VECTORWORKS ARCHITECT 2024 IS THE LATEST version of the popular global BIM-CAD solution for architectural and related design professionals. Our last review of this product was the 2021 release, where we found the product addressed more capabilities via third-party integrations, particularly in the rendering category.
The Smart Options Display technologies were a big part of our last review in version 2021, but Vectorworks has a history of persistently advancing its user interface and user experience for the betterment of its users, and this release is no exception.
New in Vectorworks Architect 2024
In this review article, we will summarize the critical feature updates, starting with those in the Fundamentals version, which is thus common to all industry vertical versions of Vectorworks 2024.
Version 2024 is a significant release for the company, particularly in an industry where some of its BIM competitors have released smaller annual updates.
As a case in point, core new technology and features in version 2024 include a substantial user interface. However, this new UI doesn’t change the UX so much that older users will feel lost. In fact, the new horizontally located “view bar,” with a similar vibe to Microsoft’s Ribbon UI technology, aids new users coming from rival BIM platforms that feature a similar UI/UX. In the review section below, we’ll comment more on some of the new UI features.
Fully optimized on both Apple and Microsoft’s latest operating systems—including, notably, its Apple Silicon (ARM chip) support for Mac—the Vectorworks team seems to have more time than ever to deliver new features and feature improvements.
Viewport Styles is another significant new core technology in version 2024. Vectorworks already has some of the best—if not the best—viewport technology in the industry. Why is it so great?
The answer partly lies in the program’s flexibility. Vectorworks has both classes and layers, and both can control the visibility and attributes of objects, including a graphical richness with both internal and external (xref) viewports. What Viewport Styles does is enable you to save various combinations of viewport settings.
Other new core features include enhanced rendering technologies. Vectorworks 2024 has entirely left OpenGL behind and now takes advantage of each operating system’s best proprietary graphics APIs.
As such, this release adds shaded rendering shadows and camera effects, including those based on film exposure and film speed settings. Sections through buildings and objects are now rendered faster as well and use up to 75 percent less memory.
We take a deeper look at these features in detail below.
The sheer amount of BIM updates in version 2024 is impressive. Major new items include brand-new 3D parametric object cabinetry tools. We spent some time testing these out and exploring their various settings.
Using what we believe is the same foundational technology, version 2024 also features completely overhauled parametric handrails and guardrails, which we also explored briefly.
Vectorworks Architect 2024 features improvements to its Wall tool, enabling, in particular, wall component returns that are highly flexible for designers and can be saved into reusable configurations. These closure settings can be named and associated with specific wall types. You can also individually apply them to openings (doors and windows) on a case-by-case basis.
An interesting new BIM feature is the new graphical widget for managing door or window handedness. The “handedness” of a door, for example, refers to how the door operates and is meaningful to architects for door hardware specification. This new feature removes the need to visit modal palettes to change these settings—an example of how CEO Dr. Biplab Sarkar noted that the future of Vectorworks is one that partly aims to bring more controls for the user out of palettes and under the cursor at objects.
Version 2024 also brings materials for doors and windows and added texture controls. For walls, slabs, and roofs, experienced BIM users can now set texture attributes directly in 3D versus through class settings via pallets.
next page: Testing Vectorworks Architect 2024