When I began working at Ruby Architects just over a year ago we were a 2D office, which is fine, but the software we were using hadn’t been updated by the company in a while and after a couple of months it became apparent that the company simply might not exist anymore. So we began searching for a new cad platform and the discussion turned quickly to BIM and 3D. Personally I’ve been using Autocad and various other 2D drafting software since 1998, but about 3 years ago I started playing around with BIM software. If you don’t know there is more to BIM than Revit, and in my opinion Revit is the last of the platforms that should be considered and for two very big reasons – cost and ease of use.
When I began using Autocad 15 years ago it was required as part of my college core courses. My alma mater prides itself on keeping up with technology and the latest digital techniques, so we had the latest versions of Autocad, Microstation, Rhino, 3D Viz and Maya installed which was a lot of software to try and learn. I stuck with Autocad and Microstation, which was plenty, and since then my career has centered around Autodesk software. Given this background you would think that moving to Revit would be a foregone conclusion, but you would be wrong.
Autodesk softwares are not easy to learn. They are not intuitive and are very VERY clunky. So, when my boss asked me to research some BIM options I looked for software that was more tailored to Architects and Designers. The two big names that I found were Archicad and Vectorworks. Both are much more design oriented and are fairly simple in their project organization and object modeling approach. They are also quite a bit cheaper than Autodesk Revit and have fewer limitations. Ultimately we went with Vectorworks and over the last 9 months we’ve been getting up to speed on several projects and trying to work out our office standards, migrating our title blocks, details, etc. It’s been a steep learning curve, but like any new tool you just have to use it.
As the office guinea pig, upon launching Vectorworks I knew I had to not only figure things out fairly quickly, but I also had to get up to speed with an efficient workflow as well. There was one book that helped me out immeasurably and I would highly recommend it as a springboard for anyone just starting out, or needing a good desk reference, in Vectorworks.
For the size of the book it seemed a little pricey at $75, but once I got into it and started bookmarking multiple sections and referring to it constantly for the first office project in Vectorworks, I knew it was money well spent. The book takes you through a simple residential project from start to finish, beginning with a site model and finishing with production drawings and notes, and gives a basic set of tools to get you working quickly and efficiently.
Another great springboard for Vectorworks that I have on my “to buy” list is one written by a friend of mine, Mark Stephens, titled Vectorworks: 101 Tips and Tricks (Kindle Edition). Mark is an Architect with over 20 years experience practicing in UK and Ireland. His firm has been using Vectorworks for some time and his blog posts on the subject have been incredibly helpful to me since I started working in BIM.
If you’ve been working in Vectorworks for a while, or if you’re just getting started, I’d love to hear from you about any successes, challenges, and even failures and lessons learned.