Yesterday Biplab Sarkar, CTO of Nemetschek Vectorworks, kicked off the third major keynote at the Vectorworks Design Summit users conference in downtown Philadelphia. This is the first time in the company’s history that users could gain a peek at the future of the next major version of the popular, cross-platform CAD/BIM software. Moreover, Dr. Sarkar also provided a brief look at the future of Vectorworks beyond 2017.
What’s cool is that the press can talk about virtually all of it. There was of course one future item that is restricted for the press. How the company intends to keep all its 300 plus attendees who saw that special future feature a secret is anyone’s best guess…?
I can’t talk about it but below is a summary of what the press can talk about. In total, it’s pretty major stuff.
Future of Vectorworks—2016 and Beyond
Rhino + Grasshopper, may I introduce to you Marionette? (I think I got that name right…)
The name is actually insignificant. What is significant is that Vectorworks 2016, coming later this year, will introduce the software market’s first true, cross-platform visual-scripting modeling environment. And an advanced modeling environment at that. If readers have used Rhino + Grasshopper—as some of the architects speaking at the conference have—then you understand the idea and the power of this change for Vectorworks users and for the world of Mac-based architects as well.
The skinny is this. The leading visual scripting modeling tools don’t run natively on Mac OS X. This changes everything.
While Architosh has written about his before, and about upcoming native tools from important software developers, what is truly different is that all the power of Rhino + Grasshopper (in terms of under-the-hood power) is coming fully onboard directly inside a BIM tool. Marionette inside Vectorworks 2016 looks more or less just like Bentley Generative Components, Dynamo and Rhino + Grasshopper—with wired nodes connecting mathematical scripts that tap the underlying modeling power of the tool it touches. (see image 01 – 02) In this case, we are talking about Parasolid modeling kernel plus the new Pixar-based SubDivision surface technology.
This brings us to the next feature in Vectorworks 2016. If you are an astute Architosh or other CAD publication reader you may have noticed the trend of tools incorporating SubDs into, and alongside, NURBS-based and polygonal modelers. The new SubDs in Vectorworks 2016 can be powered inside the new visual scripting tools.
Dr. Sarkar also introduced a new built-in energy modeling technology which is aimed at helping architects understand the energy efficiencies of their designs. We will share more information later. Vectorworks 2016 will also, and for many users apparently, at long last, feature new team-work functionality allowing multiple users to work on the same file at the same time. In a nutshell, users will have new role-based permissions, new check-in/check-out capabilities associated with layers and a new file arrangement structure that is server-based or centralized.
Finally, Vectorworks 2016 will feature the ability to bring in point-cloud data and generate an interactive view and environment with this point–cloud data. This part was actually visually stunning, in almost a sci-fi kind of way. (see image 03)
What’s powering all these changes in Vectorworks 2016, and future versions, is fundamentally global growth of the software platform. At the event Sean Flaherty, CEO, noted that according to one recent study Vectorworks Architect is the leading BIM tool—in use as a BIM tool—in the United Kingdom. And this global growth is leading the company to expand its development offices. But more on this later…