Importing 3rd-party file formats into Vectorworks – Google SketchUp

Importing 3rd-party file formats into Vectorworks – Google SketchUp

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.

Vectorworks - Importing From Google Sketch Up 1

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.

Vectorworks - Importing From Google Sketch Up 2

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.”

To see the original article, and other similar articles, visit Vectorworks KnowledgeBase

If you would like more information on any aspect of Vectorworks, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

Fixing transparent columns in Revit

Fixing transparent columns in Revit

Those clever boffins at the Revit Clinic have another quick fix for your Revit Architecture workflow. This time, they solve the problem of having transparent columns in your detail callouts.

From the Revit Clinic:

“Let’s say you have the following scenario of a wall and column:

ColumnCallouts_01

You add a Floor Plan Callout, which results in what you expected:

ColumnCallouts_02

And then a Detail Callout, where the results are not what you were expecting:

ColumnCallouts_03

So why does the column appear to be transparent in the Detail callout?

The reason for this is that, when unjoined, the wall and column occupy the same physical space. You do not see this display in your Floor Plan and Floor Plan Callout because of the “show family pre-cut in plan views” parameter of the column family.

This parameter determines whether the column displays based on the cut plane specified in the project’s view or within the family. Keeping this parameter checked results in columns that always display the same regardless of the project view’s settings. More information on this can be found in the Specifying How a Structural Column Displays in Plan View document in the Help menu.

So when this parameter is checked, you are not seeing the ‘real’ relationship between the elements in your Floor Plan and Plan callout – you are seeing a representation of the column based on the cut plane in the family.

To further clarify, if you edit the column family, go to Family Category and Parameters and clear this checkbox, you’ll see the that column displays with the same sort of transparent appearance in all views, not just the detail.

ColumnCallouts_04

The way Detail Callouts are generated internally is different from true ‘plan’ views and they do not use this parameter, so they show consistently based on the cut plane of the project regardless of whether it is checked or not.

The ways to approach this would be to join the wall and column where applicable (so their geometry no longer overlaps) or to use a Floor Plan callout when needed instead.”

Read the full article at the Revit Clinic.

For more expert Autodesk Revit advice, call our CAD team on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

Creating machines using section viewports in Vectorworks

Creating machines using section viewports in Vectorworks

Here’s another one from the Vectorworks KnowledgeBase. This time, the topic in hand is creating a front section of machine parts using Section Viewports.

“Section Viewports are often used by architects to see an elevation of a building, but they can also be useful for machine part designers. They are especially useful for machine part designers when a section is needed of the part, representing something other than the surface. Let’s use this as our example:

Section VP1

To do this, first set the view in VectorWorks so that you see the Design Layer(s) with the machine part to be sectioned. Go to View>Create Viewport. In the Viewport Preferences, set the View to Front. Set the other Viewport preferences and click OK when done.

Section VP2
With the Viewport selected, go to View>Create Section Viewport. VectorWorks is now waiting for you to draw the section line.r

Section VP3

Draw the section line along the machine part by clicking to start the section line, and double clicking at the end of the section line.

You now have a section viewport of the machine part based on the section line.”

Keep an eye out for more Vectorworks tips courtest of the Vectorworks KnowledgeBase. Or to find out more, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

Stopping Wall End Cap errors in Vectorworks

Stopping Wall End Cap errors in 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:

Wallendcap 01
“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.

How to use Google Earth with AutoCAD

How to use Google Earth with AutoCAD

On one of our browses through Autodesk blogs and forums, we came across this little gem of a tip that enables you to use the mighty Google Earth Extension right in your AutoCAD project, and vice-versa.

The advice comes from Scott Sheppard, who has worked for Autodesk for 17 years, so really knows his way around AutoCAD-based products. On the Autodesk Labs blog, he gives a few simple steps on how publish your 3D models from AutoCAD-based products directly into the Google Earth application, import a Google Earth image into AutoCAD, drape a Google Earth image onto a 3D mesh in AutoCAD and attach time span information to your model.

1. Make sure you have a compatible version of AutoCAD

When I say compatible version of AutoCAD, I specifically mean:
AutoCAD 2011 Family
* AutoCAD 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
* AutoCAD Architecture 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
* AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
* AutoCAD Map 3D 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)

AutoCAD 2007-2010 Family
* AutoCAD 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
* AutoCAD Architecture 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
* AutoCAD Civil 3D 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
* AutoCAD Map 3D 2008-2010 (32-bit only)

One of the key points here is that the 2011 family is the first one where 64-bit is supported.

2. Make sure you have the compatible version of Google Earth

The Google Earth Extension is compatible with Google Earth 5.x. It is not compatible with Google Earth 6.

3. Get the installers from the Labs web site

1. Navigate to http://labs.autodesk.com.
2. Click on Sign-In to login with your Autodesk Single Sign-on user name and password.
3. Navigate to http://labs.autodesk.com/utilities/google_earth_extension_beta/.
4. Click on Download Now.
5. Understand that installing the technology preview means that you will need to accept an end user license agreement and click on DOWNLOAD.
6. Save PublishDWGtoGE_32_64.zip to your computer.

You now have all of the installers for the various versions of AutoCAD.

4. Run the installer that matches your version of AutoCAD
1. I happen to have AutoCAD 2011 on a 64-bit machine running Windows 7.
2. As such, I select the C:\Users\sheppas\Documents\PublishDWGtoGE_32_64.zip\PublishDWGtoGE\2011\64-bit folder.
3. I drag and drop DwgPublishToGEX64Installer.msi to my My Documents folder.
4. In My Documents folder, I double click on the msi file to run the installer and follow the on-screen instructions. Even though I am the only one who uses my laptop, I install the technology preview so that it is available to all users of this computer.

If you repeat these steps as appropriate for your system, you now have the technology preview installed.

5. If you are having problems, check that your install went well

The following commands should work from the command line.
* IMPORTGEIMAGE
* IMPORTGEMESH
* GETIME
* PUBLISHKML

The following files should be in your AutoCAD folder:

One of the wish list items was to make the technology preview compatible with the ribbon interface.

If you’ve got any AutoCAD 2011 architecture tips to share, let us know in the comments box below. Call us for more information on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

The top 5 benefits of Vectorworks Service Select

The top 5 benefits of Vectorworks Service Select

Making sure your software is up to date can be a pain – particularly when that means keeping track of different versions, having to fork out every time a new upgrade is released, and then being forced to take a crash course on new features. Thankfully, with Service Select from Nemetschek, staying on top of your Vectorworks software has become more affordable (and a lot easier).

Officially, it’s labelled as “a new and exclusive way of helping you maximise your investment in Vectorworks,” with an eye for making sure customers get the best upgrade price possible as well as a heap of other resources, such as priority tech support. But what exactly does that mean? In the spirit of making life easy, we’ve decided to put Service Select through its paces and run you through the top 5 benefits of the Vectorworks programme.

1. Free upgrades
As far as keeping up with the Joneses is concerned (or rather making sure you have the tools to work on projects with colleagues), having the latest version of an application is vital. VSS makes this much more affordable. Rather than paying for upgrades as and when they are released, you automatically get any updated versions (including service packs) released during the term of your agreement – for free. This guarantees that you are always using the most up-to-date tools while saving money, as VSS is more cost-effective than the standard upgrade route.

2. Free premium support
Nobody likes a queue jumper – that is, unless they’re the one doing the jumping. It’s not strictly the same thing but, with VSS, anyone in need of tech support is able to skip the main Vectorworks tech support queue and get their call dealt with first by using the Service Select telephone number. Again, the key word here is free – as long as you’re giving them a call during the length of the agreement. There’s also a dedicated email address for any general enquiries, and for larger problems, VSS offers its members remote support, which lets the Vectorworks team diagnose any problems by remotely accessing your computer.

3. Free training
New software updates mean new features and, in turn, require new skills. VSS comes with the option of two half-day training sessions per year – regardless of whether any new versions are released during the length of your agreement. It means, whether you’re looking to refresh your knowledge or learn about the latest tools, you’ll have the option to. There are also online training sessions that are delivered in webinar form and give you the chance to find out more info on some of the more important topics such as data exchange with DXF.

4. Free access to knowledge portal
Every VSS agreement comes with a personal portal password. The knowledge portal includes tips and tricks, tutorial movies, the Vectorworks Knowledge Base search engine and much more. More than just training, this gives you access to on-demand resources. Stuck on a specific Vectorworks tool? Chances are you’ll find the answer in the portal, whenever you need it!

5. And the rest...
It’s not technically all one benefit, but VSS also includes:

– Licence protection, which gives you dongle-free replacement in case you lose or damage your existing one.

– Access to new libraries, textures, plug-ins and templates.

– Discounts on training and services offered by partners.

– Easy account management.

– And the Service Select newsletter…

To find out more about Vectorworks Service Select, get in touch with our CAD experts on 03332 409 204 or drop an email to CAD@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Finding referring views in Revit

Finding referring views in Revit

Anyone who’s just kicking off their BIM workflow would do well to take a look at Autodesk’s Revit Clinic. The site’s packed with tips and troubleshooting tricks, such as this quick workaround for those of you who keep receiving ‘could not find referring object’ errors.

Problem 1: Viewport selected

If you receive this message when you hover over the viewport and right click ‘find referring views’, try right clicking on ‘activate view’ first. Once the view is activated, right click on ‘find referring view’ and you should get the ‘go to view’ dialogue.

Problem 2: Hidden tag instances

You’ll also get this message if every instance of a particular tag is hidden in every view. TO see whether this is the problem, open a view the tag should appear in, then toggle ‘reveal hidden elements’ to see if you can find the tag.

If  that reveals the tag, you should be sorted – right clicking ‘find referring views’ in the activated sheet elevation view, it should return all the views in which you’ve unhidden the tag.

See the original post.

For more information on Autodesk Revit, give our CAD team a call on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

AutoCAD: Mac or PC?

AutoCAD: Mac or PC?

If you’ve managed to avoid the news that AutoCAD for Mac was released this month, then where have you been hiding? This new release from Autodesk is an important step towards giving people a choice of platform in their CAD workflow, but what should you choose to run AutoCAD, Mac vs PC?

It’s difficult to ignore the fact that over the past few years, Apple have managed to take the computer market by storm. Their Mac-based platform has become the computer of choice for creative professionals and it’s increasingly showing its face in businesses up and down the country. With more and more PC users opting to switch to Apple computers (take a look at Apple’s yearly sales figures to see how significant this is), you have to ask yourself why.

Apple design both their hardware and operating system, which means you don’t suffer from system conflicts. Macs benefit from better protection against viruses than PCs. Macs are notorious for being hardwearing, and come with a lower total cost of ownership than their PC equivalents.

What do you do if you want the benefits of a Mac but still need to work in AutoCAD?

Until now, Autodesk users in the construction industry have not been able to choose the platform they work on unless they opted to run Parallels, Boot Camp or similar virtualisation applications. These let you run Windows (and a Windows version of AutoCAD) on your Mac system. The problem, though, is that by running software through a virtualised desktop, you can suffer from reduced system performance when compared to running it natively on a Windows-based PC.

But apart from a slightly more sluggish machine, this is also an expensive option if everyone in your office needs their own copy of the virtualisation software in order to get on with their work. So unless there is a compelling business argument for running those Macs, then it’s likely that the PC option will always win.

That’s exactly why the release of this new AutoCAD is such big news. Not only is it going to benefit the end user, it’s also a sign that Autodesk have started to think outside the box in their approach to the entire CAD market.

If you take a look at AutoCAD for Mac, you will still see the majority of the functionality that comes in previous versions. The result is a typically AutoCAD setup that makes use of a lot of the functions that are native to the Mac.

One noticeable difference is the user interface – the ribbons are out, and in is a cleaner, streamlined screen. This lets users hide additional icons at the sides of the screen, providing a larger working space.

 

The new interface also comes with the ability to dock the side bars.

 

A big addition to the Mac-based AutoCAD is the ability to use the trackpad for editing designs more intuitively. If you’re working on a MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, AutoCAD will use the Multi-Touch functionality to pan and zoom around the drawing. If you’re using a desktop-based Mac, the new Magic Trackpad will give you the same freedom.

The Mac’s Spotlight search function is also utilised. It provides a very intuitive search function from within the AutoCAD application which lets you search for commands, and highlights their location in the menus.

 

Obviously, that doesn’t even begin to over the functionality in this new release (you can find out more by clicking here), but one final thing that’s worth pointing out is that you don’t need to download the relevant plug-in to upload drawings to AutoCAD WS. As the new application is already built into AutoCAD for Mac, all you need to do is select the upload option in the File menu.

Should you change to AutoCAD for Mac?

Well, AutoCAD for Mac certainly appears to be a sleeker version of AutoCAD, adopting the style of the Mac perfectly, and if you’re onboard with the Mac platform (ie improved user interface, more security against viruses etc.) then I’d certainly recommend that you start to take a look at AutoCAD for Mac. But if you’re happy with the PC software and the way it functions on your computer, then in truth, you should probably stick at it.

Only Autodesk hold the answer whether this Mac release is a hint at where they are taking their CAD applications, but given how Apple and the Mac platform are positioned in the market, Autodesk would be pretty foolish not to expand on their Mac portfolio.

Want to find out more about the Mac and PC CAD divide or got a question about which platform is right for you? Get in touch with us on 03332 409 204 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com or take a look at our full range of AutoCAD for Mac products.

Demystifying 3D for students

Demystifying 3D for students

Are you starting sixth form, college or university in September? If so, read on as this article will clear up some common misconceptions about the world of 3d modelling, and will offer sound advice for anyone just starting out.

The first piece of advice is that you should visit Autodesk’s student portal. Autodesk have very generously decided to offer their software free to students. You will need your student email address (one ending in .ac.uk) or a faculty member to sign up but, within a few minutes you can start downloading all your favourite software.

Once you have signed up, I would recommend creating a profile and posting work, as it’s a great way of learning new tricks, making contact with your peers and will be useful when comparing your work to other students.

There are other resources that you can rely on to be informative and helpful, irrespective of your skill level. For example, forums such as our 3d site are there to advise on all aspects of the 3d workflow.

Anyway, once you have the free software, you’ll need to know how to get started. A good place to learn the basic interface is the Services and Support section of the Autodesk website. From there, you can select the application you want to start learning and can navigate to the video tutorials, read the documentation, get updates and much more.

So now you know how to get the software, you need to know what software to get; this can get confusing! Ultimately, it will largely be dependent on the type of course you are doing, so it may be worthwhile contacting your tutor and finding out in advance what you will be learning.

It is likely that your course will fall into one of five subjects; Engineering, Product Design, Built Environment, Multimedia (inc. animation) and Games Design. So that you can better understand the various applications and in which field they are used, we have given a brief summary of all of the major ones.

It is worth mentioning that most, if not all the non-Autodesk applications, have free trials available on their respective websites and generally provide ample support to get started.

Final thought

Finally, remember not to try and master everything. There are so many applications with so many tools that no-one could possibly learn them all. I’d bet that even the most advanced users only know 40% of one individual application’s capabilities, so don’t despair if it takes months or even years to get to a decent standard. You will need to develop near god-like levels of patience but if you stick with it, you will be rewarded.



If you want to find out more, give the team a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. To receive the latest 3D news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.

 

Epson Stylus Pro 7700 and 9700 review

Epson Stylus Pro 7700 and 9700 review

With the help of our CAD expert, Sam Tomlinson, we put the new Epson Stylus Pro 7700 and 9700 printers to the test.

Epson says: The Epson Stylus Pro 7700 and 9700 are packed with the latest Epson technologies that add precision, reliability and productivity to a wide range of professional printing needs. Together they give you the finest quality output without compromising speed.

Sam says: Each time a new printer is launched onto the market it always promises the latest and most advanced technology, so your cynicism is understandable. But from the print samples I have seen, these printers do exactly what they say on the tin! The Epson Ultra Chrome Ink (which now includes vivid magenta) makes the prints clear and they precisely match the colours on screen. Epson have also assured us that prints should last around 75 years, (though we clearly didn’t have time to test this) and that is perfect for archiving. The Micro Piezo TFP printhead is probably to blame for the bulkiness of these printers which seems to be an issue with a lot of Epson printers. However, a look under the magnifying glass revealed perfectly accurate little dots that didn’t mist or have any satellites. Even after long periods of inactivity, it still produced perfect prints immediately, with no nozzle issues.

Epson says: These printers are designed to give you faster output without compromising print quality. They do this by using advanced compression and decompression technologies that speed up data throughput during printing.

Sam says: When it comes to printers, the faster they are the better, but that is only if they can maintain the quality. Of course the level of precision is reduced when you print at faster speeds, but even at the highest speed, these are perfect for drafts and sketches. The slower, higher quality prints are outstanding and would probably give you that competitive edge when pitching for new business. Whilst the highest quality prints do take considerably longer, these models are conveniently equipped to deal with overnight printing.

Epson says: A range of features make the printing process as easy as possible, and gives you the flexibility to match your printer to the way you print. Fast network connection, clear, simple control and straightforward operation and maintenance are built-in.

Sam says: With new ways of monitoring and controlling print jobs, you don’t have to hit print and hope for the best. The control panel screen isn’t your usual multifaceted gadget that scares even the most technical of minds; it is simple, easy to use, straightforward to understand and it genuinely makes a difference to the level of control you have over printing. If anything does go wrong – for example, if you run out of media half way through a job – barcode printing allows you to back-track just as far as the problem, without having to start over (saving both time and money). Different departments can track their printing too.

Buy it if: you do a lot of professional printing. An on-site, high performance professional printer is a worthwhile investment, especially given the cost of external printing. In terms of price, both of these models compare quite favourably to similar printers on the market. These have been crammed with all the latest Epson print technology but, despite all of its technological glory, the 7700 model only takes print sizes up to 24″ and that could be quite restrictive. If you’re not going to exceed this size, great but, if larger prints are what you are after, I would recommend the 9700, which takes paper sizes up to 44″ wide.

Get in touch with our CAD experts on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com for more on our printing solutions.