on the image to enlarge)
Very refined user interface with numerous
improvements, full Aqua support in Mac
OS X. Highly customizable workspace,
integrated advanced modeling tools,
superb presentation capabilities with
support for gradient fills, industry-specific
add-on capabilities, cross-platform
binary compatible, Autocad import/export,
IGES file format import/export, less
than 1/3 the cost of Autocad.
Limited Workgroup Referencing (teamwork
abilities), no support for OS X Services,
rising price tag.
For existing users still not at
OS X, this is the must upgrade to make
the move with. Autocad users should
give program a serious test run (on
Mac and Windows).
Runs equally well on Windows, Mac OS
9 and Mac OS X.
Nemetschek North America's
venerable VectorWorks (formerly MiniCAD) CAD product has reached
version 10. Like the Apple operating system (Jaguar) we tested
it on, version 10 adds numerous enhancements which are geared
towards making VectorWorks users much more productive. And like
the recent Jaguar release, this version of VectorWorks has a
noticeable maturity on Apple's new UNIX-based operating system.
With VectorWorks 10 Architosh took a look
at the many seemly small improvementsand some of the
not-so-small new featureswhich were a delight to find
in themselves and taken as a whole. For veteran VectorWorks
users this update offers many changes users have dreamt about
Steve Jobs would personally be proud of Nemetschek's embrace
of Mac OS X. Not
only has the product grown more sophisticated as a Mac OS
X application, but the interface improvements and structure
of the application also show signs of OS X's influence. Gone
from the manuals are any hint of Mac OS Classic. All screen
shots are either in OS X form or Windows 2000 form. (Ed.
Note: VectorWorks 10 remains a native Mac OS Classic application
in addition to OS X and Windows OS's)
VectorWorks 10 has
a new preference setting for controlling the drawing window
such that it doesn't allow the overlap of palettes to the
left and right of the window. While not as elegant as the
capabilities built into the Windows version (a product of
Windows' OS API's), version 10 on the Mac does allow you to
prevent the fussy overlapping of palettes and windows by turning
on a new palette margin option.
Other improvements in the UI (user interface) include a move
to single-column tool palettes as a default in the main Workspaces
and a consolidation of the Resources and Object Browser palettes
(more on that later).
User Interface and Help Improvements
Learning VectorWorks has gotten even better. Perhaps one
of the nicest implementations of a UI item that I've seen
in quite some time is the way screen tips (shown in little
yellow windows) can be expanded by holding the Command key
down while you "mouse over" an item with a screen
tip. And if you hold the Command key down as you can scan
over the entire range of tool buttons you get indepth information
on each and every tool. This is a wonderful new feature in
VectorWorks 10, which greatly aids in the ability to learn
the application. (see image below)
In older Mac classic apps it is possible to get a similar
indepth info window on small tools by turning on Balloon Help,
but Mac OS X doesn't have Balloon Help API's like the older
Mac OS, so this is a nice feature to see in the OS X version
of VectorWorks 10. It is also available in the Windows version.
Another useful UI improvement is the consolidation of the
Resource palette with the Object Browser. Previously these
two palettes competed for the same screen real estate, generally
under the Object Info palette. In addition to being consolidated,
they are also slightly redesigned in their appearance and
functionality. (see images below). They are collectively now
called the "Resource Browser".
Experienced VectorWorks users will notice the UI differences
right away. Of particular note is the directory interface
titles helping the end user understand what the palette is
all about to begin with. The active file still doesn't list
itself by default, but it is much clearer where it is and
why it is listed there. From the Files and Folders popup menu
there is a more convenient way of adding the current file
to the list of favorites, clearing all the favorites if you
so choose, and adding other closed files to the favorites
As you can see above, the new list format (left) will pop
open to view either a list or thumbnail views of the items
(right). VectorScripts, which are what saved sheets are, appear
as scrolls of paper with a feather in their thumnail views.
If you double click one they will run or you can run them
from the Resources popup menu. All and all the Resources Browser
makes a big improvement and will likely encourage greater
use by both newbies and veterans who have not truly utilized
No application requires zooming in and out of a window more
than a CAD application. In fact, zooming is almost the function
between all functions. So important is zooming in CAD work
that a large improvement to the zoom tool will make using
the application feel quite different. With VectorWorks 10
Nemetschek North America has added a dynamic zoom capability
that does just that, truly improving the process of zooming
in and out of your work.
Here's how it works. Simply select the zoom tool for the
first time using the mouse or a keyboard shortcut. Select
the new interactive zoom feature tool button. (See image above)
Now simply hold down the mouse and move it up to zoom in and
down to zoom out. It is sensitive to the degree of drag from
the first click point of the mouse, so there is speed control
capability built into the zoom. It's one very slick tool!
Now one way of quicking moving around in VectorWorks is to
access both the Pan and the Zoom tools by using the keyboard
shortcuts (Z key and C and V key), interchanging between the
two, and dragging the mouse up or down to move in and out.
This is very affective.
In fact, the way it works will be familiar to 3D users of
VectorWorks who use the flyby or flyover tools.
Next: Customizing Context
Menus and Other Improvements
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