Request: Getting linework with original layers to allow flexible detailing/drafting in Rhino

In general I find quite frustrating how little control I have at drafting stage, when I bring my plan and section view inside a layout detail. Having nice and flexible output for me was one drive to give a try to get BIM on Rhino. The current way works nicely in the turorials, a general out of the box solution, but as soon as you need anything different, it feels harder than make2d.

I know it has great deal to do with the rule hierarchy of block definitions and instance definitions, but it is not transparent what rule are present and which one was used in the hierarchy. I am still confused and trying all different combinations, but it doesn’t seem to effect the hidden view mode render. Instead of going to the style and all different places? I tried setting the style ‘by layer’ and components to ‘by parent’, but I cannot find the layers to control the style.

I feel this is so much against Rhino’s lightweight and transparent nature. Is there a command to show the rule hierarchy for a selected object? Or a panel to give visibility?

It would utterly be useful to be able to access / retrieve the vector linework that ‘hidden’ is showing, but with the layers (please do not recommend me to print a vector view as layers will be lost!). This way the bloated block styling would still be available for those who into block styling, but for us, who use Rhino for it’s simplicity and power, this would allow us full control of visibility, colours, hatches, lightweights as we wish, given the scale and what we want to communicate and we could also play with different look and feels in the normal Rhino Layout manner, which seems to get better in R7.

I will try setting all my block styles up for layers, but this feels painful and error prone.

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Hi @dora.varszegi,

One of the main advantages of using Plan View or Section View in comparison to the make2D is their dynamic nature, they reflect the changes on the 3D geometry.

The rule of hierarchy in VisualARQ is the same as block definitions and instance definitions, think of a style like a block definition.
When you set By Layer, the value will be the one set for the layer where the object is created. When you set By parent it will inherit the value of the parent, this means that if you set By Parent on a style the value will be the one you set to each instance of that style.

For example, in case of By Layer, all the instances of this wall style take the colors from the layer (each wall layer is in a different layer):

On the other hand, if I set By Parent, I can set a different color to each instance from the Properties panel > Object and Section attributes:

Regarding the layer values, from the VisualARQ Layers section under Rhino Options, you can specify a layer for each category. This is how they are set by default on VisualARQ templates:

About your last point, in case of Plan Views and Section Views, the layer information is already preserved if you explode them. However we advise to create as less Plan and Section View objects as possible, and use instead just regular views with the Hidden display mode.

I hope this information helps, let me know you have further doubts.

Kind regards

Hi Ramon,

thank you so much for taking that much time for such an elaborate answer! Very exhaustive explanation.

I understand the hierarchy of the block display, and that it meant to keep consistency between drafted details. Which is great and highly needed, one big driver for BIM in the first place. My problem is the heaviness, lack of transparency and the lack of flexibility offered by VA as a software.

In my book a good looks like when simple things are simple to achieve and complex is doable. When the software delivers a complex functionality but takes away the simple then it wastes time. I wish that instead of trying to copy other old school CAD solutions with deep menu systems, a new, Rhino-ish mindset was used for each feature.

I try to give you a few examples.

Lack of control at drafting. In an ideal world, if all CAD objects displayed themselves properly in 2D, then most of the problems would go away. But when joining walls, or when windows don’t trim / wrap walls properly, then you need to finer control (unless you fix all CAD block and bugs in the software). I find I have to fiddle around a lot to try to rectify those issues. This is I guess most of my embarrassment is coming from.

Lack of rendering transparency. The other problem is the lack of visibility at your fingertip. You have to click to visit VA styles (sometimes only accessible in the top menu), instance and layer properties to get a full picture in order to find out and puzzle together presentation details! Reverse engineering every time. You need to keep track of all styles you used, you cannot move the used styles on the top, or there’s no indication of what VA styles are being used in the model. I find this very heavy and 1990’s, to be honest. This is a very bloated user journey. I forget the display states by the end of journey. What would be useful, is to have some kind of a widget, ‘like gumball’ or a clever panel that could be turned on, to access the entire hierarchy and be able to interact with the tree. Block, instance, When hovering over in the tree, all the instances affected by changing that level would be highlighted in front of me. In this panel you could also see the 2D representation the CAD block of the instance, too. Everything, that is relevant to the final presentation. Walls and slabs: I wasted a lot of time by trying to remove lines at slab and wall joins. Ended up changing wall elevations to cover on the slabs and making slabs slightly smaller. It felt dirty hack. There may be a better way, but I could not find it (in 2.4).

You get a response from each command and when undo-ing, you can see which command is being undone. In my experience , this is not the case with VA. When changing properties of VA objects then undoing all you get in the undo image , unlike with Rhino in general.

In the tutorials a known design is being modeled / traced over (eg Villa Savoye), when you trace existing plans, no changes needed after the initial model is completed. In real life you want to model, then change in iterations many time during design. I find this a bit draining and often not intuitive enough. As an example: You want to replace a wall to a curtain wall, you have to clever about the order of actions as you may just lose your windows and doors by deleting the wall. You need to move the wall you want to replace horizontally first windows and doors stay in place and get detached, create a new curtain wall, etc. Or when you change wall elevations, window positions change without asking for confirmation or letting you know. Splitting walls horizontally I couldn’t find a quick and clean way for either. So it is just not a nice experience to change things at all.

Rhino is awesome as you know what is going on and every feature is available at your fingertips. You can also create walls and other components using command lines. I could not find command line features for changing va object though. I think a general vaEdit command would help a lot. It would offer the ability change the VA properties in command line, depending on the type of the selected object, instead of clicking in the rhino object properties panel followed by numerous clicks and scrolls to access simple properties like style, elevation or dimensions. At least if the VA properties were available as a separate panel, it would save you a few clicks every time. My most hated one being forced to create a new window frame size within the styles panel every time I need a new window size of the same size.

I also find that file size is growing on me quicker than bread dough and making it very slow. The slowness combined with the clicking results in a rather anemic experience, greatly affecting productivity, the opposite of why I love Rhino, taking away the joy and benefits of using a BIM software. The more you know your tool the more you like it in most cases, I didn’t feel like that about VA by the end of my project. I just keep bumping into problems.

I wish I had the guts to drive VA from GH, but I thought it would be risky with my current level of experience with GH when I started modelling a few weeks back. That would have helped the user experience, but probably not the rendering / drafting issues.

Otherwise I think VA must have an awesome development team, very helpful forum and leadership from. I am impressed by the people behind. Having worked in IT as a developer for 12+ years, I know it is very difficult to craft the right user experience, simple powerful features without bloated ‘journeys’. What I think your software benefit from is a good product owner / BA / usability expert to help the development team to offer the same functionalities in a lightweight manner, much transparency. Or making sure that features fit into the Rhino experience at least.

I hope you find my intention more honest or helpful rather than offensive…

just now, I am trying to figure out for hours why some lines are missing from the hidden view mode… (I am using no plan views)
I have been trying to change tolerances, no impact :frowning: these problems are really so frequent and painful that they make regret starting with VA in the first place. 3 hours again…

Hi @dora, thank you very much for your awesome feedback! This provides very useful information to understand the user experience and therefore it helps us to improve VisualARQ for future versions. Let me discuss some of your comments:

What method are you using to generate the 2D drawings? Are you using the vaPlanView and vaSectionView commands, or are you using the real-time views of the 3D model in Hidden display mode for showing the project in plan or section view?

In both cases, if you enable the Print Preview, you should get a good feedback of how geometry will be printed, no matter if they are VisualARQ objects, curves or other Rhino geometry. In case of 2D drawings, as Ramon has pointed out, they show the attributes of the 3D objects they represent.

We always recommend using the “real-time” views in Hidden display, since they can be printed to vector output, and unlike using “2D plan and section views”, it will avoid adding tons of extra 2D geometry in the model, which requires to be updated after any change.

VisualARQ tries to fit as much as possible into Rhino behavior in all aspects of the program. In case of styles, as Ramon has explained, they work as Rhino blocks hierarchy.
The attributes of VisualARQ object styles and their components can be assigned By layer or By Parent, in the same way objects inside blocks can take the attributes By Layer or By Parent.
However, “Section attributes” can’t be assigned by Layer, which is something we are planning to develop in future versions.

In case of Rhino blocks, you need to edit the block to check the attributes of the constituent parts. In case of VA objects, you need to check that in the Style Manager (Attributes tab), (shift+double click will open that dialog after selecting a VA object). Do you think Rhino blocks are more “transparent” in the way the attributes are inherited than VisualARQ blocks? I’d like to know more about your point of view.

I’m not sure if I get it correctly, but If you feel comfortable assigning the attributes by Layer, you can just work on a template where you assign each VisualARQ object style to a specific layer. (As Ramon has pointed out, it is possible to assign VA objects to layer by their type). Only section attributes will require to be assigned By object or By style.

I understand. But I don’t think this is so different than how it works with Rhino blocks. You need to edit each block to figure out the hierarchy of attributes.

Interesting! We can study how to improve this, and get a better feedback of the styles that are being used in the document, and identify them in the model. If this is relevant to you, take into account that you have the VisualARQ selection commands (to select objects by type vaSelWall, vaSelBeam…), or a command to select objects with the same style vaSelSameStyle

Walls and slabs do not intersect right now, so I agree it’s a bit cumbersome to workaround this limitation. We are working on that in version 3.

All right, I’ll report that to the development team.

We could create a command to convert walls into curtain walls, if this was useful to you. As another workaround, you can also extract the curve of the existing wall, run the curtain wall command on that curve, and then delete the wall.

Do you think doors and windows should stay in the same elevation if you change wall elevation or you move it to another place?

That’s not possible right now. You need to make the wall smaller and draw (or copy) a new wall on top of it. I add your vote for a command to split walls horizontally.

Ok, we will consider editing all VisualARQ object properties through command line.

They are. If you run the vaProperties command on a VisualARQ object (or double-click on a VisualARQ object as a shortcut) you will see the Properties dialog. But it shows the properties in different tabs.

You can create your own window style from a GH definition, and decide if the frame dimensions are parameters that are editable by object or by style. You can play with some of the examples in food4Rhino or in VA website. This one for example: If you import it and go to the window styles dialog, do right click on that style, you will be able to change the way parameters are assigned to this style.

This is something that will happen regardless of VisualARQ. I mean, VisualARQ relies on Rhino features (and the machine features, of course) to handle big models. The more complex and more geometry you put in the model, the slower and bigger the file will become.

I thank you once again for your comments, and I will appreciate further discussion on them.

Hi Dora, please send us the file to so we can help you to figure out the reason of that problem.

Ok, I will send it. It is full of mess of trying to fix things. Now I have a new problem of half of my slab gone missing. I try to get it to a reasonable state and send it. It is huge though almost a 100M.