Nemetschek North America Press Day Report: New Parasolid Software

Flaherty said that Vectorworks users are 3D users; they are accustomed to the rendering engine resident inside Vectorworks, even before buying Renderworks, and the percentage of customers who purchase Renderworks is 49%. Vectorworks customers are early adopters, which definitely differentiates them from AutoCAD users who tend to languish with older versions and Bentley users, who enjoy software that is historically backward compatible.

In a conversation with chairman of the board, Richard Diehl, Diehl said that former versions of Vectorworks are supported but not developed once the new version is released. They really encourage customers to upgrade. This is the second time they have switched the kernels; eight years ago they switched from GSS to Solid++, and now to Parasolid.

Parasolid – Siemens PLM Software

Dave Shook, senior vice president and managing director for Siemens PLM group, introduced his company as a PLM software and services company with a workforce of 7,750. Siemens PLM has 5.5 million seats of software and 51,000 customers, and Siemens PLM Software is #1 or #2 in all market segments.

Toolkits behind all the products have components made up of Parasolid, D-cubed, PLM Vis, Geolus, JT Open, and PLM XML. “We are allowing our toolkits to be used by our market partners, Nemetschek being one of those,” explained Shook. “We’re not in the AEC marketplace. Partners don’t have to make the investment in Parasolid, it’s standard, We want to make sure it works and has features we need and they need.”

Shook noted that Parasolid is used by a number of Siemens PLM competitors including Dassault and PTC. “We like to think we’re ‘open by design,’ letting our toolkits promote interoperability. We have an open published XT file format. Parasolid is used by over 2.5 million engineers globally.”

With 2.5 million seats, the Parasolid toolkit is easy to embed, noted Shook, pointing out that Bentley Systems uses it.

Parasolid will allow Vectorworks to more easily handle the increasing complexity in the BIM market space, said Shook. “We are the least expensive Parasolid modeler on the market now and we are the only Mac Parasolid modeler in AEC,” Flaherty said.

Vectorworks Architect 2009

The new product, Vectorworks Architect, offers architectural BIM with planar surfaces, solid modeling, NURBs surfaces, and 3D parametrics, the latter added in Vectorworks 2010.

In the area of conceptualization and visualization, other products besides Vectorworks offering these are SketchUp (planar only), Cinema 4D and Rhino (both do planar and NURBs surfaces, and Rhino has 3D parametrics). Allplan is the same as Archicad but just has planar modeling.

“We are running almost all our 2D and 3D through the Parasolid modeler because they are almost 12 times faster (the 3D),” said Flaherty. “Conversion of smooth shapes is 4 to 5 times faster. Pricing is more expensive but policies are fundamentally the same. We shortened the cycle to 2/3 of prior length. In raw dollars it’s cheaper to upgrade to 2009.”

Although it is more expensive internally to have Parasolid, Parasolid is multithreaded, better algorithms are the result, which translate to speed gains for Vectorworks. “We are beginning to think maybe we don’t have to develop so much on our own,” noted Flaherty.

The bottom line, as with all architectural projects, is constructable 2D drawings, no matter what path takes the user there. “The big projects will be supported by paper for a long time to come,” concluded Flaherty.

The Parasolid Challenge

 Biplab Sarkar
Biplab Sarkar, CTO, Nemetschek North America
Nemetschek has prepared itself for taking up the challenge of transitioning to Parasolid, which everyone agreed is a difficult task. The way the data is stored in Parasolid is significantly different than how it is stored in Solids++. Dr. Biplab Sarkar, Nemetschek North America's Chief Technology Officer, said that 60% of the kernel has been changed out to the Parasolid kernel at this time, but the rest of the kernel will be incorporated in the 2010 version of Vectorworks.

Dr. Sarkar said that the file format is not affect by Parasolid. Data is stored in Vectorworks in a neutral way, it will be saved as a “blob.”

What will it be like for 2008 users interacting with a 2009 user? “There is a translation step because we have had to change the modeling schema,” explained Flaherty. “There are a lot of extreme cases in Parasolid that can’t be represented in the old kernel. For advanced 3D modeling, you’re going to want to upgrade. However, if you’re all in the same offices, geometry will be generated on the fly and shouldn’t have translation issues.”

Customer Stories

Mike Pacylowski, president, ProBuilt Home Solutions, a design/build firm, uses Vectorworks Architect on the Mac. A beta tester for the new 2009 version, he used Architect 2009 on a theater that needed theatrical lighting and used information from the county auditor’s office, plus shape files and census data, and Google Earth. Using a detailed sketch in Vectorworks, he can send all 2D boolean operations to Parasolid which is faster and turn the 2D drafting in to a concept of spaces.

In Vectorworks Architect, Pacylowski said, all the architectural objects have intelligence. Free form modeling is “becoming a requirement,” he noted, adding, “This gives all functionality in surface and solids modeling to create any shape.”

VectorWorks Landmark users can import satellite imagery to create DTMs and georeferenced shape files are also supported.

In the van on the way to the airport, I spoke with Todd McCurdy, ASLA, director of Landscape architecture and planning principal for Morris Architects, who was a presenter at the event.

McCurdy said that they are able to use a drawing tool in Landmark (Vectorworks’ landscape design tool) to do preliminary drawings of designs. They can then use Landmark on top of that original design, and then also sketch on top of the digital 3D model.

“We’ve chosen the tools and methods we have because they help us be better designers,” and what they find is the tools give them better flexibility and versatility, and help them visualize and present concepts, and “allow us to present our work in our style,” concluded McCurdy. Also, they spend far less time training others because the Vectorworks tools are so intuitive. “Vectorworks is not viewed as just a CAD program, it’s a design tool for us, part of our design workflow.”

More images from the conference will be posted on

Note: All travel, lodging and meals for this trip were covered by Nemetschek North America.

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