Wednesday 21 July 2010

Exporting NBS annotations to Vectorworks Notes Manager format

In the next two or three weeks we'll do an update to the Annotator that will allow users to export to Vectorworks Note Manager format.

It will work in pretty much the same way as the Autodesk and Bentley exports. The screenshots below give an indication of the process.

Fig 1 - Export the annotations from your project specification/schedule of work

Fig 2 - The exported file is a tab separated file that can be amended to suite

Fig 3 - Annotations can then be made off this file within Vectorworks.


  1. Great news Stephen, look forward to it.

  2. Stephen,

    We'd like an option to format the note as "Facing brickwork as F10/5A" instead of "F10/5A Facing brickwork".

    And if this can't be rolled into your first release as an option then we'd prefer it to be the default format on initial release.

    The "F10/500 LAYING GENERALLY" format isn't particularly driven by drawing readability it seems to us but rather by the way computers tend to work and by the limitations of Vectorworks' Note Manager.

    Our priority is to ensure our drawings are as legible as possible.

    I'd be interested to know how others view this.

  3. Christiaan,

    I think you have a fair point.

    Also the CPIC guidelines lean this way too:

    "Urinal and cistern N13/130" is their example with the CAWS code *after* the title as you suggest.

    Putting this in as an option seems to be the correct solution. Maybe as a quick win for the Vectorworks export we'll put this in as the default way of working and await feedback from others.


  4. Stephen,

    Thanks, that's interesting from CPIC. I think that may be where I got it into my head in the first place.

    In any case I've been discussing this with Jeffery Ouellette of Nemetschek and it seems you might better to stick with your original plan.

    My comments are based on the way the Notes Manager works in v2009. Whereas v2010 has been updated with a feature that gives the user more control over the numbering of keynotes.

    I've now taken a look at v2010 and it seems to me that while my above request would still be a useful option for a future release your current default may be better suited to v2010.

    In v2009 our keynote legend would typically look like this:

    1. Facing brickwork as F10/5A
    2. Concrete common blockwork as F10/36A

    i.e. v2009 appends its own numbering system, which the user has little control over, and which effectively results in a separate numbering/reference system for each sheet.

    The way v2010 works the user has a number of choices, including the ability to use the spec reference as the primary numbering system.

    Notwithstanding CPIC's example and my previous comments on readability this is quite attractive to us as it means keynote legends can have the same numbering across a whole project (i.e. is the NBS spec ref). So in v2010 our keynote legends will more than likely look like this:

    F10/5A Facing brickwork as
    F10/36A Concrete common blockwork

  5. I'm amazed by how many workflows and output types there are in construction compared to other sectors, especially manufacturing. I'm not convinced this is a good thing overall, and drives up the cost and chaos of building. That said, it seems very widespread among all but small projects that the designer's output is a set of drawings and a written specification, linked by codes/header clauses. So the automated import of codes/headers into the drawing program is a significant step in saving time and reducing error, and in this respect it's surprising this has not occurred before now. I agree that formatting options will be useful, however the basic stability and reliability of the import (and especially the ongoing project revision/updating) functionality is the most important thing. This means ongoing coordination between the NBS and the software companies, however it's a good reason to keep buying both programs if they manage this. What's needed, I would argue, is that standard practice forms over this functionality immediately, taking it for granted, and ironing out bugs asap, so that we can move on to object annotation/import in BIM models etc etc - ie all the stuff coming soon.

  6. I am currently using VW 2008, but have never been able to get the keynote and/or notes database system to work the way we would like. Not sure if this is a setup problem on our end, if it is possible, or if it would be possible in a newer version, either 2011 or 2010. here is the description: We would like to use vector script to create a new custom tool, similar to the call-out tool with a notes database, but one that uses only our numbered keynotes (06160.b = Plywood Sheathing 5/8")
    We would enter only the number from our established list onto the drawing viewport, and some kind of script would pick up the numbers used on a view ( or group of views), relate them to a database on our server, and produce a worksheet key-note legend that would appear in the title block of that sheet. Can somebody make this happen for us? We will pay$.
    I knew a firm that had this working in Autocad v8 and excell some 15 years ago...gotta be possible.

  7. Hi Anonymous,

    If you let me know where you are based I will put you in contact with someone who can help you.

  8. Hi Stephen,

    For the next release we'd like it to export the NBS reference as the VW Description and the NBS Note as the Vectorworks Note. (currently it exports the NBS note as both the VW description and note.)

    This would allow us to format our keynotes as follows, without needing to manually edit each note:

    F10/5A Facing brickwork as
    F10/36A Concrete common blockwork

    P.S. preferably we'd like this to be the new default behaviour, but we'd like the option to use the note as the description as well.

  9. Christiaan,

    Can you email me the example format you'd like and we'll see what we can do.

    One as the existing format. Then a second file tweaked to your preferred format. Maybe just a four or five clauses from F10 will do.



  10. We use NBS Scheduler.

    This tool would be helpful for our general arrangement drawings where we annotate Constructions. eg 420 Brickwork Cavity Wall, 600 Steel Frame.

    However, for our detailed assembly drawings we annotate the Work items from the schedule of work. eg 420 Clay Bricks, 420 Wall ties, 420 Cement mortar

    Is it planned in the future to include the Work items in the exported files?