ZTEK Posted January 27, 2021 Share Posted January 27, 2021 (edited) Hi, Recently I moved from Santiago, Chile, to live in the city of Seattle. As a result of this big transition, I started to research different software to expand my toolbox and capabilities. One of my goals is to find a new 2D/3D/BIM companion application that complements with formZ as best as possible. After re-reading many criticisms about formZ development and Draft Layout implementation, I decided to share part of my search, knowing this is a fundamental topic for us, the users, and AutoDesSys. I don't usually comment on other software in the forum, and this time I do it in a pro-positive way, hoping that my post could be useful. formZ is my principal design tool and central in my work, and I'm not looking to replace it. Like many of you, I would like to see some improvements and missing pieces taking shape at a better pace. Of course, but in general, version 9 is working well, and I consider it's evolving in the right direction, and I love to work on it as always! For many years, I have been using formZ on Mac along with AutoCAD for 2D drawing production. Both complement well for that purpose, and the combo is versatile, efficient, and productive. Nevertheless, it's a good time for a new change, and I'm proactively seizing the opportunity and looking for a significant upgrade. I decided many years ago not to use the 2D drawing module in formZ, although I always keep an eye on it and see how it progress. However, I have been using formZ to draw dimensioned plans of simple projects and other schematics directly in 3D using different techniques. For example, it works perfectly well for cabinet design projects. Before formZ and AutoCAD, I used Archicad for some years and experienced the BIM world. I bought a license long ago when I was starting my career. At that time, I thought that Graphisoft's "Virtual Building" concept was great. Some years later, I discovered formZ, and I immediately decided to buy it without even trying it. Possible prospects After more than 30 years of evolution, we can see in the A/E/C field developing players offering new options and possibilities. Along with the established and more traditional ones, all provide diverse and enriching alliances. As a result, some BIM applications no longer seem as self-enclosing as before and appear more flexible, with novel options versus the standard "Lego" type modeling approach that I tend to resist. By the way, Archicad and Revit, the big two competitors, are not part of my search. Already, I started relearning Archicad, considering there is a significant user base in the Seattle area. After my initial research, I decided to try BricsCAD and Vectorworks. Among other general and fundamental aspects, both are well-established platforms under active development. They evolved to the BIM realm more recently, with different kinds of implementations than the main actors. They look more flexible and seem more adaptable to different types of uses. They have direct connections with other relevant modeling and visualization apps and the necessary I/O capabilities. Both are 2D/3D hybrid software, with a good set of direct modeling and parametric tools, which I consider fundamental. And, of course, both are fully capable of 2D drawing and documentation production work. The test To test them, I'm doing a practical exercise using a small project I'm developing. It's an interior design study to see the options for remodeling a one-bedroom apartment with an area of 820 SqFt (76 m2). I started in formZ modeling the unit with its existing conditions, working as I always do and without any special consideration. Then, I exported the 3D data to both programs to obtain the plans automatically using their section tools, without drawing and almost any editing. Using demo-versions of 30 days, I have been focusing on the essentials but keep the mind open and experimenting. In simple terms, the testing process is the following: Test and define the necessary options to correctly import the original model developed in formZ, preserving the topology and the organization by layers. Check the imported model and edit the 3D geometry if necessary. Define non-destructive horizontal and vertical sections to extract the 2D information. Generate the blocks of all sections, placing them numerically in the workspace without further editing. Edit and organize the layers system to visualize appropriately the new 2D information generated. Minimal and systematized editing, by layer only, for better visualization of segmented lines. Create a drawing sheet with all section viewports and add a title block. Add some annotations and graphic elements just for testing, like dimensions, symbols, titles, notes, etc., and hatches. Export to PDF the test drawing sheet. On the other hand, this process is never linear and always iterative, requiring updates to the 3D geometry to correct errors, add more information or make simple changes. Therefore, it's essential to establish an efficient working method and preview a reliable and fluid system. Initial results to share After some intensive learning and a positive preliminary round of testing with both programs, I decided for logistical reasons to focus first only on BricsCAD, and I plan to return to Vectorworks as soon as possible. The following are my observations and initial test results that I would like to share. I'm very optimistic about what I accomplished on BricsCAD in such a short period, exceeding all my expectations. Because it started as a clone of AutoCAD, its interface and logic are very familiar to me, but I think other factors could be the main underlying reason. First, BricsCAD is a native DWG application, and formZ has a well-implemented DWG exporter, which I have been able to confirm after years of working with ACAD. Additionally, its modeling engine is ACIS-based, which formZ also uses to export its smooth geometry, with the option to include the facetted objects written as embedded ACIS entities. Last and very important, the 3D modeling module in BricsCAD shares with formZ some fundamental modeling tools and concepts with similar implementations. In the end, it seems feasible that both applications could integrate and complement strongly in the 3D work field, and not only with the more narrow-ish and specific purpose to produce technical 2D information, which was a great and very positive surprise. After my limited but intense test experience and base on those assumptions, I can say that moving to technical drawings production was pretty easy, considering that the 3D geometry in the formZ model has to be well built and organized. The process was quick, systematic, and very straightforward, with predictable and accurate results. I can visualize with clarity that it's also possible to define a fruitful 3D-based workflow between both applications, with multiple and enhanced connections that further facilitate and deepen the whole process. As an example, parametric 3D blocks, which you could model in formZ and parameterize in BricsCAD. All clear so far to me. However, I would like to add that a very intriguing aspect and a big difference could be in the next step. Although I tested it only superficially (and perhaps I'm projecting, my apologies!), if this application delivers what it promotes within its BIM module, it would be possible to define a method that allows moving from formZ to the BIM world. Files to share Due to the size of the files, I'm sharing in the forum some of them only. The others, including the 3D models, can be downloaded in the following link to a Dropbox folder for that purpose: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6rkb2j3vr3i1thw/AAB0--IWUjDS2kNLtyoWQu1Va?dl=0 The following files are attached: A PDF file with a simple topology comparison between formZ and BricsCAD models: FZC-BC-model 5 topology comparison 210124.pdf A PDF file with the Arch D test sheet with the drawings produced: FZC-BC-model 5 test sheet Arch D 210124.pdf Additional files in Dropbox: A PDF file with multiple shaded views of the original formZ model. FMZ file with the original formZ model for the test. DWG file with the BricsCAD model and drawings. Finally, I would like to say that, in the last two months, apart from using BricsCAD and Vectorworks for this test, I was also experimenting for other purposes with Archicad, Rhino3D, and exploring some 3D tools in AutoCAD. In this regard and before closing, I would like to say that working on my designs in formZ is still the best experience by far, like fresh air, and I love it! Take care, Marcelo P.S. I leave you two links related to formZ that I discovered during my search, one very up-to-date and the other techno-vintage and cool! Integrating Parametric Modeling With BIM Through Generative Programming For The Production Of NURBS Surfaces And Structures Lilian Silva (1), Neander Silva (2) and Igor Lacroix (3) (1,2) Universidade De Brasilia, Faculdade De Arquitetura E Urbanismo, Brasilia, Brazil (3) Centro Universitário de Brasilia, Faculdade de Tecnologia e Ciências Sociais Aplicados, Brasilia, Brazilhttp://papers.cumincad.org/data/works/att/caadria2019_103.pdf It Cost About $65 To Have A Cold Pizza Delivered In The Middle Of The Night To Skywalker Ranch The Intensive Previs Process On "The Phantom Menace" By Ian Failesmay 22, 2019https://beforesandafters.com/2019/05/22/it-cost-about-65-to-have-a-cold-pizza-delivered-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-skywalker-ranch/ Edited January 27, 2021 by ZTEK graham_g, Jaakko and johnalexander1571 3 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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