:
- BIM improvement – can now move or duplicate walls and they preserve their connections, in other words persistent self-healing or self-joining
- BIM improvement – can now create a Cross Section from the ClipCube’s cut plane position
- Efficiency – you can now important an image object into Vectorworks 2014 and crop it within the program
- Efficiency – a new preview mirror tool feature helps you see the end result of mirroring before you do it
- Efficiency – a new simply 2D polys command will greatly aid simplification of grades for complex site data
- Efficiency – you can now preview object level opacity settings before selecting out of the function
- Efficiency – you can now measure objects in Sheet Layer (Paper space) viewports without entering Annotation mode or the actual viewport
- Interoperability – one of the biggest new features is the ability to do direct referring of DWG, DXF and DWF files so you now don’t have to rely on a “shuttle file” unless you want to.
- Interoperability – you can now export All Visible Objects in Layers in export 3ds Max or Parasolid
There are also numerous improvements to Vectorworks LandMark and Vectorworks Spotlight industry solutions. And perhaps one of the coolest new features of all is the new support for Python 3 scripting, complimenting the company’s own Vectorscript language.
Renderworks 2014 also gets some key updates, including new displacement mapping, images for brick shaders and more. Additionally, the company is pouring more resources into its Vectorworks Service Select subscription product to motivate subscription adoption. During the press call CEO Sean Flaherty noted that architecture firms in particular want more educational assistance in migrating their practice to BIM workflows. Service Select members will find numerous unique resources just for them.
Some Mac Specific Goodies
New for Mac users will be a new support for multi-threading for hidden line rendering, increasing this rendering type by up to 40 percent. That is the one item that jumps out now in the information packet but there may be more.
The new direct-referering feature comes to the program not through some API licensed as part of the DWG/DXF interoperability options but rather from home-brewed code.
Availability and Announcement
The company will make an official announcement on 17 September 2013. Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc., will provide the new software to Service Select members a full week earlier than others. The product will ship to all customers by 23 September 2013. At this point we don’t have pricing information on the Vectorworks 2014 product line. To visit Nemetschek Vectorworks online visit here.
We are impressed with the company’s decisions to home-brew key code assets rather than license them from third-party API providers. Sister company Maxon already provides a strategic asset in its superb rendering engine so the company has been free to concentrate on the OpenGL space where BIM work in particular really counts. As does general modeling where key rivals include bonzai 3D and SketchUp.
These days BIM players are strongly attacking the direct-modeling space where the aforementioned products dominate in market share, mind share and abilities. Architects may likely prefer to keep their entire workflow within their BIM application, yet at the same time the whole Open BIM concept, of which parent Nemetschek AG is the grand leader, dictates a philosophy of interoperability and product specific-ness. With “persistent OpenGL” now out of the way in this release Nemetschek Vectorworks is free to attack the modeling space in several different ways, from more direct and simplified abilities to rival the conceptual modelers, to more sophisticated organic and generative tools like Rhino, Grasshopper and Dynamo.