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October 15, 2008                                                                               Volume 1, Issue 9                    
Editor-in-Chief, H. Edward Goldberg
Copy Editor, Judith Goldberg

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EIV is always pleased to welcome new readers. If you are receiving this FREE monthly newsletter for the first time because someone forwarded it to you, we invite you to subscribe using the link at the bottom. Our audience runs the full gamut of the AEC/O industry. We strive to remain at the leading edge of developments in digital technology for this arena. We hope you will find this newsletter informative and will want to continue to receive it.

Introducing Vectorworks Architect and AutoCAD P&ID.

Also—NEW FEATURE—Letters to the Editor.

  • Vectorworks Architect 2009: a value priced, architectural program that is both BIM capable and 2D capable. This program competes favorably against Autodesk Revit Architecture.
  • AutoCAD P&ID: Plant Design software productivity study shows that AutoCAD P&ID is 42% more productive than plain AutoCAD.


  • Our readers write: Deke Smith of the Smart BIM Alliance responds concerning my commentary (volume 1, issue 8) on the National BIM Standard and IFCs.


Vectorworks Architect 2009 

About Nemetschek North America
Nemetschek North America is a profit center owned by Nemetschek AG, a German corporation containing a collection of 25 acquired companies arranged in 10 operating divisions and four groups. These groups are: Design - Vectorworks, Graphisoft, Allplan, Frilo, Glaser, Scia (structural design); Build - Auer, Bausoftware; Manage – Crem; and Multimedia - Maxon. Nemetschek NA is one of the most profitable divisions of Nemetschek AG, whose annual revenues are about $200 million. Nemetschek AG also has a strategy that allows internal competition. Significantly, Nemetschek NA does not share programming code with the other divisions. Where are Vectorworks’ users located? 41% are in Asia, 36% in Europe, and 22% in North America.

Vectorworks’ Product Line
Vectorworks Designer combines all the technology in its design programs—Fundamentals, Architect, Landmark, Spotlight, and Machine Design. According to Sean Flaherty, “Designer is our top tier product that provides the industry with an integrated software application that addresses the building, everything in it, and everything around it. It is a software solution for multi-disciplinary firms.” Vectorworks Architect is an architectural design program that offers BIM capabilities in a cross-platform program. Vectorworks Landmark is a program for landscape architecture, design and planning. Vectorworks Spotlight is tailor-made to meet the needs of designers in the event planning, exhibition, and entertainment industries. Renderworks integrates seamlessly into all Vectorworks solutions to provide sophisticated photorealistic and hand-rendered effects.

Press Day at Nemetschek North America
This past September, Nemetschek NA held a national Press Day in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, my home town. I attended this day long seminar. Although I had been aware of Vectorworks for many years, this was the first time I had an opportunity to get a real in-depth look at this product; and I was very impressed.  Although I am known as a proponent (and a user) of Autodesk’s Revit software, I am always open to other solutions. From what I observed, Vectorworks Architect 2009 seems to stand up well in relation to Revit (which I think is the industry standard in this genre of the AEC market). In fact, Vectorworks Landmark, its landscaping module, appears to be more powerful than Revit’s own Toposurface, and Vectorworks’ auto-dimension feature is not available in Revit.

At the Press Day, CEO Flaherty explained that Vectorworks Architect 2009’s focus is the “integrated model” rather than the full BIM model. To clarify this point, let me emphasize that, given the capability of current technology, no architectural firm presently creates a truly complete BIM model, but rather integrates 2D detailing and presentation along with the BIM model in its construction documents. While Vectorworks Architect is a BIM application, it also contains many of the 2D detailing and presentation tools that other solutions don’t. For example, to get vector presentation such as gradients, in Revit or ArchiCAD, one must import Adobe Illustrator jpgs. Many users of Revit, first create 2D details in AutoCAD, and then import those drawings. Similarly, in order to create NURBS (mathematical free form objects) for use in Revit, one must create them in Rhino. In order to create high level 3D photo realistic visualizations in Revit, one must export data to 3D Studio MAX. Vectorworks Architect 2009 integrates all of the above mentioned capabilities in one solution with a common interface, eliminating the necessity for users to be competent in several different programs in order to produce a given result.  As Mr. Flaherty likes to say, “Vectorworks is software designed for designers. Vectorworks’ #1 selling point has been its presentation graphics -- outputting good looking drawings with gradients, transparency, non-photo realistic rendering and 2D Booleans.”

Switching to Parasolid
Vectorworks version 2009 is based on the Siemens PLM Software’s Parasolid kernel. Negotiations with Parasolid for the right to incorporate its technology into the program took two years. Flaherty claims Vectorworks to be the least-expensive Parasolid modeling product on the market  – and the first and only Parasolid-based AEC solution for the Mac. What does this mean to the user? According to David Shook, Siemens PLM Software, Senior VP for Americas, utilizing the Parasolid kernel greatly speeds up all the 3D modeling routines. In addition, utilizing this highly developed kernel allows the Vectorworks’ programmers more time to spend working on the end user experience – how the operator relates to the program.

A couple of caveats attend all this praise. Tag coordination has a bug that prevents automatic updating when the viewport changes sheets. Vectorworks’ programmers plan to fix this for the December maintenance release. Although Vectorworks has strong modeling capabilities, its curtain wall object is limited to simple designs.  This is an area that needs improvement. All things considered, I found Vectorworks Architect 2009 and its additional modules to be superb products and good values for the dollar.

What content is included with Vectorworks?
There are thousands of pre-configured objects addressing the building and everything in it. Content that ships with Vectorworks Architect includes symbol libraries from manufacturers such as Marvin Doors & Windows, Knoll, Herman Miller, Kohler, Weather Shield, Loewen, Jeld-Wen, Wolf, SubZero, AGA, Rayburn, and Copper Beech.

Is there a timed demo that people can download?
There is a 30-day demo available on DVD. The demo can be requested by going to the website, or calling sales at 888-646-4223.

One would expect products of Vectorworks’s caliber to come with hefty price tags. Yet, in spite of its sophistication, BIM and 2D capability, Vectorworks Architect– with basic rendering and integrated scripting is only $1,995. The program is available for either Windows or Mac operating systems. Vectorworks is now on a 12 month upgrade cycle. Approximately 200,000 users, or 40% of the base, are upgrading with each new release.

Architect with Renderworks $2,395
Designer with Renderworks $2,895

Vectorworks is a registered trademark of Nemetschek North America, Inc.
Parasolid is a registered trademark of Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. or its subsidiaries in the United States and in other countries.

Note: Many thanks to Ralph Grabowski, editor of upFront.eZine, who also attended the press day and provided me with some of the statistics in this article.


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Autodesk P& ID

P&ID can stand for either Process and Instrumentation Diagrams or Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams.  These terms are used to describe a 2D schematic diagram showing piping, equipment and instrumentation connections in oil refineries, petrochemical and chemical plants, natural gas processing plants, power plants, water treatment and other similar plants.  It is important to note that P&ID is not the same as 3D Piping and the related group of Plant Design tools.  Designers and engineers working for any industry that moves or manufactures liquids or gases use this genre of software. Uses can be as diverse as the design of the piping systems on oil platforms, piping in atomic energy plants, or the movement of liquid sugar from a sugar refinery to a soda manufacturer. According to Autodesk, the majority of Plant designers use plain vanilla AutoCAD to do their work.

Autodesk announced a productivity study, conducted by the UK research firm, Cambashi Limited, to demonstrate the benefits to users working in process plant design and engineering of AutoCAD® P&ID software versus plain AutoCAD®. The study tested Autodesk’s hypothesis that AutoCAD P&ID software offers significant productivity advantages over standard AutoCAD for work on piping and instrumentation diagrams. It also advanced the proposition that due to the familiarity of AutoCAD P&ID’s interface to designers and engineers using AutoCAD, minimal training is required for a rapid transition.

While the advantages of adopting an intelligent P&ID system extend throughout the life cycle of a process plant, the study focused on testing a variety of real-world P&ID tasks, including the manipulation of graphics, data-driven creation and updating of graphics, and data management.

Study participants included representative groups of users of AutoCAD and AutoCAD P&ID from around the world. According to Cambashi Ltd., results from the study include:

  • On graphical tasks, users of both AutoCAD and AutoCAD P&ID software performed well. The absence of a significant difference in drawing productivity indicates a quick and easy transition to AutoCAD P&ID for AutoCAD users.
  • On data-driven graphical tasks, the core of P&ID work, participants using AutoCAD P&ID on average achieved a 50 percent increase in productivity over those participants using AutoCAD.
  • Overall P&ID productivity was 42 percent higher on average for participants using AutoCAD P&ID over participants using AutoCAD.

Thus, the study concluded that AutoCAD P&ID software offers significant productivity advantages over standard AutoCAD software.

One of the organizations participating in the AutoCAD P&ID field test was Jordan, Jones & Goulding, a regional U.S. consulting firm offering a full range of engineering, management, and planning services to both public and private entities. According to Karl Christman, CAD Production Director, at JJG, “We’re always looking for innovative technology that can contribute to the superior service we provide our clients. AutoCAD P&ID’s ease of use, comprehensive toolset, and robust performance definitely improves productivity, while its similarities to standard AutoCAD make the learning curve nearly flat. We look forward to using this product for many years to come.  The time we save using AutoCAD P&ID is of great benefit to our clients. With AutoCAD P&ID we have seen a significant increase in productivity because of simple features. For example, when placing a symbol in a line, the line breaks and when removing a symbol the line mends automatically.  This is a great improvement over the cleanup that would be required in standard AutoCAD.  And you do not necessarily need to remove the symbol with the Substitution Pallet feature.  Symbols can be swapped on the fly”.

All AutoCAD P&ID symbols contain intelligence not found in standard AutoCAD.  When a valve is placed on a 2” line it inherits the intelligence and displays a 2” tag.  Change the line to 2 ½” and all the valve tags will automatically update to 2 ½”.  This feature reduces common errors found when using standard AutoCAD and the time spent checking and back checking drawings. Of all the features, the most impressive is the Data Manager, which is linked to the symbols in the drawings.  Graphical changes to the drawing are immediately reflected in the Data Manager and changes made in the Data Manager update the drawings.  One can also export from the Data Manager to an Excel spreadsheet, allowing remote gathering of information that can be imported back into the Data Manager, and changes can be accepted or rejected.  The Data Manager also produces reports, such as Equipment, Line, Instrument, and other lists.

AutoCAD P&ID 2009 - Screenshot of Data Manager 1.jpg
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AutoCAD P&ID 2009 - Screenshot of Data Manager 2.jpg
Figure 2

AutoCAD P&ID 2009 - Screenshot of User Interface.jpg
Figure 3


Letters to the Editor:
I received the following email from Mr. Dana K. "Deke" Smith, FAIA - Executive Director, buildingSMART allianceTM National Institute of Building Sciences regarding last month’s article referencing the National BIM Standard.

“I would first need to ask why you call your newsletter independent when you are clearly biased toward one vendor. While it is clear that you like the Autodesk product, which is certainly fine, I urge you not to have blinders on to other activities taking place in the industry…In our work with Construction Specifications Institute, the American Association of Cost Engineers, and the American Society of Professional Estimators, we are developing the business processes, information delivery manuals, and model view definitions needed for an entire industry to communicate. When you debunk that effort in lieu of a single vendors approach, you are doing significant damage to the future of not only cost engineering, but the entire lifecycle of facilities. While I certainly harbor no ill will toward any vendor, I do recognize that any vendor can only define their vision of BIM based on the products they currently deliver.

Our holistic vision of BIM is oriented toward what the practitioner, industry and country need for the future, not just on what is available today. While ifc’s may not be perfect, I urge you to work with us to make them so, as there is no one vendor who will ever be able to address the entire lifecycle of a facility and therefore we must have interoperability as the foundation. We want to continue to support healthy competition as that will help move the industry forward at a much healthier pace than focusing on the R&D schedule of any one single vendor.  

My response:
As an independent analyst, I strive to report on and to recommend those venders’ solutions that in my professional opinion, are best qualified to satisfy particular needs.  Perhaps the Vectorworks feature in this issue will demonstrate my commitment to fair and balanced journalism. If Autodesk’s products seem to be disproportionately represented, it is owing to their quantity, quality and unique applications.

Commenting on the BIM, Vectorworks CEO, Sean Flaherty recently said to me, “The realization of full BIM -- where all disciplines are sharing data inside of one live model – probably won’t happen in my lifetime.  We’ll be relying on file translation between disciplines for years to come.” Of course, all eyes are focused on the future promise of this technology. As a bricks and sticks professional, i.e. an architect writing on technology who has also been a builder, I believe that the input and experience of building professionals and entrepreneurs are needed in the development of any standard, in order to bridge the gap between realities in the field and theoretical models.

An additional comment on last month’s article from: Jim Lynch, Autodesk Senior VP of Marketing 
Certainly in some…cases DWF may indeed be the best answer…it really depends on what the user is trying to accomplish and what data he is trying to move/access.  IFC is, as you know, a mechanism for moving data from one application to another…it is not a building information model. DWF is a published file format that provides straight-forward and easy ways to interact with data created by Autodesk and a host of other vendors.  It also is not a building information model.  Of course BIM itself is not a file format or a data schema. The consistent, coordinated, and reliable information delivered by BIM is the foundation for the value these standards deliver. We also agree that one vendor can’t do it all…That’s why we invest so heavily in our API and partner programs, and have strong relationships with other 3rd parties in the areas of  structural analysis (e.g. CSC, Sofistik), sustainability (e.g. IES), and fabrication (e.g. EastCoast CAD)  to name a few. 


About Ed:

I am a well known analyst in the AEC Industry, having been a journalist and lecturer in this arena for the past 12 years.  In my primary occupation as an Architect, I use the cutting edge digital technology about which I write, for the design and construction of buildings. I have been a Licensed Architect for 30 years, and have designed and/or built dozens of commercial, multifamily, and rehab projects. I also headed the CAD and Multimedia Department at Carroll Community College and the Industrial Design Department at Towson University. For many years I wrote the AEC column in CADALYST magazine. I authored seven books, in as many years, on AutoCAD Architecture (formally Architectural Desktop), for publisher Prentice Hall. My new Revit Architecture 2009 book is on sale now.

I continue to attend key industry events and keep abreast of the newest developments. If you see me at an event, please come over and chat with me; I like people, and would enjoy meeting you. You can recognize me by my trademark hat – black in winter, and white in summer.
 Please take a look at my Web Site:

© 2007 H. Edward Goldberg AIA, NCARB, Ed’s Independent Voice. All rights reserved



Architecture Exchange East '08: Richmond Virginia
November 2008
Ed will be giving a seminar

Estimating with Revit & utilizing Acrobat 9 with Acrobat.
1.5 LU
Presented by
H. Edward Goldberg AIA, NCARB,

HEGRA Architects &
Ed’s Independent Voice


Ed Goldberg’s new Revit 2009 book is now available.

For information go to
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