VECTORWORKS HAS A NEW PARTNER NETWORK, and the company is taking third parties and their solutions and technologies in an entirely different light than in the past.
For a company that has always prided itself on the power and economic advantages of its “all-in-one” CAD/BIM software package, this signal of change with the new Vectorworks Partner Network will need some explaining. Recently we spoke with Jeremy Powell, Chief Marketing Officer, Vectorworks, Inc., about the new network and why it matters.
The Power of One + Many
Some software solutions—and we won’t name names—rely heavily on the power of vast and robust third-party solutions that surround their core products rather than trying to fulfill their users’ every need internally within the core product. Vectorworks has been primarily focused on the latter paradigm for a long time. So why the change now? And what exactly is changing?
“As a company, we have always prided ourselves on providing the great ‘all-in-one’ solution story about design. In fact, we still do,” says Powell, “but there is a lot of value to be added through strategic partnerships, particularly through technology hardware and software partners.” Powell talks up the incredible innovation that so many partner technology companies contribute to the AEC and CAD industries.
These partner companies operate within an overall software industry context that is increasingly cloud-based and inter-connected. In other words, the software industry is blooming around so-called “integrations.” And while the AEC industry is still largely desktop-based or desktop-bound, integrations via APIs are everywhere.
So while Powell says Vectorworks still differentiates itself by its all-in-one powers, it now looks to leverage the expansive marketplace of best-in-breed point solutions populating the AEC industry. “The number one goal for us is to identify those partners who are going to innovate and provide a better solution together with us,” says Powell.
Vectorworks has long had available third-party APIs and SDKs with which to work. The difference now is that the company has developed Vectorworks Graphics Sync technology.
“The Graphics Sync pipeline allows us to integrate partner solutions more easily,” he says, “and each time we do that with a new partner, we gain knowledge and use that knowledge to improve the technology.” “The Partner Network is helping the company stay focused,” says Powell on the underlying technologies and how they are evolving. The goal is to lower the barrier to entry for plugin and synchronization solutions and decrease overall development costs.
As a company, we have always prided ourselves on providing the great ‘all-in-one’ solution story about design. In fact, we still do, but there is a lot of value to be added through strategic partnerships, particularly through technology hardware and software partners.
Their Graphics Sync technologies first got deployed with Lumion, the rendering application. Now, all of Lumion’s interactive real-time rendering competitors have, or are coming, onboard via Graphics Sync to provide their rendering solutions to Vectorworks users.
Other third-party solutions have driven different ways to integrate Vectorworks, including things like web browsers in tool palettes and web interfaces inside of Vectorworks. “mtexture, Mosa, AutoTURN by Transoft Solutions and BIMObject integrations are these types of partner developments that happened quickly because of these technologies,” adds Powell. Suddenly with a few smartly crafted technology developments, Vectorworks has experienced unprecedented expansion with top-tier third-party digital tools.
While the new Partner Network expands on the ‘digital tools’ front, Vectorworks is also actively growing content that its users can leverage in their projects. “Anybody who has ever been involved in trying to work on content understands it as a pretty tall task,” he cautions, noting that developing BIM, 3D, and 2D content is labor-intensive. Yet the new Vectorworks Partner Network actively seeks this expansion.
Powell says the company has a three-prong approach. “The first thing we do is ask, what can Vectorworks create?” he says. That process involves getting manufacturers to grant permission to build native Vectorworks libraries of their manufactured content. “We find most people agree to it,” he says, noting that it can take time and effort and is not the preferred pathway for such content.
The second pathway to such content is through the custom plugin object. “BIMObject is an excellent example of that system, and I think it is incredibly fruitful. “What that does is instead of Vectorworks being on the hook to schedule and create that content, partners like BIMObject are on the hook and create the content; the plugin for BIMObject allows users to gain access to that content immediately.”
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our partner Enscape announced they are working on a Mac version, and this is welcome news for Vectorworks users.
Powell says the third pathway to content is something the company is spending research on. It involves so-called ‘content aggregators,’ and he says, “we are on the lookout for particular organizations that are willing to open up relations with us.” Finally, Powell answered my question about user-generated or ‘crowd-sourced’ content by saying, “there are certainly interesting possibilities here. We’ve observed pros and cons to ‘crowd-sourced’ content over the years that has led us to stick with creating and organizing high-quality content libraries ourselves. At the same time, we want users who are interested in something like crowd-sourced content to talk to us about it,” noting that the more users communicate an interest, the more they can convince them to change course.
The Vectorworks Partner Network is more than about value-add technology integrations and expanding content. The Partner Network boasts awareness of Vectorworks itself to new audiences around the globe and tangent markets.
“Depending on where you are in the world, you may not know Vectorworks or have a different perspective about what Vectorworks is all about,” says Powell. “Of course, this works vice versa; a lot of these partners aren’t necessarily so well known amongst Vectorworks customers.”
Nemetschek Group Synergies
This concept applies to other Nemetschek Group sister companies as well. While many, if not most, Vectorworks customers know of sister brand Maxon’s Cineware rendering engine as the base renderer in Vectorworks, they likely don’t know about its recent Redshift Render acquisition. “Redshift and its integration are another of the render engine pipelines that offer great awareness potential for us,” says Powell.
Redshift’s higher-end GPU rendering power bodes well for Vectorworks in general as customers are always looking for faster ways to accomplish what they want.
Maxon isn’t the only prominent Nemetschek sibling in the Vectorworks Partners Network. Powell says there are important future Solibri initiatives to expand upon Solibri integration today.
The Vectorworks Partner Network is building successes one technology integration at a time. Powell says the network to future partners goes beyond just technology integrations. “It is a lot about co-marketing successes and building awareness around workflow stories that give mutual customers options and point solutions,” he says.
A recent highlight has been wrapping in promotional offers on Partner solutions for all Vectorworks Service Select customers. “We just rolled that out with our new partner Epic Games with Twinmotion, and it has been widely successful with Vectorworks customers, taking advantage of the special promotion,” says Powell.
The Vectorworks Partner Network contains many of the AEC and CAD industry’s hottest new names. Lumion, Bluebeam, BIMobject, Enscape, Epic Games (Twinmotion), Revizto, and Solibri are critical leaders in AEC/O and complement a growing body of smaller or regional technology offerings, like SimTread by A&A Co. Ltd, and crowd:it — both tools focused on pedestrian simulation solutions, plus tools like Mosa, AutoTurn by Transoft Solutions, and NBS Chorus.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our partner Enscape announced they are working on a Mac version, and this is welcome news for Vectorworks users. Vectorworks will be working with Enscape to ensure the robust workflow link between Vectorworks and Enscape works great for Mac users,” boasts Powell. “I’m excited about that and the growing momentum in the network and what it is doing for the future of Vectorworks.”