Press Release – Short Sharp Manuals

(Napier, New Zealand) 29 May 2009 Archoncad announces Short Sharp Manuals 
NEW – SHORT SHARP MANUALS – unlock the power of Vectorworks!!!
Archoncad is pleased to announce SHORT SHARP MANUALS – a resource ‘library’ of concise manuals each exploring a single Vectorworks topic – to show you how to unlock the power of Vectorworks.
This new training resource is designed to sharpen your Vectorworks skills using a single task manual that explores and explains a single area of Vectorworks.
Each SHORT SHARP MANUAL clearly demonstrates key learning tasks and techniques, with 15-25 pages of step-by-step instructions and screenshots. By focusing on single topics, we give you access to new Vectorworks skills and techniques in small meaningful chunks!
Respected Vectorworks training author, Jonathan Pickup said…
“I have a great example of these manuals helping a client. The client found an area of Vectorworks that he was really struggling with – how create an automated room finish schedule. So, he downloaded my SHORT SHARP manual ‘Creating a Room Finishes Schedule’ and followed the very good description of how to do this. He has found the investment in the manuals to be truly worthwhile and great value to his business.
He also discovered my manual was the only place he could learn how to use this technique, as there does not seem to be any explanation of how to set up an automated Room Finish Schedule in NNA published User Guides, or Professional Learning Series DVD’s, on the VectorWorks web site, in any of the NNA VectorWorks forums or data bases or in any history of the VectorWorks User Discussion List.
This is just one story – there are many other examples of these short sharp manuals unlocking the power of Vectorworks and providing my clients with new services to offer their clients. ” 
The Short Sharp manual is published exclusively on-line at There are currently 14 SHORT SHARP Manuals available, and they are quick and easy to download. And they are very economical (exceptional value for money)!
Jonathan Pickup also said… “We will be adding one or two new manuals each month, and welcome feedback and suggestions for future short sharp manual topics. In this way, we will build a fantastic resource for the Vectorworks users community and enable our clients to optimize Vectorworks capability”
For more information, please visit
Jonathan Pickup is an architect trained in New Zealand and in the UK with many years of experience. He has over 15 years of experience in writing and producing Vectorworks manuals and providing customer support. His company, ArchonCAD, is the premier provider of third-party manuals and training resources for Vectorworks.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Jonathan Pickup
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podcast 074 -Vectorworks 2009 – Heads-up Display

Ive been using this technique since Vectorworks 2008, so if you are still using Vectorworks 12 you are missing this technique. The Heads-up Display looks really good, but it is much better than just looking good, it really speeds up the way you draw.

Use the Tool bar to set the options, then you can draw really quickly with the HUD.

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Resource Browser Thumbnail view

I’m just writing a section in my new productivity manual, and I remembered this trick. Right now I’m writing about how to make your own stair library. 
The stairs so up on the Resource Browser in plan view if that was the view when you created the symbols. 
They look OK, but what if you wanted to know more the stair?
You can select all the symbols in the Resource Browser.
Right mouse click on one of the symbols. Choose the view you want. All your symbols have the same view. Now I find it easier to see what each stair looks like. 

Vectorworks Library

What is the Vectorworks library? That’s a terrible question really. it should be ”What ARE the Vectorworks libraries? 
Symbol library (which you can store anywhere)
Symbol libraries for tools (stored in the Defaults folder)
Layer and class standards (stored in the Standards folder)
Hatch library (stored in the Defaults folder)
Gradient Library (stored in the Defaults folder)
Wall Style library (stored in the Defaults folder)
The Notes database (which you can store anywhere)
A default template with all the default tool preferences set (stored in the Templates folder). 

Short Sharp Training Monthly

This month, the Short Sharp Training monthly manual looked at detailing. I have seen several tutorials and tips and tricks for creating drawings, but hardly any for drawing details. Strange really, when we spend so much time on our detailing as architects and landscapers. This month the manual was a big effort, 41 pages! Sometimes I wonder if i am writing too much or covering the wrong information, so it’s nice when I get an email from a subscriber that really likes the monthly manuals and online training. 
Hi Jonathan,
I was in Texas on business during your last presentation, thinking I could join your meeting from there, but alas, it was not to be.  (Way disappointing.) I just finished going through your PDF and its embedded videos, and again, I have to tell you you’re great.  I’m amazed how much material you covered in a relatively short time and then managed to write down as well.  Fabulous work which I appreciate immensely.  Hoping that [you are] increasing the number of your subscribers.  Should be! 
The ability to pick up a few productive tricks each month should not be over rated. Most of my experienced users learn a trick or two every month, less experienced users learn a technique that saves them a few minutes a day. A few minutes a day. it doesn’t sound much, until you figure that is 15 mins each week, an hour a month. the next month you learn a new technique and you are saving 2 hours a month, 24 hours a year. 

Guides – What Are They Good For?

I like guides. They are really useful for helping to draw, for setting out, for setback lines and so on.
Guides are easy to create. Draw a line or any other object, then go to the Menu bar and choose Modify > Guides > Make Guides. Vectorworks turns your objects into guides, moves them onto a class for you and locks the objects so you do not accidently move or delete them.
You can leave the guides turned on in the design layer for working. 
When it comes to a viewport, you can choose to have the guides visible if you want. 
Because the guides are on a class, you can choose to have a viewport with the guides turned off. This allows you to work with the guides turned on in the design layer, but the guides will be invisible for printing. 

Hi, I’m John

I’ve been using Vectorworks since version 10, so I thought I pretty much knew everything. I upgraded to Vectorworks 2009 and thought I would get a few pointers on the upgrade. I was reluctant to employ Jonathan over the Internet to teach me. After all, why not get him here with me for a day or so, I mean how intensive could it be. Really  though, I don’t trust all this new technology, but because I’ve know Jonathan for a long time, I decided to trust him.
“Boy, am I glad I tried this out! I thought I knew a lot about Vectorworks, it turns out i was just playing with it. Jonathan and I had 2 one hour sessions each day. At every session Jonathan was amazing at unlocking the power of Vectorworks and making it easy for me to understand. The online training system with Jonathan works so well, I’m now a true believer of this technology!”  John 
Be like John, get upskilled.
Go to or email [email protected] to find out more!

Konstrukshon CPD Weblog

I want to recommend this blog for people in the construction industry. It is focused on the UK, but I still find it interesting reading. The guy that writes the blog, Steve Scaysbrook, is a good sort and I often chat with Steve via skype ( 
I don’t know where he gets all his information, but he really has a large spread of information on his blog site. 
Steve recently moved his site and he needs to build support. Please visit and subscribe to his blog. 

Revisions on Drawings

I saw a a neat trick the other day for controlling revisions on drawings. each revision has a revision cloud, using the Vectorworks revision cloud tool, and a stamp, using the Vectorworks revision stamp. The clouds and bubbles are placed in the Annotation part of each viewport. 
But that is not the neat trick. The neat part is that each cloud and stamp is assigned to a class. So the bubble and stamp for revision A is assigned to the class Revision-A. And the revision B is assigned to the class Revision-B and so on. 
This allows you to control the revision bubbles and stamps from the Object Info palette, by changing the classes on each viewport. 
Once I realized what what was going on, I thought this was really cool. 

Hi, I’m Joe

“I am a sole practitioner, so time and cost are important to me, but worse than that, there is no one else I can ask to do my work. If I’m not at work for a day, my work won’t get done, I’ll have to work harder to catch up. I’ve been looking around at other design professionals and I see that others are using CAD to expand their businesses, improve productivity, and to keep their businesses alive in a recession by offering new services. I’m new to Vectorworks and I’m not sure how to make the most from my investment in Vectorworks. The problem with spending two whole days in some stuffy training seminar is that it will cost me two days of lost productivity. The cost of the course is nothing compared the the trouble of making up the two days I’m not at work. Besides, I would be in a large group, how would I get individual attention, the training might go to fast, they might cover too much each day for me to remember. I wish they would arrange these seminars closer to where I work. I see some seminars on the other side of the country, which means I would have to fly, the ones that are closer, still mean hours of driving. What a waste of my time, and at what cost to the environment?
Ideally, I want structured training, in a small group of people so I can get individual attention, in small chunks so I can digest each session, and put into practice what I’ve learned before I move on to the next session. And I want the training to be close to my office, so close that I don’t have to take my car would be good.”  Joe 
Archoncad now offers you effective In-Depth Training – when you want it, without leaving the comfort of your office or workspace! Why? Because we want you to get the best from Vectorworks! To become more skilled, productive and creative! And it’s truly cost effective!
Go to or email [email protected] to find out more!

Where should you look for the Best Vectorworks Manuals?

I saw this on the NNA Community Board:
Just to let everyone know that I am making progress on the Room Finish Schedule and am making it work.  There is a very good description as to how to set up a Room Finish Schedule on Jonathan Pickup’s site  Roger has been bugging me to join Jonathan’s user group for quite a while and I finally did so last week.  I found an explanation on how to set up the automated Room Finish Schedule in Issue 0809 September 2008—Room Finishes Schedule and this investment is turning out to be well worth it.
As far as I can tell, there doesn’t seem to be a bug as initially stated by NNA Tech Support.  There also doesn’t seem to be any explanation of how to set up an automated Room Finish Schedule in NNA published User Guides, or Professional Learning Series DVD’s, on the VectorWorks web site, in any of the NNA VectorWorks forums or data bases or in any history of the VectorWorks User Discussion List.  So, Jonathan is providing a much needed learning tool for this issue and I am looking forward to viewing the other learning tools and guides for other issues.  Kudos for Jonathan for doing so (and no he didn’t ask me to plug his site for him!).
So, if you are looking for the best Vectorworks manuals, the manuals that really unlock the power of Vectorworks you need archoncad manuals!

podcast 070 – Drawing a Site Plan

This podcast is a small segment from a session of the Short Sharp Training. It might seem complex for just a site plan, but the original movie for this, and the orginal online session, lasted for an hour and we made several drawings from the same plan. Having all the information on one layer with several classes is efficient when using wall styles, symbols and viewports, especially when you need to make changes.

Continue reading

Vectorworks Folder or User Folder?

In earlier versions of Vectorworks there was no user folder. All the things you wanted to customize could be done in the Vectorworks application folder. You can still do it this way, but Vectorworks now has user folders. A user folder is stored away from the Vectorworks application folder, so it can be challenging to find it and maintain it. So should you carry on with the old method?
The problem with the old method, is that if you re-install Vectorworks for some reason, as I am doing today, then you loose all the custom data you have created. I have to teach on Vectorworks 12 this week, so I’ve had to re-inatall Vectorworks. Now I’m finding that all my custom data is no longer there.
Setting up a user folder is a nice way to work. Vectorworks now creates a user folder on your computer to store all your custom settings away from the Vectorworks application folder. When I re-install Vectorworks all my custom data  will still be there. 
I recommend you store all you custom templates, library files and plug-ins in the user folder. 
27th April 2008
I’ve just been helping a client today. They have just suffered a computer meltdown and have had to re-install Windows. Unfortunately, their user folder was in the C:\Documents and settings\user\Application Data\… and so on. When they re-installed windows, they lost the user folder. 
If they had stored the Vectorworks user folder in My Documents, they would still have all the data. And, if you use My Documents, you can set up your backup system to backup your user folder. Then, you won’t loose anything. 

Vectorworks and BIM

There has been a lot of discussion on the Vectorworks tech board about Vectorworks and BIM. Some people disagree with me, but I said that the definition of BIM is not finalized. A few people said that I’m wrong, the BIM has been defined by Revit and ArchiCAD.
Maybe I should be more clear. I still think the definition of BIM is so loose, you can define BIM to suit your company. Even if we assume that the definition of BIM is as defined by Revit and ArchiCAD, the implementation of BIM can be defined to suit your office. 
Does Vectorworks suit BIM? I think it does. I also think Vectorworks needs to do a lot more than it does right now. 
It also seems clear that BIM has a relation to the design process. For example, if you use Design/Build contracts, you have definite reason to fully implement BIM. If you are using the traditional Design-Tender-Build process, you still need to create a full set of contract documents, so your BIM implementation has to be geared to that. 
I have just started to read the BIM Handbook by Chuck Eastman et al. (ISBN 0470185287) so expect to hear more about BIM and Vectorworks. 

Training in A Recession

The New Zealand government has just completed a summit to create more jobs and to get out of this recession.  There were 20 main ideas to come out of the job summit ( and a couple of them were of interest to me:
  • Keep people in education and add a training clause to government procurement contracts.
  • Better matching of training to available job.
  • Better support people affected by redundancy.
These ideas suggest training your way out of recession. Then I discovered this article for training your way out of recession ( 
Half the companies discovered that training staff made them more likely to stay. One-third found it increased staff motivation, and almost half actually saved money in the process.
“Organisations must focus on nurturing talent if they are to survive, grow and succeed. The continuous development and growth of people is inextricably linked to business performance.
So, there you are. Training is good for the company and good for the employee. Don’t cut your training budget as the money gets tight. 

Help Vectorworks to be better

Most of us want Vectorworks to be better. In the latest e-Dispatch from NNA, Sean Flaherty tells how you can help. there is a function in Vectorworks 2009 to allow error reporting to NNA. 
“ if you’re keen to help us improve our product, we need you to take action that will give us more specific data. By selecting, “Send crash details,” our team of programmers here gets notified automatically of any crashes and where in Vectorworks they occurred. If you’d like to help R&D improve Vectorworks even more, please elect to send us “usage patterns” also; this helps us see what events led up to a particular crash. To allay any privacy concerns you may have, we never see the data in your drawings. In addition, the information we collect is very tight and has no impact on your software operations, though it has the potential to have a lot of impact on our development.”
So, if you want to help, go to the menu bar. Choose Tools > Options > Vectorworks Preferences… Then click on the Session tab. Here you will find the settings Sean is talking about. 
If you don’t see the error reporting on your Vectorworks preferences, that means you need to upgrade to the latest version. The new Service Pack 2 has the error reporting. If you have Vectorworks 2009, upgrade to Service Pack 2, it’s free.  

Dimensioning In Viewports

I have a client that is having trouble with dimensioning an elevation. The view needs to be and elevation of some joinery. The easy way to dimension this is to use sheet layers and viewports. 
The plan viewport is easy to deal with. Put the dimensions in the design layer, the same layer as the walls and cabinets. 
The Elevation viewport is different. If you place these dimensions in the design layer, you will not see them in this viewport, they will end up in the plan viewport. 
The trick with elevation viewports is to add the dimensions to the Annotations part of the viewport. 
Right mouse click on the viewport. 
Choose Edit Annotations.
This takes you into the viewport annotation editing area., Notice the button at the top left to exit. 
Now you can add the dimensions.
When you have finished, click on the Exit Viewport Annotation button. 
There is your drawing.

The Camera Match Tool for Vectorworks

Matt Panzer has updated his fabulous Camera Match tool. 
This tool allows Vectorworks users to quickly and accurately align a 3D view to an existing photograph.
Other features in Camera Match 2009 include anti-aliasing for mask objects, which blend the edges of the mask with the rendered model, as well as a more streamlined workflow that automates the creation of render backgrounds as needed.
Camera Match 2009 is free to all Camera Match 2008 users, and it can be downloaded from It will also be released soon in the localized Italian and German versions. The Camera Match plug-in can be purchased from the website for $100.
I have used this tool on projects where you need to match a view to a photo. This tool really works and it will save you heaps of time.