What’s New on the CAD Side of Vectorworks 2015

September 16, 2014 | Comments

By Ralph Grabowski with Wes Gardner
Article first appeared in upFront.eZine
Reprinted here with permission

Nemetschek Vectorworks last week launched the 2015 release of its Vectorworks line of software to the CAD media. To help upFront.eZine readers learn what is new for CAD users in this release, architectural industry specialist Wes Gardner spent an hour showing me his “top ten” favorite features.

One of the strengths of Vectorworks, he told me, is the integration of the landscape and architectural components. “We can place a building on a site, and the site is also intelligent. Since most buildings have a site associated with them, this is an advantage, as competitors tend to only have a mesh representing the site,” explained Mr Gardner.

Vectorworks 2015 is finally 64-bit, which does not mean more raw speed necessarily, but means that it now handles larger project sizes – which can be seen as an increase in speed through efficiency. But Vectorworks is also “slower” through its new view-transition animations. These are a slower transition from one 3D view to another (instead of snapping suddenly) so that users can keep track of where they are in 3D space.

New Curtain Wall Tool

New is the dedicated curtain wall tool, which designs glass walls framed by steel members, such as for store fronts. (Curtain walls are not load bearing walls.) Curtain walls were possible before with the Surface Array command, but not as native wall objects, and so now the Curtain Wall tool itself creates frames and panels that fit to the undersides to any form, even curved ones.

The primary advantage is editabilty through direct modeling: users can delete and add frames, change panels, add doors by splitting frames, and so on (see figure 1). Doors in curtain walls resize automatically as frames are moved around. The layout of the frames and panels is specified by wall styles.

Figure 1: Inserting a door (outlined in red) in a curtain wall

Figure 1: Inserting a door (outlined in red) in a curtain wall

While you can move frames individually in a curtain wall, Vectorworks can redistribute them evenly.

A Panel settings dialog box lets users define panel styles in detail; custom styles can be exported to be shared with other drawings, or marked as a favorite to be placed on a server. Vectorworks ships with a dozen predefined styles; wall styles used in the drawing are shown in the Resource Browser.

More Wall Functions

Placing details is now semi-automatic through the use of “named elevations.” It used to be that a level had to be associated with a layer, but now Vectorworks 2015 has layer-less levels that are associated with horizontal planes in space – like named elevations. So a stone facing can be assigned to level “Ledge,” which defined as is 1-5/8″ above the base (0″). The Stories organization now shows the levels bound to layers and to elevations.

Pressing the K key closes rectangular wall outlines automatically after drawing three walls; no need any longer to try to align the fourth corner with the starting point. Holding down the Option key cuts out notches (corners) from rectangular floor plans. And the new Trim tool edits wall joins correctly. These enhancements are useful for quickly tracing over existing floor plans, said Mr Gardner.

Surface hatching (or “3D hatching”) now allows users to align the hatching to the building coursing (such as bricks and blocks), to be meaningful instead just of a pretty picture (see figure 2). A drawback, however, is that users need to purchase RenderWorks to get this function.

Figure 2: Aligning a hatch pattern to the wall's brick texture.

Figure 2: Aligning a hatch pattern to the wall’s brick texture.

Deforming Direct Modeling and SketchUp Textures

The Twist tool is renamed as the Deform tool, because it now also deforms 3D objects: twist, spread, bulge, taper, slant. Mr Gardner managed to make a group of regular columns look like batch of French fries – useful for sculpture design!

Vectorworks had already imported SketchUp models (by simply dragging the files into Vectorworks), including from 3D Warehouse, that repository with millions of 3D models. But now it also imports the textures attached to SKD models. The SketchUp textures are added to the Vectorworks library automatically. Also new is that SketchUp models are smoothed automatically.

Drawing Embellishment

While Vectorworks could fade gradients to other colors, it could not fade them to nothing. Now it can. This is shown in figure 3 by the pools of light, and the shadows from the roofs. This means that there is one fewer reason to use PhotoShop.

Figure 3: Gradients fading to no color

Figure 3: Gradients fading to no color

When exporting drawings to output formats, such as PDF or DWG, users can now tweak the settings, such as increasing the resolution for PDFs or changing the format to older releases of DWG. These settings are saved for reuse through the Publish command.

IFC output can be optimized for COBie in facilities management. The STL output in Vectorworks is renamed from Stereolithography, because “nobody” knew that stereolithography was the same thing for outputting to 3D printers.

The software ships during the second half of September, first as downloads to subscribers. For more information about the new release, see the dedicated Web site at http://www.vectorworks2015.net as of September 16.

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