SST_1810 – What’s New in Vectorworks 2019

1810 What’s New in Vectorworks 2019
Each year, Vectorworks releases its new version. It usually has a huge number of new or improved features, and this year is no different. It can be difficult to separate features from benefits. Just because it is a new feature, it does not mean that you will find it useful. In this manual, we will be looking at the most important features and how they will benefit you.
Following along from other years, there is a table that shows the needs, the features and the benefits of the new Vectorworks version. As in previous years, I will not be detailing every improvement, just the essential ones.
It is typical for Vectorworks to introduce a multitude of small updates that will really speed your workflow. These small updates might not be one of the major features listed below, but they can still dramatically improve your productivity.
The other manuals this year have contained beginner, intermediate, and advanced sections. This strategy doesn’t work very well in covering these improvements, so the manual will follow the sections listed in the table.





  • Basic productivity
Many of these changes are related to improving the speed of Vectorworks on your computer.
Updating the Object Info palette on Windows is a substantial improvement in speed for all Windows users.
VGM and on-demand tessellation will improve the speed that you can move around in drawings.
There are improvements to snapping, dimension editing, and the Title Block border. Some of these will be covered in their own sections below.
Section viewport improvements, horizontal sections, Class and Layer filters, 2D components for Hybrid Objects, and the tag tool will have a substantial explanation below.

3D Modeling and Rendering

  • Online Access to mtextur Textures
  • Point Cloud Improvements
  • Subdivision 4
  •  Image Effects
  • Clip Cube Viewport Option
The major improvements to 3D modeling are the Clip Cube viewport option and the image effects, which we will cover in detail below.

Better Importing and Exporting

  • IFC Data Mapping 2.0
  • Editable COBie Worksheets
  • DXF/DWG Export Fills Improvements
  • DXF/DWG Import Dialog Layout Changes
  • Classes/Layers Mapping on DXF/DWG Import
  • Revit Import Improvements
Every year Vectorworks improves the ability to import IFC, DXF/DWG, and Revit objects.
The only topic that will be expanded in detail will be the class/layer mapping on DXF/DWG importing.


  • Stair Settings: Display Layer of Lower Floor
  • Stair Geometry: Custom Top and Bottom Treads (Risers)
  • Stair OIP Improvements
  • Stair Support of New Resource Browser
  • Support Space Styles
  • Second Leaf Options
  • Hide Roof Boundary
  • Remove Drop Shadow and Opacity from Wall/Slab/Roof Styles
  • Louver Doors
Stairs have received a substantial amount of work in this release. I will explain all of these together below.
The hide roof boundary is a great improvement to the roof object. It’s often been a source of annoyance and now it has been improved.


  • Site Model Sculpting
  • Improved Site Model Creation.
  • Online Plant List Catalog
  • Plant Data Sources
  • Plant Workflow Simplification
  • Hardscape Components Workflow Cleanup
There has been a substantial change to site modeling in this release. We will now have the ability to create swales and berms on our site models.
Plant data sources has received a substantial change and it should make it much easier and quicker to connect plants to a database.

Project Sharing

  • Project Sharing – New “Admin Release” Menu Command
  • Project Sharing Diagnostics


Users that have been working with Project Sharing will be pleased to see these two improvements.
  • Vision Preferences Dialog Boxes – Part 1
  • Vision Preferences Dialog Boxes – Part 2
  • Braceworks Auto Connect Enhancements
  • Truss Replacement
  • 3D Lighting Device Rotation
  • AutoTURN Online Integration Dead Hang Object
  • Bridle Analysis for Braceworks
  • Truss Workload Heat Map
  • Vision Content Fixes and Updates and Spotlight Content On-Demand Request and Delivery
  • DMX Transform Improvements
  • Update of Spotlight Commands and Staging Tools to Work in 3D
  • Spotlight Numbering
  • Lighting Instrument Improvements
  • 3D Label Legend 2.0
  • Change Trim Height Update
  • New Creation Mode for Video and Blended Screen
Spotlight has received the most engineering resources outside of the basic productivity improvements.
I will not be covering these changes in this manual.


Basic Productivity[ms-protect-content id=”34491,34492,34493, 34494, 34495, 34496, 344927″]

>Object Info Palette Performance Improvements on Windows

This has been an annoyance for many windows users. The Object Info palette has performed very slowly, but now the code has been rewritten to really speed up how it reloads information. When I first saw this, I didn’t think that it was much of an improvement, but I recently went back and used Vectorworks 2018 on a Windows machine and was floored by how slowly the information refreshed in the Object Info palette.
If you use an Apple machine, this will not be an improvement, because it was never an issue.

Title Block Border Improvement

In Vectorworks 2018,  the new Title Block border was introduced. While it made substantial improvements to the way in which you create and manage title blocks, revisions and issues could still be troublesome.
The improvements in Vectorworks 2019 make it much easier to select which drawings will be issued and which ones will have revisions applied to them.

  • In this example, we have a series of drawings but do not need to revise all of them.
  • When you open the Title Block Manager from the File menu, you are presented with this dialogue box.
  • At the bottom of this dialogue box is a new button to select which sheets will be used.

When you click on this button, you are presented with another dialogue box that allows you to select all the sheets in the project, select all the sheets in all of the open projects, or just select a few sheets that you need to revise.

  • Choose the sheets that need to be revised. You can do this by clicking in the Apply to column.
  • In this example, the bathrooms have been redesigned. This means that the plumbing and drainage has also been redesigned and must be shown on the site plan, the foundation plan, and the floorplans.
  • I have checked the required drawings.
  • To close this dialog box, click on the OK button.


  • The drawings are now ready for the revision.
  • Click on the Add… button to create the revision.


  • The revision will only be applied to the drawings that have been selected.
  • To close this dialog box, click on the OK button.


  • Now you can see how the revisions have only been added to the selected drawings.

In the past, you might have needed to go through each sheet individually, writing the revision on the title block. This is a huge improvement for drawings that need revisions.

Section Viewport Improvements

The improvements to the section viewport are part of the technology that enables creating Horizontal Sections. There is now an option to show objects that are in front of the section plane.
In this example, I have a staircase with a section through it. The section is through the upper flight of stairs and the lower flight of stairs is in front of the section plane. The section improvements allow us to choose the classes of objects that we want to show, even if they are in front of the section plane.

  • You can see part of the stair, but you might want to see the other part going down to the ground floor.
  • On the Object Info palette is an area where you can control the visibility of objects in front of the section plane. This is called Extents before Cut Plane.
  • Click on the Object Display… button.


  • This dialog box controls the visibility and graphic style of classes in front of the section plane.
  • In this case, we want the stair classes.
  • Select the Vert Trans classes.
  • Click on the Edit… button.


  • Initially, the option is to hide the objects, as shown by the option Object Display: None.


  • Change the option to Object Display: Hidden Line.
  • Turn off Use Object Pen Style.
  • Turn off Use Object Colors.
  • Turn off Object Thickness.
  • Set the Pen Style, Color, Line Type, and Thickness to suit your requirements.


  • Click on the OK button to return to the Object Display by Class dialog box.


  • Click on the OK button to return to the drawing.


Horizontal Sections 2.0


Data Tag Tool

For me, this is one of the major tools for 2019. It allows you to use the data attached to objects in a new tag object. No longer do you need to use the tag built into the object. This tool can tag almost anything.
Let me use an example: planting. When you create a planting plan, you normally place the plant tags on the plants. This might be satisfactory, but the tags have to be on the design layer, so the angle of the design layer and the scale of the design layer make a difference.
In this example, you can see that some of the plant tags have been cut off by the crop. When I change the scale of the viewport, the tags become too large or too small.
I have to use a workaround if I want tags in some of the viewports, but not in others.
The Data Tag tool can save the day. This tool gets around many of the above issues.
Vectorworks comes with several pre-made tags for objects such as plants. These are available in the Resource Manager. In this example, I have chosen the plant tag.
This tool has been designed to work in the annotations part of a viewport. I can place the tags where I want in the viewport. The tool will read the data on the objects in the design layer and report it in the annotations.
Without regard to the crop, I can place the tags where I want.
In the next example, we will look at this tool in detail. I have a building elevation with windows that need tags. Similar to the plants, you can assign the tags to the windows as you create them. Unlike the plants though, there are issues with the location of the tags and with returning to the design layer to edit the tags. In this example, I want to add extra information to my tags that is not part of the standard window tag.

  • First, we have to find the tag. Start with the new Data Tag tool.
  • Go to the Tool bar and click on Preferences.
  • Choose the most suitable tag. There are several to choose from.


  • Select the object style that suits your requirements.
  • The object style will be imported into your file.
  • Use the Resource Manager to locate the object style.


  • Right-click on the resource and choose Edit… 


  • This is the dialog box that controls the editing of the tag style. It uses the same concept as other object styles. The curvy arrow shows that this setting is controlling every instance in the drawing.
  • Clicking on the parameter setting (the curvy arrow), you can choose to make the setting flexible for every instance in the drawing.
  • To edit the layout of the tag, click on the Edit Tag Layout button at the bottom of the dialog box.


  • This opens a special tag layout editing area. It looks very much like the symbol editing area and it works in a similar way.
  • Any changes that you make to the tag in this area will automatically be copied to all the tags of this style in the file.


  • In this example, I have copied the text and pasted a duplicate in the tag.
  • As both pieces of text are linked to the same information, using this tag right now would give me the same information reported twice.
  • That is not what I want.


  • With the text selected, go to the Object Info palette.
  • The selected text can be dynamic  (it will read information from objects) or it can be static (type what you want the text to be).
  • In this instance, we want to use dynamic text and we want to define the tag field.
  • Click on the Define Tag Field… button


  • This dialog box controls the information that will be dynamically placed on the tag.
  • We are currently using a door tag, so we need to choose “Door” as the object name.
  • In the next field, we want to choose the parameter, or the type of information that we want to report. For this exercise, I have chosen “Height” as the parameter.
  • Click on the Add to Definition button to add the selection to the Current Tag Field Definition.


  • I have decided that I would also like to use door width as a parameter. To make this more readable on the drawings, I will include an ” x ” (“[space] x [space]”) between the door height and the door width.
  • After the “Height” parameter, type in a space followed by on “x,” followed by another space.
  • Choose “Width” as the parameter.
  • Click on the Add to Definition button to add our choice to the Current Tag Field Definition.


  • Click on the OK button to close the dialog box.
  • Click on the Exit Tag Layout Edit button at the top right of the screen to return to the drawing.
  • To use the new tag, make sure that you have selected its style from the drop-down menu on the Tool bar.
  • When you move near a door object, the door will highlight.


  • Click once to place the tag.
  • You cannot use this tag on a window or any other object. It will only work on doors.


  • To place the tag on windows, you have to use a window tag.


Class and Layer Filters & Combo Box Control for Large Lists

I use this all the time. I often have drawings with many, many classes. Finding the class that I want in such a long list has always been a challenge. Vectorworks 2019 has three techniques for making this easier:

  • Class filters
  • Tags
  • Search function


  • A filter has premade search criteria.
  • In this example, I have created a search criterion to find all classes that have been tagged with the term “site.”


  • In this image, I am selecting a premade filter that will find all assigned classes.
  • You can also see in this image several premade filters for finding all classes, all visible classes, all invisible classes, all grayed classes, and all recently used classes.


  • In this image, there are two filters. One for plants and one for site information. When I want to use classes that relate to site information I can use the filter to just show those classes.


2D Components for Hybrid Objects

In previous versions of Vectorworks, hybrid symbols and hybrid objects had one view of the object in top/plan view and one view of the object in any other view. This often appeared as separate plan and 3D objects.
In Vectorworks 2019, we have the ability to create planar views of our hybrid objects for various views—top/plan, bottom, front, back, left, right—plus several section options. When you first see this, it looks complicated. The key to just choose the parts that you really need to have visible. It might look like a lot of work, but just remember that the work you do on a symbol can be applied to several projects.
The first step is to edit your symbol.

  • When you enter the symbol editing area, you will notice a new floating palette, the Component Edit palette.
  • Click on the Edit pulldown menu to choose a view in which to edit. There are several options.


  • In this example, I will be editing in a front view.
  • To start with, there is nothing to see. It would be very useful to be able to see the front view of our 3D object.
  • The Show Other drop-down menu can be used to show other components so that it is easier to draw the one that we require.


  • For our situation, showing the 3D would be useful.

Draw the required information to represent the front view of your object.

  • As well as the ability to create planar views for your object, you also have the ability to choose how much information is shown. A new technique with symbols is the ability to show a level of detail.  There are three levels of detail from which to choose: low,  medium, and high.


  • As you draw an object, you can choose when it will appear. For example, in this situation, we might want the outline of our object to appear on our low, medium, and high detail settings. You choose the level of detail that will be assigned to these objects on the Object Info palette.

The strategy behind having different detail levels is that it allows you to select how much detail to show in your sections. For example, in a section that shows this WC at 1:100 scale, we might only want to see a low level of detail (just an outline of the toilet). If we create a section showing the toilet at 1:20 scale, we might want to see a high level of detail (the whole toilet).

3D Modeling

Image Effects
This is a new technique that I’m extremely pleased to see. Quite often when we create a viewport, the lighting, the color, or the saturation could be improved. Many of these changes require that you return to the design layer and update parts of it. For example, if we wanted to improve the lighting, we would have to go back to the design layer and either add more lights or edit the lights that are there. Then, we would return to the viewport, update it, and see if we liked the changes.
This new technique allows us to directly edit the rendered viewport.

  • Select the required viewport.


  • Go to the Object Info palette.
  • At the bottom of the palette is a new option: Apply Image Effects.
  • The image effects can only be applied if you activate or tick the Apply Image Effects option.


  • After ticking the Apply Image Effects option, click on the Image Effects… button.
  • This opens a dialog box with a series of sliders allowing you to edit several parts of the image.


  • Drag the sliders to achieve the required result. In this example, I have increased the exposure and the highlights to improve the lighting of my model without changing any of the light objects.


  • Click on the Apply button to save the changes to your viewport.


  • In this view, I have overlaid the original image with the revised image so you can see the difference in the lighting.

I think this is a massive improvement in our ability to create the viewports that we want. It’s a lot quicker than going back to the design layer and changing one or two settings in the hope that they fix your rendering.
Clip Cube Viewport Option
For several years, we have had the ability to first create a section viewport on the design layer and then to create a camera view from that. This allowed us to create a section perspective viewport from any direction that we wanted, but it did not allow us to clip away horizontal parts of the building.
We have also had the possibility of using the clip cube on a design layer to see parts of the building, by clipping away parts we didn’t want.
We now have the opportunity to use this clip cube to create a viewport.

  • To create a clip cube viewport, set up a clip cube view on your design layer.
  • Go to the Menu bar.
  • Choose View > Create Viewport

If the clip cube is activated (selected), Vectorworks will use this to create a three-dimensional crop for your viewport.

  • Name your viewport in the normal way.
  • Activate the setting Display with Clip Cube.


  • Place the viewport on a sheet layer.
  • At the moment, it does not look as if Vectorworks has recognized the clip cube.


  • When you update the viewport, you will see your cropped view.


  • When you look at the above image, you will notice that a plant from outside the clip cube has appeared in my view.
  • The clip cube can be edited to remove this object.
  • Right-click on the viewport and choose Edit.
  • The edit dialog box has a setting that allows you to navigate to the design layer and display the view with the clip cube.
  • Choose this option.


  • When you are back at the design layer, you can edit the clip cube to remove or add any parts desired.
  • On the Edit dialog box, I chose the option to navigate back to the viewport.
  • I can return to my sheet layer by clicking on the Return To The Viewport button at the top right of my screen.


  • When the viewport is updated, the offending plant has been removed.



Stair Improvements: Display Layer of Lower Floor, Stair Support of New Resource Browser
Support Space Styles
Hide Roof Boundary
Hiding the roof boundary may be a simple thing, but it is really nice to have it hidden until the roof is selected. It used to be annoying to see the roof boundary on drawings when you didn’t want it shown.


Site Model Sculpting
Improved Site model creation.
Plant Data Sources

Leave a Comment