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Product Review: Vectorworks Architect 2018

Vectorworks 2018’s new “multi-views” technology may be the show stopper in the latest release, but as John Helm notes, this is also the most sturdy first release in a long time.


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Although I do not use this feature a lot, worksheets are one feature that has tremendous potential. An organized professional can use it to automate the creation of reports, schedules, cost estimates, and various other worksheets. For example, if you organize the door symbols with detailed information, like hardware, style, materials, etc. You can very easily automate the process of getting a very detailed door schedule.

Site Model Contour Editing

What is a 3D model of your project without a model of the site? OK, your site is flat so no big deal. But in reality, every site has its curves, dips, and drainage channels, not to mention a bit of sloping terrain or hillside lots. So once using the regular site modeling tools, you have created a model of the site, and it is now easy to modify an existing or new contour line and immediately change the model by editing its polyline. I used this a bunch on a current project and found it easy to use.

Trees and People

Props are a feature of Vectorworks that has been around for a long time, but still a great tool for rendering without increasing file size. Props are symbols made in such a way that in 3D views they can always face the viewer, similar to props in a stage setting.

08 – Props of people turn toward the camera in Renderworks renderings automatically. The same applies to trees and other objects, as configured.

This is useful for making and placing objects in rendered views. Since they are 2D, they add very little to the file size. There are many landscape props, and I have made several using pictures of real people. They are available to acquire here.


That is always a question which current users need to answer when a new version comes out. Fortunately, Vectorworks is still a program which you can buy and then keep on using as long as you like. So, spending the money to upgrade is always a question to be asked by those who are not already on the Vectorworks Service Select and maintenance program. Is it worth the expense of upgrading?

There are many improvements this year, and two major reasons for upgrading are multi-views and the direct section and elevation editing. But there is one other big reason. No one likes to talk about bugs in software, after all, if you buy a shirt, you don’t expect to have to accept it with some flaw in the material. But software, especially something as complex as a BIM program always comes with a few, sometimes more than a few and we just have to live with them. Vectorworks has a great group of beta testers, and they spend every year going after bugs in the program. I have seen some of the lists of things that have been fixed some were old, and some resulted from changes in the program. Lots of things that may have bugged you in the past are gone. The news here is that Vectorworks 2018 runs smoothly, it hums along like a supercharged diesel engine with plenty of power to haul a heavy load up a steep hill without a single misfire. In other words, sometimes a new release of an existing program is just better because it’s better.


If you want to see how beautiful Vectorworks can be and get a glimpse of what it can do have a look at this video:

V2 – This is the promo video on Vectorworks 2018 and shows the major new features. 

Closing Comments

Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Vectorworks software is that once designers and architects get familiar with it and use it in their work, they rarely switch to another program. They stick with it even though some other programs may have more users. It is a design program that knows no limits; from chairs to skyscrapers, it makes designing fun.

There are many features—some new some old—that I have not touched on. The best way to find out more about them is to visit the Vectorworks website. —- John Helm, NCARB

Pros: Version 2018 stays intuitive despite new advanced features; new “multi-views” is much-demanded feature and extremely well-executed with class visibility controls per view; new SubD modeling features add more capability to 3D shape-making work; direct section and elevation editing is huge BIM feature improvement, and new more accessible IFC BIM data along with robust wall modeling improvements further adds to Architect’s arsenal. One feature greatly to be appreciated is the direct contour editing post site model generation. New rendered panoramas and upgraded CineRender engine add to presentation capabilities. This was a particularly stable robust dot zero release—the best in memory—and will surely please upgrading users. 

Cons: While CineRender comes from a sister company and is excellent, Vectorworks os still missing support for some key industry-leading external rendering engines, particularly the dominant V-Ray, and there are no “interactive rendering” tools (eg: Lumion, Twinmotion, etc) built-in nor apart of sister company technologies. 

Advice: Even if you are not doing BIM in Vectorworks yet, the new Multi-views features will be of benefit in helping you consider the migration. And for general 3D modeling multi-views excels, making this release particularly appealing. For urban designers and landscape architects, Vectorworks 2018 offers powerful new plant tags that support a visual component and the contour line direct editing is also extremely appealing and useful. For many users, the multi-views feature will tip the balance in favor of an upgrade. For new users, Vectorworks easily outclasses much of the competition and at a lower price. 

Costs: $2,945.USD (new license) and $1,031 (upgrade from v2017). 
















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Reader Comments

  1. Section editing is just now implemented? That has been in Archicad since the 1990’s. I guess it’s not really an ArchiCad / Revit competitor?.

  2. Section editing is just now implemented? That has been in Archicad since the 1990’s. I guess it’s not really an ArchiCad / Revit competitor?.

Comments are closed.

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