As 2005 draws to a close, it's time to reflect upon our accomplishments and plan for the year ahead. VectorWorks 12 was a significant one, and it continues to be launched around the world. In November, two members of our R&D team and our director of marketing traveled to England to help our UK distributor, Computers Unlimited, with the London roll-out. After a version 12 demonstration, users were invited to a "Meet the Engineers" session to offer product feedback and hear behind-the-scenes information on product development. We plan to send developers out to more user meetings and events in the future to give you a chance to provide your input to our R&D team and hear product plans first hand.

In fact, while we're always open to your input, this is the time during the product cycle when we would especially like to hear your opinions on what direction VectorWorks products should be taking. The CAD market continues to change quickly, and we're always interested in hearing what new concerns and issues are becoming important to you as your design industries change. We have a number of forums and mailing lists, which you can access through the Tech Support page of our website, and I encourage you to share your thoughts with us.

We've already been hearing from a lot of you about the new SketchUp® plug-in. This partnership is very exciting news and a logical complement to VectorWorks Architect. I was at a NYC user group meeting on the day of the announcement, and many users there felt this would simplify their transition between the programs. In particular, the auto-detection of walls and roofs should help transition from a conceptual model to design/development.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season.

Sean Flaherty
Sean Flaherty
CEO, Nemetschek North America

Version 12 is Here



at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Zurich, Switzerland

With the help of VectorScript and the parametric modeling capabilities within VectorWorks, the research group caad.designtoproduction at The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) brings Libeskind sculpture to life in just two weeks and saves more than 70% in construction costs.

Imagine trying to construct a sculpture that weighs seven tons, has 98 towers and consists of 2,164 different birch plates.

The wooden sculpture was designed by architect Daniel Libeskind , modeled in VectorWorks by The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology's (ETH) caad.designtoproduction research group, and fabricated by Bach Heiden AG for a workshop Libeskind held at the University of St. Gallen (HSG).

HSG, a renowned business school, introduces its new students with a freshman week each year. The workshop's purpose was to conceptualize a "city of the future" and visualize student ideas with the help of the intricate towers of the Futuropolis sculpture. The sculpture served as a model for which 850 university students designed and built a futuristic city, under Libeskind's direction.

The design is based on a triangular grid, in which 98 tightly-packed towers form an ascending volume of up to 3.8 meters high. The towers are built from roughly 600 wooden boards that intersect the sculpture at a 25-degree angle and duplicate the pattern of the tower's footprints. Thus, the boards are cut into more than 2,000 wooden polygons by the perpendicular faces of the towers.
Realizing this design within the appointed budget and time frame would not have been possible by means of traditional craftsmanship. So Christoph Schindler, Fabian Scheurer and Markus Braach, a team of architects and computer scientists with the caad.designtoproduction research group at the Chair of Prof. Dr. Ludger Hovestadt at ETH, set up a complete "digital production chain" to bring the sculpture to life. They developed an algorithmic form to serve as the basis for manufacturing and constructing the structure. VectorWorks' parametric modeling capabilities and VectorScript® technology—a powerful built-in programming language that automates drafting and modeling tasks—made it possible.
Cutting costs with VectorWorks
Not only did VectorWorks make the project possible, but it cut manufacturing down to just two weeks at a savings of 320,000 Swiss Francs—or 72% less than a construction with manual detailing and CNC programming.

Engineering the vision
caad.designtoproduction offers consulting to architects who would like to work with digital production chains to realize complex designs, and VectorWorks is instrumental in the research group's work, as VectorWorks is a widely-used CAD software at ETH.

"We use VectorWorks because it is extremely easy to handle and available for both Windows and Macintosh platforms, which is especially important in an academic environment," says caad.designtoproduction co-founder and ETH assistant Fabian Scheurer. "Since we run our basic courses at the CAAD Chair on VectorWorks, we've made it a standard in our caad.designtoproduction work, and VectorWorks was indispensable on the Libeskind project."

Working with VectorScript
According to Scheurer, VectorScript allowed for tight integration of programming, manual drawing and editing, which is critical in complex projects like Futuropolis.

"It would not have been possible to fully automate the stencil that defines the structure's geometry," says Scheurer. "But with VectorScript, it was possible to accommodate late-stage design alterations from Studio Libeskind by manually editing the stencil and then automatically recalculating all subsequent changes to the design."

caad.designtoproduction designed a plug-in for the basic board as a 2D line object in the top view that held all the structure's information, from the thickness of the board to the type of connection detail present on every end. The "stencil" could be edited manually using the plug-in. The sculpture's towers were designed in a similar fashion. The remaining design was automated by a collection of scripts and additional plug-ins, yet it also allowed for manual intervention.

"This mixture of automation and manual control makes VectorScript especially powerful," explains Scheurer.

Programming parametric models
According to Scheurer, caad.designtoproduction uses VectorWorks chiefly to program parametric models, such as the Futuropolis project.

For Futuropolis, the challenge was to generate the exact geometry of all 2,164 parts, including the bases on which the towers stand. caad.designtoproduction created a parametric 3D model of the sculpture with VectorWorks, which calculated the outline of all parts by closely following the algorithmic designs Libeskind provided. The edges were appropriately joined automatically, then the parts were numbered and arranged on boards.
"VectorWorks allows us to get immediate graphical output of the generated structures for review and presentation," says Scheurer. "The parametric approach with VectorWorks allows us to integrate design changes even in a late project stage by automatically reconstructing the whole geometry from the first manual steps within a few minutes. This makes it possible, for example, to change a material's thickness at the very last second—as happened in the Futuropolis project—and regenerate the whole geometry and the resulting G-code for 2,164 parts practically overnight."

The third step was to translate this geometry information into the steering code for the CNC-machine. Since the boards had to be turned around in the middle of the production process, two G-code programs per board had to be generated by a script. In addition, the exact widths and lengths for calculating the material costs and preparing the raw boards were automatically exported as data-tables, using VectorWorks. The sculpture consists of 360 square meters of 32-mm-thick boards, altogether almost 11.5 cubic meters of birch wood. Total milling time was approximately 200 hours, and sculpture assembly took approximately 500 man-hours.

After a public dedication in October, 2005, at the University of St. Gallen, the sculpture is now on exhibit at the university.

How can I use coordinate geometry, or COGO, to speed drafting processes typically used with VectorWorks Landmark?

Coordinated geometry, otherwise known as COGO, allows you to quickly and accurately place geometry given specific coordinates. VectorWorks has a lot of this functionality built in to the application simply using a combination of 2D and 3D tools. Additionally, learning to use the Data Display bar in conjunction with these tools will allow you to draft much faster.

For a summary of how to use some COGO operations in VectorWorks, please visit the COGO tutorial on our KnowledgeBase.

Is there a simple way to get a list of wall lengths and surfaces?

In all versions of VectorWorks, you can use the LENGTH() function within the database header rows of a worksheet to return the wall lengths.

In VectorWorks 12, you now have the following worksheet functions for wall measurements:

Returns the surface area of the wall center line

Returns the surface ares of the wall centerline, not including area of inserted symbols or objects

Returns the average height of the wall (this is the actual wall area taking into account "wall peaks" divided by the length of the wall)

Returns the wall thickness

Returns the wall's style name

For information on how to set up your worksheet, please visit our Knowledgebase.


Vote for VectorWorks

The AIA/AGC Joint Committee—a collaborative effort of the AIA and the Associated General Contractors of America to address issue of concern and interest to architects and contractors—is interested in understanding the current state of the use of virtual building information modeling (BIM) among AIA members. They have developed a survey designed to elicit information about the use of virtual modeling in certain elements of design or during certain phases of the design process.

But they forgot to include VectorWorks! If you're using VectorWorks as a BIM solution, please take the survey and write VectorWorks in! Questions 11 and 16 have an "Other" option, in which you can write VectorWorks. Question 5 invites you to share any other comments and thoughts about applications or benefits for 3D modeling/BIM to your practice.

Your responses will be kept confidential. The results of the survey will be used to identify additional areas for collaborative work and discussion over the next 12 months.

Take survey

Be sure to submit your responses December 16th in order to be entered in the drawing to win an iPod nano. The survey will be open until January 6, 2006.

VectorWorks User Featured on Apple's Website

Houston, Texas-based Jackson & Ryan Architects is the subject of a customer profile on Apple's website. Richard Wingfield, the associate who oversees the firm's IT needs, shares his thoughts on using VectorWorks on the Macintosh vs. AutoCAD on Windows.

On switching to VectorWorks
"The switch to VectorWorks on Mac gave us the same drafting capabilities as AutoCAD, yet it was far more intuitive to use. Suddenly, our computer systems were no longer a hindrance to our creative process. And in the Mac environment, VectorWorks files integrated easily with other visualization tools. We quickly went from simply dropping scans into CAD files to creating virtual-reality models of spaces that combined real-world photography and computer-generated images."

On DWG/DXF import/export
"So the fluidity of the Mac workflow is a great benefit. We can move files back and forth from VectorWorks to SketchUp to Photoshop and back to VectorWorks. We can save files in several formats and easily integrate the images into other programs. And since VectorWorks will import and export DWG and DXF file formats, we find we have no more difficulty exchanging files with clients and consultants than we did when we used AutoCAD on Windows."

On VectorWorks' ease of use
With well-known architecture programs like Rice University and the University of Houston in their area, Jackson & Ryan frequently hires people fresh out of school. "They're attuned to the creative process, and often they have a substantial head start on the Mac." Even if they don't, Wingfield has found it's easy to get people up to speed. "In my experience, it used to take 30 to 60 days for folks to become proficient on PCs running AutoCAD. With VectorWorks and the Mac, it takes just two or three weeks."

Read the full story, "Creativity Sparks Prosperity," by David Levy on Apple's Small Business Web page.

Free SketchUp® Plug-in for VectorWorks Design Series Now Available

The SketchUp® plug-in allows VectorWorks Design Series version 12 users to reuse—not recreate—data. The plug-in eliminates the need to re-create SketchUp models in VectorWorks, reducing design time and allowing designers to make the most of the VectorWorks precision design environment.

Architectural models can now be imported from SketchUp into VectorWorks as wall, roof face, and floor geometry. The plug-in maps SketchUp components to VectorWorks intelligent building objects. This will allow further editing and refinement of architectural models in VectorWorks. The command provides control during import, during which SketchUp geometry is converted to architectural elements based on SketchUp materials, layers, or geometry. Users can also let the command convert objects automatically using the orientation of the SketchUp geometry.

The free plug-in supports SketchUp version 4 and higher. Macintosh® and Windows® plug-ins are available for download to all VectorWorks Architect, VectorWorks Landmark, VectorWorks Spotlight, and VectorWorks Designer version 12 users at www.nemetschek.net/sketchup

VectorWorks Spotlight Used to Design Sets for James Bond's CASINO ROYALE

The industry standard in entertainment and lighting design software will be used to assist in designing the sets for the 21st James Bond film, CASINO ROYALE, now in production.

"VectorWorks Spotlight has become an invaluable application within the art department throughout the design and drafting stage of preparation on CASINO ROYALE," says Steven Lawrence, CASINO ROYALE art director. "The 2D drafting side of VectorWorks Spotlight alone allows us to increase workflow and flexibility in all areas of set development. However, with increased use of VectorWorks' 3D tools, our capabilities have expanded dramatically, allowing us to enter areas previously unavailable. In addition, the implementation of 3D allows for much easier communication and understanding of the set layout for the other departments working on the film."

Lawrence continues, "I have been using VectorWorks Spotlight professionally for almost three years, and I now use it to approach every aspect of the set design/drafting process. With the extensive tools available within the new Design Series, I am now able to deal simply with aspects of set design that before would have been either too time consuming or not available. In my opinion, VectorWorks looks likely to become the art department standard in the UK film industry."

Among the technologies Lawrence finds especially useful are viewports and the sketch rendering mode.

"VectorWorks viewport technology has greatly enhanced the speed and ease of layout and presentation of final conceptual drawings. And sketch rendering within VectorWorks Spotlight allows us to retain the more traditional look of hand drafting we are so used to within a film art department."

New VectorWorks 12 Project-based Training CDs Now Available

The VectorWorks 12 project-based training CDs are designed to thoroughly cover VectorWorks 12 product features—-such as live sections, radiosity, a completely revamped interface, and improved workgroup referencing--while maximizing the user's productivity by incorporating interactive instruction in the context of real-world projects. The collection of CDs includes VectorWorks Core Concepts, VectorWorks Essentials, VectorWorks Architect, VectorWorks Landmark, VectorWorks Spotlight, and RenderWorks.

For more information of the VectorWorks 12 training CDs, visit www.nemetschek.net/training/trainingcd.php

Offer Your Input on eDispatch

Nemetschek North America has been distributing its electronic newsletter, the eDispatch, for nearly four years. Each month, the eDispatch goes out to more than 32,000 subscribers. And we want to know what you think of the eDispatch.

What do you like about the eDispatch? What do you dislike? What would you like to see more of? Less of? What would you like us to do differently?

We welcome your feedback and would like to hear your suggestions on what we can do to improve the eDispatch's format and content. Please email your input to: marketing@nemetschek.net





Dec 14 - Dec 15

Ecobuild & AEC-ST Federal 2005

Washington, DC (Booth #623)

Jan 10 - Jan 13


San Francisco, CA (Booth #2233)

Jan 31 - Feb 02

New England Grows

Boston, MA (Booth #3014)





Jan 10 - 12

Columbia, MD

• Intro to VectorWorks
• VectorWorks Fundamentals

Jan 23 - Jan 25

San Francisco, CA

• Intro to VectorWorks
• VectorWorks Fundamentals

Jan 25 - Jan 27

Miami, FL

• Intro to VectorWorks
• VectorWorks Fundamentals





Dec 14

Maryland/DC/Virginia VectorWorks User Group

Nemetschek North America
Columbia, Maryland

Dec 19

Los Angeles User Group

Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles, California

Jan 10

Minnesota User Group

Charles Radloff's Office
Bloomington, Minnesota

AIA Accreditation
NNA is pleased to offer AIA Continuing Education credit for our seminars. The VectorWorks and VectorWorks ARCHITECT classes are AIA CES certified, so attendees can earn up to 24 CES learning units. For additional information, contact training@nemetschek.net.


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