How to create your own custom jackfield tools

What the jackfield and term panel tools do are to place a symbol instance on the drawing and convert it to a group in the class Sys-Devices thus making it a connectCAD device. Then the tool updates the naming of the jackfield device and it’s sockets according to the data entered in the dialog.

It’s exactly the same code for all jackfields and term panels the only differences are in the parameters and these are all customisable. That’s how we do audio, video, optical and data jacks without writing a different plug-in for each one. So here’s the in-depth guide to how these tools are set up.

Open the Vectorworks Plug-in Manager


and now we’ll take a behind-the-scenes look at how these plug-ins work…
Avoid experimenting on the standard connectCAD tools – it’s better to duplicate one of ours, rename it, add it to your workspace and do your tests on that.

Let’s look at the Data Jack tool


First select Data Jack in the Plug-in Manager list, then click Edit Definition to view the various settings

Now choose the Parameters tab


These are the default values for the tool parameters that you can access from the “spanner” icon top-left of the drawing area when the tool is selected. Tool settings are stored in the document and in templates so you can easily pick up where you left off when you re-open a document.

Jackfield tools have 5 parameters that control things like the number of patch points on a jackfield, the labelling style to use and the structure of the labels e.g. the range of characters used for IDs and the delimiter character (if any) that separates them. This is all explained in the user guide pages.

Moving on to the Strings tab


These text strings control various aspects of the jack device to be created that aren’t in the dialog. e.g.

5000 device name prefix i.e. data jackfields names begin with DJF
5001 input socket symbol name
5002 output socket symbol name
5003 device label symbol name
5004 default signal type (normally left blank since jackfields are passive devices)
5005 connector type



Where are the device symbols specified?


The “jack symbols” string group tell the tool which symbol to place on the drawing depending on the labelling style. So in this case –

label style symbol name

‘AB,CD…’ DataJack
‘A,B,C…’ DataJack2
’01[delim]01′ DataJack

and where are these symbols stored?

Further on down the rabbit-hole !!!


Enter the Vectorworks Resource Manager, select your current connectCAD document and located the system_symbols symbol folder.

On the surface connectCAD hides a lot of complexity from you but we always make sure that as much as possible is accessible to you should you need it. You have the keys to the castle but it’s a got a lot of winding corridors… so let’s go find these symbols.

the DataJack symbol itself


now right-click and choose Edit 3D Component. Why 3D? because all connectCAD graphics uses 2D planar graphics so you can rotate your drawing in 3D space if you want a funky look.

the DataJack symbol


a normal device symbol like the ones you save using Make Device. And completely customisable.

How to use this know-how

remember Duplicate – Rename – Modify

We always suggest experimenting on renamed duplicates of our standard symbols. It makes the way back much easier if things go wrong ;-)


Leave a Reply