Home > Features > Product Review: VectorWorks Architect 2008

Next a true BIM application should allow you to actually work in 3D -- with your BIM model and the primary tools that generate its primary geometric production. This is different than saying a BIM program should have advanced free-form modeling (NURBS-based). VectorWorks has had NURBS-based modeling for years and it outshines all other BIM programs in this category. But the ability to actually make and edit a wall, for instance, in 3d view is actually new. These new capabilities extend to inserting doors and window elements too. (see QT-09)

QT-09 - In this QuickTime we show the new 3D wall create, edit and modify elements features.

Lastly, anybody considering their 3D CAD application a BIM today must have support for exchanging data via IFC (industry foundation classes by IAI, the International Alliance for Interoperability). VectorWorks Architect 2008 adds support for this key interoperability technology.

Closing Remarks

VectorWorks Architect 2008 offers very nice small improvements that many other reviews seem to miss mentioning. A key one is the new object-based opacity control. VectorWorks has led the CAD industry with CAD color transparency in version 12 but this was limited to the Macintosh side of the application. Now both Mac and Windows users have object-level transparency/opacity options, utilizing the underlying graphics architecture of both operating systems (Mac OS X/Windows Vista).

The Resource Browser has several nice improvements, including a useful new Home button for better navigation as well as the ability to export resources from your active file (or any file that is open) to another file that is essentially not open. This means in teamwork situations individual team members can contribute key shared resources by sending them upstream into project-template.vwx files or other master files.

A key aspect of building design for US General Services Administration (GSA) is the utilization of BIM and the ability to attach associated data to the industry standard for Space objects. The Create Walls from Spaces command has added the ability to offset the exterior wall by using the custom offset of its wall style.

Finally, Adobe PDF support -- which is already very solid in VectorWorks 12 -- has been improved in 2008 with the support for PDF bookmarks generated via the batch Export PDF command. And lastly VectorWorks 2008 supports AutoCAD 2007/2008 and other key file formats.


There is no doubting it now, VectorWorks Architect 2008 is a true BIM application by just about any definition. Like all BIMs (and there are really only five (ie: ArchiCAD, Allplan, Microstation, Revit and VectorWorks Architect) future major contenders in the market, VectorWorks 2008 has some weaknesses and some strengths. One of its weaknesses is in the area of integration between pre-built parametric objects and advanced complex geometry. All BIMs are weak here so in some sense all are strong. But as more architects push the boundaries of complex form in their building designs, this area of competition forms a sort of "space race" in the BIM industry between the major contenders. VectorWorks' advanced built-in NURBS modeling puts it in good position to lead here but currently it is not the leader. It also suffers from a weaker position in regards to other types of integration (cost estimation being one of them) and BIM to 3rd party BIM tools -- used for various analysis, engineering and facilities management.

On the flip side it outshines the rest of the industry in superb 2D CAD integration within the product itself. It is also a more flexible BIM package in regards to the fact that many BIM-based projects are actually implemented as a mixture of BIM and traditional 2D CAD.

For existing VectorWorks Architect users looking to test the BIM waters this is your bus stop. And if you decide moving to BIM is still not right for you at this time, the many 2D creature comforts added to this version will still add value and efficiency to your work. For those now looking to jump from "whatever-2D-CAD" program you currently use to a true BIM workflow, VectorWorks Architect 2008 must be included in your considerations. ---- Anthony Frausto-Robledo, EIC

VectorWorks Architect 2008 - CAD/BIM Software

Update: 5/5 - Massive update provides tremendous value. We are impressed with the reach Nemetschek took on the BIM front.
Peer Value: 4.5/5 - Generally a leader in value in the CAD world; it is still a freshmen in the BIM world.
Features: 5/5 - Killer features in this update include its new design-layer viewports w/ xRef capability, layer overrides in viewports and the awesome rotate tool.
Learning: 4.5/5 - Solid help system and good BIM support materials; QuickTime tutorial materials that are free (on the Web) are few.
Performance: 4/5 - Neither the cheetah nor the lumbering lion in the BIM field or the CAD field. However, this version felt just as fast if not faster than the previous version.
Final Score: 5/5


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Published: 15 April 2008


Home > Features > Product Review: VectorWorks Architect 2008




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