2017 Vectorworks Design Summit keynote in Baltimore.
2017 Vectorworks Design Summit keynote in Baltimore.

The third annual Vectorworks Design Summit, held in Baltimore Sept. 18 to 20, celebrated the launch of the developer's 2018 edition of its eponymous software and gathered architects, designers, and press for three days of keynotes and educational sessions. On Sept. 12, Vectorworks had announced its 2018 software release, which boasts new features such as multi-view and section editing, as well as Braceworks, an add-on geared toward the entertainment industry. ARCHITECT spoke with Vectorworks CEO Biplab Sarkar to discuss the software's new features, the company's value of user feedback, and what the future holds for building information modeling (BIM).

ARCHITECT: What new features on Vectorworks 2018 are a game changer for an architectural audience?
Sarkar: For architectural users, it is the multi-view [feature]. People think that it’s just four views, but it’s more than that—you can have [a number of] visuals on each of the [software] panes. You can drag one of those panes into a second or third monitor, and keep on building up if you need to. We didn’t have a good way of getting views of the whole model on a single screen like that before.

The second [game-changing feature] is enhanced sectioning. We have improved the graphical output for a section because, in many cases, the line widths or the margins of the crosshatches were not proper, and those minute details took a lot of time to touch up.

The biggest [update] is being able to create an edit right in the section itself. Prior to that you had to go to the model side, make a change, and come back to the sheet.

What is the user feedback process like and how do you utilize it within the software?
There are a lot of different avenues [from which] we gather this information. We have a mailing list where lots of our users send us direct feedback. We have an online forum that’s a great resource for us; many of the improvements you see in [the 2018 software] come from this [resource]. We also have different distributors all over Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, who give us very valuable feedback from their customers through localized versions [of the software]. After we get all this information, we put it into Jira—a database for bugs and enhancements—and we prioritize [them] according to [demand].

What other industries do you see Vectorworks expanding to?
We’d like to expand into GIS (geographic information systems). Most of our design is already geo-referenced and we can get geo-reference data in from shared files—as well as from different counties and municipalities—but we are still not there yet in terms of actually having GIS work for us [completely]. It’s still in its R&D stages on that particular one.

What is the next big advance for BIM software?
I think the main advancement will probably come from IoT (the Internet of Things) because all [building] sensors will be part of the BIM model.

What roles will augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) play in BIM software?
It’s already there—especially in the construction marketplace. [Ultimately], I think AR is going to be more prevalent than VR because AR mixes reality with the digital model.

This interview has been edited for clarity.