When Michael Todoran, executive producer of the Landscape Architecture Podcast received an email from Braulio Gutierrez, one of his former Ohio State University peers, about software recommendations other than AutoCAD and Adobe Suite, he knew he needed to bring in another expert. Vectorworks’ Product Marketing Manager for the landscape industries, Eric Gilbey, PLA, ASLA, Prof. Member APLD, was ultimately interviewed by Todoran, so his podcast listeners could learn more about our software capabilities, and why it should become Gutierrez’s new preferred software.
A Little Background on Eric Gilbey
Another Buckeye, Gilbey received an AAS degree in Landscape Contracting and Construction and a BS degree in Landscape Architecture from The Ohio State University. His unique experience as a practicing landscape architect and user of various CAD programs allows him to help landscape architects and designers develop best practices including sustainable site design. Specifically, Gilbey utilizes his experience to assist in the development and training of Vectorworks Landmark software. He writes and speaks for several green industry associations about the advancements and efficiencies found with design technology.
Here are some key highlights of the conversation between Todoran and Gilbey.
NOTE: This is not an exact transcript, but a paraphrased narrative.
Todoran: Please share some background information about Vectorworks software.
Gilbey: Vectorworks has several industry-specific modules, such as Landmark, Architect, and Spotlight. The Landmark module is focused on site design, and it is good for land planning or site-related work that we see in CAD and Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIM is more of a process, in which one can design objects and scenes in 2D and 3D. This is intuitive for site designers because 2D and 3D images have meta data attached to them. Plus, the BIM project is intelligent. Site objects are specified with information attached to them, a virtual recreation of the objects are placed within the site, and designers can create objects of their own. Users can design a record format to give them more data. Additionally, the information attached to the objects can always be updated as needed.
Todoran: How did Vectorworks start?
Gilbey: It started as MiniCAD in 1985. In the mid-nineties, it became a cross-platform product. Then in 2000, miniCAD was renamed as Vectorworks. In 2001, we introduced industry-specific modules. Those are probably the biggest milestones for the company. Also, in 2008 we started using Parasolid modeling, 3D modeling, rendering capabilities, and visual enhancements. Any style you want is facilitated in the software.
Todoran: What is the learning curve with this software for those transitioning over to it?
Gilbey: We recommend training resources to be involved in any learning process to ensure that workflows are as efficient as possible. It will most likely take users a month or a month and a half to feel confident with basic Landmark workflows within our software, and there will always be continued learning, even after you get used to the certain processes.
Todoran: Does the Vectorworks software have a command line?
Gilbey: Vectorworks is different from typical CAD drafting routines in that it does not use command line operations, however, key shortcuts are provided as default functions and can be modified to be the letter or symbol the designer prefers. This will shorten workflow time since users don’t need to type out the whole command.
Todoran: Tell me about the software’s construction details.
Gilbey: There is a library of construction details available within the Resource Manager to the users, in which they can pull in details created through the CAD system. With this same library feature, you can save and reuse other library objects of your own created details. If the designer is wishing to create a 3D modeled site, from which they want to have updated details of the objects designed, a section viewport of just the designed element can turn into such a detail. You can put in labels and dimensions in each section viewport for each detail, and as the designed element changes, the section viewport detail keeps up with the changes.
Todoran: Does the software have any sort of sheet set manager in which users can utilize shortcuts, organize information into layouts, and eventually export their work out?
Gilbey: Yes, we call it sheet layers. There are tabs to help users organize the sheet ordering. And when publishing or printing, it lets you choose which sheets to send out or print.
Todoran: Does your software have 3D capabilities?
Gilbey: Due to the intuitive nature of the software, Vectorworks Landmark provides object-specific design features that are automatically using 2D and 3D settings that produce hybrid landscape features like plants, hardscapes, landscape areas, walls, terrain models, and many more. Designers can also utilize free-form modeling processes, including the fairly new subdivision modeling tools to create unique forms and sculpted elements to be as creative as they can imagine.
Todoran: What support does your company offer? Can people take advantage of video tutorials online? And how deep does your support go with the software?
Gilbey: Anyone who has the software has access to technical support services, in which they can call or email with people directly. Users can also access community forums to get feedback from other users. The idea of working with other people is often enticing to users because they can recognize other opportunities that they didn’t even know were necessary. We also have learning services on the website, within our training offerings, and on our YouTube channel. Virtual training sessions can be accessed online through web conferencing, or users can schedule one-on-one training to be taught something specific in their own firm’s location.
Todoran: Are there trials available for the software?
Gilbey: Yes, we offer a 30-day trial. Or, if you are within the academic market, or are a faculty member or student, you can get a one-year trial. Since we mentioned the educational license, we should mention that we also offer a competition to win a Vectorworks Design Scholarship.
Todoran: Tell me more about your attention to students, as well as the design scholarship.
Gilbey: We love to see as many students using our software as possible, which is why we offer the option of a one-year trial for them. You can access information about the scholarship through vectorworks.net/scholarship. The deadline to apply is July 15, 2017, and it is worth $10,000 USD.
Todoran: What have been some challenges Vectorworks has faced when trying to make its way within the landscape/architecture market? And what have been some successes?
Gilbey: A challenge is recognizing that some firms are comfortable designing with a certain type of software. So, it’s sometimes hard to convince them to switch over to Vectorworks and learn a whole new system, even though it will create better workflows for their firm. But a success is that once the firms do switch over, they all voice how they can’t imagine why they didn’t make the change sooner because the software is easier to use than AutoCAD. Making the transition is not necessarily ideal for everyone, but once they are pulled away from general CAD workflows, they will be happy that they have made the change.
Todoran: What are some of the company’s goals for the future?
Gilbey: We are going to continue to recognize the importance of resilient design, and we will make sure our tools are designed with that in mind. We will always strive to help a site designer do their best to plan for a better performing landscape, so we expect to expand on the features that promote sustainability.
Todoran: So, how can people reach you or Vectorworks?
Gilbey: You can visit our website, vectorworks.net, the global-facing website. You can also email [email protected], and your questions or comments will be forwarded to me or directed to the sales team, depending on the subject of the inquiry. My twitter handle is @EricGilbey, so feel free to reach out and connect with me through that medium!