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BobWeaver

DXF export that's works!

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I really don't want to start ranting, but I'm sure that everyone in this industry has clients that demand AutoCad compatible files that can be turned over to them once their project is complete. I am in that situation right now. The trouble is that the VectorWorks dxf export feature doesn't bother to export things that don't have a dxf counterpart. That is not good enough! It should convert objects into things that CAN be represented in dxf even if it means dumbing down. For example, worksheets should be converted to tables of text. I don't really care if my client has access to the original worksheet as long as he can get a visual representation of it into his AutoCad program, edit it, and it displays and plots. It's better than nothing. Even in the worst possible situation, any VectorWorks object should be convertible into a bunch of tiny little line segments.

So, in my current situation, I have resorted to using MicroSpot's MacPlot to plot to HPGL files and then use an HPGL-to-DXF converter to create the dxf file. It produces files that import into AutoCad exactly they way they appeared in VectorWorks. Of course, the downside is that the files are totally exploded tiny little line segments.

And as for dxf importing, I'll leave that rant for another time. smile.gif

[This message has been edited by BobWeaver (edited 01-30-2001).]

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I share your concerns. DXF is not perfect. In fact, it's quite primitive.

For worksheet exporting there's a workaround:

Group it, go inside the group, export as PICT. Now outside the group, import the PICT, immediately group the text blocks. You don't even have to delete the original worksheet or group because it won't export anyway.

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Kenneth

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Thanks for the worksheet tip. That has really been one of the biggest export problems that I have had to deal with.

Politics enters into all of this. When my clients send me a drawing, they don't want to mess around doing things like converting paper space to model space, adjusting extents, exploding blocks, etc. If I tell them they have to do this, they tell me that I should be using a better CAD system that can read their files as is.

When I send them a drawing file that should be readable by their system, I better make darn sure that it looks like the original drawing. I have one client who actually specifies that final drawings delivered to them be "Autocad files" not "Autocad compatible files." In other words, the drawings have to have been at least opened and then saved in Autocad to ensure that all of the data is intact. I can't really blame them.

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I hear you! I have the same clients! For me it's hard to deny the easy money that they bring. Money is money, right? smile.gif

I've settled on these procedures and softwares that make me appear "Autocad native:"

Branch off a DXF version for each export, take care of worksheets like mentioned earlier, separate doors/windows into separate layer (requires just a bit of adjustment *after* designing), center origin, use JulianCarr's DXF Manager to take care of everything else in VW, export DXF binary, launch AutocadR14 in Virtual PC to open same DXF document, use Autocad's Layer Manager to save sheets, save drawing as DWG in a Windows-formatted floppy or compress as ZIP in Win and email away.

Send a copy of MACIFY AUTOLISP (included with DXF Mgr or elsewhere) and persuade your Autocad buddies to use it on their drawings before sending to you. VW's import of DWG is decent after that -- though far from perfect.

Obviously the biggest help is having a copy of AutocadR14. The other software is well worth their few dollars in purchase.

My humble opinion and suggestions.

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Kenneth

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Kenneth -

Thank you for sharing your methods! Do you know if Autocad LT will allow the same procedure when opening exported files and making sheets? A friend wants to sell a copy of LT for $200 and I would like to avoid buying Autocad 14.

thanks -

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d. s h a f f e r

a r c h i t e c t

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Kenneth:

I wasn't aware of DXF manager. I will check it out. Thanks.

I have been trying to avoid purchasing Autocad simply for the purpose of converting drawings, but I know a few contract draftsmen that I could get to do the final cleanup.

Regarding my comment above about exporting a totally exploded drawing using the HPGL to DXF converter, it doesn't seem to be a problem with my clients so far. They seem to be satisfied that everything is on the drawing, and that they can edit it if necessary. At the stage of the project where they get the drawings, they are generally just archived and rarely looked at again. I should also mention that most of my drawings are electrical schematics or wiring diagrams, so layers and grouping are not as important.

Importing is not as much of an issue for me because I usually receive general arrangement drawings from clients, and then spend a lot of time turning off layers or otherwise deleting things. So, the stuff that VW doesn't import usually isn't missed. My biggest problem seems to be title blocks which are usually in paper space and import as a postage stamp. But, I can rescale these myself.

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I believe Autocad LT can import and export DXF. The Layer Manager feature, however, is not available in LT. It's part of R14's Bonus Menus.

Layer Manager in Autocad is very similar in function to VW's Saved Sheets, so when we create an entire drawing set that includes the site plan, floor plans, elevations, sections, framing plans and title block in *one* electronic document separated by layers, it becomes especially efficient and tidy to use Layer Manager to re-organize it again. It also intrigues the Autocad user to wonder how it appears so easily achieved!

What marvelous marketing for NNA, huh? The nice little clue that Vectorworks was involved is revealed in dash style names -- if dash styles are exported -- and if the Autocad person bothers to look at them. smile.gif

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Kenneth

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quote:

Originally posted by Archken:

For worksheet exporting there's a workaround:

Group it, go inside the group, export as PICT. Now outside the group, import the PICT, immediately group the text blocks. You don't even have to delete the original worksheet or group because it won't export anyway.


An even easier workaround if you are on a Mac is to simply copy the worksheet, open the scrapbook form the Apple menu, paste the worksheet into the scrapbook, then cut it from the scrapbook, and paste it back on the drawing. Voila, now it is just lines and text.

Actually, you can use this paste and cut method with any application that supports PICT files, I can do it in my word processor.

I don't know, after explaining this, I'm not sure its that any easier than the export/import method, just another way to do the same thing.

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There are, of course, a lot of workarounds for things, but I think it's unfortunate that we have to resort to these rather than just having a clean dxf export function.

I guess part of the problem is how you perceive the cad file, as a model, or as a drawing. I look at it as drawing and, as such, I expect everything that I see on the drawing should export. I suppose if you treat it as a model with multiple possible views, then it make the export situation more difficult.

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