In 2020 Fusion v5 and its service pack releases, you’ll see enhancements in the following areas:
- Background & multi-core processing for printing, exporting, movie creation and 360º panorama generation. The goal being improved user experience, speed and optimisation that help make the design process quicker and more intuitive.
- 360º Panorama enhancements
- Dimensioning, annotation, linking and the ‘Connect’ customer management database
- User interface enhancements
- Full validation for new Microsoft environments and the latest in a series of Microsoft certifications
2020 Fusion currently allows an end user to create, save and apply their own user-defined manual annotations; these are displayed in the ‘Manage’ area of the ‘Annotations’ section in the ‘Annotate’ tab. This new requirement reflects a desire for some organisations to standardise their use of manual annotations, operating to a consistency of language and content.
It is now possible for Fusion to present predefined annotations across a variety of installations, emanating from a single, central, source.
To achieve this, solution providers/configurators will need to create a new file called “PPSharedUser.ini”, the format of which is identical to the existing “PPUser.ini” file (used to store user-defined annotations).
They will also need to reference the location of the PPSharedUser.ini in the PPPrefs.ini file, which could be stored locally (as per the following example) or at a central (i.e. network) location:
[Customise] SharedAnnotationLocation = “C:\2020 Fusion 5_3”
Within Fusion itself, the annotations themselves are displayed in their own, dedicated ‘Shared Annotations’ section of the gallery and it will not be possible to add, modify, or delete these via the user interface in the gallery itself:
Please note that, once such an annotation has been added to a design, it will still remain possible to alter it using the ‘Modify’ (annotation) option.
360° Panoramic Views
When a request to create a 360° Panorama is made with the above preference unchecked, the following preview window is displayed. The preview itself possesses exactly the same navigation controls available as when viewing using a browser. At the bottom of the preview, details of the customer and dealer/salesperson email addresses to which the panorama will be sent are also included.
This allows designers to immediately view the generated image without the need to wait for the email to arrive.
As such, an additional preference has now been added, allowing either the dealer email address to continue to be used, or that of the specific salesperson associated with the customer/design.
It is also no longer compulsory for both the customer AND the salesperson/organisation email address to be populated; a 360° Panorama can now be generated as long as EITHER email is present for the design.
2020 Fusion now offers four quality levels which can be set in its preferences as follows:
The resolution options are as follows:
Low Quality (1024 x 1024 pixels), delivering the same level of quality as in previous versions.
Medium Quality (1440 x 1400 pixels)
High Quality (1920 x 1920 pixels)
Ultra Quality (2880 x 2880 pixels)
Example of low quality:
Example of ultra quality:
Printing and Export
In the case of printing, the balloon will appear when the print job has spooled to the printer; in the cases of exporting, movie generation and 360° panoramas, the balloon will appear when the resulting file is fully generated.
Now, whenever the application is launched, 2020 Fusion will check the state of any pending background processing tasks and report to the user if any return an error state. With this information, the end user can then (manually) launch the task queue in the Systray app and take any necessary action.
Now, each respective export format will have its own, dedicated settings. Fusion will not only save (to hidden preferences) any changes made to the settings for each format, it will also recall the export format most recently used when the user returns to the Export backstage view.
Note: some settings (such as ‘Include Info Block’ and ‘Include Border’) are already governed by existing preferences. This feature enhancement is only in respect of those settings that could not previously be defined.
For the end user, the movie creation and generation feature will operate in exactly the same way, with the only difference being in the actual output file – instead of a .mov file, Fusion movies will now be created in the .mp4 format.
With the removal of the QuickTime dependency from the application, Fusion’s SysChecker will no longer check for and report against the installation of QuickTime.
With the implementation of this requirement, the variable unit prompt dialog will now appear for all graphically variable units, regardless of the method in which they have been added. This includes addition of units as a parent item, via any form of linking, as replacements, or as alternative items.
In the case of Phone Numbers and Email Addresses, the file will contain entries for all those that have been set as ‘active’ (i.e. checked) via the ‘Phone Types’ and ‘Email Types’ configuration areas of Connect.
The export process will generate a .csv file, which can be saved to a location of the user’s choice and the customer sort order will be based upon that which is currently set in the ‘Find Customer’ dialog.
The .csv file can then the opened, edited and manipulated in other software such as Excel, for example.
Version 5 builds upon this functionality by now also allowing a designer to select and reposition (i.e. move in the same plane) multiple dimension rails, thereby avoiding the need to repeat the same action several times over.
In earlier versions of the application this value only affected plan view dimensioning; effective from Version 5, this preference will also apply to elevation views.
Version 5 builds upon this functionality by now also allowing a designer to select multiple annotations and reposition them in any direction.
All Items (Layers) Displayed:
Consider Hidden Layers (Unchecked) Ignore Hidden Layers (Checked)
The default state of the preference reflects existing functionality – i.e. for hidden layers to be considered and annotation of items to change dependent upon what is hidden or not.
Printing and Export
Version 5 introduces the concept of ‘Background Processing’ – this allows 2020 Fusion to take full advantage of multi-processor machines and for a designer to choose to generate any print, export, movie, or 360° panorama that is expected to take a long time as a background process – thereby allowing them to work on other design activities in the meantime.
In the case of printing, an additional ‘Background Print’ button has been added to the backstage view and can be applied to all print types (standard, tiling, worktop, installation symbol and batch print sets (including on-demand batch prints).
The same approach has been applied to image exports, with an extra button being added to the ‘Export’ backstage view for all relevant export types:
For movie generation, this will now be processed in the background by default, although a preference can be unchecked in 2020 Fusion’s ‘Options’ (‘Movie Generation Settings’) to make this run in the foreground, if preferred.
For Quick Print, the default is also for foreground processing to apply; however, a hidden preference can be added to the PPPrefs.ini file to always make this operate in the background. This will need to be entered under the [Customise] heading:
Tracking printing, exports, movies and 360° panoramas in the system tray
Designers will be able to keep track of the progress of all prints, exports, movies and 360° panoramas via a complementary System Tray application found on the right hand side of the Windows taskbar. This can also be launched from within Fusion itself via the status bar at the bottom of the application.
If several background processing requests have been sent by the designer, the designer can manage the order in which they are processed via this interface – either moving tasks up or down the queue or deleting them altogether.
2020 Fusion automatically ranks some background processing tasks as higher than others: printing, exporting and 360° panorama tasks will be added to the ‘standard priority’ task queue; movie generation tasks will be added to the ‘low priority’ task queue
There is no change in the means of generating 360° Panorama exports in 2020 Fusion, only the resulting panoramas themselves will possess the additional viewing functionality.
The minimum requirements to be able to take advantage of the 2020 VR Viewer functionality for Android, iOS or Windows-Phone mobile devices are as follows:
- The mobile device/browser must support WebGL.
- Only Android Browser V5 onwards supports WebGL.
- Only iOS Safari V8 onwards supports WebGL.
- Only Windows IE mobile V11 onwards supports WebGL.
- The device needs to have accelerometer and gyroscope sensors.
If the minimum requirements listed above are not met, then the panoramic image will still be available to view and navigate on the mobile device, but the specific ‘2020 VR Viewer’ option will not be accessible.
Now, designers can apply the same functionality as already exists for standard views, which is to show a wireframe preview of the batch print set (both predefined and on-demand), but still giving the option to display the actual renders used, if required.
The default state of this option will be controlled by the same (existing) hidden preference used for standard print previews:
PrintPreviewWireframe = “0” or “1”
PrintPreviewWireframe = “0” or “1”
If the preference is not present in PPPrefs.ini, then the behaviour will default to displaying a wireframe preview (equivalent to PrintPreviewWireframe = “1”).
Version 5 delivers an extension to the original feature which allows an on-demand batch print set to be created and retained for each design currently open, thereby making each on-demand batch print set design-specific, as opposed to (previously) having a single on-demand batch print set being shared across all open designs.
Viewing, Lighting and Rendering
As such, the virtual wall names (numbers) will now be generated automatically and the numbers themselves synchronising with the numbering of ‘real’ walls. Virtual wall annotation and dimensioning will now follow the same preferences used for automatically generated named views (the previous virtual wall specific preferences have therefore been retired).
A new preference has also been added which applies to all automatically generated named elevation/virtual wall views – ‘Filter Items Behind Primary Wall’, which allows the user to not display items behind the automatically generated named view. The default is for this preference to be turned off.
In the elevation named views area, the virtual wall named views are now listed in the ‘Automatically Created’ section, directly underneath the auto generated named elevation views:
Align to Wall
Align to Design Origin
In addition, the designer can now change the hatching angle within any given design – simply type the desired angle into the ‘Hatching Rotation’ field and press ‘Enter’.
In Version 5, the mirror design process is now also able to automatically mirror all ‘Print Areas’, ‘Dimensions’ and ‘Annotations’ present in the design, thereby eliminating the need to reapply these elements in the mirrored design.
Note: it remains the case that ‘autofeature’ items are not transferred as part of the mirror design process; the designer will therefore still need to reapply autofeatures to the new version of the design after the mirroring process is complete.
2020 Fusion Version 5 allows the designer to achieve this via new functionality available in the item list view.
Provided items are listed with ‘Group by Links’ turned on, any existing design item can be selected and linked to any other (at any selected point in the item list hierarchy). Or, if the design item is already linked to another—it can be unlinked from its existing parent to either become a main item in its own right, or it can even be linked to a completely different parent item.
The designer is assisted during this process by the ‘real time’ guidance displayed on the status bar at the bottom of the screen.
Clicking and holding the CTRL key whilst dragging an entry in the item list allows the designer to link it to another item; clicking and holding the SHIFT key allows the designer to unlink an item from another.
When the linking/unlinking action is complete, the item list is rearranged according to the sorting method currently in use (e.g. type/position, order code, etc.).
In Version 5, it is now possible for minimum or maximum limits for these parameters to be defined at the point of catalogue creation. This means that—within the existing Edit Unit Properties dialog—a parameter’s value would be restricted to an amount between the minimum and maximum values (if) defined in the manufacturer’s catalogue.
Although useful functionality, some users might prefer to always be notified on the occasions when this happens. Version 5 now includes a hidden preference that, when set, will result a notification dialog appearing every time such an automatic modification is made by 2020 Fusion in the Add Palette or the ‘Items’ tab:
NotifyIfDimensionExceedsRange = “1”
NotifyIfDimensionExceedsRange = “1”
2020 Fusion’s default behaviour is not to use this notification mechanism; customers will therefore need to add this preference to the PPPrefs.ini file if they wish to use this functionality.
Please consult the 2020 Fusion Support Team if you require further guidance.
Inspired by the existing user interface for the creation and management of Info Bars, Version 5 now allows a designer to create as many Info Block variations as they require – allowing them to configure Info Blocks for specific manufacturers or markets, or to create ones either displaying just basic or more detailed information.
Preferences have also been added allowing the designer to define the default Info Block to be displayed for each graphical view.
The user also has the ability to quickly and easily select between any of the available Info Blocks in each graphical view (Plan, Elevation, Perspective and Multi-View) in a given design. The selection made will be saved with the design and with any named views that are created using that specific Info Block.
Note: the process of creating customised Info Blocks themselves remains unchanged from previous versions.
For further guidance on creating customised Info Blocks please consult the 2020 Fusion Support Team.
User Interface / User Experience
In version 5, it is now possible to remove unwanted column headings without the need to recall the field chooser first—simply click and drag the option no longer required away from the other headings and release the mouse once a cross appears on top of the heading name.
Note: it is still necessary to launch the field chooser in order to add column headings.
- Designs opening more quickly
- Improved methods of allocating free memory
- Faster Block Evaluation
- More efficient import and export of 3D models, with some export file sizes reduced
- Optimisation of saving designs
Options: New ‘Notifications’ Section
This new section of 2020 Fusion’s ‘Options’ allows the user to specifically define the way in which pop-up notifications are presented for each of clashing, style details validation and 2020 Cloud item validation; three options are available in each case – ‘Off’, ‘Auto-Hide’ or ‘Permanent’.
The notifications pop-ups can also be set to be large (providing more detail) or small (providing just summary information).
The new notifications section now also contains the existing preferences relating to clash checking and status bar assistance, both previously found in the ‘General’ section.
Style Options Alerts via Style Details
The style options alerts dialog was previously only accessible when clicking on the corresponding pop-up notification, there was never an alternative means of generating this in the same way as is possible for the other notification types.
In Version 5, a new option under the ‘Default Style’ heading allows this dialog to displayed on demand, allowing the designer to address issues relating to unavailable items as and when most convenient.
Version 5 introduces right-click functionality allowing a list of the intersecting walls to be presented; the user can then click on the required wall number and the elevation view of the corresponding virtual wall will be displayed.
To the end user, the user interface and user experience when using Connect will be no different to before. Indeed, customers can expect improved speed of accessing records and opening/closing designs, as well a greater underlying level of stability and robustness.
Please consider the following important points when performing the MS-Access to SQLite migration:
- Ensure that no users are currently logged into the database (i.e. ensure that no one is currently using Connect/2020 Fusion).
- Ensure that nothing is currently checked out of the database.
- When migrating a multi-user database, it is recommended to initially migrate just one user, validate that the process has been successful and then, once confirmed, update the rest of the users.
- For older (and, by extension, larger) databases, the process may take a long time.
- Once the installation/migration is in progress, the installer should neither be interrupted, nor should the database utility tool be launched, nor should Connect/2020 Fusion be used at all.
- In the event of any doubts or concerns, please contact your local Support Team for advice.
Please note that any archived customers/designs can still be restored after a migration has taken place, so no specific action is required in this respect.
The phone types selected in the Options are displayed as ‘drop-down’ menu entries in the Customer Details dialog, allowing designers to enter all required telephone contact information in this single dialog.
In addition, any of the phone types can be referenced in Info Blocks and Report Wizard reports.
For Connect users, any phone types defined for the customer in Connect will also be displayed against the drop-down menu, but as read-only entries.
Pricing and Ordering
This draws even greater attention to items that may require changes to ensure that a price is correctly applied and also overcomes scenarios in which the ‘Price’ column may be hidden by the end user.
The existing preference in ‘View Settings’ has also been extended to reflect this enhancement – changes made to the preference results in a ‘live’ update for all designs:
In addition, the asterisk used to denote the default Info Bar has now been made a non-editable element of the Info Bar name to ensure that this indicator is always displayed. An asterisk is now also, itself, an invalid character when entering an Info Bar name.
For full details of all supported operating systems for use with 2020 Fusion Version 5, please refer to our Installation Support page.
For full details of the conditions of SQL Server support for 2020 Fusion, please contact your local Support Team.
As a previous recipient of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8 certifications, 2020 Fusion has also been submitted for, and has achieved, the status of ‘Windows 10 Compatible’.