The market for architectural software in South Africa is opening up, as the growing shift to 3D modelling prompts firms to consider new technology choices. Vectorworks, long a leader in the European, Asian and Australasian markets, is set to gain as more architects discover its ease of use and low price.
MLB Architects in Cape Town (formerly Meirelles Lawson) have been using Vectorworks, represented in South Africa by Direct Distribution Services, since the mid-1990s.
"We opted for Vectorworks originally because we were avid Mac users and it was the best package available for Macs at the time," explains the firm's Quinton Lawson. "But there are only a few Macs left in the office now and we are still with Vectorworks."
The major advantage of Vectorworks, says Lawson, is its ease of use. "In fact, many of our staff who were previously trained in other CAD packages have really taken to Vectorworks after only a few weeks of use."
Partly as a result of this simplicity, says Lawson, "we think our drawings are a lot clearer than most of the drawings produced by other CAD programmes. The information is clean and Vectorworks produces very good-looking drawings, especially in the latest 3D versions."
Vectorworks has much of the power of rival programs despite its much shorter learning curve, says Lawson. "We use some of the newer features like viewports a lot, especially for repetitive projects like housing developments," he says.
The office has experienced no compatibility problems in sharing drawings with other professionals, he adds.
Vectorworks' low price is another selling point, he says. "We are a relatively big office with nearly 25 workstations; cost is definitely an issue. We use Vectorworks for just about every type of project, including page layout and design - it is very easy to import pictures, create and format text and move it all around on a page. It is a real multitasking tool for us."