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malcineurope

FormZ to Construction Drawings - again

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Output to other CAD programs is fine. But I really want a competent drafting element that is fully integrated with the 3D model. I hate having to redo all my drafting work when I change the model. 

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I guess "copy-paste" will never be an option, but it would help to have some "best practice" examples to get from Z to 2D (in my case Vectorworks, but for other SW too...)

 

Assume you have something that is rounded in your file and you need a section resulting in a fillable ploygon.

The old way workaround of doing this was generating 2D sections and exporting as polygons.

(rotate your section to ortho before exporting or else no scale...)

But now it seems I can only get lines.

 

"Look at face" exports to a "no scale" dwg. That would be a handy option.

"Look at clipping Plane"> export HL to scale. Can this be added ? That would help a lot.

 

I have found that once I succeed getting my section into Layout mode, Step export sometimes does produce "some" filled Nurbs and also arcs, but other curves dont always work.

 

Hidden Line export works really well to illustrator > export this from .ai to dwg and it even keeps the thicker contur-outlines, very nice.

BUT scale is lost.

 

> Is there an example how to geht a HL scaled into ai and then out to a dwg ?

> what are the basic settings to get (fillable) Polygons and proper curves out of Z, into a properly scaled 2D dwg

 

Thanks for reading

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Copy-paste could be an option. There is an existing format called Openclip that was developed by Autodssys and Alfred Scott, author of WildTools for Powercadd. This allows users of Powercadd to copy in Powercadd and Paste into FormZ, at scale and with all lines, curves and shades etc. intact. If items are given a z height in Powercadd it will even bring them into FormZ in 3D. Unfortunately, at the moment you cannot copy in FormZ and paste into Powercadd. I hope that Autodessys are working on this, perhaps they could confirm that they are doing so?

 Whilst, this ability is, at the moment restricted to users of Powercadd, Openclip is an open and free piece of software and there is no reason why other software companies should not take it up. Perhaps if Autodesys get the copy part working then it will spur them to do so.  

Apart from the ease of use that Copy and Paste using Openclip would bring, the format is designed to maintain accurate curves, something that is woefully missing in dwg.

R2D2, your comment re Ai is interesting. Does this maintain proper curves? If so, one would have thought that this format could also form the basis of an alternative to Openclip which may satisfy users that still do not use mac OS.

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Regarding export my 2c is that a "better" standard output support such as dwg will be more important; as my guess is we wont be getting the whole industry to support openclip (as much as I like the thought)

 

Regarding .ai export: no, there are no curves - it just looks better as you get the thicker outlines exported.

The only 2D curves I got so far were exported out of the FZ draft module (Layout) but just a small test.

 

In Vectorworks I just found that FZ actually exports its line styles from HL render to dwg, and they display as single segments in VW2015.

It also keeps scale (when coming from ortho view...) but no linethickness , and no curves, no colour...

If Z exported HL render to dwg while keeping different layers (Support hint, hint) it would make a good base.

(oc you can workaround and export one layer a time...hm but then your HL is, ehm, no HL anymore ?...)

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If I may chime in on this, the main obstacle to getting all this working as Copy to OpenClip has been my fault. I have recently moved my office and I haven't had a spare moment. Indeed Susan Arruda actually fired me a month or so ago, and I'm the owner!

 

I'm now getting back up to speed.

 

My first step in this process is to create a simple Shapefile importer program that will open any number of Shapefiles in a single operation and copy them in OpenClip format, which you can then paste into PowerCADD and FormZ.

 

A Shapefile is a GIS format file of geometry, basically points and polygons. The files have a .shp extension, and they are almost universally used by states, cities and counties as a way of publishing maps. Typically there will be individual files for streets, lakes, railroads, etc. You choose the ones you want and then import them as a group so all of the pieces will be correctly positioned relative to each other. Getting these files into a CAD program is a challenge for a user. But that's not going to be a problem for us!

 

Shapefiles are actually a set of related files, all with the same name but with different file extensions. Some of these files include database information such as population, average income, crazypersons per capita, etc. but this information is stored in DBase2 format, which is hopelessly obsolete and I can't find any programming tools to deal with this.

 

So please stand by. Things are going to happen and this is going to be a wild ride.

 

Alfred

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Forgive me for opening this topic again but we were promised nearly 3 months ago that it was being actively pursued i.e. the ability to copy and paste out of FormZ and into other programs via Openclip or similar. Would an update be too much to ask?

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Hi Malc,

 

This is still a work in progress.  Unfortunately despite repeated requests, our license of PowerCADD has not been updated, so we are still waiting on them.  We have just sent them a 4th reminder.

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Hi All,

 

Finding this a really interesting thread. I post a bit on issues relating to Layout as I have to use it extensively to produce production drawings and site plans etc. I might add I have been doing this with relative success for a number of years now. There are definitely limitations and working with some other companies i notice the quality of drafting work to be on another level - mostly architectural firms.

 

I manage to successfully communicate what i need to though and as a company we are able to send out complete fabrication drawings for a variety of different things, producing bespoke components to suit our needs out of materials such as timber, steel, alloy and fabric.

 

I mostly use Form Z for its modelling capacity though and again have been doing this successfully for the last few years, producing visuals/renders etc that help sell what our company does.

 

I guess what i'm interested in though is increasing efficiency and saving time in the drafting side of form z. Layout is killing me some days and driving me a little crazy.

 

I'd be interested to talk to some people about the use of Form Z and another CAD program, potentially Vectorworks - using Form Z for my modelling and rendering and using Vectorworks for my drafting. I would love for Layout to be the solution but there seem to be so many issues and not a lot of resolution regarding improvements (maybe more in depth tutorials would help). My company has a decent turnover but a small team, I am a design team of one which means any investment in new CAD software has to be thought out very carefully hence the reason why i'd like to stick with Form Z but the time it's taking me to draft up larger models is causing me a great deal of frustration.

 

If there are any users out there using Form Z and another program for drafting let me know your thoughts and recommendations on this please.

 

Thanks in advance for the help..

 

 

Edited by Duncan303

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Hi Duncan,

 

We are actively working on Layout updates and the next version coming soon will include many of these.  Of course, you can also Export to other dedicated drafting packages as well, including Autocad, Vectorworks, PowerCadd, and many others.  For those with personal experience with these, feel free to share your thoughts with Duncan here!

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Thanks Support,

As I think I touched on previously, ideally I'd like to work within one program for all aspects of my work, Form Z. A small business such as ourselves can only invest in one CAD program realistically. I'm just exploring the options to be more efficient with my workflow.

 

Look forward to hearing from other forum users regards this.

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Duncan, Turbocad Deluxe is great value for 2d drafting and capable of some 3d. I find it very effective, but I much prefer FormZ pro 8 for 3d modelling. They do exchange reasonably well through the .dwg file format, in fact turbocad will open it directly. A good combination in my view without spending too much.

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Duncan,

 

Take a look at these: Realcad( PC/ MAC version coming), BricsCad( PC/MAC), and High Design (MAC). I have been test driving High Design and I really like it. All of them are professional cad programs. My favorite 2d cad package is PowerCADD but I can't recommend it until certain internal at the company issues is resolved.

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Apologies. I hit the wrong button and posted before I had completed. What I meant to say is

 

My own feeling is that you will always require two programs. A modelling program and a CAD program. They do different things and there is no way that one company will have the resources or, more importantly, the mindset to do both equally well. I find FormZ ideal for modelling but need a CAD program both initially and to complete my drawings. My choice is Powercadd with Wildtools but others may prefer Vector Works or even Autocad. Different people have different requirements. The most important thing from my point of view is the ability to transfer easily and accurately between programs. DWG does not do it for me. There are too many steps and it is pretty useless at curves. What I really want to be able to do is to copy and paste between my programs. I can do this from Powercad to FormZ but not back from FormZ to Powercad, although I believe that this is being worked upon.  If I had to rely only on one program it would be my CAD package, Powercad, and I would use its perspective and axonometric drawing tools to produce my images. However, the ability to use FormZ is great. It produces great models quickly and easily which I then use as a basis for my final drawings. However, I have never sent out a construction drawing produced entirely in FormZ and am unlikely to do so. An image yes. A construction drawing no.

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I disagree, I think FormZ could improve its CAD capabilities and I look forward to being able to do modelling and construction drawings all within the same program. Autodessys, please do not give up on especially improving the basic 2d construction tools and manipulation of the same. Having to use more than one program is a nuisance which inevitably absorbs time, efficiency and profits. 

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+1

 

My workflow for several years has been FormZ and Vectorworks too - and both a great at what they do, but communication between the 2 could be better - I like the idea of 'open clip' and if more applications integrated this it would make life much easier.

 

In the mean time:

 

http://architosh.com/2015/03/mac-stalwart-innovator-interviewed-on-cad-digest-runs-through-history-of-formz/

 

http://www.caddigest.com/exclusive/AutoDesSys/031215_q&a_with_chris_yessios_ceo_of_autodessys.htm

 

 

“Q: Do you have any other products planned?

A: There will be a formZ Layout application, where the layout procedures will be sold separately from the modeling. There will also be a formZ Viewer, which will allow users to view models from formZ and other applications on smart phones and tablets. There will be more renderers and other plug-ins. Expect more specific announcements in the not too distant future.”

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Hi All,

 

Thanks so much for all the advice and recommendations, it's great to get some solid advice through the forum.

 

I'll look into the programs mentioned and see if can work within our business model.

 

Interesting to hear that some people would never use form z for construction drawings. I have actually produced a building consent drawing package for a 15,000 seater stadium structure (my previous job) before in Form Z, version 6 mind you and it took me a very long time and any design changes caused me a huge amount of grief as I'd have to manually go through the drawing set and make changes where necessary. 

 

I hope this thread keeps running for a bit longer as there are obviously a lot of opinions and advice we can all share to help each other out.

 

Thanks again.

 

 

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And here we are another 3 months later.... Can ANYONE suggest a way to take a Layout drawing and export it to PowerCadd and retain dimensional accuracy? When I attempt to do so, drawings are off by non-sensical amounts rendering the F•Z model (and layout drawing) useless as working drawings.I then have to re-draw completely in PowerCadd. 

Thank you.

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Dear Charles,

 

The formZ 8.5 Layout should be greatly improved, and you can download the current version from here if you like:

 

http://www.formz.com/products/formz/formz8_Beta_Pro_Update_App_Only.html

 

You should be able to Export: DWG (not Export Image) and get the proper scale.  NOTE that the file does not specify the units, so you need to set the same units between both programs, which you can do at either Import or Export from formZ (in the Format Units at the top of the options).  If you get the wrong scale doing this, then you are likely either off by a factor of 10 (if both programs are using metric units), off by a factor of 12 (if both programs are using English Units) or off by a conversion factor between the two unit types (like 2.54 or 25.4x times).

 

If you give this a try and have any issues, please send your files to support@formz.com so we can see what you are trying to do and help further.

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I have spent much of the weekend trying to get construction drawings out of Layout  and into Powercad. I have not had trouble with scales although why it insists on exporting in cms when I my Project is in metres I do not know! I have three main grouses.

 

What I get in a Frame in Layout seems very hit and miss and it seems to insist on putting in a previous section even when I have changed the position of that section or want a different one, updated everything in both FormZ and Layout etc.

 

Secondly, I am used to producing all my drawings in colour and Layout seems to insist on exporting in black and white (or white on white!) even when the colour tab is ticked.

 

Finally, the resulting drawing seems to be a mixture of polygons and lines which do not correspond to the solids in FormZ. This makes it very difficult to fill with colour or use a Powercad hatch. For instance I exported a section that had a number of rafters. Some of the rafters exported as polygons, others as lines. Why the inconsistency?

 

I am aware that some of the above may be due to my unfamiliarity with Layout but I could not find useful help in the documentation. If the above faults are due to my not understanding the program well enough, perhaps a short tutorial may be in order.

 

I was using 8.5 beta 3

 

Finally, now that Todd is back in full swing is there any progress on getting Openclip working for export?

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If you give this a try and have any issues, please send your files to support@formz.com so we can see what you are trying to do and help further.

 

Hi Malc,

 

The color is not supported (at least not yet) but if that would be useful to you we can see if this can be added.

 

Regarding the other two issues you mention, can you please send your FML and FMZ files so we can test with these here?

 

Regarding OpenClip, we previously had a developer scheduled to work on this, but with 3 months of no reply from PowerCadd, we had to move on.  Perhaps that project can be revived in the future if there is sufficient demand...

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Yes. Colour is very important and useful. I have produced all my construction drawings in colour since 1988 and do not want to go back to just showing a mass of lines!  Using an image is not the answer. Apart from problems of scale jagged lines etc. are awful and there is no way of amending or altering the image.

 

I will send the files to tech support.

 

Expect some demand for Openclip :-))

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Okay, I've put a little more time and thought into this. I should first say, I am not a geek. I use these programs to convey designs to my customers and generate working drawings for my subs an myself. Design is, for the most part, a money loser for me so I look for the fastest way to accurately get something on paper. I only make a profit by actually building, or have built what I draw.

The method I've come up with is this:

First in PowerCadd generate a template that is the sheet size and drawing scale you want to use. The scale should probably match the scale you've set in "parameters" of your Layout sheet. I don't know what will happen if you use multiple scales in multiple panes of Layout. For this purpose I've set everything to 1 ½" = 1'. That is a common scale for what I do, which is custom furniture.

Then save that template to the "Stationary" folder in the PC application folder.

Next export your Layout sheet as dwg. Then open that dwg file in PC. When the dialog comes up to select a template use the one you just created.

I tried both using the Import command in PC and Open from the file menu and got essentially the same result. Color information (even black) is lost. I use Select All and assign the pen color to black as a first step.

If anyone has ideas or suggestions on streamlining or improving this process I'm all ears.

 

 

Here is what I came up with using that method. I've included a rendering at the end to illustrate the  piece I'm working on.

 

First the Layout sheet:

post-459-0-65332400-1435772719_thumb.jpg

Then the dwg import to PowerCadd. Neither the dimensions nor text were scaled properly. The 3d image (from a scene) was turned into hash and is essentially un-usable:

post-459-0-17155000-1435772934_thumb.jpg

 

So, for me all text and dimensions are useless, as is the perspective view. My strategy is to import only the plan and elevation geometry and do all the detailing, including text and dimensions in PC. Any perspective views have to be saved out of F•Z as a graphic and pasted into PC (as a graphic). Compared to the old days of being able to use open clip bi-directionally, this is an utter wast of time.

If F•Z had the Wild Tools palette available in Layout, I could probably do all my detailing in Layout and skip the PC conversion. Then I would use PC only for documents that originate in that application.

 

Lastly, an annoying thing I've found in Layout is the Measure tool does not reflect scale settings, at least not for me. I've tried my usual method (pushing buttons) but checking and unchecking tool settings does not seem to fix it:

post-459-0-11799000-1435773466_thumb.png

 

 

post-459-0-63176800-1435773945_thumb.jpg

 

https://sketchfab.com/models/9e94c8d226364c289ba0d8323877c4e9

-C

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