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VisualAnalysis 12.0 Help

Creating Models

Use a Sketch Grid

VisualAnalysis allows you to draw your members and plates in the Model View. The most effective way to sketch models is to first define one or more Grids to work from. A grid lets you predefine the exact spacing and locations for nodes (joints or connections) in your model. To work with grids, Click on the Grid tab in Project Manager or use View | Grid Manager menu command.

VisualAnalysis offers a number of different grid types that help you lay out floor plans at given elevations. Normally you will create a number of grids and then enable (show) one or two of those at a time so that you can sketch elements between grid points.

Sketch a 2D Model

The easiest way to create models is to sketch them in the Model View. Before you begin you should set up the Sketch Grid and choose between drawing members or plates. Sometimes you might sketch without worrying about exact locations of nodes so that later you can move nodes to correct the geometry. With the Grid turned off, you are only allowed to sketch members or plates between existing nodes in the model.

Sketch a 3D Model

Sketch a 3D model in two phases. First sketch a wall elevation or a floor plan on a plane of the model. To do this, define a Cut Plane in the 3D space and turn on the Sketch Grid. Rotate the view to see this plane clearly and sketch as you would for a 2D model. Repeat this process for multiple planes in the model, changing the plane center to a different value.

Once you have at least two planes of elements created, you can switch to full 3D sketching. Here you can remove the Cut Plane setting to see the entire model and then rotate the view and sketch between any existing nodes. You could also create a Cut Plane in a perpendicular direction to draw members.

Import a DXF File

While sketching is very easy for most models, you might be more comfortable drawing in a CAD package. You may import geometry and connectivity information directly through a DXF file. This is especially useful for complex configurations involving angles, curved structures, or many offsets. The command is File | Import from DXF. Note that you may also import a DXF file directly using File | Open, however this method does not offer any options on the import and you will get default behavior! DXF File Details.

Create Nodes

  1. Use the Ctrl+D hotkey for instant access to the New Node dialog box, for one at a time.
  2. Use the Project Manager Create tab, drag the Node item onto the Model View.
  3. Set up an Edit Grid using the Grids tab in Project Manager to define the locations for potential new nodes, then you can just sketch members or plates between gridlines (the real reason you need nodes anyway!) You can readjust the grid or make new grids at any time to help you define where new nodes will go.
  4. The New Member dialog (also in the Create tab of Project Manager) allows you to create multiple new members by specifying coordinates of the end points (new nodes are created if necessary). If you really enjoy typing nodal coordinates, this is sure a fun way to do it!
  5. After you already have one node, use Model | Generate Copies or Ctrl+B to generate copies of it in either rectangular or polar fashion. (Personally, I find it easier to generate copies of members so that you get the nodes and the members created in one step!)
  6. Manually type coordinates: Use the Create tab, Multiple Nodes item to enter coordinates for a long list of nodes. You can also import the coordinates as text from the Copy/Paste Clipboard in Windows.
  7. Want to Import a list of coordinates, and more? Use the Clipboard Exchange feature! The easiest way to use this tool is to export some nodes from an existing project, then Paste the results into Excel. Use this table as a "template" for future import operations.
  8. Import a DXF file. (You must import the members or plates, you get the nodes for free!)
  9. Want to create a node at some distance off the end of an existing member? Use the Extend Member feature, specify the distance, then you can delete the new member if it is not really needed.
  10. Need a node at the middle of a member or plate? Just use the Split Member or Split Plate command found in the Context Menu (right-click). They offer multiple methods to locate the nodes.
  11. Want to relive the 1960's? Open Notepad, and define your model using the STAAD input script language--you remember the syntax, right? Feed this beast into VA using the batch mode from a command line prompt. Get results without ever having to see your nodes! Ahhhh, the good old days. 

Create Spring Supports

  1. Select one or more nodes graphically, then Right-Click and choose Generate Spring Supports... from the context menu.
  2. Select one or more nodes graphically, then Drag the Spring Supports item from the Create tab in Project Manager onto the window.
  3. Use the Model | Soil Spring Generator, to generate springs for a group of selected plate elements. Details.

Import STAAD Script Files

You may import or open STAAD (.std) script files as an entirely new project, also known as command language files. To open a STAAD file you may use File | Open, or for better diagnostic information, create a new empty project and then use File | Import STAAD/SDNF. The purpose of this feature is to allow easy data transfer of basic model and load information among different structural analysis products. STAAD has been around a long time and many programs offer STAAD import/export abilities. This command is not designed to read every .std file or support every feature of this command language. You may need to modify your .std file in order for VisualAnalysis to read it successfully. See: STAAD file Details.

Import SDNF Script Files

You may import steel detail neutral format files, as an entirely new project, using the File | Import STAAD/SDNF menu.

Generate Typical Models

The standard version of VisualAnalysis allows you to quickly generate parametric models of common structures or structural components. Use the Create Tab of the Project Manager to access this feature. The Generate Standard library includes options such as typical trusses, building frames, walls, slabs, floor systems, tanks, and more. You may also add your own parametric definitions for generating the types of models you create often. (See the chapter on Customizing.)

Generate Copies

You can copy any selected model objects using Model | Generate Copies. The following list describes some of the many things you can do with the Copy and Paste approach to modeling:

Menu and Dialog Creation

Sometimes drawing or generating models will not work for your type of model. In this rare circumstance, you can create models completely through the Project Manager. Under the Create tab, choose Quick Items | Node to create nodes at specific locations. Then use Quick Items | Members or Quick | Items Plate to create elements between existing nodes. This is normally more tedious than other modeling approaches in VisualAnalysis, but it is available if you need it.

Create Multiple Models

It is often helpful to compare two models side-by-side. You may create two or more separate models in a single project file. This works well for static analysis to see how different configurations or conditions will affect the behavior of simple structures.

Obviously, for large projects you will incur significant performance problems if you try to do this.

Import from Autodesk Revit Structure® via VARevitLink

Requires: Advanced Level

IES offers a free add-in utility for BIM integration with Autodesk Revit Structure called IES VARevitLink. This is a separate installation from VisualAnalysis. You may download and install VARevitLink from the downloads page. Instructions for using VARevitLink.