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Vectorworks Architect 2010

I recently received my copy of Vectorworks Designer 2010. It contains Vectorworks: fundamentals, architect, renderworks, landmark, spotlight, and machine design. I've been using this software since it was mini-cad, sometime around 1997 or so. Before VW, I used auto cad, sketchup, and chief architect. In general I've found VW to be the most practical, full featured, and easy to use design software available. The price is also the most competitive in it's class. I have had mixed feelings and mixed results about upgrading over the years, some upgrades seem to take lots of time to learn, with small results. Other upgrades have yielded big results with little pain. 2010 has been huge results with almost no pain! I'll digress to the early days of mini-cad. The first few upgrades came with nice, easy to follow manuals, and good tutorial cd's for a modest price. After a few upgrades, no more books! I complained and was told that it was a decision aimed at saving trees, how could I argue with that? I have to admit that one aspect of VW software that has consistantly left me underwhelmed has been the help files. In 12 odd years of using the software, I don't know that I've ever learned anything from the help files, or even found the right file for any issue. However, that's the only part of VW that I haven't loved - they've more than made up for it in every other detail and about a year ago I solved the help thing.

A year or two ago I easily tripled my use and efficiency of VW by the addition of the manuals, podcasts, video files and personal help of Jonathan Pickup of Archoncad in New Zealand. He offers invaluable advice and materials to maximize the value of the software, as well as being very pleasant to relate to. I basically use Jonathan's books instead of help files - they sit next to my computer. Before I even installed 2010, I bought and watched everything he has produced about it and thus the transition was seamless.

2010 is really amazing! The features that I use are mostly in Architect, as I'm an architectural designer and builder. The new associative dimensions, chain dimmensions, object constraints, joining, and being able to dbl click to change dimensions is worth the upgrade by itself. Plan views are much easier, faster, and more dimensionally accurate for me, and I love going from plan view to a 2D/3D hybrid called unified view. Unified view is a much better version of stacked layers with full editability. I find that I can work for hours without changing layers, where I was constantly changing before.Because of the type of drawing that I do, pre 2010 I was always making walls, adding or subtracting to or from them, and having them change from walls to adds or subtracts and losing many of the options that you have with walls. Now walls are fully editable as to their shape, recesses, additions, etc. and they stay walls! If you've read any of my BIM rants, you know that I design in 3D almost always. The new working plane tool is awesome, as are the 3D snaps!! The stair tools are now really good and I can actually use them! If you'll notice the stair a couple of blogs down, you'll see that I used to draw them from scratch because the old stair tool was only useful for the most rudimentary stair. The window and door tools are really good and have the controls that I need. I still have to make most of my own trim for them, but every other element of the objects is available.

I haven't managed to browse through all of the new libraries yet. There are tons of new objects, hatches, textures, etc. and I'm looking forward to spending less time driving around with a camera to find a texture that I need. Viewports, drawing labels, sheet numbers, and headings are all automated now so that they update themselves - a big timesaver for me. These are just the features that I've used in less than 20 hours of drawing and the longer I type, the more that I keep thinking of. I love that when you tweak dimensions in sheet layers, they update the design layer! I imagine I'll keep discovering others. I recommend that everyone upgrade. I was using 2009, which I only upgraded to less than 8 months ago and 09 to 10 has been huge! A big reason that I went "all vectorworks" back in the 90's was the quality of the customer service. When I call them up I get a human immediately who can actually help me. I don't have to give them my ss#, mother's maiden name, password........Often they have given me free help for products that they don't even support any more. Through the years the customer service has gotten even better! How many products can you say that about?

Now that I've talked about Vectorworks for a while, I have to sign off and go back to using it. After 12 years, I'm more excited about it than I've ever been!

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