Our resident licensing expert Kim Beard explains the difference between Autodesk’s new Desktop Subscriptions and your usual common or garden Autodesk licence…
What are Autodesk Subscriptions?
Back in the day, Autodesk only offered one kind of subscription, and it gave you access to support, resources and free version upgrades. Now, that’s known as a Maintenance Subscription and a new player has entered the game: Desktop Subscriptions.
A Desktop Subscription is also termed a Licence, and in layman’s terms it’s a you rent the licence on an annual or quarterly basis, rather than buying it outright. Rather than buy a licence and then pay an annual maintenance fee, you pay a flat fee every year or quarter, and Autodesk make sure you have access to the latest version of your software.
Does this mean perpetual licences are being phased out?
No! Both perpetual licences and Desktop Subscriptions are available from Autodesk.
Who would want an Autodesk Subscription?
If you’re a new business looking to limit your initial spend, renting your licences for the first couple of years is a cheaper alternative to buying them outright straight away – especially if you expect the number of staff you employ to fluctuate over your first few years of operations. Similarly, any company that takes on extra staff on a project-by-project basis can save by having a core of perpetual licences, then effectively renting any additional ones on an annual or quarterly basis using Desktop Subscriptions.
And, surprisingly, this could actually be a great deal for any of you using Autodesk’s LT range. With the full versions of applications like AutoCAD and Maya, it only takes three to four years for a Desktop Subscription to add up to the price of a perpetual licence. But if you’re using an LT package, the lower subscription fee means it could take up to a decade for a Desktop Subscription to cost you as much as a perpetual licence, by which time your workflow could have changed entirely.
How does the cost compare to perpetual licences?
Buying a full licence of Autodesk 3ds Max or Maya costs £3625 (all prices are SRP), and a Maintenance Subscription to keep your licence up to date will cost £1280 every year thereafter. An annual Desktop Subscription includes maintenance, so will just cost you £1280 per year. Over time, you end up with a cost comparison that looks like this:
So if you’re going to need your licence for any longer than four years, you’re better off buying a perpetual licence. AutoCAD gives much the same result, as a perpetual licence costs £4350 with an annual £595 maintenance fee, whereas a Desktop Subscription costs £1360 annually.
Our helpful graph for AutoCAD LT looks markedly different:
A perpetual licence with Maintenance Subscription costs you £1140 for the first year and £190 thereafter, putting it far ahead of a Desktop Subscription’s £300 annual payment.
Obviously, this is a sizeable investment either way, and we recommend that you drop Kim and the ever-knowledgable autodesk@Jigsaw24.com team a line before you buy, but hopefully our charming graphs have cleared things up a bit.
Deciding on new software means thinking about what you need it to achieve. For an all-in-one, affordable 2D drafting solution, AutoCAD LT is a great choice, but if you want to add 3D drafting to your workflow, Vectorworks Fundamentals is the way to go.
We’ve weighed up the main points in favour of each program, so you can see which you should be looking at before you make an investment…
AutoCAD LT is promoted for entry level 2D drafting and detailing, but now offers everything you need for general CAD work. It can work with Xrefs, raster images, dynamic blocks and PDFs, and Autodesk have added new features to the most recent versions of LT that were previously reserved for bigger brother AutoCAD. These include support for the AutoCAD WS mobile and web app, the Sheet Set Manager organisational tool, and other powerful tools such as Associative Arrays (maintain relationships between arrayed objects), Multifunctional Grips (now for lines, arcs and dimensions) and Delete Duplicate Objects (removes unnecessary geometry).
You wouldn’t expect to see a professional modelling solution within an entry level program, but Vectorworks Fundamentals punches above its weight, providing conceptual design tools and powerful 3D modelling functionality for professional free-form solid modelling designs. In that sense, it should be compared to the full AutoCAD package’s range of 2D and 3D tools for drafting, modelling, annotation and presentation.
While LT doesn’t have solid modelling capability, it manages to produce some excellent 3D surface models in the hands of the capable user. There’s no rendering capability either, but again you wouldn’t have to look too far to find a compatible and affordable renderer such as Photoshop or Shaderlight for Google SketchUp. With Vectorworks,you have the option to add the Renderworks integrated renderer module, and the new CINEMA 4D rendering engine provides advanced functionality to produce quality photorealistic and artistic render images.
LT shares the same flexible user interface as the fully-featured AutoCAD and as it’s customisable, you can set up the screen to look and function how you want. Vectorworks also features a customisable GUI, with tool palettes and drop-down menus to suit the user’s way of working. Both programs pick up a point here for their layout and ease of use.
Since LT works in the native DWG format, it’s easier to use with AutoCAD users as it maintains the integrity of the DWG drawing and can be used for annotation and detailing on a drawing project. Vectorworks operates in its native .vwx format but also includes .dwg import and export functionality with mapping tools to allow Vectorworks users to work seamlessly and share drawing data with AutoCAD users.
Both Vectorworks and AutoCAD LT will also run on either Windows or Mac, which means they’re ideally suited to a drawing office where employees have a choice of platform.
Making a decision
AutoCAD LT was developed as a cheaper entry-level alternative to AutoCAD and has since grown to become the best-selling CAD software globally, even out-stripping AutoCAD. The full version does include enhanced 3D drafting and programming capabiliy, but if you’re only going to be using it for 2D drafting and detailing, it’s a solid all-in-one solution.
If you do need to work in 3D however, the modelling tools in Vectorworks Fundamentals mean it’s a cut above AutoCAD LT. For a similar price, you can take your project from conceptual design to parasolid 3D modelling. Even if you work primarily in 2D, being able to create quick 3D volumes during the concept stage provides big advantages, including the ability to take live sections, so it’s very useful to have these tools at your disposal.
Looking for a print solution for your drafting workflow? There are dozens of large format printers out there which will all produce good quality results, so we’ve pitched two of the top offerings from HP and Epson against each other so you can see what kind of printer is best for your needs…
HP DesignJet T790
HP are primarily known for producing technical CAD printers for use in architectural, engineering, surveying and construction environments. Their 44″ DesignJet T790 is a plug-and-play large format printer which combines high-speed results with intuitive use. The real stand-out points here are the ability to easily create print-ready PDFs with the optional AutoCAD plug-in and the collaborative aspect of HP’s exclusive ePrint & Share application. This free web-printing solution allows you to select, print and share files directly from the colour touchscreen.
Epson Stylus Pro 9700
Epson’s range of photo and graphics printers have a heavy emphasis on print quality, and so are mainly used in the print for pay, production graphics, pre-press proofing and photographic sectors. They may seem a little over-qualified if you only need a printer that’s adept at producing 2D drafts, but if you’re working in an environment where you work with a range of designs and media, the flexibility of the 44″ Epson Stylus Pro 9700 could be what you need. ENERGY STAR-qualified, it also boasts plenty of eco-features such as a fixed printhead and low power consumption to boost your green credentials and keep printing costs down at the same time.
Six cartridges (C, M, Y, Photo Black, Matte Black, Grey)
Four colours, five cartridges (C, M, Y, Photo Black and Matte Black), ten ink channels
2,112 nozzles per colour, 12,672 nozzles
720 nozzles per colour, 3,600 nozzles
Minimum droplet size
Max print speed
Best quality print speed
60 to 328g/m^2 up to 0.8mm
0.08 to 1.5mm
One year onsite ex printhead
One year onsite inc printhead
In terms of initial cost, there’s little to separate the two printers (both have an RRP of around £3000), but the Epson does just edge the HP in terms of consumables, with printheads included in the guarantee and ink costing nearly half per ml. The real decider should be what you want your printer to achieve – for a dedicated drafting printer, you may be better off with the quicker, more accurate Epson 9700 and its collaborative tools, but if you need your printer to do more flexible colour design work, the HP T790 could clinch it for you.
After several years of internal use, Arup have released their 3D pedestrian simulation tool to the wider world, and Jigsaw are pleased to be able to offer it following the 8th June launch.
MassMotion allows architects to accurately assess commuter traffic and evacuation plans for a wide range of building models and events. Having been around for several years, it’s had plenty of chance to be thoroughly tested and for any creases to be ironed out.
MassMotion is the only 3D pedestrian simulator available. Benefits include:
• Ability to import models from CAD programs or build from scratch.
• Scheduling origin and destination points for 3D agents (i.e. people).
• Commands like walk, shop or loiter and the ability to set average speed.
• Agents that automatically adapt to new routes when you change the geometry.
• Access to extensive analysis tools including recordings of your 3D simulations.
Where do your models fit in?
Models can be developed from CAD drawings or built from scratch and you can import 3D geometry from AutoCAD, MicroStation, Rhino, 3ds Max, SketchUp and Revit. Geometry is then classified as floors, stairs, barriers and portals which agents will respond to accordingly. MassMotion also includes pre-flight model validation to identify any setup problems before a simulation is run.
How does it work?
Your 3D environment is analysed to develop a physical relationship between geometric objects so a full 3D simulation can be run. Routes are mapped between origins and destinations, taking into account any decision variables for individual or grouped agents who then navigate their way through the environment. The agents aren’t simply mindless stickmen either, Arup have spent a long time finetuning a formula that makes their behaviour frighteningly realistic.
The analytic stage is where MassMotion really comes into its own. It makes a big difference to clients when you can show them a recording of the 3D simulation and make objective statements about the design performance of a model and back it up with clear analysis. All of the simulation data is collected and exported for analysis, so you can assess journey times for individuals or groups; flow rates at doors, stairs or chosen areas; and queue lengths or volume-defined accumulations.
How MassMotion helps
If a simulation analysis reveals problems, you can make geometric changes in MassMotion using control tools based on the easy-to-use Autodesk Softimage interface. Agents will then alter their routes accordingly, finding the most efficient path and seeking alternative routes if these become congested.
Applications of MassMotion
MassMotion is hugely scalable: Arup have run simulations with 350,000 agents and believe this could be exceeded to assess the design performance of large buildings, transit stations, stadiums and events. Arup have applied this to venue planning for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, terminal design for Union Station in Los Angeles, and a fire and evacuation plan at Canary Wharf. MassMotion was also used in the design process of the Jetblue Shopping concourse at JFK airport where passenger movement was tied to flight schedules, food and retail concessions. In short, there are myriad applications for MassMotion.
If you’re interested in pre-ordering MassMotion or have any further questions, give our CAD consultants a call on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.
Revit Clinic’s Ryan Duell recently published his five best features in the new Revit 2012 release. We couldn’t let these time-saving innovations go unappreciated, so put on your best Tony Blackburn voice as we begin the top five countdown…
“5. Editing Requests
You can now view editing requests directly inside Revit on the status bar. This makes it easier to see if you have any pending requests, and allows you to automatically grant a request directly from the dialogue.
4. Saving all Families / Export Family Types
You can now easily save all families from a project under Save-as > Library > Family > <All Families> .
You can get here even quicker using the process in #1. And speaking of families, for anyone who has ever created a Type Catalogue, you can now export or import your Revit family types in this format. It’ll help streamline the initial type catalogue creation and formatting.
3. 3D Connexion Support
If you have a 3D Connexion device, you can now utilise it to navigate in Revit 2012. For many users this may be one of the best new features for 2012, which opens up some great shortcuts for navigating the model.
2. Semi-transparent Selection
The Semi-transparent element is the default selection (although you can disable or change the colour under Options > Graphics). This creates a dynamic approach to select an element and automatically view it transparently. It’s a quick method for looking through an exterior wall into the project, without overriding any element settings (see image). 1. Project Browser Right-Click Shortcuts
In the Project Browser you can now right-click on Legends, Schedules/Quantities and Families as a shortcut to the corresponding tool. This is similar to the previous right-click Sheets > New Sheet functionality.”
Vectorworks KnowledgeBase has released this guide to upgrading your Evaluation Licence to a Professional one. Simply follow the instructions:
“If you have purchased the full Designer with Renderworks version of Vectorworks and your trial has not expired, go to Part A. If your trial has expired or you purchased a different set of modules (such as Architect, Landmark, Spotlight and/or Renderworks) go to Part B.
A) If your trial has not yet expired…
During the 30-day Evaluation period, you may at any time decide to purchase Vectorworks. Upon doing this, you will be sent a new serial number, which will look similar to this:
To enter this new serial number in your already installed copy of Vectorworks, go to Tools > Options > Vectorworks Preferences (see below).
Under the Session tab, choose Serial Numbers. Click the EVAL serial number and choose Remove, afterwards choose Add and enter your new serial number. Press Add again when complete. You should see your new serial number and activated products listed to the right:
Restart Vectorworks and you’ll find that your copy will now be a professional and will no longer expire.
B) If you purchased a different set of modules than you used during the evaluation…
You will have to uninstall Vectorworks completely and then reinstall with your new serial number:
If you’re after tips on getting the most from Vectorworks, here’s the latest from the Vectorworks Knowledgebase. This week: backing up preferences, disabling the Mac OS X firewall, exporting files, and more…
Backing Up Vectorworks Preferences
Backing up your User Preferences is as easy as following these four steps:
1) Once you have your desired preferences and workspace changes, quit Vectorworks.
2) Navigate to the Settings’ folder in ‘My Computer > C: > Documents and Settings > (YourUsername) > Application Data > Nemetschek > Vectorworks’
3) Copy the folder named after the version of Vectorworks you are using. For example in Vectorworks 2011, the folder is simply named 2011
4) Save this folder somewhere safe, for your future use.
WINDOWS VISTA AND WINDOWS 7
Follow the same instructions but with a different navigational path:
“To disable the built-in firewall on OS X, go to Apple > System Preferences:
Click Security on the System Preferences dialogue box and under Firewall, click Stop to disable the firewall. Normally this will only need to be disabled during the installation or updating of Vectorworks, not for using it on a regular basis after installation.”
The ‘File > Export’ command exports Vectorworks files into several different file formats (including previous versions of Vectorworks) making it possible to import them into other software programs.
nb. Vectorworks exports to a new file, leaving the original file intact.
Vectorworks KnowledgeBase offer this guide to the different file formats:
“DXF / DWG
DWG and DXF files can be read by other CAD programs (such as AutoCAD). In addition, they can be printed by service bureaus and opened in rendering programs. The Vectorworks translator exports DWG/DXF files for AutoCAD versions 2010,2007/2008/2009, 2004/2005/2006, 2000/2000i/2002, 14/LT98/LT97, 13/ LT95, and 12. Use the latest version possible for best results.
Saves all records of a particular format as a file that can be used in a database program, such as FileMaker Pro and Microsoft Access. The Vectorworks program provides a variety of formats to select from when exporting records as a database, including comma-delimited, tab-delimited, merge, DIF, and SYLK.
EPSF (Encapsulated PostScript Format) files can be read by many graphics and desktop-publishing programs. The Vectorworks translator exports EPSF files in Illustrator 88 format. EPSFs contain all drawing elements except colour bitmaps. The Vectorworks program exports these files with high resolution and full accuracy. ‘Image>Files>Exports’ the file as an image file in formats like JPEG, Photoshop, BMP, and others. The image can then be imported into other applications or used in web pages.
Export PDF – (Requires Design Series)
This command is only available on the Macintosh when Quartz Imaging is enabled. It exports the current file to a PDF document in the specified location. There are additional PDF options available for users of the Vectorworks Design Series products on both Macintosh and Windows.
This command is available on the Macintosh when Quartz Imaging is disabled. It exports a vector image of the current file in the specified location .Metafile. Export graphics files in Metafile format for inclusion in virtually any Windows program, including AutoCAD and word processing programs. There are two versions of Metafiles: standard (pre-Windows 95) and enhanced. The Vectorworks program supports the enhanced version.
Writes out the current file as a series of VectorScript commands. These commands can then be used as part of a VectorScript script or as a guide for learning .Worksheet. Worksheet files can be read by spreadsheet programs, such as Microsoft Excel, as well as by some word processing programs. Export all rows or only selected rows of a worksheet. Because many of these programs have different format requirements, there are a variety of formats to select from when exporting files as a worksheet, including comma-delimited, tab-delimited, merge, DIF, and SYLK.
Cinema 4D – 3D Only (Requires Renderworks)
Exports 3D objects in the unified view (Vectorworks Design Series required) or active layer to the .c4d format, for use in CINEMA 4D. Vectorworks layers are exported as container objects in the CINEMA 4D scene hierarchy. Vectorworks classes become CINEMA 4D layers, allowing visibility to be controlled across the scene. Layer names, object names, and object types are preserved. An additional command, Send to CINEMA 4D (3D only) is available from the File menu. When CINEMA 4D is already installed, exports the file (3D objects only) to .c4d format, launches the CINEMA 4D application, and opens the file. During export, the Send to CINEMA 4D dialog box opens. Select whether to create a new scene or merge into the current scene.
Exports 3D objects to the Parasolid X_T format.
Exports 3D curves, surfaces, and solids to IGES format.
Creates a SAT file for exporting ACIS 3D solids. The Export Solids as Trimmed Surfaces option exports a solid as several different ACIS ‘bodies’ (for example, a cube exports as six ACIS bodies). If this option is deselected, a solid is exported as a single body.
Creates an exported Vectorscript designed to be easy to import into programs like Strata Software products.
Export Stereo Lithography
Exports all visible 3D surfaces and solids in the current layer into an STL-formatted file. Export 2008, 2009, 2010 saves a copy of the file in a format that can be opened and manipulated in an older version of the Vectorworks program.”
Scroll to the bottom for a short video by Vectorworks that demonstrates how to use the Render Bitmap tool so that you can enjoy render previews (that are printable and exportable) without leaving the Viewport.
If you have any more queries about Vectorworks, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com or, if you want to share any of your own tips with other Vectorworks users, feel free to post them as comments below.
Vectorworks KnowledgeBase offers the following great tip that allows you to import architectural drawings from Google SketchUp to Vectorworks:
“The Import SketchUp command allows architectural drawings created in Google SketchUp (versions 4 through 7) to be imported into Vectorworks. SketchUp component instances are imported as 3D symbols, and geometry can be designated as walls, roof faces, and floors. After importing, refine the design using Vectorworks editing tools, or replace imported 3D symbols with Vectorworks 3D symbols. Flexible import options allow either automatic conversion of architectural elements based on their orientation, or allow geometry conversion to be mapped to specific SketchUp materials or layers.
Vectorworks 2011 and 2010 can import files from SketchUp 7 and earlier. Vectorworks 2009 can import files from SketchUp version 6 and earlier.
All versions of Vectorworks (except Fundamentals) can import Sketchup files directly from the File > Import > Import Sketchup menu.
When importing asketchup document, by default it will attempt to import the file as if it were an architectural design document, it will try to determine which objects are floors, roofs and walls. You can assign their default settings in the Default Styles tab. Most of the time you should leave the Geometry Mapping to the Automatic setting for architectural documents.
If the file you are trying to import is actually just 3D geometry and not related to architecture, choose the None option under Geometry Mapping. However, SketchUp import is intended for architectural geometry. Using the Import DXF/DWG command rather than the Import SketchUp command to import polygonal geometry is recommended.
After importing a Sketchup file into a new blank document, you may see nothing but a blank page. Go to Edit > Select All, then View > Zoom > Fit to Objects. This will focus on the imported Sketchup objects.
If after doing these steps you end up with a blank file containing no objects, make sure you were not attempting to import a Sketchup 8 document. To import such a file, you would have to open it in Sketchup 8 and File > Save As, then choose to save it as a Sketchup 7 or earlier file before importing it into Vectorworks.”
Another expert tip from the Vectorworks KnowledgeBase. To prevent getting a ‘WallEndCap’ error when using the Wall End Cap tool in Vectorworks, follow their advice below:
“If you receive this error message when trying to use the Wall End Cap tool:
“Download and run the attached .txt VectorScript.
“To do this, first save the attachment to your desktop or downloads folder, then go to Tools > Scripts > Run VectorScript and select the “Wall End Cap Error Fix.txt” file and click Open.”
To talk to one of our CAD team about any problems you’ve encountered inVectorworks, call 03332 409 204 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com. You can also leave us a comment in the box below and we’ll get back to you shortly.