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My 10 frustrating things about VectorWorks

Dan Kessler


I'm a recovering AutoCAD user that has recently started his own architecture practice. Since I now don't have a "higher-power" telling me to use a particular drafting tool, and even a particular computing platform, I decided to invest in an Apple PowerBook and VectorWorks. I've been a "closet" Mac user for years, and since AutoCAD isn't an option, the best choice seemed to be VectorWorks. I think it was a good choice, although there are some things about the program that are driving me nuts. I use VectorWorks only for 2D drawing. I use form-Z for 3D, and Photoshop / Illustrator / InDesign for everything else. Perhaps it's because of my history with these other programs, but it seems like there's several things missing in Vectorworks; technology that is available in other programs, but not in Vectorworks.

Don't get me wrong,VectorWorks is a very nice program. It has several features that are better than other drawing programs (i.e. font usage, classes, and lineweights), but the following is my list of items for improvement. Please let me know if something in the list is already possible:

1) How objects are selected, moved, and resized. Why would you want a bounding box representing a picked object? Why can't the object be highlighted in a different color while showing me it's points? I know about the 2D reshape tool, but it's kind of difficult to use. I should be able to use the pick tool, select an object, and move it or it's individual points around without hunting down a different tool (a la Illustrator).

2) Objects remain selected after they are transformed. This means that if you need to perform the same transformation on another object, you have to go back to the pick tool, deselect the object, re-activate the (transformation) tool, then pick the other object. TOO MUCH UNNECESSARY CLICKING!

3) Curved polylines are treated like a red-headed stepchild. A lot of the tools/features don't apply. For example, they can't have arrowheads added to them, and they can't be easily divided onto equal-lenghted segments.

4) Lineweight / Dash scaling. No ability to scale an object's lineweight and/or dash spacing when scaling the object or an entire layer. This means that if you want to simply change the scale of a layer, you'll have to go back and pick each object and adjust it's lineweight one-at-a-time! Whoa, Nelly! You can choose to scale font sizes, but not lineweights / dashes. Illustrator can do this.

5) Workgroup references. There's no way to "clip" or "crop" an externally referenced drawing (that I know of).

6) Arrowhead customization. I prefer a thicker lineweight for my arrowheads than for the leader line. VW can't do it.

7) Printing. How about scale-to-fit, print display, print extents, print window. Is there such a thing in VW?

8) More/better class and layer management: How about a tool which allows me to pick an object and have the active class and layer become that of the object's? How about the ability to quickly turn off all the classes/layers except those that are active? How about a tool wich toggles the class/layer visibility? In other words, that which is on becomes off, and vice-versa.

9) Anti-aliased display for line-scaling. When zooming out, once you get to a certain percentage, all line weights look the same. Why can't their relationship remain constant. Adobe Illustrator does this.

10) Mouse scroll-wheel support. Like AutoCAD's. Scroll to zoom in and out. Click and hold scroll wheel to pan.

This is my "small" list. Hope it helps,Dan

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You must be reading mine and no doubt other users? minds.

I think you list is absolutely essential but I would add:

1. True 3D text and dimensions for display with for use in isometric piping diagrams, and or dimensioning and labelling isometric buildings or other 3D objects.2. The DWG/DXF import function which would be able to read in AutoCad PCP files (PCP files store AutoCad?s printer information you create for specific drawings, which eliminates the need to completely reconfigure your print settings each time you print a drawing to a different driver), which would automatically set pen colour and weight to these Standards within VW.3. I would recommend that an option be created to allow the drawing extent to span or be mapped to multiple pages at print time (fax or printer). This would provide the user the facility to send multiple sheets over fax line for example. Whereby the remote recipient, who is assumed equipped with only a small printer or fax, would then be able to manually reassemble the single smaller fax sheets into the original drawing extents at legible scale. At present VW doesn?t have this functionality. Rather, if one has a larger drawing whose extends lie beyond the bounds of the default page size, VW simply maps or rescales the extents of the drawing, to just a single page. Obviously if the drawing is large the text and other objects become illegible when rescaled in this way.4. Improving VectorWorks redraw speed especially hatch pattern redraw speed.5. Dash lines which begin and end with a dash not a gap or space. This would probably require a rewrite of the dash styles code. Numerical entry option would be good because manipulating the dash lengths is difficult at times.

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You have many valid points there. I can point you to third party solutions to some of your points.

6) Super Leader will do custom arrowheads and much more.

8) Classigner, Class Strugle, Class Utilities and Layer Option Tools all provide improved tools for class/layer management.

10) mouse wheel support is improved in VW 10.

All of the third party tools I mentioned can be found at Vector Depot.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hi Dan,

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts; I consider this golden information. We're taking steps to address many of these areas in future releases. (For your #7, some of your needs might be satisfied with the Print Current View checkbox on the Print dialog).

Thanks again for your help in identifying shortcomings in VectorWorks.

Mark Farnan

Core Technologies and Imaging Manager

Nemetschek NA

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