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Vectorworks Architect

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For MacOs or Windows '98/NTPROS: Sets up layers, classes and sheets easily Manages a lot of documentation

Excellent for collaborative editing CONS: Lacks solid modelling PRICE: £625 More information from: Gomark on 020 7731 7930RATING: ****

MiniCAD has long been a popular choice among architects. The latest version sees an even greater focus on architectural design and yet another name, Vectorworks Architect.

Continuing the process of development, Diehl Graphisoft has produced an application that offers excellent value for money for architectural designers.

The Architect's Setup Assistant helps take the hassle out of setting up layers, classes and sheets. With your input, it establishes a drawing organisation based on architectural drawing sheets. Each sheet is predefined with the correct layer and class organisation and pre-set Layer Links. Now, everything you draw on your plans is drawn correctly on your elevation and perspective sheets. The Setup Assistant also makes it easy to add new sheets, floors and a variety of standard architectural title blocks to help maintain house style across projects.

Architect also introduces a revolutionary drawing-management aid, Task Manager. Simply choose which sheet you want to work on and what task you want to perform and the Task Manager will automatically set the correct Layer and Class organisation based on your task description.

The Issue Manager simplifies what can be a tedious process, the issuing of drawing sets. It can easily issue subsets or all the sheets in a drawing set. It automatically controls, dates and maintains a history each time a set of sheets is issued. It records when sets are released, by whom and to whom and automatically adds this information to the appropriate title blocks. This is one of the areas MiniCAD was weak on and the Issue Manager offers levels of document management most practices still only aspire to.

Linked to this are the new layout options to ensure that your reports and records contain exactly the information you need. You control which fields in your record display on your schedule. Custom schedules can be archived for use on a project-by-project or across-project basis.

A typical architectural project consists of many different records, schedules, wall types, door-hardware elements and room finishes.

With Architect, you can save these elements in different configurations or Project Preference Sets. For example, you can have a Preference Set with simplified schedules configured for residential projects, and a more elaborate set of schedules and reports for commercial projects.

Architect contains a suite of redline tools that reduces errors and helps track where your project changes are coming from. The Redline Suite allows you to manage easily the changes, corrections and revisions that occur. You can redline comments manually or use the Red Line Auditor to automatically redline a drawing based on a number of user defined tests. At any time a report can be generated listing all redline edits, the dates they were made, their status (open/closed), and any assigned memos. This is of great benefit to those working over the Internet or with large numbers of consultants.

Users can define an unlimited number of Wall Types, then save them in the Wall Types library for easy management. The new Create Wall command allows you to define a wall's record when specifying its settings.

Records can contain information such as sound and fire ratings, r-values and bearing information. Best of all, wall records automatically generate reports such as Wall Type Schedules.

Objects within Architect are more 'intelligent' than Objects in Vectorworks. They automatically draw in the correct class. Door and Window Objects automatically draw and emphasise 'cut plane' to your class standards and, when appropriate, pick up the line weight of walls. And the data you type when defining the size of a door or window automatically appears in reports and schedules, so you only have to enter information once.

Vectorworks Architect offers everything you need for all but the most complex and demanding projects. The inclusion of solid modelling would make it a truly killer application.

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