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Best practices for responsive files and small files sizes?


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Is there a summary of all the best practices to follow to maintain an efficient drawing? From simple stuff like which curve type is better on down to which render settings and textures work better. 


Things like 'don't make a bunch of groups' seem to be tribal knowledge, that I've never seen in a FAQ. I work with a ton of drafters of various skill levels, and some of their drawings are extremely bloated due to well-meaning errors like grouping 1,000 chair symbols and grouping every truss line. 


It would be great if the VW staff could give us a little 'tricks' sheet. Anything exist like that out there?

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Sounds like a good place to start a thread....

Origin - Is Crucial and by that I don't mean user Origin but Internal Origin. It should ideally be located in the centre of your geometry.

2d line geometry needs to be efficient, Purge coincident duplicate objects, compose lines into single polylines, Edit - Connect Selected Objects can help with this.

repetitive geometry should be a symbol, any more than one instance required then any repetitions should be symbols. Groups are a useful temporary workflow but not sure why people continue to leave large numbers of groups in a file. If geometry is not to be moved or moveable then do not group it but 'Lock' it by using the right click command.

Any complex geometry in symbols should utilise the detail level workflow and be assigned low, medium, high accordingly. Your shaded render settings can then be set to low or medium whichever suits. The Viewport can be set to high if you still want to see everything!

Avoid heavy mesh objects, if you cannot avoid mesh objects can the mesh be simplified? Try simplify mesh. In an ideal world your file would only contain solids. Meshes can be converted into 3d polys - can be then converted into 3d solids.

Avoid high resolution textures, Make textures from bitmaps where possible.

Avoid leaving PDF's in an active file, Convert the PDF to a Bitmap.

Document Preferences.

Use VGM Cache.

Save Viewport Cache will reduce need to re-render but will also increase file size and performance when navigating sheet layers.

I often copy finished viewports and paste them as bitmaps when ready to present. You can always leave the wireframe viewport hiding under the bitmap.

Lighting and visualisation

Do you need all of those lights to be turned on? Any lights that are on do you really need them to cast a shadow?

Anyone think of any others?


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Small file size? Well.. Don't use textures/ materials. It's as 'simple' as that. In general each texture from the VW library will increase your file at least by 2mb... Unbelievable. VW should really improve this. There are modern image files format like WebM (https://www.webmproject.org) that can reduce this size without losing quality. But for some reason the VW developers don't  integrate this technique. 


This could in potential also reduce the size of saved viewport images.

Edited by MarcelP102
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Thanks Tom, this is exactly what I'm looking for!


The people I know who use groups do it exactly as you say- for ease of selection. For example, I have 500 chairs on my drawing, in such a shape that drag select isn't useful. If I need to move them, it's a hassle to round up each chair. Is there a better way to keep large collections of symbols in a quickly selectable format?


I used to have the same issue with truss lines, where it was more convenient to leave them grouped as the design was bumped and adjusted. I have been converting these lines to lighting positions instead, and so far it's a great workflow. Are there any pitfalls, or advantages, to using this method that I should be aware of?


ETA: I was just working in a file with massive LED walls, and discovered they were all grouped. This is probably one of the biggest offenders in my drawings, as each tile has a ton of detail. But again, selecting an entire wall of tiles is difficult, particularly in 3D situations. Is there a better way? 


To expand on the viewport bitmap, do you render full strength and then just change background render to wireframe manually?

Edited by Wood
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hi Wood.


So for ease of selection they really should be classifying objects well and then using the select similar tool for neat selecting of objects.


Converting to hanging positions is fine, however you want to streamline and simplify the geometry before you do this, composing lines, add surface, convert to polygons etc. Also if your truss spans/hanging positions are identical you could select create symbol instead of use geometry.


Editing Video Panels If these are symbols then I would assign their geometry to low, med, high, If you no longer need them to be symbols you can convert to group and then ungroup and then select the 'Tiles' and add solids, However I appreciate that you might want them to be symbols. Are these symbols?


Viewport bitmap,

Render viewport (best quality)


Paste as bimap

Set viewport to wireframe (Send to Back behind Bitmap) or delete if you no longer need it.




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@WoodI will disagree a little bit with @TomWhiteLight here.


Making a group of 500 symbols to make selection easy and to identify them as a "single thing" I think is fine and won't really slow your file down.


IMNSHO, the real point Tom was trying to make is the people who don't make a symbol of the chair, just a group, and then make 500 duplicates of that group. In that case you have a file that is difficult work with as when you have to make a change to the chair you have to change it in 500 places, and you get a bloated file because you have to store 500 copies of the objects instead of 1 copy and a list of 500 places to put them.



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On 1/27/2023 at 8:13 AM, TomWhiteLight said:

repetitive geometry should be a symbol, any more than one instance required then any repetitions should be symbols. Groups are a useful temporary workflow but not sure why people continue to leave large numbers of groups in a file. If geometry is not to be moved or moveable then do not group it but 'Lock' it by using the right click command.

Any complex geometry in symbols should utilise the detail level workflow and be assigned low, medium, high accordingly. Your shaded render settings can then be set to low or medium whichever suits. The Viewport can be set to high if you still want to see everything!



Also thanks ... 


Our workflow is assisted by the counting of Symbols, so any item should / could be a symbol. That said, our workflow has many permanent groups - Groups inside of groups. If there were fewer current problems editing Symbols, we might go back to more complex Symbols (ie: Symbols in Symbols).

     (FYI - We have yet to find a use for the Low/Medium/high options (and the effort needed) in our work flow.)


500 chairs should be in a group. You can lock them inside the group so the relation ship between each chair remains fixed. If you want / need to move all of them you simply grab the group and move a single item.


You can class the Group or name the Group in the OIP. Custom Selection will select this name. A script can be created and saved if needed.


1. Try reshaping a Group (grab a corner handle) of organized symbols (like even rows of Chair Symbols) and see how they behave.

2. Inside this group of chairs, lock a few of the Symbols, now try reshaping the Group. 

3. Now lock all the Symbols inside this group. Try to reshape it... Try to move it...


It is easy to jump in an out of Groups with Saved Views.



Questions - ¿ Why remove the PDFs ? (They are able to have snap to geometry that bitmaps do not. (Curious why...)




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Batch Create Textures (Color / Image / Shader) (Create a texture resource from image in a folder)


I am utilizing a Script from the Forum by Dominique Corpataux (?)

The script imports all the images in a folder and creates matching Textures. A complimentary script will re import the same image files and change (update) the textures.

If the images have changed. This allows a VW/RW  to have Textures created and placed, then quickly updated when revised images are available. (Graphics for example)


It also allow for an initial group of images to be imported, and mapped as textures. If the resolution is to high then the images can be altered outside of VW/RW and swapped for the existing Textures (Color / Image / Shader) with a Script. 



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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hi Peter, 


Some good advice there, also you can re-shape a seating section which might help your workflow. Then you can convert that seating section to a group.


PDF'S Depends on the PDF, I large PDF can significantly slow your file down.

I personally view pdf's and groups as a temporary workflow. In terms of PDF's I import the pdf, ungroup the lines if possible and then build my model. If it is rasterised then I still ungroup the bitmap. If I need the PDF as context and the rasterized bitmap is fuzzy I return the PDF but keep its layer turned off everywhere except the vieport. I try not to use a PDF for context.

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Good information here. Just to clarify (and assuming one is using symbols when one would expect) grouping does or does not impact files size?  Following the seating examples sites, I typically do not use the seating tool, so instead I manually create my seating layouts. When I create a section of seats (using chair symbols) I’ll go ahead and group it. I’ve never considered the implications on file size. 

Now, determining a proper file size for images for texturing, that is an issue. 


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One other note on file size and speed:


While it is fairly common knowledge that replacing as many arcs and curves with straight lines in 3D is a massive time saver for rendering, I did not realize that also applies to 2D objects. When creating symbols, the 2D portion will often have arcs involved. If an item is going to be used a lot (for instance, thousands of chairs) reducing unnecessary radiuses will improve performance; often significantly. 

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23 minutes ago, jcogdell said:

The use of favorite files can also have a big performance impact, the larger these files are and more of them you have,  the slower the resource manager and tool resource selectors will perform. While this may not be a direct file related issue it can have a large impact on your drawing speed since you will constantly be waiting for these dialogues to react. The root cause is that favorites files are auto indexed and refreshed by the resource manager every-time you open the manager/selector. The solution is to keep only a few small favorite files and instead use your user and workgroup folders to store any large custom libraries or content files as these will only get indexed when you manually refresh the resource manager libraries.


Is this still an issue though now that things have been reorganised in VW2023? This was one of the great improvements of VW2023 for me: no more hanging around for ages whilst VW searched my Favorites.

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In VW2022 I was having terrible issues with how long it was taking to choose resources saved in Favorites via the different resource selectors. I was advised here in the forum to reduce the number of different VWX files I had + consolidate my Favourites into two or three different files in order to speed things up again. But I was also told that things might be different in VW2023 because of changes underway to the way that Favorites files were searched/indexed. I decided to sit tight + they were right: whatever was done under the bonnet the effect was that in VW2023 selection was instantaneous again, despite my hundreds of Favorites files. If I ever have to do any work in VW2022 the difference is profound + pretty horrible! Whoever at VW effected this change, thank you very much it was time very well spent!


That being said the changes to the layout of the library folders is very welcome too. All good stuff.


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