Home > Features > Product Review: VectorWorks Architect 2008

VectorWorks Architect Specific Features

A really cool new feature for architects who work with large buildings or buildings often with angles in their plans is the new rotate 2D plan feature. With it you can rotate your entire document so that the x-y coordinate system is re-aligned with angled portions of your building. Frank Lloyd Wright would have loved this tool! However, getting the knack of it may take a wee bit of time, as it did for us. See the QuickTime movie for it in action.(see QT-04).

QT-04 - In this QuickTime we show the new rotate plan feature, which is really very useful and easy to master. Watch as we demonstrate it a couple of times.

Design Layer Viewports and True-File Referencing

Now we are getting into the meat and potatoes of this major update. In VectorWorks 12 Nemetschek North America added viewports which created a model-space / paper-space structure to the program akin to Autodesk's AutoCAD software. However, such viewports were simply "windows" displaying particular views of data which would be laid out on "sheet-layers" to create drawing sheets. Now VectorWorks 2008 adds true external file referencing.

The essential key addition here is the new ability to create design-layer viewports. With the ability to create and place viewports on "design-layers" newfound possibilities open up, including the option to create references to "external" VectorWorks files. Bear in mind that creating viewports for sheet-layers is still a preferred way to lay out your architectural drawing sheets, as it enables you to create a viewport or viewports of essential and repeatable title-block data.

For users who have adopted sheet-layer viewports in VectorWorks 12 your first baby step in creating "design-layer" viewports may surprise you. When creating a viewport in VectorWorks 12 you always created the viewport on top of the drawing data you wanted in your viewport. In other words the source location. However, when creating a design-layer viewport you are in the receiving side of the location where the viewport is to be displayed. The following QuickTime movie demonstrates the difference (see QT-05 - QT-06).

QT-05 - In this QuickTime we work through the palettes of setting up both types of viewports: sheet-layer and design-layer. Note that you need a "crop object" for sheet-layer viewports.
QT-06 - In this QuickTime we update a design-layer viewport (from the Nav palette) and show that there is no "annotation" space layer in design-layer viewports. You dimension and note on the placement layer.

The Viewport dialog box now has several new areas. There is a new Select Source button and at the top, where it says Create on Layer, you have a new pop-up menu that is clearly organized and provides three options for the location (ie: New Sheet Layer, New Design Layer or choose one of the existing design layers in the current document) (see image 11). If you choose an external source another dialog pops up where you can select the source of your viewport data. Previous external references appear in a drop-down menu, while selecting New Reference allows you to choose a new VectorWorks file. (see image 12).

So users may be confused as to when you use which type of viewport in VectorWorks 2008. To clarify, design-layer viewports are generated from and rest upon data on design layers themselves. Sheet-layer viewports however rest upon special sheet layers and their data is generated from design layers. If the purpose of a viewport for you is to show already drawn data at a different scale then you will want to utilize sheet-layer viewports because design layers can only have one scale at a time. And design-layer viewports do not have annotation layers attached to them for noting and dimensions. Instead you note and dimension them directly on the design layer in which they rest. (see QT-06).

11 - This image shows the new Create Design-Layer viewport palette, with its new organization and "source" options.
12 - This image shows the new Create Design-Layer viewport palette, with its new organization and "source" options.

One of the primary goals of design-layer viewports for Nemetschek North America was to add true external file referencing (xRefs). The company has spent considerable effort on developing strategies for utilizing these new capabilities and has two projects on its website for download and examination. The largest project is a million square foot plus, mid-rise multi-use structure of considerable size. As part of the VectorWorks BIM in Practice Series, the Ellicott Heights project explores and demonstrates the use of true-external file referencing via design layer viewports and shared project resources. It is excellent that the company is providing such resources for its users.


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