Credit: Nemetschek Vectorworks

Improving the user experience is what Nemetschek Vectorworks  is targeting in the latest update to its eponymous design platform. The 2014 release, which the Columbia, Md.–based provider of CAD and BIM software announced in September, includes enhancements to the company’s Architect, Designer, Fundamentals, Landmark, Renderworks, and Spotlight programs. 

“The theme for this release can be summed up as, ‘You have told us, and we have listened,’” Dr. Biplab Sarkar, the company’s chief technology officer, said in the press release.

One noticeable improvement in the 2014 suite is in visualization and graphics, the company says. The platform’s rendering application, Renderworks, has a new displacement mapping option that allows designers to more realistically depict the details of materials such as grass, carpet, water, bricks, or stone. The update also introduces the Vectorworks Graphics Module, a visualization engine with improved interactive rendering. The module allows designers to select and snap non-occluded objects while in a rendered mode and to work with occluded objects simultaneously.

New functionality offers persistent rendered 3D navigation to facilitate easier switching between 3D and plan views. Designers can use a new Twist Tool—an improvement to the Sweep function of earlier software versions—to modify solids, solid faces, and non-uniform, rational B-spline surfaces to create custom 3D forms in fewer steps than before and with a graphical user interface. The fast interactive rendering capability gives users more control of real-time model walkthroughs via four view settings: the “walk” mode lets users move around the model at a preset height; the “elevator” mode lets users raise and lower the camera view; the camera pivots from a set point in the “look around” mode; and in the “height” mode, users can manually set their preferred camera height.  

Also new, the company’s 3D X-Ray Select technology (see below) lets users temporarily see through solid objects in the region near the cursor for a better look at a space’s depth and flow.

Credit: Nemetschek Vectorworks

Other new features in Vectorworks 2014 include: BIM tools that allow users to flatten sections of the design-layer viewport and toggle between the dynamic and flattened views; streamlining space-object calculation; and letting users set default classes; Open Graphics Library rendered workflows; and the ability to create and edit section viewports from the program’s interactive Clip Cube visualization tool.

The 2014 version of the software is compatible with OSX Mavericks and offers Python 3 programming for Architect, Designer, Fundamentals, Landmark, and Spotlight. A new license of Vectorworks Architect is available for $2,595 and a new license of Vectorworks Architect with Renderworks is available for $3,145.