Monday, November 2, 2009

VisionRez 2010 Part 3.

More on my experience trialing VisionRez 2010 (Click here for all 3 parts of the VisionRez Review)

Placement for a kitchen was achieved thru a very complete set of cabinet MVB's for most every conceivable combination of depth height and width of cabinets presented via a pallete. The robbon has buttons to open appropriate palletes so you don't have to 'go dig' for what you are after. It works quite well and reacts very fast. I have adopted the fluid cabinets I learnt and refined from and prefer these to the set sizes of cabinets - our local industry is not based on module sizes, but I learn't on preparing drawings for a project in our great South that their cabinet industry is based on module sizes. So if this is how your industry is set up then this may be a great way to go. Thinking ahead I bet this makes it easy to prepare a budget or even extract prices direct from the drawings as you will have a very detailed and accurate bill of quantities from this work.

The nice thing about placing cabinets is they have more intelligence about which way they face, they know how to 'put their backs to the wall'. And adding a sink to a cabinet (wall object) cut a hole in the benchtop automatically. Now I can do that manually but this caught me by surprise. The benchtop has a splash back whereas we would use tiling, something I achieve with a seperate wall style. It should be a simple matter of either adjusting the splashback to tiles in the style drawing or removing it from the style altogether to adapt to aussie methods.
I generally found it took me a couple of go's to 'get it' but that's because there were comprehensive options available for placement such as pressing the control key to alter insert points etc. It's quite well thought out.

Window & door tags are good but we do them differently. It's not hard to create a tag once you know how so different tags could be created.
VR have not chosen to use the aecDimensions. Neither have I. The layer manipulation tools are based on the layer standard so it may be an effort to vary that. If you just want a system that works then that may not be an issue to you. You are able to switch quickly from a plan view to a roof layout to an electrical layout on the 2nd floor. Remember that it works with all levels (up to 5) in the one drawing file (but you can use the PN if you wish). This one file approach is something I have longed for and recently achieved through a new layer system (with level) and some basic lisp. For smaller projects I think it's a much better way to go though I do keep surveys and entourage for rendering in a seperate file. It makes it so much easier to manage materials and render inside ACA rather than having to re reload x-ref's and copy material definitions back & forth.

I got a tingle when issuing the VR Roof command. I have watched their movies but to see it in action is a pleasure. Wow! An actual complete sophisticated roof tool in aec! What an idea! As I've mentioned it doesn't do gablets or dutch gables easily which in our present design style phase is not so bad but they will come back in style.

Roof framing tool. Ah to see all those rafters just magically appear. Rafters should come directly off every change in direction but it missed in one instance. I easily manually edited, adding rafters or altering the position and spacing. There may be automatic ways of doing it. It's lovely to see all the plumb cuts made instantly. Whew! Lots of work saved there. A Tag tool adds the lengths to your framing plan to the nearest (high) 2' increments. Here it's 300mm.

The roof gable is missing one rafter behind the barge. It's evident on the picture in the tutorial. Never got to find out the problem or solution but as I said it's easy to rectify. The framing isn't some other magical beast. It's just automatically assembling Structural objects so it would be easy to tweak for any fine adjustments or quirky situations.

There is a lot of content which connects to a bill of materials list so content has extra detail to be collected. Whilst you may have to create your own content or edit to suit, you have a robust framework to add content to that gives you extensive intelligence in a BIM approach.

Publish to DWF?? The little arrow down in the bottom right is not visible? Not on any workspace. So VR must have it's own way of altering the various settings.

So what did I think of VR. I was dissappointed that a busy schedule and health issues got in the way of being able to finish the tutorial and have some unscheduled playtime to see what it could do outside of it's training. I was having fun! But altogether it was nice to feel like I was in an environment that was designed with houses in mind. In ACA you know you can get the job done but you need to do a lot of work to set up palletes of local content for residential work before you are really productive. With VR you are ready to go. Well.. at least if you are an American user you are. Sadly because the content is not always relevant to the Australian market you may be have some work to do . As with any program the sales demo can be impressive but get it into a working environment and it really gets it's workout. If you would have a number of users and would like to stay in an AutoCAD environment then the time required to setup your local content might make the package worth the investment. I know that the VR team have a great reputation for back up support and would help you to understand the template and how to set that up. Gablets are not a deal killer by the way. You can turn the roof into VR slabs which have their own tools. And you have all the ACA tools as well. You can also construct two pieces of roof to fit together as I have done with the native roof object.

You have a choice of flavours. An add on style plug in which will fit up your existing full ACA version and 2 levels of their own customised package of ACA combined with VR. These don't have Autolisp included but do have many VR commands extra to ACA standard. They also don't have Curtain walls and are setup for residential not commercial though I could imagine you could do small commercial projects with some workarounds. You do have DoorWindowAssemblies with some extra VR tools. You have door & window trim - another excellant tool to place extra trim around the frames.
You have framing tools (depending on version) & bill of materials. You have a setup approach designed for residential. And these are all customisations added to the extensive feature list of ACA and Autocad so you have all those tools as well. VR is really designed to address the features missing from ACA that help you complete residential projects.

So can this package play a role in Australia (or NZ?). As I've said before, we build mostly in double brick in perth but the eastern states is often brick veneer. Maybe the upper floor is framed. In the country often framing is used but I am always surprised how far people will cart clay bricks to build in obscure locations. Maybe NZ could make better use of the framing tools.

If you are prepared to create a serious level of customised content and then take advantage of the system that Americad have set up then I think it could be a serious option worth considering. Certainly the VR Designer If you want to stay in an Autocad environment and make use of your existing legacy content. This has got to blow buying AutoCAD lite out of the water!! AutoCAD is capable of creating reasonable renders and if that is important, VR will give you an environment to allow you to build complete accurate 3D models from which you can then render and impress your clients. Of course it can be exported to Max or another renderer if you wish.

If you are in the U.S. doing residential work I think VR of some version is a no-brainer. If your construction methods are similar then check it out. However being outside their market and seeing the need to add local content I see a disclaimer. Again I think if you want to tool up a small design & drawing office then it represents a serious contender worthy of consideration. I could see VR Designer being a great success for an office wanting to be very productive and impressive at the same time.

At the time of writing, they have some serious discounts available on their range so get over and check them out. Go to the support section for video's showing their process. They have a great reputation for support. I've asked them if they could take over my ACA sub because they are actually interested in the product. And remember they are actually using this product themselves so it's not just a disconnected salesperson who doesn't know how it performs in the real working environment.

Best to ya from Oz.

Disclaimer: Previously I received a copy of the now discontinued Roof Tool & Trim plugin for assisting with feedback on an attempt at an international version. Unfortunately my direction moved away from doing CD's, I was stuck using ADT2006 and I was not able to get the plug-in (vADT2007) running so I didn't get to use it. So at this point I have not received any benefit from VisionRez though I continue to ask Jay Moore if he would take over my ACA subscription!

p.s. Yes it was appendicitis but it's gone now :-)

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