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SJD

Importing 3rd party models

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Hi

do you have any advice on formats/best settings for importing 3rd party models? I'm trying to import some professional furniture models I have purchased over the last few years (from Design Connected) - the best options I have are either SketchUp, fbx or obj formats. I have opened these files before in 6.7 with a few minor niggles but trying to import them into 8.5 is like pulling teeth. I can import a few but some just won't import, some take ages to open others cause FZ to hang. This happens in all 3 formats. I don't have access to the files I originally saved in FZ hence the need to download them again. FZ has never been brilliant at importing stuff in my experience but I'd hoped things would have improved with this version.

Thanks as always, Steve

Edited by SJD

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SJD

This has been one of my biggest hurdles when using Form.z.   The slow speed of import stems from the fact that Form.z is a solid modeler while most other programs are surface modelers.  Form.z is trying to create solids out of surfaces which can become problematic. 

I tend to use a lot of outside models in my business, from architects and from sites like 3dSky and TurboSquid.  They come in a variety of formats and each one has its own unique problems.  Personally I prefer to use OBJ format most of the time if it is available.   FBX has been an interesting problem.  I wish I could use it more because it handles texture maps a bit better but I have found that on some models it scrambles the geometry in random arrangements.   

One problem I have been having lately is that I can only import one model.   If I try to import a second model the program hangs.   Open the task manager and the manager screen is flashing rapidly.  Force quit the program and then restart and you will now be able to import the next model.  Annoying but doable.    I am also fortunate to own a few other programs that I rely on from time to time when I can't get Form.z to properly import.  In particular I resort to  Max and Rhino which import most models instantly and flawlessly.  Once in there I start to clean them up a bit and then re export out.  Furniture models in particular can be troublesome if built in Max.  The modelers often apply a TurboSmooth modifier which can create very dense meshes that need to be optimized.  They also tend to group lots of things together which need to be exploded.   I hate to suggest that you need to own another piece of expensive software just to get your model into Z but you just have to get creative on how to accomplish this.  I remember there being  websites that would translate models into various formats for free.  3Dconvert.com was one I had used once.  I believe that they had a file size limitation.  There are probably a few others out there.  As a last resort you can also ask us here in the forum if any of us can translate it for you.  I have seen many posts asking for help over the years and the forum has been very good at responding.  

 Good luck.

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I have used Design Connected models a lot and haven't had a problem with obj format or 3ds...textures don't come in but UV mapping is usually all good.

FZ often wont open obj files.....this is because the end of file command  is unrecognised or the .mtl is not recognised (both are long standing issues)

Avoid fbx at all cost...As Andrew states , the models are often scrambled into random arrangements.  

If problems occur workarounds for me are either import and re export from rhino ( you can get a free version for these purposes )

Or do the same with 3Dmax ( if you are lucky enough to have a copy ) Very easy to import and reconfigure export settings for obj or 3Ds and is almost always a good result

best

Pip

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I agree.....3ds or obj are the way to go. Of the two obj will give you cleaner geometry, but is harder to find. 3ds, on the other hand, is almost universal.

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thanks guys

Pipo - slightly confused...you say you don't have a problem with obj but then say FZ often won't open obj? I often get the mtl issues.

Unfortunately, many of the models do not have 3ds options only 3ds Max. I used to have some success with SketchUp files in 6.7 once I'd opened the file in SketchUp and back saved to an older version but that doesn't seem to work much with this version. I might try the Rhino route and see how that goes

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Sorry , to clarify...

'Sometimes' fz wont open obj files....whereas rarely have issues with 3ds....or dwg

Semi related...

Simple self test for fz obj files....try importing a fz saved obj into Ivy Generator....wont happen because there is no end of file command.

Import the same fz obj into another package and re export , problem solved with Ivy Generator

Something about the way fz handles obj files is not correct

PS  Rhino is a great for file transfer 

pip

 

 

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I will second the Rhino option.  It will save you a ton of time on all sorts of imports.  I even use it to clean up 2D files from architects that have way too much info attached.  Takes hours to import into FMZ.  I just open them instantly in Rhino and delete everything I don't need.   

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4 hours ago, Andrew West said:

I even use it to clean up 2D files from architects that have way too much info attached.

How does the architectural modelling capability of Rhino compare to form.Z? I must admit that after many years, I am also looking for an alternative to Z. It's simply not what it used to be!

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I love FormZ for it's general solid modeling quickness.  Especially, tools like the 3D Wall tool, Hole Tool, and Reshape are incredibly fast and powerful due to their visual interactivity.  The same goes for the basic texture mapping and it's great visual interactivity.  But recent changes to the UI (Stupidly separate and BUGGY Inspector Palette, Tool Options palette that won't stay still, Missing and ghosting palettes, cut off text, etc) have made even modeling quickly in it an annoyance that it doesn't need to be.  FormZ's UI is now so oddly put together that it looks like pieces from completely different puzzles.  It's entirely fixable, but we are rarely seeing these updates despite many requests from all sorts of users.  This worries me because UI changes should be some of the easiest to rectify. 

Then there's this importing 3rd party models problem.  It's interesting to see how many other people are starting to really struggle with this in FormZ.  There's many things that import better into FormZ 6,7,8 than 9, and many things that just never imported well to begin with.  Given the likely future of 3D work requiring collaborating with all sorts of 3D assets, this should be of particular focus on any future formZ update, as without it, there may be no future for FormZ outside of basic modeling and texturing.  Sad but true.

You will laugh at how easily Rhino imports outside file types compared to FormZ.  Even basic things like floorplan DWGs come in to Rhino perfectly just like they would in AutoCAD, with all the Blocks, Text, Hatch, Colors, etc, and you can easily have multiple, complex plans visible in the modeling window without it slowing to a crawl like the same file does in FormZ.  Why does FormZ slow down with just imported lines from a DWG?

Mesh 3D files like the furniture models we commonly need, come in great to Rhino and don't choke up the program at all like they do in FormZ.  This whole issue has become the achilles heel of FormZ.  It's an amazingly fast and fluid modeler, but it's inability to play nice with outside geometry is really hurting its capabilities now.  Like Andrew said, I believe this is due to the 'solids' nature of FormZ and most other popular modeling applications are surface modelers.  Still, formZ will need to fix this quick to stay remotely relevant.  

Santa-  Architectural modeling is OK in Rhino, but it sometimes requires a slightly different approach than super speedy FormZ.  It's a Surface modeler originally, but has a solid ... solid toolset too. :)  Many of the solid tools we use are in there, with different names.  But some will require an extra step or two to first draw the 2D shape you will turn into 3D.  Take the Slab tool in Rhino for instance.  This is most similar to FormZ's 3D Wall tool, but first requires you to draw your line, polylines, curves, before you can then start the Slab tool to make it an extruded 3D wall with both height and thickness.  Whereas FormZ can often do that on the fly in a single tool depending on the shape. 

BUT, anything you want to learn is easy to find because of the incredible online documentation in Rhino.  Videos GALORE detailing anything you could possibly want to learn in Rhino means becoming self taught is a real possibility.  Lynda.com (free with local Library card) has a nice selection of courses from Dave Schultze on Rhino and VRay for Rhino.  This sort of accessibility is really intriguing when it can be very difficult to figure out how to use a new software.  Just Google "Rhino ______"  and you'll find whatever you need.  Rhino also has a huge library of plugins and a very active and vibrant community.  I wish the modeling and basic texturing was a bit easier, but it's not bad once you get into it after a week or so.

I've taken tutorials on many other 3D programs and understand the basics in them.  After 15 years of professional work with FormZ, no other 3D software offers the combination of speed and truly accurate and visual modeling that FormZ does.  Rhino comes the closest, but needs a little more input to do the same thing.  SketchUp comes close but is a purely surface modeler and a very basic one at that.  So, I'd ask you how much time do you spend on modeling vs the rest of the process?  At some point, the time saved modeling gets easily wasted on these other FormZ problems.  

Hope this helps you all out there struggling with the same things.  I'd truly love for FormZ to be our 1 stop solution to all things 3D and Rendering, but until these problems get recognized and resolved, we all need to be more vocal about it. 

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Justin,

If you happen to have a DWG that fZ slows down a lot on.  Could you send it to me?  I'd be curious to see what is going on and if there would be a work around.

 

¢£

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1 hour ago, Justin Montoya said:

I'd truly love for FormZ to be our 1 stop solution to all things 3D and Rendering, but until these problems get recognized and resolved, we all need to be more vocal about it. 

So would I, but the problem is that no one seems to be listening. Just look at all the great suggestions that didn't  make it into V9!

I own a couple of licences, including V8.6.5, but form.Z is no longer on my computer. V9 was eagerly anticipated by many, including myself since I hoped, finally, for the reintroduction of the classic drafting module. From what I have read, unfortunately, what we ended up with pales in comparison.

Why the need for drafting? Well, because not everything can be purely 3d! Many architects, like myself, may dream in colourful 3d, but plan in drab 2d due to reality. Compliance with building codes requires this. It's useless having a masterpiece of design if it's a pipe dream.

As an aside, I have been preoccupied with an unusual personal project for the past few years. This involved the accurate recreation in 3d of a 19th century town entirely from available photographs. There were no surviving plans.

This process required me to set up "reverse perspectives" in AutoCAD in order to then confidently proceed with the modelling. By "reverse perspectives" I mean the manual setting up of old fashioned vanishing points, spectator points, etc. (remember them?) to derive building plans and elevations from them.

There was simply no other way, due to the large variety of source photos involved. Eyeballing was out of the question to me. The resulting DWG files were then imported into Z for modelling, and then re-exported, back and forth, for further refinement. This worked well in classic Z, but became impossible in newer versions.

But hope is eternal, so it's the sidelines for me, untill a better Z (or other software) comes along, and this includes the UI. "Back to the future"...with V10 perhaps?

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Justin. I couldn't agree more. Somethings really need to be improved to make the frustration out of working with formZ. For instance, when you hare working on a file that have some geometry in it. Say 200 mb. Invoking commands such as the move command (I use this thousands of times in a day), the program responds excruciatingly slow. My shortcut for move is "m". I select the object, hit m, and about 2-3 seconds later the move command responds. This seems to occur after orbiting. This is unacceptably slow. It should respond as quickly as clicking on the icon!

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I seem to be at a crossroads once again in my career.  I have tried many other programs over the years and for various reasons I keep on coming back to Form.z.  Years ago I tried Electric Image, 3DS MAX, Cinema 4D, Vue, etc etc.  None of them had the speed and agility of Form.z for my quick turn around projects.  Then the other programs got better and better and added a lot of third party plugins and rendering engines that gave stunning results.  So I resigned myself to owning several programs to get the results I needed.  Hardly ideal for a small studio to maintain.  But here is the catch.  Form.z does not play well with others so transferring back and forth between programs became extremely laborious and slow.  This is especially true with projects that require a lot of client feedback, revisions and transfers of geometry.  So, every time I started a new project I felt like I had to reinvent the wheel and assess what the best path forward will be for this project.  Sometimes I guess wrong and pay for it dearly in wasted time. 

In the last few years I have personally felt that Form.z is getting slower and buggier and certainly more  unpredictable.  One step forward and two steps sideways away from my goal of a one stop shop.  I am not sure that I am ready to abandon Form.z any time soon so for me it will still be a combination of programs to achieve what I want.  My current direction is to model in Form.z as much as possible and then transfer over to Rhino for the last 50% of the job.  For instance, on my current interior project I modeled most of the plane geometry in Z and apply my texture maps.  Then I move over to Rhino to import all my furniture, set up my lighting and do my renders in Vray.  Moving back and forth between the two seems to be fairly fluid and my maps all come in perfectly except for the Vray materials.  Those need to be redone so I don't even bother with them until I am in Rhino.  Why this method you might ask?  Simple, the more you bring in 3rd party models into Z the more likely that things will fall apart and you will spend a LOT of time troubleshooting.   You can just feel the program starting to  bog down and become increasingly less responsive, so then you know it's time  to transfer over.  

As for learning Rhino it is pretty simple but very important to understand their philosophy first.  Dave Shultz on Lynda.com gives a very detailed explanation of how to approach the program and where to keep your attention focused.  There are a daunting number of tools and options available, most of them somewhat repetitive, so being given a general direction is imperative to limit frustration.  Once you understand that things go pretty smoothly.  

Hope this helps give some direction to anyone else who is struggling out there.  Sorry that there isn't a better solution.  At least not one I am aware of yet.

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14 hours ago, Andrew West said:

I seem to be at a crossroads once again in my career.  I have tried many other programs over the years and for various reasons I keep on coming back to Form.z.  Years ago I tried Electric Image, 3DS MAX, Cinema 4D, Vue, etc etc.  None of them had the speed and agility of Form.z for my quick turn around projects.  Then the other programs got better and better and added a lot of third party plugins and rendering engines that gave stunning results.  So I resigned myself to owning several programs to get the results I needed.  Hardly ideal for a small studio to maintain.  But here is the catch.  Form.z does not play well with others so transferring back and forth between programs became extremely laborious and slow.  This is especially true with projects that require a lot of client feedback, revisions and transfers of geometry.  So, every time I started a new project I felt like I had to reinvent the wheel and assess what the best path forward will be for this project.  Sometimes I guess wrong and pay for it dearly in wasted time. 

In the last few years I have personally felt that Form.z is getting slower and buggier and certainly more  unpredictable.  One step forward and two steps sideways away from my goal of a one stop shop.  I am not sure that I am ready to abandon Form.z any time soon so for me it will still be a combination of programs to achieve what I want.  My current direction is to model in Form.z as much as possible and then transfer over to Rhino for the last 50% of the job.  For instance, on my current interior project I modeled most of the plane geometry in Z and apply my texture maps.  Then I move over to Rhino to import all my furniture, set up my lighting and do my renders in Vray.  Moving back and forth between the two seems to be fairly fluid and my maps all come in perfectly except for the Vray materials.  Those need to be redone so I don't even bother with them until I am in Rhino.  Why this method you might ask?  Simple, the more you bring in 3rd party models into Z the more likely that things will fall apart and you will spend a LOT of time troubleshooting.   You can just feel the program starting to  bog down and become increasingly less responsive, so then you know it's time  to transfer over.  

As for learning Rhino it is pretty simple but very important to understand their philosophy first.  Dave Shultz on Lynda.com gives a very detailed explanation of how to approach the program and where to keep your attention focused.  There are a daunting number of tools and options available, most of them somewhat repetitive, so being given a general direction is imperative to limit frustration.  Once you understand that things go pretty smoothly.  

Hope this helps give some direction to anyone else who is struggling out there.  Sorry that there isn't a better solution.  At least not one I am aware of yet.

I agree, we seem to be nearing an inevitable crossroad. We simply do not see Autodessys supporting the potential of our beloved FormZ software if we consider the lack of development that has occurred over the past 5 years or so and the product seems to be withering on the vine as a result. This is a real shame because there aren't many great products that hold the real potential of FormZ, from my experience. What my business sorely needs (as well as many other design business) is a very fluid and robust 3d modeling tool in which you can quickly design, iterate, explore with very little friction. The same software should allow rendering with fast, modern rendering engines and then finally the ability to document the design in 2D layouts. All within the same software tool. There are some programs in which this is possible although one or more of the major functions are overly difficult or sacrifice quality. Sure, with a suite of independent software tools all of this is possible, however workflows get too cumbersome in such scenario. i suspect for most of us time savings (efficiency) and minimizing frustration is a daily focus. Having a single software allowing such a workflow would be the ultimate tool in my drawer. Why does this seem to be so elusive?

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14 hours ago, Andrew West said:

I seem to be at a crossroads once again in my career.  I have tried many other programs over the years and for various reasons I keep on coming back to Form.z.  Years ago I tried Electric Image, 3DS MAX, Cinema 4D, Vue, etc etc.  None of them had the speed and agility of Form.z for my quick turn around projects.  Then the other programs got better and better and added a lot of third party plugins and rendering engines that gave stunning results.  So I resigned myself to owning several programs to get the results I needed.  Hardly ideal for a small studio to maintain.  But here is the catch.  Form.z does not play well with others so transferring back and forth between programs became extremely laborious and slow.  This is especially true with projects that require a lot of client feedback, revisions and transfers of geometry.  So, every time I started a new project I felt like I had to reinvent the wheel and assess what the best path forward will be for this project.  Sometimes I guess wrong and pay for it dearly in wasted time. 

As for learning Rhino it is pretty simple but very important to understand their philosophy first.  Dave Shultz on Lynda.com gives a very detailed explanation of how to approach the program and where to keep your attention focused.  There are a daunting number of tools and options available, most of them somewhat repetitive, so being given a general direction is imperative to limit frustration.  Once you understand that things go pretty smoothly.  

 

I think a lot of FormZ users are in exactly this position. I have tried Rhino (90-day trial) a few times 😵. At the moment I am starting projects in FormZ then finishing in Fusion 360 which does a better job of exporting to Modo/Cinema 4D. FormZ is still much faster for roughing out basic forms and generally I stay in FormZ until things start to break or I need to share with a client. Spaceclaim comes quite close to the immediacy of FormZ and will almost certainly be where I will be heading if Autodessys make FormZ's UI any worse than it is already. For export, I only use STEP now, and for Import STEP works well too but I generally have to put up with what I have to hand (normally polygon formats). If Spaceclaim is too expensive DesignSpark has come a long way recently, the base application is free, Sheet drawings and STEP/IGES support are reasonably priced. 

I don't know how things are at Autodessys, but if FormZ is going to continue, YouTube and social media and this forum are a priority,  it is rare to find someone under 50 that knows anything about FormZ.

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On 11/17/2020 at 8:09 AM, Shibui Design said:

the product seems to be withering on the vine as a result.

I think a lot of people on this discussion would agree to this statement, which is sad for us long time users as well as formZ in general.  At this point the program's buggy nature and unreliability is overshadowing it's legacy as being the first 3D CAD software on the market.  I often wonder what formZ could become if it was acquired by another company and worked in conjunction with non-direct competitors.  For example, the Foundry doesn't seem to have a basic solid modeler and a lot of people here praise Modo, but can't make the permanent move.  Imagine the two programs working side-by-side similar to Vectorworks/C4D.  It's fun to speculate, but daydreams are daydreams for a reason.  "It's better to burn out than to fade away."

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I am an architect.  I use FormZ as my primary 3D modeler on every project.  I transfer that information to Vectorworks for construction drawings or anything involving notes, text, formatting on a sheet.  I have built a system for the two to "talk" and it's an ok system.  It could be a lot better if FormZ had the basic capability to reference other file types (DWG in my case).  I would LOVE to see Referenced files that are always placed at the same world coordinates (relative to a 0,0,0, point).  That way if I need to import consultant data, another 3D model, or my own 2D work from Vectorworks I can do it ONE TIME and then every time the referenced file is updated I won't have to re import.  This would allow fluid and fast communication between two programs.  Essentially extending the new Reference file capability to file types beyond .fmz.  I know the current Reference file capability leaves a lot to be desired, but at least it is a start.

I agree 100% with the need to clean up the UI, fix the bugs, and improve import export.  I would rather ditch some of the customization of the UI for stability.   Occasionally I have to reset the Workspace and I don't mess around with the palettes anymore now I have them where I want them.  For a new user the UI would be difficult.  Palettes still can get completely lost and the scrolling speed through the dock is very slow.  Even the fact that I have to hold Option to scroll the Dock is unintuitive.  Who would know this if you just started in the program?  I really miss having a scroll bar in the dock.

However I believe the desire to have a "one stop shop" is unrealistic in todays marketplace IMHO.  Sure it might work out for one person, but is there a program that does it all - for everyone?  There isn't really.  Sure some do people find one program that works, but for many a hybrid approach is the best way to go.  There are too many diverse needs and workflows out there.  I could care less about FormZ adding tools to add notes, dimensions, text.  Useless for me.  I would rather do that in a program already well suited for that task.  There would need to be such a quantum leap in FormZ's ability there to get me to use it given how far advanced Vectorworks is in this regard.  There are other priorities in my opinion for FormZ.  I understand why they came out with Layout (I presume to compete with SketchUp) and I use Layout to export my information (plans, sections, elevations) to Vectorworks, but I don't need them to spend time trying to make it a full fledged production program.  

For some the modeling in SketchUp is just enough and so is their layout program.  For me it isn't nearly robust enough in either department.  Does Rhino, Modo, Cinema have a way to create construction documents, full of notes, dimensions, and specifications?  REVIT may be amazing at production work, but it sucks at fast fluid modeling.  Is there a program that models fast, also has amazing rendering capabilities, AND produces construction documents?  And that works equally well for a one man shop, a small firm, a big firm, product design, architecture, visualization specialists?   

I hear the complaints about 2D work.  Seems legit and it would help my workflow.   I guess I don't care that much as I can do that work in Vectorworks.  However, until we get referenced DWG files it still takes way too much time to keep reimporting information from outside the program.

I would rather FormZ concentrate on its strength - fast fluid solid modeling and quick texturing/rendering.  At the same time the weaknesses need to be fixed:  bugs, UI issues, and then there needs to be some sort of marketing to expand the user base and outreach of the program.

If anything I would rather it become or specialized not more general.  Of course I'm biased so I want that to be in architecture.  Trying to be a program that solves everyones problems is not possible.

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20 minutes ago, AsOne said:

I am an architect.  I use FormZ as my primary 3D modeler on every project.  I transfer that information to Vectorworks for construction drawings or anything involving notes, text, formatting on a sheet.  I have built a system for the two to "talk" and it's an ok system.  It could be a lot better if FormZ had the basic capability to reference other file types (DWG in my case).  I would LOVE to see Referenced files that are always placed at the same world coordinates (relative to a 0,0,0, point).  That way if I need to import consultant data, another 3D model, or my own 2D work from Vectorworks I can do it ONE TIME and then every time the referenced file is updated I won't have to re import.  This would allow fluid and fast communication between two programs.  Essentially extending the new Reference file capability to file types beyond .fmz.  I know the current Reference file capability leaves a lot to be desired, but at least it is a start.

I agree 100% with the need to clean up the UI, fix the bugs, and improve import export.  I would rather ditch some of the customization of the UI for stability.   Occasionally I have to reset the Workspace and I don't mess around with the palettes anymore now I have them where I want them.  For a new user the UI would be difficult.  Palettes still can get completely lost and the scrolling speed through the dock is very slow.  Even the fact that I have to hold Option to scroll the Dock is unintuitive.  Who would know this if you just started in the program?  I really miss having a scroll bar in the dock.

However I believe the desire to have a "one stop shop" is unrealistic in todays marketplace IMHO.  Sure it might work out for one person, but is there a program that does it all - for everyone?  There isn't really.  Sure some do people find one program that works, but for many a hybrid approach is the best way to go.  There are too many diverse needs and workflows out there.  I could care less about FormZ adding tools to add notes, dimensions, text.  Useless for me.  I would rather do that in a program already well suited for that task.  There would need to be such a quantum leap in FormZ's ability there to get me to use it given how far advanced Vectorworks is in this regard.  There are other priorities in my opinion for FormZ.  I understand why they came out with Layout (I presume to compete with SketchUp) and I use Layout to export my information (plans, sections, elevations) to Vectorworks, but I don't need them to spend time trying to make it a full fledged production program.  

For some the modeling in SketchUp is just enough and so is their layout program.  For me it isn't nearly robust enough in either department.  Does Rhino, Modo, Cinema have a way to create construction documents, full of notes, dimensions, and specifications?  REVIT may be amazing at production work, but it sucks at fast fluid modeling.  Is there a program that models fast, also has amazing rendering capabilities, AND produces construction documents?  And that works equally well for a one man shop, a small firm, a big firm, product design, architecture, visualization specialists?   

I hear the complaints about 2D work.  Seems legit and it would help my workflow.   I guess I don't care that much as I can do that work in Vectorworks.  However, until we get referenced DWG files it still takes way too much time to keep reimporting information from outside the program.

I would rather FormZ concentrate on its strength - fast fluid solid modeling and quick texturing/rendering.  At the same time the weaknesses need to be fixed:  bugs, UI issues, and then there needs to be some sort of marketing to expand the user base and outreach of the program.

If anything I would rather it become or specialized not more general.  Of course I'm biased so I want that to be in architecture.  Trying to be a program that solves everyones problems is not possible.

Good stuff!  I agree, and I know they are addressing many of these things, it's just a large task for a small development team, which just takes longer.  Draft Layout works fine for my basic needs, but I do miss being able to simply Copy and Paste from my FormZ modeling window into Layout/Draft.  Hopefully this can be re-implemented as the Import from Modeling is a bit chunky and slower to use.

Rhino does have a Layouts function as well but it's solid modeling and texturing is not quite as fast and fluid as FormZ.  But they have great documentation, check out this documentation explaining how to use Layouts for Rhino.  We desperately need this sort of documentation for FormZ Draft Layout and other tools. - https://wiki.mcneel.com/rhino/layouts5

Quick note, the Palette Dock scrolling was an issue for me too, and after reporting it,  they fixed it a couple of releases ago, at least on the Windows version I'm using.  No need to hold any extra buttons to scroll, and the scroll speed matches with the modeling zoom speed, which I have set to one zoom step per scroll wheel notch.  This setup is impossible if you aren't using a scroll wheel mouse with the defined 'notches', but if you are, it makes for a very precise and easy zoom navigation.  

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In fairness I only use Layout to export my info to Vectorworks.  It works quite well for that.  I never used the old version so I don't know what I'm missing I guess.

More documentation would be awesome.  Maybe they can have Evan Troxel implement his videos natively and/or have him do more for v9, + Layout and Vray.  An active YouTube channel would be awesome.

I set my Mac scrolling speed to the fastest setting and it does seem improved.   It is still slower than any other program, but that helped a lot.

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