May 2008 Issue
Road Tests

VectorWorks Spotlight 2008

For many production and design professionals, the VectorWorks suite of computer aided drafting software has become an industry standard platform. A highly mature group of products, the VectorWorks family includes products that cater to architects, engineers, landscape artists and lighting designers.


In the newest major release of the software, Nemetschek North America — the company behind VectorWorks – has sought to address a huge amount of user-requested features while also adding features that make it easier than ever to switch from another platform.


Sample VectorWorks screenshot created by Peter Neufeld for a Rotary International event.


While it would be impossible to list every new feature here, there are some major improvements that should not be overlooked. VectorWorks Fundamentals — the core CAD compo-nent of all VectorWorks products – has seen some much-needed updates to its overall look and the way it gives feedback to the user.

The software now includes a Rotate Plan command that allows you to easily draw in any orientation. This could translate to big time savings since you don’t have to continually switch orientations to complete a drawing. A new heads-up display provides dimensioning information wherever your cursor is – allowing more precise drawing on the fly — while a new view bar consolidates much of the information into one location.

Updates to the Viewport abilities include Layer Overrides and Black and White Only settings.  Viewport Layer Overrides allow you to modify Viewport display properties and attributes without affecting the base drawing, giving the user a greater amount of flexibility to quickly create a variety of drawings.  Advanced options also give increased control over printing View-ports in black and white.

Working with non-native and referenced files has become much easier in VectorWorks’ 2008 products.  Updated import and export tools support the newest versions of AutoCAD and SketchUp files and a strong focus has been placed on easier management of referenced files and imported AutoCAD layers. Since many architects work exclusively in AutoCAD, this feature will be handy for those of us who often rely on architects to supply building drawings as the basis for the lighting design.

For VectorWorks Spotlight users, the new version incorporates major improvements that should not be overlooked, including an updated symbol library. We can never have too many symbols, and library updates are always welcome. For those who make use of Spotlight as both a drawing and paperwork manager, the new two-way Spotlight worksheets will also be a welcome update.  All Spotlight worksheets are now completely dynamic, with changes on a worksheet instantly reflected in your drawings and vice-versa. Dynamically linking worksheets and the drawings is a huge timesaver.

Users who make extensive use of the visualization and beam functions of the software will be pleased to see increased control over the light source and light distribution file as well as more accurate beam geometry.  It’s also worth mentioning that shutter cuts are now possible in both wireframe and rendered modes. Improvements to non-rotating and scaled label legends make it even easier to display your drawings in multiple orientations and scales.

Nemetschek whas released two service packs (free to owners of VectorWorks 2008 products) since the arrival of the software, both of which improve speed and stability of the prod-uct. And in the production environment, it’s all about speed and accuracy. The new improvements in VectorWorks Spotlight are a great step in that direction.

The various new commands, Viewport capabilities, ability to work with non-native and referenced files, visualization and beam functions and updated symbol libraries add up to an ex-tremely useful VectorWorks Spotlight update that is more than skin deep.  

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