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My design coworkers use Vectorworks to map out floor plans and build mockup 3D building models. I take those designs and apply cost estimates/run analysis using excel. How can I streamline this pipeline from VW to Excel?


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I don't have Vectorworks on my machine so I can't really play around with it and my remote coworkers using Vectorworks don't know how to use excel.  I've tried googling this question but without having ever used Vectorworks and not having access to the software makes it hard to grasp the true capabilities. Below is some basic info on the current uses/workstream. I'm just trying to get an understanding of what is possible before I go through the process of requesting and trying to learn the program. Any advice or guidance is greatly appreciated. 

 

Vectorworks Uses

  • Calculate building and area square footage of existing buildings using floor plans/blueprints/schematic designs
  • Draw over existing floor plans to create new space program w/ new square footage estimates by area
  • Create new floor plans w/ square footages (aka creating a theoretical, made up floor plan for an unconstructed building)
  • Create basic building models w/ square footages for design concept only (I think they are using Vectorworks for this)

 

Excel Uses

  • Use floorplans/space program created in Vectorworks to generate basic construction cost estimates based on the type of space the design created, the area size, the level of renovation needed, etc
  • The cost assumptions are all within an excel model
  • The assumptions being used in the model from Vectorworks/designer include: area type (admin, kitchen, theater, ballroom, etc), area size (square footage), level of renovation required (provided by designer verbally/via email, I would like this to be tagged to the specific space in vectorworks if possible), and other qualitative information that is provided either verbally or via text, separately from Vectorworks
  • The vectorworks/design assumptions are sent via pdf and inputted manually into the model by the excel user

 

Desired Workstream

  • Vectorworks directly connects to Excel workbook to create datasheet that is used to feed excel model directly (I would create the excel functionality, I would just need Vectorworks to be able to provide the live/connected datasheet w/ all of the space program information (area, type, size, name, etc)
  • Is it possible to create an information form in vectorworks for every time a new area is mapped in vector works (example: designer draws a new lobby area in vectorworks and in a templated form the designer enters qualitative information about the lobby area that they just drew....the information submitted in this form would be included in datasheet that is being exported/connected to excel

 

***To put this in simplest terms, here is the existing workstream:***

  • designer draws space, space has type, space has square footage, designer provides 5 pieces of standard descriptive information about the space, designer sends space/info as a PDF
  • excel user takes pdf, inputs space type, space square footage, and space descriptors into an excel model manually, model spits out analysis/cost estimate
  • Having all of the information in bullet point 1 be provided in an excel sheet would simplify this greatly.

  

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Vectorworks can export directly to excel and import directly from excel through worksheets in Vectorworks.

 

Worksheets are like a cross between an excel spreadsheet and a database.  

 

Data (like area of objects) can be extracted directly to the worksheet.  The worksheet can be exported directly to excel.

 

However, the worksheet can do what you are now doing in excel.  And be connected live to new objects.

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16 minutes ago, michaelk said:

Vectorworks can export directly to excel and import directly from excel through worksheets in Vectorworks.

 

Worksheets are like a cross between an excel spreadsheet and a database.  

 

Data (like area of objects) can be extracted directly to the worksheet.  The worksheet can be exported directly to excel.

 

However, the worksheet can do what you are now doing in excel.  And be connected live to new objects.

 

 

Thanks for the quick response...very helpful...I just have a few follow up questions for clarity 

 

1) Data for a given space is extracted directly into the vectorworks worksheet...can descriptive text also be added to the vectorworks worksheet for a given area (ex...column in worksheet for "floor type" which the designer would enter manually as text) 

 

2) > However, the worksheet can do what you are now doing in excel.  And be connected live to new objects.

>>> As in I would export or recreate the excel model within vectorworks using vectorworks worksheet so that the designer can see the cost estimate outputs and analysis outputs and adjust the floor plans/descriptive information as needed in real time?

 

 

 

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I would need to see an example of what you are doing with VW and Excel to be specific, but…

 

1) Yes.  If your designers are using space objects, then floor treatments, wall treatments, trim, etc can be attached to rooms.  The space object will know the area, wall perimeter, ceiling height, etc.

 

2. Not sure I'm seeing all the steps clearly.  But in general, yes.  The data can be adjusted in real time.  Moving a wall will change the space objects adjacent to the wall and all the information will be updated.

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22 minutes ago, michaelk said:

I would need to see an example of what you are doing with VW and Excel to be specific, but…

 

1) Yes.  If your designers are using space objects, then floor treatments, wall treatments, trim, etc can be attached to rooms.  The space object will know the area, wall perimeter, ceiling height, etc.

 

2. Not sure I'm seeing all the steps clearly.  But in general, yes.  The data can be adjusted in real time.  Moving a wall will change the space objects adjacent to the wall and all the information will be updated.

 

2. Not sure I'm seeing all the steps clearly.  But in general, yes.  The data can be adjusted in real time.  Moving a wall will change the space objects adjacent to the wall and all the information will be updated.

>>> you mentioned in your original response that the worksheet can do what my excel model is currently doing so I guess I was trying to understand the value in having it in Vectorworks and not exporting to the excel model. I assumed it was in order to make changes and see outputs/cost estimates in real time. But regardless all of your answers have been really helpful and have given me the confirmation I need to pursue this further. Much appreciated!

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If I understand what you are doing correctly, it is something that I would do in real time entirely inside Vectorworks.  

 

If you have a simple enough project you can post in this thread or send to me in a PM, I can take a look at it.

 

Vectorworks is really good at extracting data from the drawing and doing math with that data.  And using worksheets to manipulate parametric objects in the drawing.  

 

That's sort of Vectorworks' thing.

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7 minutes ago, michaelk said:

That's sort of Vectorworks' thing.

 

Yes, & adding to these great recommendations:

In VW there are 2 main options for automatic data harvesting:  Worksheets & ODBC /(SQLite)

  • Worksheets can be refreshed & exported to Excel or
  • You can setup a live Connection between VW & Excel using ODBC /(SQLite)

 

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If the VW data is the more important part, then doing it all in VW makes sense.

 

If you have an external database that contains all of the costing info and that is regularly updated, then you are better off extracting and doing in Excel. Trying to bring that into VW on a regular basis will be difficult.

 

How often are you doing this?  If it is once a week or even once a day, then an export from VW is probably the better way to proceed. The process can probably be defined in just a few hours and then you have a recipe you just repeat.

 

If you are doing this to multiple files a day, or if you frequently go back and update the VW data and need to redo the excel, then the database link is probably the better idea. But it will take a least a few days to get set up properly and make it all work together. But once you have it, the changes in VW will basically flow directly into the database and Excel.

 

2054095176_HOWLONGCANYOUWORKONMAKINGAROUTINETASKMORE.png.efd298fbb7af822e8cf835efb37001db.png

https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/is_it_worth_the_time.png

 

https://xkcd.com/1205/

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