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ErichR

VectorWorks vs ArchiCad vs. AutoCad

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Our office uses mostly AutoCad, and has one VW 12.5 license, which I use. There is a movement, initiated by a consultant, to switch the whole office to Archicad. I would like to be able to intelligently discuss our options, and to speak up in behalf of VW, but am unfamiliar with the capabilities of cad apps other than VW. Any comments would be appreciated.

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I'm interested in this question too, as I'm only intimate with VW. I hope this thread turns into a cornucopia.

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Have used all three. The learning curve is steep (and about two years long) with archicad - you must embrace the 3d aspect to use it effectively - your designers must know how a building is put together, the program does allow more than one person to work on a large project through various admin tools. The user interface and controls were lacking 'intuitiveness' a dialog window for example appears and the most important button/control in the window seems like it was placed/positioned as an afterthought..

stepping down..

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Those that prefer a defined page or boundary in which to work, may not reach a comfort level with Archicad. The output setup/ printing process was particularly cumbersome to me (at least through version 9), as compared to Vectorworks. Getting productive in VW (2D) was a snap compared to Archicad, which is truly a virtual building program and a very good one. At least with VW you can choose which way to work. Price point is something else to consider. shocked.gif

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Gytis, interesting comparison of AutoCAD vs VW - I happen to agree with those who judge that VW is actually faster in 2d, once you get used to the way things are done in VW.

The comparison with ArchiCAD is a tougher one to get good information on. Many people are partisan in favor of one versus the other. I do feel that ArchiCAD has some advantages - for example, associative drawing numbering whereby if you change a sheet number, all the references in the file are automatically changed - ditto with moving a detail to a different sheet. On the other hand, ArchiCAD lacks NURBS modeling. It also doesn't support multiple light sources in OpenGL (reason enough for me to stick to VW when I was given the choice).

Full disclosure: I'm much more familiar with VW and ACAD than with ArchiCAD.

PS: AutoCAD's one big advantage over VW is the use of vector displacement for single or multiple duplication of objects. You click on point 1, then on point 2, to define the displacement. And point 2 can be redefined with subsequent clicks in multiple duplication mode. It becomes like placing a symbol in VW - with every click a new object appears excatly where you want it, and placed not necessarily at the click point, but at a known vectoral distance from the click point. Very powerful tool (NNA, are you listening to the many people who have made this point?) And, yes, I know there are vector-script based versions of this tool out there, but we can't rely on scripts through version changes, and the programming required to make this available native in VW would be easy, easy, easy!

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Hate paperspace and modelspace of autocad.

But you can not get over the fact that autocad is industry standard used by consultants and staff which means there are problems working with other consultants and recruiting staff with other software.

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Apologies for my meaningless last post, pressed the wrong button, complete forum novice, just wish that I could blame the kids! I am a new user of Vectorworks though I have used Autocad for 12 years, and Archicad for 3 years, so I may come back to this thread once I've overcome my embarrassment.

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tsquared, no problem, easy to delete the post if you are the author. I'd be interested to hear your perspective.

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Here is an old post of mine (from 2003!). It's been quite a while since I used ArchiCad, but these old observations may still be of some use.

Re: Vectorworks (VWA) vs. Archicad

#36839 - 01/30/03 07:52 AM

I used Archicad about 4 years ago before switching to Vectorworks. I only use Vectorworks for 2d DD and CD architectural drawings, and I have not really investigated the 3d capabilities of the program.

The theory behind Archicad is appealing. Essentially, you construct a 3d model and then the 2d plans, elevations and sections are extracted from the model. However, I found that in practice, the 2d drawings very crude and of unacceptable quality for our office, and the 3d models took a great deal of time to develop to an acceptable level. I was putting a lot of time into the 3d model, and then ending up breaking the links between the model and the drawings to gain more flexibility for the 2d drawings.

If you are interested in constructing a 3d computer model and doing construction drawings, Archicad is probably a good choice. For us, the 3d model was of limited use and the technology was not there yet (with Archicad 5.5) to practically link the 3d model to good quality 2d drawings. Our primary use for the computer is developing construction drawings in a small office, and Vectorworks has been a good program for that task. However, our work is primarily highly individual custom houses; Archicad may work better for buildings with fewer unusual conditions.

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I'm surprised the consultant didn't recommend looking at Revit if they were recommending Archicad. Revit is the logical upgrade path from Autocad in that they are both Autodesk products and there is an upgrade (costs wise) offer available.

Aside from this, it very much depends on the nature of the work you do (or intend to do). If it is large scale developments of complex structures then there is certainly a case to be made for Revit and ArchiCad.

However, the biggest shift in culture will be a switch from 2D to 3D thinking, and this will be a slow painful process. This, I think, is where VectorWorks scores in that it offers proven 2D tools as well as robust architectural 3D tools, as well as powerful modelling capabilities that ArchiCad and Revit both struggle to handle. Driven to its fullest VectorWorks could tackle most projects, but, and this is a big but, it is very rarely driven to its fullest.

I would recommend you ask the consultant to explain the reasoning to switch to ArchiCad. It is not THAT popular a system, and you can bet within a couple of years the number of seats of Revit will far exceed the installed user base of ArchiCad.

At the end of the day your company has to undergo a benchmarking exercise to compare the applications for your own needs and then really assess the impact (and costs) of switching everything to a new platform.

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I would be good to know which firms (in the Boston area in this case) are using what software.

A market survey, maybe by NNA - has one been done ? - might be available.

Edited by ErichR

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Like T? I?m an old hand with Autocad, and I?ve also got a limited amount of experience using Archicad, but I?ve recently changed employers and my new employers primary cad software is VW 12.5

I must say that I?m finding the learning curve for VW to be painfully steep, much more so than I found when learning Archicad. Though I?m sure I?ll be denounced as a heretic for speaking in such terms in this forum.

Perhaps one reason why I found the leaning curve for the transition to Archicad easier to come to terms with is that Graphisoft have training guides specifically aimed at experienced Autocad users. However, Nemetschek don?t seem to acknowledge people like myself as a market sector.

I don?t want my first post to sound entirely negative, because I?ve seen the work that my colleagues are producing, and I know that VW can generate the 3-D models extremely quickly.

However, I do question CEA?s assertion that ?VectorWorks scores in that it offers proven 2D tools as well as robust architectural 3D tools? as I?m finding that VW is cumbersome for 2-D draughting and also crashes frequently.

In conclusion, I would be delighted if someone could point me at a training resource for VW that can ease the pain of transition from Autocad.

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John, there are lots of training resources available. My personal recommendation is to find a trainer near you and spend the time and $$. I am a trainer myself, and generally can get (CAD savvy/industry savvy) folks up and running with VW's in 2-3 half day sessions. There is a list of TRAINERS here. Additionally, NNA runs TRAINING SEMINARS and also has Learning CD's available. Stick with it for a bit. I'm pretty sure you'll grow to like VW's a lot (once you get over the first few humps). javascript:void(0)

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However, I do question CEA?s assertion that ?VectorWorks scores in that it offers proven 2D tools as well as robust architectural 3D tools? as I?m finding that VW is cumbersome for 2-D draughting

One might say that VW can be cumbersome if used for drawing lines - but 2D drafting can be something completely different, too! Just don't try to use it as a replacement for AutoCAD.

(At least in my ArchiCAD days, that program really had poor and clumsy drafting facilities, so count yourself lucky.)

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There is a movement, initiated by a consultant, to switch the whole office to Archicad.

Pardon my cynicism, but having dealt with "consultants" in the past, more often than not in my experience?by an extremely large margin?so-called "consultants" are nothing more than glorified salespeople hawking a "magic bullet" that "will make my life easier, make me more productive, solve my problems," etc., as opposed to true consultants who take the time to observe and become familiar with myworkflow, myoffice practices, my productivity, my particular needs, etc. and base their recommendtions on that. In light of that, I think it would be extremely interesting?and helpful?to as the "consultant" what his/her financial relationship is to Graphisoft, i.e., does s/he receive any form of compensation from Graphisoft, either directly or indirectly, if a client buys Archicad? (And will s/he put her/his answer in writing for you to be able to check it with Graphisoft?)

Here's a suggestion: take a half-dozen or so unusual or non-standard conditions that your company has encountered on past projects: could be an unusual stair, could be a custom window/door, could be a a multi-level, wraparound deck, a building detail, PME condition, etc.?anything that gets the consultant "off script", and ask the "consultant" to talk you through how to model and document them in Archicad. (The issue isn't, can the consultant do it, the issue is, what contortions will you?and the rest of your office?have to go through to do it.)

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I wonder how Mr/Ms pgym earns his/her livelihood. Could that, by any chance, be in consultancy? (Only assuming here, from his/her interest in a CAD program.)

But never mind that. When making buying decisions, we should always use "half-dozen or so unusual or non-standard conditions" as the benchmark. Why on earth? Do you have a house based on such a condition - like big enough for the half a dozen of times during your lifetime when you need to entertain 500 people?

And pray tell me who are the best advisors when making important decisons on complex matters, since consultants are, by definition, corrupt?

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Sorry to disappoint you, Petri, but I'm a working architect who uses VW and AutoCad on a daily basis.

Mabye Finnish law is much more strict about regulating who can and who cannot use the title "consultant" than US and Canadian law, but your failure to grasp why non-standard conditions are the best test not only of a purported "consultant's" expertise but also of a program's purported ease of use and fitness for purpose is simply incomprehensible.

The fact is, a trained monkey can follow a script and make a program appear efficient and easy to learn and use. It's the complicated, non-standard conditions that architects and designers confront on occasion that are the test of whether or not a program is as flexible and easy to use as it is purported to be, as well as its fitness for the individual architect's purposes. Multiplatform and winder stairs, for example, are relatively common but non-standard conditions in residential construction in this area of North Carolina, yet in US versions prior to VW 12, there was no provision for either condition. If you wanted to have either a multiplatform or a winder stair, you had to construct the models manually. Consequently, if one were primarily designing custom homes with multiplatform- and/or winder stairs, VW would have been less ideal for one's purposes than, say, Archicad.

EVERY commercially viable CAD product these days is able to handle the roughly 95% of standard conditions designers encounter with relative ease. It's the ?5% of non-standard conditions that are the true test of a given program's flexibility, ease of use, and fitness for purpose. Consequently, it is a foolhardy person indeed who would trust the word of a purported "consultant" who is either unwilling or unable to demonstrate those capabilities by going "off the script."

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Houses aren't necessarily the only architectural livlihood at all!

In a $10M project, if there are 5% instances of unusual conditions (and believe me there are far more than 5%), it is the CADD app that can handle them without additional hours of frustrating trial and error that will engender confidence.

Actually, a simple 2D app - you already know its limitations, so you don't waste time.

ACAD, it seems, is a well-developed 2D drafting tool, and there are lots of people extremely facile with it.

VW may be more of an architectural tool - one that goes beyond 2D drafting.

Archicad?

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I have to agree with pgym - asking someone to do something outside of the script is the best way of testing a program's capability.

I went to a Revit demo a while back and really upset the bloke by asking him to show us how to do things that would come up regularly in real work that I knew would be a little difficult to do. I have seen similar things happen at an Archicad demo.

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One of the items to look at is cost....

Compare one seat and or multiple seats on autocad vs vectorworks.... big difference....

I have just moved into the office of a model home builder with an output of approx. 40 new homes a year. One designer only... I have just converted the whole office to VW. 12 different Model Homes, took about 2 months to convert and generate permit ready originals... imported in from AutoCad, and converted over.... corrected for errors, value engineered, revised and ready for production...

My hit on autocad, which I have had to learn during this time to work on and export, is that it requires a lot of keystrokes, and appears much harder to do 3d works..... I believe that it is also faster to train new employees in Vectorworks.

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I have to agree with pgym - asking someone to do something outside of the script is the best way of testing a program's capability.

Let's not confuse "the script" (and/or the consultants' skills) with the actual capabilities of the program.

Edited by Petri

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Multiplatform and winder stairs, for example, are relatively common but non-standard conditions in residential construction in this area of North Carolina, yet in US versions prior to VW 12, there was no provision for either condition. If you wanted to have either a multiplatform or a winder stair, you had to construct the models manually. Consequently, if one were primarily designing custom homes with multiplatform- and/or winder stairs, VW would have been less ideal for one's purposes than, say, Archicad.

Right-o. ArchiCAD leads in McMansion design in North Carolina, so it must be a superior program. Why, just around the corner there may be a program that does the entire design for you!

EVERY commercially viable CAD product these days is able to handle the roughly 95% of standard conditions designers encounter with relative ease. It's the ?5% of non-standard conditions that are the true test of a given program's flexibility, ease of use, and fitness for purpose.

Flexibility, maybe. Others, no. Having ready-made "solutions" for every imaginable exception is a ludicrous expectation, especially if one has even a slightly broader view to the profession as someone doing residential work.

Well, to disappoint you, my young friend, I have over 30 years of experience in architecture, so I may know something. No, I haven't done houses - only schools, colleges, libraries, hotels, factories, warehouses, apartment buildings, swimming halls & other sporting facilities, offices, shopping centres and the like, so perhaps my knowledge of non-standard conditions is vastly lesser than yours.

In my - obviously limited - experience, however, non-standard situations are so non-standard that they just have to be worked through one way or the other.

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Ahhhh...Petri has wisdom in his keystroked prose.

As long as creativity is pursued in architectural design the non-standard will persist.

CAD software companies need to concentrate on the standards...like multiple component wall types and real-world framing which by the way...buildings, regardless of their creative designers are pretty much all built with standard products.

Out of the last 25 or so McBabyMansions I've completed I have not had the opportunity to use the stair tool....Ok only a few were standard....most of the stairs have been so non-standard that it has been quicker to build them in solids...add records...then finish.

Pete A.

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