After a company rebrand and the historic launch of Vectorworks 2016 design software with more than 100 updates this past September, it’s hard to envision that Vectorworks 2016 could get any better. Alas it has – winning an American Package Design Award from Graphic Design USA (GDUSA) in the Electronics and Computers category this week!

Vectorworks 2016 package designFor more than 50 years, GDUSA has sponsored competitions that spotlight areas of excellence and opportunity for creative professionals. Of these, the American Package Design Awards is the fastest growing, with the program receiving 2,000 entries for the first time in its history during the 2016 submission period. The competition celebrates well-designed graphics, of course, but also the power of design to advance a brand and forge an emotional connection with the buyer at the moment of truth.

“While we are constantly inspired and motivated by our users’ innovative designs, it’s tremendous for our team to receive recognition in the design space, too,” said Vectorworks CMO Stewart Rom.

Conceptually, the box design was born out of marrying a consistency for our new brand with a pop of color that captured the vibrancy and energy of technology. Thus, a black and white logo for the rebrand provided a timeless feel while the bold, blood orange color offered an eye-catching, complementing color. The overall box image was also designed to be representative of our industry and 3D modeling.

Stay tuned for Vectorworks 2016 appearances on GDUSA’s website, as well as in upcoming digital and print issues of their magazine in April.

By Stanley Rostas, AIA, LEED, BD&C, IIDA, CNU, Principal at Shook Kelley

Back when Shook Kelley first started, the other founders and I believed that there was a better way to practice architecture, specifically within the realm of creating spaces for people to convene in during their daily activities. Whether we’re designing retail environments, schools, or public places, technology has always been a big part of how we work and the buildings we create.

Our firm does a lot of large, complicated, mixed-use projects, and when I say “large,” I really mean it; some of our projects are around one million square feet or more and can have up to 22 buildings onsite. But even as we create these large places for convening around the world, a major part of our design process is localizing our designs. We work to make the buildings feel appropriate and true to an area, rather than bringing in an outside design philosophy or aesthete that is at odds with a community’s desires for their places.

We’ve always needed design software to create these big communities that link together multiple buildings. Since the 1990s, that software has been a Vectorworks product. Currently, we have Vectorworks Designer, which has a suite of tools that allows us to combine the interdisciplinary aspects of a project, from the architecture to the land planning, into one cohesive whole. The comprehensive tools in Designer are further complemented by the software’s new capabilities, like graphical scripting with Marionette: a Python-based tool in Vectorworks 2016 that lets you program objects and actions visually, rather than with text.

Marionette city_1

One of Rostas’ favorite scripts from Vectorworks, where a city skyline meets Marionette script

Right now, we’re in the process of exploring the use of Marionette in early design studies on the urban scale. There are certain defining parameters in retail and residential building sizes, so we’re starting to create generic building blocks that have variables tied to them and can be run through a Marionette script that allows the quick creation of different urban patterns. We’re even working to incorporate our knowledge of retail science into the Marionette definition, like how far people will walk before they have to see something new and how many right turns a shopper is likely to make, to generate more viable iterations. We’ll always use a mixture of hand and computer to design, but with the increasing demands and shrinking timelines of today, having a tool that can generate those quick studies is a game-changer.

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Another Rostas favorite: a Marionette script of space planning diagram

In addition to using Marionette for site planning iterations, we’re also using it for architectural design purposes. Things like building façades can be changed with graphical scripting by manipulating the shape. You can just tie a shape to a Marionette variable, such as the location of the sun, and let it run, or you can make it so that when you change the shape, it affects other things about the design, as well. A lot of what we’re doing right now is really thematic in nature like scenario studies, but as we get more experience with the tool, we’ll be able to explore more techniques.

marionette sample

A varying facade is conveyed through a script from Vectorworks

Though we’re just getting started with Marionette, we’ve already gained some great insights. It used to be that iterative work like this had to be done by hand and could take us hours to complete. Now, once we’ve created a definition that we like, we can repurpose that script to help us produce design iterations in a matter of minutes. These triumphs took some practice though. When you initially try Marionette, keep your definitions simple. Take a primitive shape and apply some basic operations so that you learn how the nodes interact and how to break up definitions into individual operations before you start connecting them into larger arrays. Otherwise, it’s hard to troubleshoot a faulty array if you don’t understand how the parts connect. But once you do understand how everything comes together to produce what you want, Marionette becomes an incredible, time-saving tool that allows you to explore design possibilities in a way that is completely integrated with Vectorworks software.

We’ve joined forces with German-based 3D comparison platform 3YOURMIND to help you make designs created in Vectorworks 2016 3D-printing ready. As if that isn’t enough, you’ll be happy to hear that the new plugin enabling this additive process is completely free of charge.

Through 3YOURMIND’s plugin, Vectorworks 2016 users can check, analyze, and repair a 3D file to optimize it for 3D printing. With one click on the 3D printing extension inside Vectorworks, the file is uploaded to the 3YOURMIND comparison tool, where it can be scaled and then previewed using the different 3D printing materials available. Finally, users can instantly compare prices for their 3D model from available vendors and order it online.

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Before shot of an architectural model in Vectorworks.

“We’re thrilled to have teamed up with 3YOURMIND to offer this free plugin to our user community,” said Jim Wilson, user experience manager at Vectorworks. “Now, users are just one click away from uploading their 3D files via this plugin to services that cater to all their 3D printing needs, where a wide range of materials are available to choose from and where secure file transfer with SSL is guaranteed.”

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After shot of the above model once it was exported through 3YOURMINDS’s platform.

To learn more about 3YOURMIND’s easy-to-install plugin and explore other Vectorworks partner products, check out our partner webpage. Happy printing!


We know you’ve been on the edge of your seat in anticipation of the latest editions of the Vectorworks Essentials Tutorial Manual and Vectorworks Architect Tutorial Manual, and the wait is finally over. Written by expert trainer Jonathan Pickup, who has over 25 years of industry experience and is the author of several Vectorworks training manuals, the eighth editions of each of these manuals are now available in hard copy with accompanying DVDs and are designed to educate readers on how to make the most of Vectorworks 2016 software.

Specifically, Vectorworks Essentials is structured to demonstrate basic concepts, such as simple drawing, modeling, and file organization. New to this year’s manual are the “Test Yourself” exercises at the end of all eight chapters, so readers may apply what they’ve learned from the book to real-world situations.


“One of the training manuals we have at the office is Jonathan Pickup’s Vectorworks Essentials,” said François Lévy, AIA, principal at Lévy Kohlhaas Architecture. “Jonathan’s book is clear, methodical, systematic, and thorough. He’s pioneered mixing text, video, and training files to produce manuals that are easy to follow, with deceptively simple exercises that elegantly capture the skills everyone needs to use Vectorworks to its fullest.”

Lévy added, “You might think you’re buying a book, but you’re really getting a whole training curriculum.”


Building upon the Vectorworks Essentials manual and updated for use with Vectorworks Architect 2016 software, the Vectorworks Architect Tutorial Manual teaches readers to draft more efficiently by drawing with intelligent parametric objects rather than basic 2D geometry, as well as how Vectorworks software enables a BIM workflow.

Want your very own manuals? You can purchase both titles at our Online Store.

We’re nearly a month into 2016, which means your commitment to your New Year’s resolution might be wavering. So to help get you back on track, check out what some of our Instagram followers have resolved to tackle this year. We hope this is just the creative spark you need!





“I want to improve my graphics quality of my building schedules and, of course, try to create more photorealistic visualizations.”-@jepta_90, architecture student at Erfurt University of Applied Sciences


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“My design resolution is to master lighting within Vectorworks to show the full potential of my designs.”-@hannah_carlin, interior design student at Southampton Solent University




“My goals for 2016 are to be better and faster at using drawing programs and creating renderings, as well as learning to create renders with a more realistic or artistic look on some of my upcoming projects.”, architecture student at Luca School of Arts







“I would like to use Vectorworks to plan unique public places.”-@kispancsa, architecture student at Budapesti Metropolitan Főiskola




Want an easy resolution to check off your list? Follow @vectorworks on Instagram to get design inspiration in your feed all year round!

By Susanne Dengenis, Director of Global Marketing, Synchro Software Ltd.

In 2015, the use of 4D planning and scheduling increased significantly. Numerous presentations were made at conferences, demonstrating the implementation and the results: improved safety, increased productivity, lower cost, and greater reliability. The results come from the transparency and cooperation that true 4D visual scheduling enables.

Why the sudden interest in 4D? The industry is at a point were complexity continues to grow, and profit margins are slim. Something has to change, or the risks inherent in construction will outweigh the benefits. Traditional CPM and Gantt charts tools have been the standard for decades, but the results have left the industry in a place where on-budget and on-time are not the norm or are only sometimes achieved. For example, last year in the United Kingdom, only 40% of projects were delivered on time. Thankfully, however, the future is bright. Industry leaders who have chosen to challenge the status quo are reaping the rewards from purpose-built 21st Century digital technology. Innovation is happening, cooperation is growing quickly, and the results are significant.

Many companies are transforming the metrics of project success, including Mortenson, Duke Energy, and Ryan Companies in the United States, and MWH in the United Kingdom. Sample metrics from projects utilizing 4D include 50% labor cost savings (MWH), 15% schedule time reduction (Ryan), and perfect safety records with no dropped objects, no recordable injuries, and no near misses on nuclear turbine replacements (Duke Energy). These results are not unique, but they certainly are impressive, and they are encouraging others to rethink the way things are done.

Is 4D right for you? Begin by asking yourself some basic questions:

  • Does scheduling occur in silos?
  • Are dates and durations determined by the few?
  • Are workflow and production reliable and steady?
  • Does the schedule end up following rather than leading the project?
  • Is there a lack of cooperation and shared understanding?

If you had technology that provided the ability to truly understand a project before construction started, if you could see into the future of a project, could you avoid costly rework and make more informed decisions about constantly changing dynamics? Could you identify and resolve not only design issues but issues related to activities and resources in space and time, such as is there enough space in the laydown area for the deliveries? Will the crane operation interrupt other concurrent activities? Are different subcontractors scheduled to be in the same place at the same time?

Rather than being an audit tool, a 4D schedule becomes the foundation of a reliable and efficient project delivery. 4D is the most effective way to communicate and manage a project because people see it, and they understand it. Also, 4D enables them to engage in a way that was never before possible by giving your entire delivery team the ability to see the approach and to cooperatively optimize and validate the project plan before construction begins. 4D is a high-value/manufacturing precision environment in which to innovate and test alternative approaches. Your computer becomes a practice field where sequences, safety, spatial relationships, and resources can be reviewed and discussed before ever going to the site and can be analyzed every day until the project is complete.


However, there are some things you need to be aware of before you decide to spend any money. Not all 4D provides the same functionality. Identify the problems you want to solve, test technology alternatives, and be sure the software does what it says. Learn What You Need To Know in this white paper. Think about interoperability with your existing technology tools, be sure to get true 4D with an integrated scheduling system, and test import and export times. These are all important to your outcomes. If you get the right product, you will achieve the desired results. High levels of cooperation, lower costs, and predictable outcomes will no longer be the exception. You will remember what you loved about construction, and you will sleep better at night knowing that your project is on track. So if you haven’t looked into 4D recently, invest the time to learn because if you aren’t using it today, you are likely competing against it!

Learn more about our 4D scheduling and construction project management software and our partnership with Vectorworks on their Industry Partners webpage.

Latin American design firm BarriosEscudero sees every project as an opportunity to combine technology, materials, and fabrication techniques to create structures that prevent wastefulness during construction. To do so, they avoid cookie-cutter solutions and seek out personalized responses to every challenge they face. Interested in seeing what the office has created using this design philosophy? If you’ve visited the Vectorworks 2016 webpage and explored our Subdivision Surfaces feature, you might have already seen one of their projects: the Pabellón Ricchezze.


Pabellón Ricchezze image courtesy of BarriosEscudero

Commissioned as part of the International Furniture Fair of Argentina (FIMAR) Exposition, the Pabellón Ricchezze, or Ricchezze Pavilion, takes inspiration from the flow of ergonomic furniture design. The husband and wife design team at BarriosEscudero set out to represent the organic movement of wood grain through a sculpted piece, and the resulting pavilion creates a differentiated space that provides privacy and comfort on a bustling show floor while simultaneously promoting the power of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) as an interior design material.


Pabellón Ricchezze image courtesy of BarriosEscudero

“The Ricchezze Pavilion creates a space that combines art and function in an uncommon way,” says Luis Ruiz, architectural industry specialist at Vectorworks. “It isn’t something that you see everyday, which is why it really spoke to our team when we sought inspirational projects to model that could demonstrate the new features in our latest design software release, Vectorworks 2016.”

BarriosEscudero created the pavilion by modulating standard-sized pieces of MDF using an industrial-grade, 5-axis CNC router. By constructing it in this way, none of the MDF material was wasted as each side of the pavilion is one-half of the overall fiberboard, creating undulating waves of complementary curves.


Pabellón Ricchezze image courtesy of BarriosEscudero

“We used to combine a number of digital applications to bring our ideas to life, especially for intricate designs like the Pabellón Ricchezze that require CNC equipment,” Barrios says. “However, now that we have Vectorworks software, we’re discovering that all the tools and functions we need to execute on an idea actually exist within one, integrated environment.”


Pabellón Ricchezze image courtesy of BarriosEscudero

With their upgraded design solution, the team at BarriosEscudero is working more efficiently and comprehensively toward fulfilling their design mission: imagining unconventional, economical solutions and transforming them into reality, creating structures that are as beautiful to look at as they are to experience.

To learn more about BarriosEscudero and their approach to design, visit their website.

By Sarah Barrett, Marionette Monday Webinar Series Host and Architectural BIM Specialist at Vectorworks, Inc.

The new Marionette tool in Vectorworks 2016 has intrigued designers with little or no prior graphical scripting experience. However, that intrigue is frequently followed by intimidation when designers try to learn scripting of any kind. When I first tried to use a graphical scripting program, I was totally overwhelmed, and no matter how proficient I was at 3D modeling, scripting seemed like a completely new language. And in truth, that’s exactly what it is. Once you learn the basics, however, you will be surprised how quickly you pick it up. And that’s where I come in as the host of our #MarionetteMonday training. In the four-part webinar series, I go through the basics of graphical scripting— the nouns, verbs, and adjectives—and then show you how to connect them to create beautiful “sentences” or definitions that will simplify your workflow.

Marionette Scripts

As a refresher for those who attended the first webinar held last Monday, January 18, and as an introduction for those who didn’t participate, here are three fundamental aspects of Marionette to know before diving into scripting in Vectorworks 2016. Below is just an overview, so be sure to watch the entire Part 1 webinar to really explore and understand these windows into Marionette.

  1. In Marionette, the words algorithm, script, definition, and network all mean the same thing. All four terms can seem obscure if you aren’t a math or coding person, but you would be surprised at how often you work with algorithms in your daily life. Any set of instructions is an algorithm, even a cooking recipe! To begin, every algorithm is made up of two things: data and operations. In a recipe, data are the ingredients, and operations are the steps for mixing them all together. Anyone who cooks knows how important the little details of a recipe can be and how fun it can be to experiment with those details to make a recipe better.
  1. Everything in Marionette is made up of nodes. They are the building blocks of Marionette. There are more than 15 categories of nodes found in the Vectorworks 2016 nodes library, but there are easier ways to learn them rather than to try and memorize them. Every node has a script inside of it with a predefined command, which is why it’s so important to understand the function of each node. But there are ways to break down the library of nodes into a few basic concepts that will help you understand how every node works.
  1. In addition to creating new, beautiful geometry with the Marionette tool, you can also incorporate existing geometry to a Marionette network. In this first webinar, you can follow along as I go step-by-step through a definition that utilizes an existing polygon.


If you’re panicking that you’ve missed Part 1 in the series already, stop right there! You should focus on getting up-to-speed with the first webinar before Part 2 airs on February 1. Here’s the remaining schedule:

By signing up for Part 2, you’ll be automatically signed up for the last two webinars. We will share the recording of each webinar after each session, so don’t worry if you can’t attend the live airing. If you have questions after watching any of the webinars, then you can post them here. We’ll address the questions either in the forum itself or in the following webinar.

P.S. If you enjoy making to-do lists and grocery lists, then you will love the subject of the next webinar. In Part 2, I’ll be discussing how powerful lists can be and how quickly you can utilize a simple list to create a series of objects with one complex definition.

While many of us were gearing up for the New Year, Germany and Austria experienced a tour like no other – if design is your thing, that is. Our Vectorworks distributor, ComputerWorks GmbH, tackled 20 cities with its “Inside Vectorworks 2016” tour, attracting nearly 1,500 attendees and seizing every chance to share our latest software release through group demos, one-on-one sessions, and workshops that touched upon everything from collaborative workflows and 3D planning in landscape architecture to Spotlight training by one of the program’s biggest worldwide users PRG, as well as interesting case studies, and quick tips for architectural design success.

As an added bonus, ComputerWorks honored a few Vectorworks Design Scholarship winners during the tour, including grand prize Richard Diehl Award winner Benno Schmitz of Beuth University and runner-up Judith Jahn of the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg at the Berlin event. Additionally, Yumeng Zhang and Nikolai Hein of the University of Kassel and Eike Scheps of the University of Applied Sciences Detmold spent time in the spotlight in Kassel. Explore all of our scholarship winners’ inspiring designs for yourself!

Inside Vectorworks

Scholarship winners Benno Schmitz (middle) and Judith Jahn (second from right) with the ComputerWorks team (L-R: Andreas Thierer, Gabriela Walbraun, and Carlos Lüthy)

The 20-city tour gave ComputerWorks a chance to hold interesting conversations with existing and prospective customers alike who shared sentiments like, “Vectorworks is the best thing that could happen to an architect” and “The best CAD software for architects now includes Project Sharing.” Complemented with non-stop support where users could discuss technical and program matters and an educational corner for teachers and students, the tour proved to be a huge success.

Inside Vectorworks

In this month’s tech roundup, we’re delivering tips on using tools you may be unfamiliar with, as well as info about an upgraded plug-in for Vectorworks software to help make 2016 your most successful year yet.

The first video shows you how to use the Renderworks Camera to create and save personalized perspectives within your design documents. Learn how to control the camera’s position, direction, focal length, and rendering mode to create perfect presentations and showcase your designs.


Next, learn the ins and outs of the Video Screen object. After just a few minutes, you’ll be able to create customized video screens that add a whole new level of detail to your projects.


Finally, check out the updated Foliage 2.0 plug-in for Vectorworks 2016, which empowers you to add complex hedges, espaliers, and topiary designs to your projects for an added layer of realism.


As always, if you have any questions, reach out to us at or tweet us @VectorworksHelp.