Is it CAD or BIM? Vectorworks 2015 combines enough of both to satisfy a variety of design and development needs. In all, reviewers and users have been pleased with what they’ve seen from this new product. It seems to be an improvement over previous versions in several ways (more discussion on this below), and offers some neat new features that can be helpful in a multitude of situations. Here is what you need to know before investing in this version of Vectorworks.
One of the biggest improvements in the 2015 version is 64-bit capabilities across all of the products. The product description states, “We do not consider remote login environments (such as remote desktops, terminal services, or virtual machine environments, such as Parallels and VMware) to be appropriate for regular work, so Vectorworks performance in these situations is not of primary concern to us.”
This was concerning to some users who planned to use the product in remote situations or in a cloud environment. However, numerous users have had good success operating Vectorworks 2015 with both the cloud and via remote workstations. The primary concern is connectivity and bandwidth, not any known issues with the product itself. This version is compatible with all of the common modern processors.
The interface will be familiar to most users, a sort of mash up of Photoshop, SketchUp, and MicroStation. Though it was originally designed for use on Apple computers, Vectorworks 2015 looks and acts exactly the same on Windows systems as it does on the Mac. This makes it easy for users to switch between systems and collaborate with others who rely on different systems.
The open GL mode is becoming more common in software developed for CAD workstations, and is well received by users for its easy fly around mode, simplicity in changing viewing modes, seamless virtual walk through mode, and speed in switching between modes and features.
Users are also having fun with the Deform Tool, which allows you to bend solid geometric shapes into user-defined shapes. Though this is more practical for users like furniture designers, it’s fun to play around with.
Vectorworks 2015 also features the ability to set text style by class, which allows you to provide more consistency within the documentation. It also allows for the modification of PDF files. You can now import a PDF file and crop it. This is helpful when using only part of a PDF file as a reference, and for including a picture of the product within the design.
Rectangle Wall Mode is another significant improvement which allows you to select a type of wall and create it by simply drawing a rectangle. You can draw curtain walls automatically, without having to input vertical or horizontal mullions. Better yet, if you decide to change the design halfway through, you don’t have to begin the entire process over again.
For photorealistic renderings, users can import 3DS and SKI files, such as those found on 3D Warehouse and Turbosquid, or use images provided with Vectorworks, which are somewhat improved over previous versions and render quickly.
Vectorworks 2015 continues to require large amounts of memory and a fast processor to run. Users who lack a sufficiently equipped workstation have reported problems running out of memory, having to shut down the program, and even sometimes having to reboot the computer.
How Much Does It Cost and What’s in the Box?
Expect to pay just under $3,500 for Vectorworks 2015 from most outlets. The Vectorworks 2015 installation DVD, “Let’s Get Started” pamphlet, and “Getting Started” DVD come in the box. The all-inclusive product features:
• Vectorworks Architect
• Vectorworks Landmark
• Vectorworks Spotlight
• Vectorworks Machine Design
In September we announced the release of the 2012 version of Vectorworks® software. The release contains more than 100 performance and usability improvements to help users save time and increase their productivity. If you’re thinking about trying one of the Vectorworks design series programs, or if you’re ready for an upgrade, you may have some questions about hardware selection. Here is a brief overview to get you started.
The main benefits provided by hardware to Vectorworks 2012 come from the number of CPU cores available, as well as their individual clock speed.
If you use Renderworks, the Vectorworks rendering application, you’ll want a CPU with multiple cores because when rendering in Renderworks® modes, Vectorworks 2012 software is capable of utilizing dozens of cores. These cores can all be accessed at the same time, which drastically decreases the rendering time over older single-core machines.
Thoughts on Memory
Memory (RAM) is less important to Vectorworks software, with a good base being 4GB to allow plenty of free RAM for the operating system, as well as for the Vectorworks program and a few other applications to run in the background.
Vectorworks is normally not very memory intensive, so you would not notice the difference between two machines with identical processors and video cards. For example, if one had 4GB and one had 12GB, your experience with the program would likely be similar. However, there are instances where more memory can be helpful to you. For example, if you run multiple apps on your machine, such as CINEMA 4D or Scia Engineer, extra RAM will be useful to improving overall performance.
The other aspects to consider when choosing hardware for the Vectorworks 2012 program are video cards (which are covered in detail here), and the drive the machine will use. Vectorworks would receive a mild benefit to open/close times and speed increases when saving files if you were to use an SSD (Solid State Drive) as compared to a regular 7200RPM HDD (Hard Disk Drive). However, you would not notice significant drafting speed or rendering speed increases if you used a faster drive.
To learn more about how to maximize your Vectorworks 2012 software experience, please see our list of Vectorworks system recommendations.
Author: Jim Wilson, Technical Support Specialist, Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc.
CADspeed editors would like to pay tribute to Apple cofounder and former CEO Steve Jobs, who passed away on Wednesday. Although PC users outnumber Mac users in our field, often it was technology conceived by Jobs and developed by Apple that influenced and even transformed the CAD world over the years.
Under Jobs, Apple released the first Macintosh 128 in 1984, according to Wikipedia. Just a year later, Diehl Graphsoft was founded and released MiniCAD, which became the best-selling CAD software on the Mac. Alongside MiniCAD, Diehl Graphsoft also released Blueprint, a 2D CAD program for the Mac targeted at architects. Now MiniCAD is known as Vectorworks and Diehl Graphsoft is Nemetschek Vectorworks, still major players in the CAD world.
In those early years, Apple made forays into several technical, architectural, and engineering markets. Over the years, the company lost ground to PCs in some industries, but Apple stood strong among its dedicated users in 2D design and video markets. Some major CAD software developers, including ArchiCAD and Vectorworks, have supported Mac users for decades.
Jobs stood fast in his belief that hardware and software created by the same company was the way to develop the best products. Apple’s rise in the past decade, with the introductions of the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad, is a testament to his vision. “If the hardware is the brain and the sinew of our products, the software is their soul,” was one of the last things he said publicly, at an Apple event on June 6.
Today, Jobs’ legacy lives on in the recent re-release of AutoCAD for Mac and the growing number of CAD-related apps built on Apple’s iOS platform. Because of Jobs, somewhere right now a CAD designer is sitting on a bench in a park, eating lunch and using an iPad to view and mark up a CAD drawing. One man’s vision changed our world. From all of us, thank you, Steve Jobs.
With any design program, no matter how novice or experienced you may be, you’re probably prone to making the occasional error. Start off the right way by checking the basic system recommendations before installing Vectorworks CAD software. System requirements can be found on the Nemetschek Vectorworks website. Also spend some time learning how you can optimize your desktop or workstation and get the most out of your Vectorworks experience.
With Vectorworks software, users at all levels have very likely made some common mistakes. All of them are related to settings and shortcuts that are intended to make design work faster and more enjoyable, but for the uninformed user these shortcuts can also cause some frustration. But fear not—they are all very easy to remedy.
Problems with Plug-Ins
Vectorworks is rich in plug-in objects, such as doors and windows, which help users efficiently place intelligent objects in their designs. However, if you’re not familiar with these plug-ins, you might find difficulty inserting doors and windows into your walls. This is because these objects have ‘modes’ which provide several additional controls when using the tools. If a door or window isn’t inserting, it may be because “Wall Insertion Mode” has been accidentally turned off, thus preventing you from inserting doors/windows into walls. It’s simple to fix. Just enable the Wall Insertion Mode by clicking on the icon in the mode bar.
Skittish Selection Tool
Have you ever run into a problem where you suddenly can’t use your selection tool to resize something? If you’re like most users, you probably have. Just like our first common mistake, this behavior is caused by accidentally enabling a mode in the mode bar. In this case, you have enabled the mode “Disable Interactive Scaling,” which means you’re no longer able to interactively re-size an object with the selection tool. Again, this has a simple fix. With the selection tool selected, simply click on the Disable Interactive Scaling button in the mode bar to turn it off.
Cursor Cue Concerns
Keyboard shortcuts can be a very wonderful thing. Once you learn them, they save you time and dramatically improve your drafting/modeling efficiency. But, as helpful as they can be, these shortcuts can sometimes lead to errors. For example, you may have experienced suddenly losing all your SmartCursor Cues (visual screen hints that appear when hovering over specific points of objects, such as endpoint, center, midpoint, etc.). The cause of this sudden loss of cues is quite simple. You’ve likely accidentally hit the “Y” key, which has disabled your cursor cues. The quick fix for this? Hit the “Y” key again.
I hope these tips will help you avoid some of the common mistakes users make and allow you to maximize your efficiency when working with Vectorworks. For more Tech Tips, please visit the Vectorworks YouTube Channel.
Author: Juan Almansa, Product Support Manager, Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc.
Before you get started with Vectorworks CAD software, you need to make sure you have the right hardware. Basic system recommendations can be found on the Nemetschek Vectorworks website, but you can optimize your desktop or workstation and get the most out of your experience. For example, video card performance plays a significant role in the overall speed and performance of Vectorworks. I recommend getting the best video card you can afford—in general, the more powerful your video card is, the better your Vectorworks experience will be. Here are some specific factors to consider:
The requirement for using Video RAM depends largely on the size of the display being used and the complexity of the Vectorworks document you create. Medium sized displays with a native resolution of 1600×1200 or less should be drivable by a graphics card with at least 128MB of VRAM. Larger displays should use a card with at least 256MB of VRAM, with 512MB or more recommended.
The most common debilitating problems that users have with Vectorworks are redraw issues and redraw sluggishness due to out-of-date video drivers. Drivers should be kept up-to-date to get the maximum performance out of the graphics hardware. On Windows, it’s important to get the latest drivers directly from the manufacturer’s website rather than through the Microsoft driver update tools. Here are links to the driver updates from two primary manufacturers:
On the Mac you cannot update the video driver directly, as hardware drivers are integrated with operating system updates.
The Vectorworks OpenGL rendering mode utilizes several rendering techniques that require hardware-specific functionality. To determine if your hardware supports the rendering effects, go to the OpenGL Rendering Options Dialog and verify that the following checkboxes are not grayed out: “Use Anti-Aliasing,” “Draw Edges,” and “Use Shadows.” If your video card does not support these rendering effects, I recommend that you install a more modern video card in order to take advantage of all of the features available with Vectorworks OpenGL rendering.
Integrated Graphics Accelerators
Integrated Graphics Accelerators are available on some laptop and motherboard combinations. These types of media accelerators should be avoided, as they are acceptable for basic window drawing but often provide poor results when used with a graphics intensive applications like Vectorworks.
Desktop and Workstation Video Cards
Most video card manufacturers provide one line of video cards for desktop computers and another for higher-end workstation computers. In general, desktop cards are geared towards providing good results for low vertex count models and are often acceptable for gaming applications where speed is required over detail. Workstation video cards, on the other hand, are generally designed to provide high quality and speed with detailed graphical models and are usually the best option when used with applications like Vectorworks.
By going beyond the basics when choosing hardware, you’ll be on your way to maximizing the capabilities of your design tools.
Author: Mark Farnan, Director of Software Development, Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc.