Our extended family keeps growing. As part of our belief in helping designers around the world tackle projects across different industries, we’re teaming up with First Star Computer as our new United Arab Emirates (UAE) distributor for Vectorworks software. With the partnership, First Star Computer adds BIM product Vectorworks Architect to its portfolio, along with the rest of the Vectorworks product line, including Landmark, Spotlight, Designer, Fundamentals, and Vision.


“With the dedicated team at First Star Computer and their years of experience, we know that they will help us to reach new audiences, while providing top-quality support for our existing community of designers in the UAE,” said Vectorworks CEO Dr. Biplab Sarkar.

First Star Computer, with more than 12 years of experience in the CAD industry, has a team of expert engineers who develop and provide 2D drafting and 3D modeling solutions for other engineering and construction sectors in the UAE. In fact, they currently serve more than 2,500 building construction and design companies and distribute through more than 10 resellers in the UAE.

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“The UAE is a powerhouse in numerous areas, including construction, infrastructure, real estate, and media, which, alongside its strong economy, provide an invaluable opportunity,” said Business Development Director Houssien Nassr, who started with the company as a partner in 2004. “Thus, the collaboration between First Star Computer and Vectorworks was natural, as Vectorworks provides the best-in-class 2D/3D design and BIM tools that are used in many interdisciplinary fields and can solve many technical issues in the fields of architecture and design.”

You can purchase Vectorworks software through First Star Computer by visiting caduae.com. Or, for those outside the UAE, find your local distributor at vectorworks.net/international.

With the pressure on landscape architects to design for higher sustainability standards, effective teamwork is more crucial than ever. To help you meet these demands, Stephen Schrader, associate landscape architect at Holcombe Norton Partners, Inc., explores case studies that highlight how best to coordinate with civil and architectural plans in the on-demand webinar, “Collaborative Workflows for Landscape Architects,” worth 1 LA CES PDH. You’ll also learn how to use the smart tools available within Vectorworks software to help you increase efficiency and reduce errors in calculations.

Collaborative Landscape

After watching the webinar, take this test to earn your LA CES PDH. Then, if you’re looking to expand your mind – and your capabilities – further, check out the other webinars available on our Inspiration page.


Alan Woodwell is an architectural designer in Sydney, Australia for Playoust Churcher Architects. Since late December of 2015, the self-described “young 63-year-old” has spent his free time learning how to design using Marionette, our integrated graphical scripting tool that lets you use personalized or repurposed scripts to iteratively design without learning how to program.

“It’s a bit-by-bit thing,” says Woodwell. “First you learn the basics of the tool, and then you try your hand at creating something. It’s the sort of learning that inspires you and others to continue learning. For example, I’ll get inspired by seeing another user create a string of lights, and then all of a sudden I’m creating my own string of lights and teaching others how to do it, too.”


Woodwell, whose background is in drafting and construction documentation, took an interest in this tool after seeing a colleague use Marionette to generate gutters. With his curiosity piqued, he decided to take on his new hobby and “open-ended learning challenge” in search for other uses of the tool.

“When I first started out with Marionette, it was a struggle to understand how to implement the nodes, and the main problem I had was finding a practical use for it that would improve my current workflows,” reflects Woodwell. “Well, all of a sudden I can see the huge value in Marionette after a recent project where I created networks to produce a building from a simple polygon, which saved a lot of time. It’s a simple start, but I now see how I could sketch a plan and develop it quickly with curtain walls. For apartments, I see the importance of having a series of symbols for standard kitchens and bathrooms to generate a series of different layouts quickly.”

Alan Woodwell 1

Office building concept generated by Woodwell using Marionette.

As for the ease of picking up Marionette, Woodwell assures that you do not have to be a programmer to start using the tool. While Woodwell got his start with Marionette without having any programming experience, as a voracious learner, he decided to study a bit of Python in order to better understand nodes for his own interest. “The more I understand the node, the more I can work with it,” says Woodwell. “I don’t want to become a programmer — and I don’t have to — I just wanted to learn more about how it works.”

With all of the resources out there to learn, Woodwell argues that Marionette is only limited by your imagination. “My dad used to say, ‘If you can’t do something, you’re not thinking hard enough,’ and this is one of those types of challenges,” says Woodwell. “It’s an exciting challenge because you keep pushing yourself to learn, and then you can teach someone else how it’s done.” Which is exactly what Woodwell does. Whether answering questions in forums on the Vectorworks Community Board or creating tutorial videos on YouTube, Woodwell certainly demonstrates his passion for feeding his, and others’, curiosity.


Woodwell’s advice to anyone thinking about picking up Marionette: “Get into it. It’s infectious.” If you want to get started on your journey with Marionette, check out the webinar training series on our Inspiration page beginning with “Marionette Training Part 1: The Basics,” worth 1 AIA LU.

April’s almost over, so to finish it off strong we’re showering you with some rendering tips to help you plant the seeds of success. This month, we’re covering the next five videos in the Remarkable Renderworks tutorial series led by Daniel Jansenson of daniel jansenson architect. If you missed the first ten episodes, you can catch up on videos 1 through 5 with this post and videos 6 through 10 with this post.

Sometimes what you need is already in front of you. Learn step by step how to use built-in Renderworks tools to create native textures.

Download the project files here.

Get a clear demonstration in this video on how to use transparency shaders to simulate the appearance of glass for an intricate texture.

Download the project files here.

Improve the realism of your visualizations by learning how to leverage bump shaders.

Download the project files here.

Here, there, or anywhere, discover how to apply textures on single planes, perimeters, and more using texture mapping types.

Download the project files here.

Using the displacement settings, Jansenson guides the way to add depth to renderings in this video.

Download the project files here.

As you go along, if you have any questions, email us at tech@vectorworks.net or tweet us @VectorworksHelp.

The future may not be written, but you can get a glimpse of it at our booth at the AIA Conference on Architecture 2017 in Orlando, Florida. From today, April 27 to Saturday, April 29, we’ll be in the Software & Technology Pavilion at booth #2863 previewing immersive technologies and showcasing how Vectorworks Architect enables you to take on a project of any scale and in any phase of design.

A17Con collage 2

If you’re not already familiar with Architect software and you’re attending A’17, here’s your chance to explore how you can do everything from 2D drafting and 3D modeling to creating coordinated construction documents and fully developed BIM models in one application. And, Architect software has the largest number of import and export capabilities in the industry, empowering you to collaborate with everyone involved in the design process.

“Depending on the types of projects or the phase of design, an architect’s workflow can vary greatly,” said Daniel Monaghan, vice president of marketing at Vectorworks. “This can lead architects to use many different software programs to get jobs out the door. Although BIM is essential in today’s processes, the truth is, as an architect you need more than BIM, and Vectorworks offers more.”

As part of our belief that great design is more than BIM, we’ll be hosting demos and presentations during the show on multiple features that support architects throughout their entire design process.

Demos and a Sneak Peek at Upcoming Technologies

We’ll have 3D laser scanning, advanced 3D modeling tools, and BIM demo stations, as well as an area dedicated to showing off three new immersive technologies slated for the years to come that offer new ways to view and present models to better sell clients on your ideas. Here are the new technologies we’re teasing:

  • Previously introduced with Vectorworks 2017 in September of 2016, web view and virtual reality will receive substantial usability and visual improvements, such as ambient occlusion.
  • Using panorama capabilities, designers and clients will experience the model in wide immersive view.
  • Using an iOS or Android mobile device and a 2D floor plan, designers will benefit from Augmented Reality technology to view a 3D, virtual version of their model on top of their plan.

Interested in a personal demo during AIA? Email Vectorworks’ Senior Marketing Program Coordinator Samantha Link at SLink@vectorworks.net to schedule one.

Screen Shot 2017-04-27 at 11.22.40 AMInnovative Presentations

We’ll be hosting presentations throughout the conference at booth #2863. Make sure you take a screenshot or bookmark this page to easily access the schedule while on the show floor.

Thursday, April 27

From Laser Scan to Model: 11:00 a.m.

Next Gen 3D Modeling: 2:00 p.m.

How BIM and VR Go Hand in Hand: 2:30 p.m.

Teamwork: BIM Success with IFC Interoperability: 3:00 p.m.

Friday, April 28

How BIM and VR Go Hand in Hand: 11:00 a.m.

From Laser Scan to Model: 2:00 p.m.

Next Gen 3D Modeling: 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 29

Next Gen 3D Modeling: 10:00 a.m.

How BIM and VR Go Hand in Hand: 10:30 a.m.

Learn more about Vectorworks Architect by visiting A’17 booth #2863 to see a presentation, experience a demo, or just to chat. Not attending? Visit vectorworks.net/architect.

With the increased push for a sustainable built environment, knowing how to best leverage the technology and information available can help designers more easily produce low-impact projects. In the on-demand webinar “Information Modeling’s Role in Sustainable Design Decisions,” Wes Gardner, Assoc. AIA, senior architect specialist at Vectorworks, Inc., explores how building and site information modeling objects and tools facilitate responsible decision-making that can help save the environment and your wallet.

Info Modeling

Through real-life examples and case studies, Gardner demonstrates how to practically use these tools, available within Vectorworks software, and help designers get the most out of their data to make better-informed design decisions for sustainability.

Sustainable BIM_case study

Image of the Leicester House project, which is the case study reviewed in the webinar.

Don’t forget to take this test after watching the webinar to earn your AIA LU. And for more continuing education opportunities, check out other industry webinars available on our Inspiration page.

We recently caught up with Michael Keller, designer at AMO Lighting LLC, about winning a 2016 Parnelli Award in the Lighting Director of the Year category for his work with Black Sabbath, as well as why Vectorworks Spotlight is the software of choice for those with a passion for lighting and a love of music.

Michael Keller Black Sabbath

Photo courtesy of Steve Jennings

Beginning in 2001 and considered the highest honor for live event professionals – or, better yet, this industry’s version of the Oscars – the Parnelli Awards recognize pioneering, influential professionals and their contributions, celebrating both individuals and companies.

It was a well-deserved accolade for Keller with his expansive background in the industry and list of impressive clients. He kick-started his career in 2001 when he started his own company, AMO Lighting. Fittingly, the company’s name means “I love lighting.” However, the inspiration didn’t originate with love for his work. Rather, it began with an Italian girlfriend, and, in true rock ‘n’ roll fashion, a tattoo of the word “Amo,” which translates to “I love” in Italian. Though the relationship didn’t work out, the tattoo – as permanent ink does – lived on, and Keller found a vision for his company name.

And, from talking with him, it is quite clear that he truly does “love lighting” and spends his days pursuing his lifelong passion. “Throughout my entire life, I’ve always been aware of how colors of light affect how a scene can be perceived,” says Keller. “When I was a small child, I had colored light bulbs in my bedroom, and I noticed how my posters reacted to different shades of light.”

With his childhood cementing his love of light, Keller got his initial start in the industry during high school with a group of friends, one slide projector, and a few overhead projectors. They formed a liquid light show company, also known as “psychedelic light shows,” even holding their first performance at their school.

After high school, he took theater lighting classes at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, California, but his passion for lighting live music events quickly consumed him. Upon graduating, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he started doing lighting for small concerts and clubs. Eventually, he got involved with Bill Graham’s FM Productions, a lighting, sound, carpentry, and videography company. Working his way up, Keller began as a shop grunt – painting, cleaning, and repairing their equipment – before he was given the opportunity to work at Winterland, Graham’s premier concert venue in San Francisco. He stayed there for a few years and eventually became the house lighting designer. In those years, he worked for some of the greatest bands in history, including the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Starship, and Santana. Reminiscing about his time there, he remembers ZZ Top as one of the loudest bands of the time, and The J. Geils Band as one of the best live shows.

While Keller has designed for notable bands and performers such as Tina Turner, Billy Idol, John Mayer, and Aerosmith, what Keller is most known for most is his work with Black Sabbath, as he’s been directing the lighting for Ozzy’s shows since 1999.

Photo courtesy of Steve Jennings

Photo courtesy of Steve Jennings

To create these live events, Keller creates his drawings in Vectorworks Spotlight, and then exports them to grandMA2 to bring his visions to life. He really values this type of data exchange, not only for the streamlined compatibility between the programs, but because it makes his job easier and the show’s lighting better.

“I truly believe Vectorworks Spotlight is the most dynamic drafting tool for the lighting industry, so it’s been wonderful seeing it evolve since I first started using the program in the 90s,” Keller says. “I love how Vectorworks continues to improve its software and listens to the suggestions from designers to make the program even more powerful. I’m really enjoying Vectorworks 2017’s features too, especially the hoist and rigging tools.”

When asked about where he finds his inspiration for shows, such as Black Sabbath’s “The End Tour,” Keller says it typically just pops into his head, comes to him when he’s sleeping, or stems from collaboration with the Black Sabbath crew, many of whom he’s worked alongside of for close to 20 years. After deciding on a direction, they present their ideas to the band. For this tour, Sharon Osbourne saw a show that had nearly a thousand PAR can fixtures, and she relayed how much she liked it to Patrick Woodroffe, lighting designer at Woodroffe-Bassett Design, who Keller works with closely as the lighting director. Along with the help of fellow Woodroffe-Bassett Design Senior Lighting Designer Terry Cook and Programmer Eric Marchwinski, who was the Grand MA programmer, they put the vision together and the rest is history.

Michael Keller 4 _image courtesy of Stufish Productions

Image courtesy of Stufish Productions

When wrapping up Black Sabbath’s “The End Tour” in the band’s home city of Birmingham, UK, it was an unsurprisingly sentimental moment for Keller. “It was a very emotional and crazy evening since it was the end of an era, the end of a touring dysfunctional family, and the end of a band that had been together for nearly 50 years,” reflects Keller. “I was very lucky to be a part of that family for nearly 20 years.”

But even as his journey with Black Sabbath ends, Keller looks to the future of the next generation of lighting enthusiasts. For up-and-coming designers, Keller urges, “Utilize and embrace the technology that’s available, and the tools that are given to you – they are there only to help you. You should never stop learning and asking yourself, ‘why don’t we do it this way?’ Most importantly, be flexible and willing to change.”

Spring has sprung! In honor of Earth Day, we’re inviting local businesses in Howard County, Maryland to positively impact the environment by joining us for a 20-minute spring cleaning of our community on Thursday, April 20.

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Vectorworks software helps designers create beautiful, sustainable buildings, gardens, grounds, campuses, communities, and more. As part of our company’s mission to transform the world through great design, we believe in taking care of our surroundings to ensure that they are sustained for the years to come,” says Tania Salgado-Nealous, vice president of human resources and operations at Vectorworks. “Earth Day is a great time to bring people together through the preservation of our environment, and that’s why we wanted to reach out to other businesses nearby, so we could work together for the betterment of the community.”

As an added bonus, after the cleanup volunteers can grab a discounted lunch at Abby’s Market Café, located at 7160 Riverwood Drive in Columbia, Maryland. On April 20, Abby’s offering a 20 percent discount on their sandwiches, wraps, and salads (excludes protein add-ons) to volunteers who present the voucher that we are giving out.

The cleanup will take place at 11:00 a.m. Volunteers in the area are welcome to join us at that time outside the main Vectorworks entrance at 7150 Riverwood Drive in Columbia, Maryland or coordinate a cleanup at a location of their choice. We advise volunteers to wear comfortable, brightly-colored clothing and bring trash bags and garden gloves.

Ready to roll up your sleeves? RSVP by contacting Vectorworks Operations Coordinator Chelbee Johnson at cjohnson@vectorworks.net. Johnson will also help organize groups for cleanups in other locations and issue electronic vouchers for the Abby’s discount.

Finally, be sure to share photos of your volunteer efforts with @Vectorworks on Twitter, and we’ll send them to the Howard County Government’s Office of Environmental Sustainability’s LiveGreenHoward initiative, who spearheaded the #20minutecleanup.

Since the release of Vectorworks 2017 in English last September, we’ve spread the love across the globe with versions in Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Polish, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Spanish. To round it off, this month marks the final language release of the Vectorworks 2017 line of products: Chinese.

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To demonstrate the new tools and features in the software, Mad Macs Technology Distributions Limited, our Chinese distributor, will host free events across China throughout April and May. These events will also include refreshments and the chance to win a free license of Vectorworks Fundamentals 2017. Check out the dates and locations, below.

  • Beijing: April 11, 2017
  • Shanghai: April 14, 2017
  • Ningbo: April 18, 2017
  • Hangzhou: April 21, 2017
  • Chengdu: April 26, 2017
  • Chongqing: April 28, 2017
  • Nanchang: May 11, 2017
  • Wuhan: May 13, 2017
  • Changsha: May 15, 2017
  • Guangzhou: May 17, 2017

“We are committed to providing Chinese designers with tools that meet their growing needs,” said Cecil Fung, managing director of Mad Macs Technology Distributions, Ltd. “With Vectorworks 2017’s robust updates, we continue to put designers’ needs first, making it one of the top design and BIM solutions for the Chinese market.”

Space at these events is limited, so make sure to register if you’re interested in attending. You can sign up for any of the Chinese launch events by visiting the registration page, or learn more about the 100-plus updates in Vectorworks 2017 here.

Interested in purchasing Vectorworks in your local language? Find your regional distributor on our international page.

While it might feel like we just launched Vectorworks 2017, we’ve been hard at work preparing for the release of our Vectorworks 2018 product line. As a part of these efforts, we’re pulling back the curtain on one development to come in our next release later this year: Braceworks.

A 3D Finite Element Analysis (FEA) add-on for Vectorworks Spotlight, Braceworks provides design, production, and rigging professionals with an easy way to gauge the performance of temporary structures under load to ensure safety and compliance with engineering codes and standards. By adding Braceworks into Spotlight, it offers a completely integrated entertainment modeling, analysis, and documentation process.

“With today’s workflows, it’s difficult for entertainment professionals to quickly and accurately assess the safety of their designs,” said Vectorworks CEO Dr. Biplab Sarkar. “Giving them access to structural analysis within their 3D design environment is a massive improvement for their workflows. It not only will save them time and effort, but make it much easier to quickly evaluate how design changes will impact a structure’s performance.”

Developed in collaboration with DeerSoft GmbH, Braceworks analyzes complete 3D structural systems modeled in Spotlight. It supports point and distributed load types, straight and curved members, and multiple materials. The FEA enables static analysis with results displaying graphically on the model for easy reference. Braceworks also includes support for Eurocodes and upcoming ESTA standards, such as the E1.6. Furthermore, detailed calculation reports are automatically generated with the add-on, and files can be exported as DTSV to be easily shared with structural engineers.

“Globally, the safety of temporary truss structures has come under scrutiny, so entertainment designers are constantly adjusting to new regulations and standards,” explained Moritz Staffel, managing director of DeerSoft GmbH. “Braceworks makes it easy for professionals to certify the safety of their structures.”

Pricing for this add-on will be made available upon the launch of Vectorworks 2018 later this year. In the meantime, if we’ve piqued your interest, and you want to learn more, let’s talk. We have plenty of options for those eager to know more. Those attending Prolight + Sound in Frankfurt, Germany this week can learn more about Braceworks at the Computerworks and Vectorworks booth E60, Hall 3.0.

The Computerworks and Vectorworks Prolight + Sound booth E60, Hall 3.0.

If you’re not attending Prolight + Sound, you can find out more by tweeting @Vectorworks.