Our third public beta has some great new features in store for you to explore and experience.
Site and context
Site and context are critical elements in all building designs. Seeing your proposed design within the existing built environment enables you to be sympathetic to the surroundings while also creating a bold statement in itself. Aside from the 3d nature of site context, site data is an equally important part of the early design phase ensuring your projects comply with local site coverage rules and the like.
We’ve included initial implementations to get these new features to you quickly; we will refine and extend with future releases. If you have suggestions, contact us via a support ticket, and we’ll be glad to discuss your ideas.
With this in mind, we’re pleased to introduce the following four site and context tools to help provide the context for your next project:
Import site images
First up is the ability to import an image of your site. Use the Import site button, set it to Import image, select your Image and enter the dimensions and import.
The Image appears in the centre of the model.
You can control the visibility of the Image with new settings in the Display settings.
Import map image and buildings
Using the same Import site button, you can select the Import surrounding buildings option. You can enter and search for a street address, and you’ll see a small preview map.
Click Import and Spaces will bring the map tile along with any building data into your model:
Note: We use the OpenStreetMaps API to import building data. While this creates a good result, we can’t guarantee the overall building data quality. Also, note that we are not importing any terrain data at this stage, so the site remains flat.
However, the imported buildings are Surrounding Building items, so you have complete control over editing their height and shape with the existing footprint and contour editing tools.
Create site boundary
Bringing context into the model is one essential step; however, the images and buildings imported cover more than your specific building site.
Sketch the boundary of your site the same way you would sketch the outline of a building. Make sure you have the Site tool selected, and then tap inside the boundary you’ve drawn. Spaces will create your site boundary and display it in 2d and 3d.
The Site boundary works like other items, and you can edit it using existing sketch methods or the new Vector-based editing (see below)
With a site boundary defined, Spaces has calculated the site area for use in our new report.
Site ratios report
The Site ratios report provides an overview of the site coverage for your project. Select the Site area ratios option when in the Report view.
Note: a Site boundary needs to be defined in the project so that the site area is available for calculation.
The report lists each building with the footprint area and the percentage of the site that this represents.
If you have uses the Zone tool to define areas like landscaping, car parking, circulation, then these areas are summarised by usage type and again shown as a percentage of the site area.
We’ve introduced a concept of an ‘editing session’ into the app. It means that if you begin editing a building footprint, you need to either confirm or reject your editing session before you can do something else. During an editing session, all the tools except for those you require are disabled. Therefore, you can’t inadvertently select a different tool, for example, and potentially lose your proposed changes.
While sketching is a core theme for Spaces, we understand the need for increased accuracy and more precise control over your designs as a design develops. Those who watched out videos will have seen an early version of our vector or cad based editor.
Vector-based editing is available when editing item footprints and also when editing face contours.
A new setting has been added to the Drawing settings to enable Vector-based editing.
When this is enabled, clicking the Edit button will present you with series of nodes and handles for your current selection:
Dragging a corner allows you to move the point:
Dragging the midpoint of an edge allows you to change the edge into an arc:
When an arc exists, you can change it by both dragging the arc edge or the midpoint. If the arc gets close to becoming a straight edge again, it will snap, so you know it is now an edge.
Dragging an edge (not on the midpoint) allows you to extend (reduce) the edge:
Double-tapping a mid-point inserts a new node allowing you to change further the shape of the item you are editing:
Note: all vector-based editing is applied to your model instantly, unlike the sketch editor, which requires you to make all your edits and apply these. Therefore, the Vector editor doesn’t need the Accept / Reject buttons that the sketch editor requires, and you press the edit button again to end the editing session.
Double-tapping a storey in the 3d view selects the individual level you tapped. Now you can add other stories to your selection with additional double-taps. To remove a storey from your current selection, just double-top again.
With multiple (consecutive) stories selected, you can now edit stories quickly and efficiently:
We released simple stroke-based dimensions in our last release.
Following feedback, we have updated the dimensions to remain visible while you are sketching. Once you create an item as the originating strokes are removed, so too are the associated dimensions.
We’ve also included dimensions in the vector editor, so you get live feedback regarding your changes.
Remember you enable/disable the visibility of dimensions via the Drawing settings:
We’ve received a variety of feedback regarding the UI. While we are still pondering some additional changes in this release, we’ve made one change that will speed up your work and increase visibility.
The Tools menu is now a single level, with all the Tools visible. No longer do you need to click into sub toolbars to find the required tool.
It is also evident as to which tool is active.
The Annotation tools (pen, pencil, highlighter) have been moved to the Editing toolbar and are available when the annotation tool is selected.
As mentioned, we are considering several additional changes which will appear in future versions; if you have any specific feedback, log a ticket and let us know.
To prevent accidental deletion of a selected item, we’ve made the Delete button respond to a double-tap only to make it feel more deliberate. We prefer this approach rather than giving you an alert that you are about to delete something.
And yes, an Undo would be helpful if you decide you didn’t want to delete the item after all. We have an undo tool in development and hope to release it shortly.
On top of all the new features listed above, we’ve also knocked around 30 bugs on the head. Keep your feedback coming to continue to improve both the product features and the overall quality of Spaces.