Life after/beyond PowerCadd?

PowerCADD & WildTools
dFA
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Re: Life after/beyond PowerCadd?

Post by dFA » Wed May 12, 2021 9:15 pm

Hi Everyone

Like a lot of other users here I am in the 30+ year range of PowerCadd usage. I remember eagerly unwrapping the PowerDraw 4 Boxed Upgrade when it came into the office and was drafting on a tiny mac screen as a summer student.

Trying hard not to be too negative with this long delayed PCadd update ...

I love to draw & I love drawing with Powercadd.

For different reasons, I also love modelling in 3d with Sketchup (as an aside, I seldom use any of the PCadds 3d / Isometric tools any longer).

For other reasons again, I am looking at more powerful CAD packages

The hitch is that I also love getting a new computer and keeping its system secure & up to date (along with all the other software I own) I have a very powerful 27” imac (stalled out at High Sierra just to be able to run Powercadd) and a new m1 mac mini that does run SU Pro 2021(unable to run Powercadd at all)

Things I can’t stand:

I can’t stand software that is not mac-like intuitive.

I really can't stand Trimble’s Layout ( a 2-d cad sheet setup application that ships with SU Pro) While It is less buggy than it used to be, but still not what I would consider a professional level piece of cad software (may be fine for ‘hobby’ level enthusiast) It is painfully slow and has only very rudimentary drafting tools.

For a couple of years now, I have trying to get up to speed with Chief Architect for more efficiently producing residential work construction documents - and still stumped on a lot of the techniques required to get up and over the steep learning curve. I would not call this software package ‘intuitive’ - however it seems contain a lot of powerful programming set up specifically for residential projects and can produce some impressive looking sets for users that understand all its quirks and workaround techniques.

The advantages of deriving 2d drawings from a detailed 3d model are obviously significant.

CA is similar to Sketchup+Layout but CA instead uses parametric-based ‘smart’ objects. The Chief Architect sheet layout mode (also confusingly called Layout) is set up to integrate linked elevations, sections, perspectives etc into a construction set format with automatic numbering, labelling, schedules (all that stuff that is mind-numbing to set up and revise manually). There are hundreds of video tutorials to explain all the various tips, tools, defaults and other settings. Make a change in the model and the drawing set is automatically updated throughout.

I see that others are making an even bigger jump up to Vectorworks - that looks like better software but then again about 2 or 3x the cost of CA. Curious if others have tried the two to be able to offer any comparisons.

I feel that I am not always in need of a full blown BIM program but that seems to be the way of the future now that personal computers are now able to handle that level of complexity. It is quite impressive to be able to generate detailed material take-offs or a produce a wall framing layout in a split second (for example). The key for me is keeping the modelling & detailing process simple, logical and efficient. I could see drawing 2d details in PCadd to import onto CA sheets working well.

To answer your question, Alfred we probably don’t need it to be much more powerful than it already is - at a minimum we just simply want an update for PowerCadd+WT to run ‘as-is’ on current the mac os (including apple silicon machines) so we can all finally upgrade our operating systems, other software and still access our years of project files (& not just rely on an old mac mini sitting in the corner as a repository). We’re tempted to abandon the program for the sole reason that it will not currently work alongside the other software we use daily on our work computers.

I have been using Trimble’s Sketchup Pro more and more (for 20+ years easily) but still hitting serious performance roadblocks with Trimble’s accompanying ‘Pro’ Layout as I mentioned earlier.

I have tried and vowed never again to attempt to complete a full set of drawings using the lame-*ss Trimble Layout with Sketchup (hence the investment in CA). I’ve successfully used LO for a few very small projects but many more times I have abandoned the process and finished off the drawing sets using Powercadd for annotations and dimensioning.

People on the SU Forums have for years been crying out for big time improvements to the 2d cad drafting tools in Layout. If that eventually happens then great - or if PowerCadd can grow to accomplish this more easily, then that would also be great - a lot of us are desperate waiting for some sort of a performance breakthrough one way or another.

So like others in the Forum, I have completed several projects using imported Sketchup files onto PowerCadd sheets and layering dimensions and notes into the final PCadd set. It is possible to do this by placing the imported images as references and updating them as required - still not ideal however and I don’t want to continue using this workaround solution. The Powercadd reference placing method seems pretty ‘old school’ and could perhaps benefit from a ‘rethink’ (?) The multi-step sequence requires exporting an image file from the SU 3d model (updates replacing any previous version), referencing the file onto a Powercadd sheet and rescaling if required, adjusting the SU Model and then re-exporting the image(s) and then updating the reference file in Powercadd … repeating the process as necessary for all linked reference files. A lot of clunky steps but it works.

Alfred, I think you’d mentioned looking into the possibility of bridging Sketchup with PCadd using copy/paste between the programs. Perhaps we could convince you to look into developing a more streamlined process to import SU 3d-model saved views into PCadd (similar to how Layout does with its viewports to control scale and rendering style but directly into the Powercadd drawing instead) that would certainly help breathe some new life into the PCadd/WT software.

I suppose in a perfect world, Trimble would offer to partner up, buy out or licence the PCadd + WT drafting tool approach to fully integrate its 2d and 3d programs within the Sketchup platform umbrella.

In an ‘almost perfect world’, PowerCadd could help fill this void. Simplifying this old fashioned clunky indirect reference technique with live SU viewports instead would really be a big move forward for many of us and might even bring in a lot of new users to Powercadd also fed up with the poor performance of SU’s Layout.


Anyway - sorry for the long rant but you did ask what else we wanted (!)

Dave F

johncruet48
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Re: Life after/beyond PowerCadd?

Post by johncruet48 » Wed May 12, 2021 9:51 pm

Just finished a design presentation using Vectorworks Architect 2020. What stumps me is the "viewport" function. Still can't figure out how it works.I find I cannot mix different scales on one document. I had to develop two documents- one with plans-elevations and one with sections. I really love the renderings developed with this program from Renderworks. Sketchup can't compare.

I still want to continue with Powercadd. Its tools for developing details are phenomenal. It had a great text handling function which allows me to cut and paste text from Word into PowerCADD. I actually can transfer stuff from VW to PowerCadd using DWG.

But life after PowerCADD? I want to continue with Apple. Apple computers are phenomenal. They even run Windows better than PC's do via Bootcamp.

So I am hoping that there is the 64 bit PowerCADD in the pipe line. No other 2D program comes close.

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Alfred Scott
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Re: Life after/beyond PowerCadd?

Post by Alfred Scott » Wed May 12, 2021 10:29 pm

Dave,

I’m guessing it will be about six months before we will have a 64-bit PowerCADD. The difficult part is that PowerCADD is all dependent on Apple’s 32-bit carbon framework that is at the base of OSX, and all of the user interface stuff like windows and menus has to be moved over to Apple’s Cocoa which is the 64-bit replacement for carbon.

WildTools is in very good shape as all of the tool dialogs, NIBs and views are Cocoa and fully modern. No translation needed to 64-bit.

I’m also signed up as a SketchUp developer and I have done some things with their SDK (software development kit) which is 64-bit.

We already have copy and paste with PowerCADD & FormZ with OpenClip, and I’d like do the same with SketchUp using the same OpenClip mechanism.

But what I would really like to see happen is for PowerCADD to import SketchUp and FormZ files as reference files. That’s essentially what LayOut does, so that after you make changes to your 3D models, you ask PowerCADD to update the reference files, like it already does for PowerCADD reference files, and then the changes will be in your PowerCADD file.

Have I set the bar too low?

Alfred

dFA
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Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2021 4:23 pm

Re: Life after/beyond PowerCadd?

Post by dFA » Wed May 12, 2021 11:29 pm

Thanks Alfred that is encouraging !

No - I would not consider your approach setting the bar too low.

That would sure skip a lot of intermediate steps between the 2 programs I think if you can directly link to the 3d model. In the past, I have needed to set up references from PCadd to the image export files from SU (PDF or JPEG or PNG or DWG or whatever) but had the extra steps of re-exporting any updates from SU to a the same export folder and then updating those updated references again through PCadd (no actual 'live' link to 3d model just reference links to the images exported from SU).

If I understand correctly, you'd be creating a viewport in PCadd to display a pre-set scene in the SU file (plan, perspective, elevation, cross section, bird's eye view or whatever) which is what I'd be hoping for. BTW I would much prefer to go back and adjust each scene in SU than have the ability to orbit within the viewport as LO currently allows.

Would be valuable to be able to control the render style, scale & other settings (shadows on/off ?) with the SU >>> PCadd reference interface if possible. I often make a duplicate page in a set to show the same drawing sheet with rendered images on one and line drawings of the same views on the other

As much as I complain about the program, there are a few things I do like about Layout - just off the top of my head

Drawing Sheets/Pages AND Drawing Layers (handled slightly better in LO I think than in PCadd)
These allow for easier printing of sets or partial sets - individual sheets in PCadd currently need to be reset before each page can be printed
Thumbnails of sheets/pages (can easily hide or rearrange order sim to 'Pages' or 'Preview' PDF docs)
Auto text insert (date, page title, page number) fairly standard now in most page layout software and useful in a drawing package and saves time
Also a single drawing layer can be set to apply to all sheets (useful for common guidelines, title blocks with auto text on a 'master layer' etc)

Clipping Mask ! Again - pretty standard feature in modern graphics programs but I often use to block off linework below grade to clean up presentation elevations

The warning icon to remind users if the SU file reference has not been updated to reflect latest saved changes




So glad to hear this might be possible to get in the pipeline - please let me know if you'd like feedback or more input


THX dF

Paul H
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Re: Life after/beyond PowerCadd?

Post by Paul H » Thu May 13, 2021 3:41 am

Alfred this is very encouraging, and dFA's suggestions are spot on regarding SketchUp.

Of course everyone knows this but silence from PowerCADD is not in their best interest.
Silence is like a magnet for ones worst concerns and the patience required "not knowing" can be very challenging.

PowerCADD and WildTools has been with us a long time and I trust it will continue to be with us a long time into the future.
It's "great software" and deserves our support during these challenging times.

PH

fred johnson
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Re: Life after/beyond PowerCadd?

Post by fred johnson » Thu May 13, 2021 2:54 pm

Hello John, long time no see..
Viewports when placed on sheet layers can have any scale. VW's viewport feature came in around VW2011, I believe, and are best understood with the concept of design layers and sheet layers, similar to ACAD modelspace/paperspace idea, which came in with Release 14. Over time I think the instructions for these became watered down in the various upgrade documentation so its probably best to consult original VW 2011 documentation and VW 2011-2012 YouTube videos for the original concept implementation; you can also find training manuals of that era, which were very complete, on ebay. Viewports, etc.. can be a powerful 2D or 3D tool and other software packages use it in some form or another. PC/WT may wish to go in this direction in the future.

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Alfred Scott
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Re: Life after/beyond PowerCadd?

Post by Alfred Scott » Thu May 13, 2021 3:44 pm

May I refer you to the post in WildTools Developments on March 11, 2020:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=120&start=10#p590
Alfred’s forum posts and notes to beta testers regarding WildTools 10.6 have caused some confusion about the direction of Engineered Software and PowerCADD. This post is to clarify Engineered Software’s direction regarding PowerCADD.

In 2014 Engineered Software began the conversion of PowerCADD to the Mac’s 64-bit architecture. The first of that conversion was released as 9.1.4 which removed a large swath of dependence upon legacy system routines. Later 9.1.6 was released which continued that effort and added numerous stability and performance improvements. WildTools 10.1.3 was released at that time as well. Since the release of 9.1.6 we have continued the improvements to PowerCADD and the addition of additional features to WildTools. There was to be a coordinated release of these improvements with PowerCADD 9.5 and WildTools 10.x.x. However, Apple moved faster than expected phasing out the 32-bit libraries on which PowerCADD 9 and WildTools 10 are dependent. Seeing the speed with which Apple was obsoleting the 32-bit architecture, the interim PowerCADD 9.5, which still supported the 32-bit OS, was set aside so as not to waste additional development resources on the now-obsolete 32-bit MacOS. Our full attention, beginning in 2018, has been on rewriting the core of PowerCADD and its interface to the 64-bit architecture. We expect the 64-bit version to be released as PowerCADD 10 late 2020.

The PowerCADD 10 supports many of the most user-requested features which were impossible to retrofit into the 32-bit PowerCADD 9: dark mode, tabbed windows, full memory access, fully revamped plugin architecture, modern Cocoa interface, 64-bit performance and more. PowerCADD 10 remains the familiar PowerCADD platform you know.

At Engineered Software our entire focus is to make a clean and absolute transition to the 64-bit OS. As such, no additional development is expected to 32-bit PowerCADD 9 outside of maintenance release.

Todd
For as long as I've been involved in programming with PowerCADD and WildTools, I have never seen software completed on a projected date in the future. This is particularly true when there are substantial changes to the base of PowerCADD or the MacOS.

Alfred

PeterKona
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Re: Life after/beyond PowerCadd?

Post by PeterKona » Thu May 13, 2021 4:23 pm

Alfred Scott wrote:
Wed May 12, 2021 2:02 pm


I suppose 64-bit when we get there might have some benefit, but the purpose is to allow for impossibly large files and you can have 50MB drawing files now but nobody does that.


Alfred Scott
I have 90 MB files. Working just fine. I didn't know I wasn't supposed to. (this is due to bloated imports).

PeterKona
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Re: Life after/beyond PowerCadd?

Post by PeterKona » Thu May 13, 2021 4:37 pm

Dave F: "The multi-step sequence requires exporting an image file from the SU 3d model (updates replacing any previous version), referencing the file onto a Powercadd sheet and rescaling if required, adjusting the SU Model and then re-exporting the image(s) and then updating the reference file in Powercadd … repeating the process as necessary for all linked reference files. A lot of clunky steps but it works."
I do this , mostly with elevation via LayOut. I use a Mac Automator routine that is easy to add to the print dialog--"save separate pdf files". This routine takes a few steps (a little clumsy in design) with accompanying LayOut lag, but creates a consistently named pdf in the folder of choice for each LayOut Page. Then when you set up the reference in PowerCADD once, it's instantaneous to update at the proper scale and position. I just "Update All" to save time.

Sometimes I also import dwg from LayOut, or you can explode a copy of the vector pdf (which will be in the same position as a pdf overlay). That gives you snap points.

And, Dave, I totally disagree about LayOut organization vs. PowerCADD. I don't know what you mean PowerCADD sheets have to be "reset". The Print Sheets method, though simplified from the previous plugin, is seamless. PowerCADD is the best for a final compendium of my projects for quick, and organized output and editing. When possible I keep all of a project in one file. Understand, I only have my final sheets in the first page (and I have always found it annoying that this has to be in the upper left of the work space). Going to several pages, as my colleague likes to do, is a little more hassle.

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Alfred Scott
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Re: Life after/beyond PowerCadd?

Post by Alfred Scott » Thu May 13, 2021 6:08 pm

I just used 50MB as an example. I think the actual limit is 2GB per thread.

Alfred

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