Vectorworks Design Summit

A Technology Roadmap

 John Hill
27. April 2016
Dr. Biplab Sarkar giving the opening keynote (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)
Several planned developments for Vectorworks software were unveiled during the keynote address of newly appointed CEO, Dr. Biplab Sarkar, at the Vectorworks Design Summit in Chicago yesterday.
After speaking for about twenty minutes on the success Vectorworks has had since the first Design Summit last year, Sarkar, who took over as Vectorworks CEO this month, brought out members of his research and development team to introduce seven new features – a technology roadmap – that will be part of future software releases. Echoing his assertion that 70% of new features in Vectorworks 2016 came from user feedback, Sarkar said in a statement: "Today's presentation served as a transparent medium through which we revealed upcoming features ... as well as how we intend to employ user feedback to shape ongoing development."

The seven new features are highlighted below, accompanied by an applause-meter rating (on a scale of 1 to 10), subjectively based on the amount and enthusiasm of the applause each feature generated by the 600-plus-strong crowd assembled for the keynote.

Resource Manager

Core Technologies Manager Hugues Tsafak spoke about Resource Manager, the flagship feature for upcoming versions of Vectorworks. The Resource Manager is a means of having easy access to content libraries from many different sources, including online libraries. What previously necessitated browsing to the correct location – be it a library or resource stored locally, online or on the cloud – is now found in one place. The searching, filtering and organizing capabilities of the Resource Manager elicited quite a reaction from the audience, though not as much as the ability to organize resources with a simple drag-and-drop operation.

Applause Meter: 9
Resource Manger (Image: Courtesy of Vectorworks)

Structural Member Objects

Darick DeHart, Vice President of Product Management, presented Structural Member Objects, which responds to the increasing number of designs by architects with exposed structural members, sometimes in complex 3D shapes. This feature allows architects to easily and accurately model common structural elements (columns and beams), while enabling them to create curved structural members (the "signature structural features"), all of which can be edited in 3D views. A video illustrating the ease of connecting straight beams (automatically and parametrically) to a complex curved framing member got a strong reaction from the crowd, as did the ability to create cusom connection details.

Applause Meter: 8
Structural Member Objects (Image: Courtesy of Vectorworks)

Irrigation Tools

Veering from building design into the site-design market, Vertical Products Manager Vladislav Stanev discussed the new Irrigation Tools, which responds to the growing irrigation market and a desire for more efficiency in the layout of sprinklers. Vectorworks will be adding a comprehensive tool set that will automatically perform calculations for water pressure, water velocity, pipe sizing, gallons per minute, and water coverage. With an extensive library of irrigation products by notable companies included in Vectorworks, the tool will automatically select the proper model for the desired application. More than five years of research and development will result in accurate models with lots of detail.

Applause Meter: 6
Irrigation Tools (Image: Courtesy of Vectorworks)

Vectorworks Analytics

An enthusiastic Donne Martin, Cloud/Mobile Technologies Manager, talked about Vectorworks Analytics and Vectorworks Cloud Services. For the former, Vectorworks users simply opt in to enable Analytics and the software automatically shares their data usage. From this, the developers can, for instance, see what commands and features of the software are used most frequently (image below). This tracking of usage will lead to building new interfaces and optimizing existing ones, improving performance, and being able analyze and diagnose performance issues.

Applause Meter: 6
Vectorworks Analytics (Image: Courtesy of Vectorworks)

Vectorworks Cloud Services for All

Martin also spoke about the Cloud, that ubiquitous and ethereal place where files are stored and shared. Previously, Vectorworks's own Cloud Services were available only to users with Service Select subscriptions, but soon everyone – even non-Vectorworks users – will have access to Vectorworks Cloud Services. Therefore Vectorworks users can share easily with clients, consultants, and colleagues.

Applause Meter: 8
Vectorworks Cloud Services for All

Vectorworks Graphics Module (VGM)

Work on the VGM started in 2013, whereby OpenGL interactions made panning and zooming in 3D views faster, smoother, and more accurate graphically. As presented by Rendering Manager Dave Donley, the improved VGM graphics will be applied to 2D top/plan views. He showed a couple videos with side-by-side pans and zooms in Vectorworks 2016 and the upcoming release, and the improvements in the latter were dramatic. Further, the new 2D graphics engine will have multi-threading, meaning users will not have to wait for the software to redraw before they start their next operation. So the seconds lost here and there while waiting – seconds that add up over the course of a day – will be gained come the next release.

Applause Meter: 9
Vectorworks Graphics Module (Image: Courtesy of Vectorworks)

Web View/Virtual Reality

Steve Johnson, Vice President of Product Development, wrapped up the presentation of new features with the most exciting one: an easily exportable, web-based interface that will enable realist walkthroughs of 3D models on computers, tablets, and even smartphones with VR goggles. Johnson presented a model of the atrium of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a venue at last year's Design Summit, which was laser scanned and then modeled in Vectorworks. A few menu clicks in the demonstration and the software created a URL that users can share with their clients – in this case with the audience who could don VR goggles and immerse themselves into the museum spaces. With the technology for VR finally catching up with the wishes of architects and other designers, the Web View/VR is a welcome design tool and means of sharing designs with clients.

Applause Meter: 10
Web View/Virtual Reality (Image: Courtesy of Vectorworks)

World-Architects is the Exclusive Media Partner for the Vectorworks Design Summit 2016, taking place in Chicago 25-27 April 2016. Read all of our coverage of the Summit here.

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