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VectorWorks vs ArchiCad vs. AutoCad

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- prefer 2d drafting like the old days on tables... use Vectorworks

- prefer 3d drafting, properly coordinated drawings, design benefits of 3d modelling, saving time... use ArchiCAD

The above quote stunned me since I draw, using VW, in 3D. Everthing this person quoted as a benefit of using ArchiCAD I get using VW. I don't see where mjb is particulary familiar with VW given what I see every day (I am not questioning his knowledge of ArchiCAD). 3D informs 2D. I adjust my building toward accuracy using 3D. I cut, section and fit to be sure I get the intended result, both structurally and aethetically. With VW, you can take the 3D model as far as you want to go. You can bail out at any point and proceed to finished working drawings. I've used VW to solve too many construction problems using 3D, developed many quality 3D renderings, to even slightly agree with this post regarding VectorWorks.

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As a basic rule from an expert, CAD is the heart of computing. AutoCAD is the first order environment, gone fully Windows. Anything over that is a layer, which can be reproduced in AutoCAD in amny many ways, I don't care if your ArchiCAD, LatestCAD, or MIcrostation's own CAD. Never discard the industry leader, pioneer, and plain dominating mindcscape, for younger enterprises riding this John Walker wave. Do waht they are doing, captialize on ALL the layers built on generiac CAD, including but not limited to AutoCAD. Keep it all, and don't just listen to a jack, who probably was selling aol subscriptions a year ago. I'm not knocking that, other than realizing you use ALL, the tolls, of EVERY vendor, programmer or innovator you can find and afford. They all have pros and cons, and in fact they are all related. Keep it all and expand, and having some background on what is retarding many landscape design data industries, is a key. http://www.activexfx.com, there is multitudinal solutions based on designer talent, systems, and investment by the enterprise employing them. It's a box, but make the walls glass, or osmotic. By it all, use it all, invent knew stuff, forever.

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Well well - we seem to have a new member: a dinosaur from the punch-card era of CAD.

After being exposed to the actual punch card driven CAD-systems in the early 1980s, I could hardly contain myself when a program called AutoCAD claimed to be interactive, when all you did was to punch the cards with the command line.

Antiquated constructs have made even Autodesk to realise that in architecture, there is no future for souped-up drafting programs so the firm is encouraging architects to get Revit.

No, Autodesk being clinically pure from innovation, they just bought a program and started to market it. Some individuals perhaps continue to use AutoCAD, but that is their problem.

what is retarding many landscape design data industries

Yes. AutoCAD is indeed retarding many design industries.

And no, I would not want to design a garden with ArchiCAD, whereas that would be quite easy with VectorWorks.

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To all out there that are still interested in this topic, I wanted to address the people who use AutoCAD and were considering VectorWorks. I have used AutoCAD for the past 3+ years, and I'll have to admit that VectorWorks completely runs circles around it! Let me explain:

1. Price. My company now has VectorWorks Designer with RenderWorks, and for the price, this software is a steal compared to AutoCAD! I think a standard version of AutoCAD 2005 now runs for about $4,000 (give or take), and to get the rendering capabilities that are at the quality of VectorWorks, you also have to buy 3Ds Max to add to AutoCAD (for another $3,000+). Also, if you wanted to lay out parking lots and plants, or things that generally have to do with Landscape Architecture, you have to get Autodesk Land Development (which is another $3,000). So, by the time you finish getting all those products to get even close to the same features as Designer with RenderWorks, you're out of more than $5,000. VectorWorks Designer with RenderWorks costs just over $2,200, and you can even find it online for less than that....

2. Hybrid Design Environment. This is the primary reason I chose Designer with RenderWorks. With me being an AutoCAD user, I'm used to drawing everything in 2D. But with this, I can design in 2D, and then switch to another view to see what I have created in 3D. This helps immensely when doing landscape designs, as I can see what I'm putting on sites in 3D as I draw.

3. Rendering Capabilities. For the first time ever, I was no longer constrained to working in just 2D. Now, I can create 3D perspectives with RenderWorks while I'm still drawing in 2D. I no longer have to print out a section of a site, and then hand-render it or apply the colors in Photoshop. Also, the rendering capabilities of this software is simply off the chain! When you have assigned textures to your drawings, and you render even with the Final Quality RenderWorks features, they really look realistic. This one feature alone will save me at least a day's worth of work in creating perspectives for clients....

4. Unlimited Design Creativity. The biggest advantage of Designer with RenderWorks is that you don't have to be constrained to only designing a landscape or a building, or a machine as other programs would have you do. Instead, one day I could design a complete landscape plan, and on the same day, I could create a building from scratch.

5. It Just Works. I'm in the middle of completing a tutorial that shows me how to design a house from scratch (from the book, Step By Step with VectorWorks Architect), and it has not crashed on me once. This software is rock-solid, as far as I'm concerned.

If you want serious flexibility, and want to create plans that are unconventional from the norm, get Designer with RenderWorks. Believe me, you won't be disappointed!

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I agree with the Company Builder. As a drafting services business, I use everything VW's Designer offers except Spotlight. My 3D architectural renderings and mechanical drawings really wows my clients. VW's Designer exactly suits my business requirements and no CAD software offers as much bang for the buck. I used AutoCAD and DataCAD for years, neither offers what VW's does for the money.

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Well well - we seem to have a new member: a dinosaur from the punch-card era of CAD.

"First off, you have to know what you are babbling about..."

Chili Gates - Bill's Son, born in 2014 - Post Historical Quotes

I thought I was a feisty curmudgeon, but petri-fried, takes my crown, yet I shall attempt to reclaim it, fasten your ego brain belt...

1. You would not be doing CAD today, if not for the Intel mapping pioneering of John Walker- Autodesk Founder - maybe in about 4 years, your could run Claris CAD, on a 386

2. Autodesk is quite happy with Architectural Desktop, and in fact every new wonder they arrive upon, has CAD at the heart, from Maya to Land Desktop to AutoCADLT. (.) CAD is day one, before dinosaurs

3. CAD is the heart of ALL computing, from the mathematic FIRST, to the graphics later, all arithmetic is in a sense vector, and every switch has a 'coordinate'

4. Every CAD innovation since, owes it's lifeblood to guys like John Walker, and the Bentley Boys.

5. If you program for a LIVING, you can still be surpassed without research, 24/7, nearly impossible, as Borland found out, Lifeboat, and so many other drivers, to backseat, to trunk, to dust enterprises, absorbed by BillyG and others, with opportune info and insight, but no guarantees.

6. Do your research

7. Do some more research... You have no idea about my industry, in fact most of my industry will be left behind, by light computing from the ionosphere, within 3000 days...

The temporary future of LANDCADD, DynaSCAPE, Landmark, and the rest, is diversification based on "extreme connectivity to those using it", and programmers and iarchitects who never sleep...or be replaced by macro programmer work, amalgamated by small, lithe enterprises, which are the next predator of this monolithic sledgehammers made of velvet. You could recreate LANDCADD with VB, or Java, in 1/1000th the time it took them to build it. LANDCADD was built in Tucson, Arizona, it's first footprint is found at the University of Arizona, the rest is history- everyone of them since is using BORROWED shelf lived CAD science, like me, that little kids write with Kid BASIC 3.0, the future is digital terminators deconstructing further and further decentralized systems, but the heart of it all, is CAD. Bone up on the reading man, it surpasses your own industry at lightspeed. Vectorworks, has an artistic appeal, which will keep it alive like Photoshop, it's has artistic insight and is one of the best, but, buy, borrow or steal them all, if you can't afford it, run seven computers at all times. People like art, better than CAD. The next wave of all design graphics and CAD, will be to humanize graphics, which we pioneer privately, myself for 10 years now, with not 1 artist 'envelope filter', but hundreds, and you can layer them to hybrids as well, it's very simple and looks good when an artist is also a plastic surgeon, you just have an edge on it, the art edge, art, the heart of CAD, better more robust, realistic, implants.

for those who think they are on top, welcome to the pole shift lightspeed replacements: from the past, repeating at a monolithic software corporation near you, today:

"One of the hardest things for people who haven't been intimately involved in the computer business for at least a decade to grasp is the nature of the exponential growth underway in our industry, and the consequences of continued exponential growth. I believe that many technology-oriented companies fail because the financial or management-oriented executives who run them don't understand how rapidly the underlying technology is developing, and how quickly their companies must change to survive in such an environment."

-John Walker, AutoCAD Founder, March 4th, 1988


Intelizer pioneer:


CAD gives your computer balls, for now, and will ALWAYS be the core fractal original, no matter how you rewrite it, in smart dust, or in photonic switches. Programmers all think they are god, and hate to be outgeeked, but new sources of the deepest science, are basically the common denominator, and these things are NOT openly available, until everyone uses it, innovation to paradigm. Now more programmers are realizing, customer feedback, is the key to retention. That's why I say buy it all, use it all, and feed it back, for system wide intelligence increase. No wonder I'm falling behind, look at this rant, lol

AutoCAD and any other stone age CAD, was never meant to solve your problems, just to get you hooked, then, "off the shelf" solutions, to customization evolutions, to the point, where architects and designers of the future, will employ design intelligence expertise, as they don't right now. It is all contained in Bill Gates historic vision of DirectX, they laughed then, MS produces half of top ten now. lol, we are mostly are limited by our own ego, and lack of humility...

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1. You would not be doing CAD today, if not for the Intel mapping pioneering of John Walker- Autodesk Founder - maybe in about 4 years, your could run Claris CAD, on a 386

Nonsense. There were tens of CAD-systems on the market at the time and many of them pursued interactivity just as well. AutoCAD had the right price/features -ratio, but if they would not have come to existence, someone else would have done the same.

In my view, what really changed the CAD-world was Apple. LisaDraw and MacDraw were quite revolutionary concepts as comes to many concepts and features we now take for granted. Without these programs - and the QuickDraw graphics system - the advent of actually usable and useful CAD-programs would have been delayed. And YOU would still be using DOS...

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  • 9 months later...


I am a from Australia and a current user of Both Revit Building 2008 and of Archicad 11 as I do contract work for 2 companies that use each of the systems.

A bit on me. I have been using different cad programs for over 15 years ranging from Autocad R10 up to 2005, 3D add-ons to Autocad r14 DRC auto and Karelmate professional, Vectorworks Architect with Renderworks and Landmark from 9.5 to 12.5, Revit 8.0, 9.1 and now 2008 as well as Archicad 10 and 11 so I feel I am well versed to speak on issues that people may have.

Whilst Vectorworks is a good platform it is not a true BIM product, which is why Nemetschek acquired Graphisoft. The global foot print of Nemetschek is now almost as big as Autodesk, which also means that there is a lot more Research & Development money being poured into Graphisoft to develop Archicad. Vectorworks slows down dramatically to the point that it is painfull. I was doing a 60 unit development and a simple task to refresh a 3D view of an elevation would take up to 10min or longer and this is on the new Intel core 2 Macs.

If you have been using Vectorworks and using its full 3d capabilities then your learning curve to either Archicad or Revit wont be that steep as you are already thinking and building in 3D. If you use any program in 2D you will have to completely readjust the way you think about doing a project.

If I was to choose a platform when the choices were Revit 8.1 or Archicad 9.0 I would have chosen Revit 8.1 as at this stage Plotmaker wasn?t integrated with Archicad, and I feel this was a huge drawback of the program and made updating and editing nearly finished documents a time consuming process. Once Archicad 10 came out this all changed and it is now an all in one program.

Both Revit and Archicad are now great programs, but on a day to day basis I am constantly frustrated with Revit. Things are just a lot harder to achieve in Revit.

The family system in appalling and there is no intelligent search function. the families are very hard to edit and when you do you actually create another object in the file increasing its size, let alone the fact that you have to click 5 dialogue boxes deep the ok all the way out again.. In Archicad the search function is brilliant and changes to library parts is a breeze with very visual interface all in the one dialogue box only 1 click deep.

A bit on GDL, I do not want to learn GDL and at this point have no need to as I just modify the existing object wit the interface, and there are some great add ons from cad image that do a lot of different things. If in a large firm then it would probably pay to have 1 or 2 people trained in GDL to create truly custom objects.

This constant clicking through dialogue boxes is all the way through Revit and the fact that it looks like a data base with no graphical interface is painful.

In Archicad the complex profiler is a dream meaning I can have my wall with set downs, slab set down and edge beam, eave details, cornice, flashing detail and anything else I want to be on the wall for instance profiled mouldings all as one wall in my favourites list. All I have to do is use this wall and the whole lot is placed. This is all able to be scheduled as different items as well.. While in Revit you can do host sweeps but this is just extra work and more steps. I am looking for productivity gains

On controlling your document, we have all grown to use layers to give us control over your document.. Well in Revit there are no layers. At first you go great.... but wait until you try to isolate a certain type of wall you cant as all walls are in the same type, yes there are sub types of but once again this is extra time to work out when it can just be automatically placed on it correct layer in Archicad., in Archicad you still have layers and this is a God sent and critical to have when trying to isolate or group certain things. For instance when you export to DWG all your walls are placed on the one layer... a nightmare if someone else needs to just see masonry walls.... get my drift..

With Archicad the production of different sets of documents i.e. Presentation sets, DA sets, CC sets, DWG export, DGN export, PDF creation where you require your documents to look a certain way and with certain pen thickness and colour and isolation of different things for different consultants is all just a click of the mouse within Archicad once you have set up your template file. In Revit you have to prepare all of these manually each time you wish to produce them. Also you get a PDF and3D PDF creator inbuilt in Archicad. In Revit you may have view sets but this still does not give you the flexibility and speed that Archicad does.

Yes I know you can have saved print sets but this doesn?t change how the documents look for instance if you want solid fill in walls for presentation and hatching for CC documents you have to change this manually.. In Archicad you just publish that set and it?s done in the click of the mouse..

In Revit I have and still do find it cumbersome to produce Construction documents, as there are very few so called drafting tools to complete your documents, although it can still be done as I have completed a few medium size unit development projects in Revit and modelled the entire building. I think all told in all 4 elevs and a total of 8 sections I drew about 8 lines, so it can be done, I just takes longer.

In Archicad from Version 10 onwards there are so many easier to use drafting tools to help you get the job out the door.

What ever you choose you have to spend the time and do whole projects and not revert to any 2D programs to complete your documents. Get professional training as I have done for all programs that I have used. Yes it costs money but it costs you a lot more sitting around trying to work things out for your self.

I found that the experience of the Graphisoft team in Australia is far better as they have been doing this for some 20 years and it is one company Australia wide where as Autodesk is a lot of resellers. The support system from Graphisoft is a lot better to as you get to speak to a real architect with years of experience in both the Program and Architecture. Where as with Autodesk it gets logged then sent to the US and if they think it?s important they will get back to you maybe in a week or so.

With rendering I feel and most people on Revit also agree that Archicad wins hands down. While Autodesk stick with Accurender this will always be the case. Archicad uses the Lightworks rendering engine which you can buy as a stand alone rendering program. Once again Google it to see what it can do. Also there I would recommend at least getting the DVD tutorial as I have to get the most out of it.

Archicad also have interactive tutorials and virtual tutors that make learning it a breeze, compared to the written tutorial from Revit...

If you are looking to change to BIM I feel the superior program is Archicad but don?t believe me get both and trial them for free for 30 days. But you need to go into this with an open mind on interface and who makes the program. Try some simple operations like changing properties of a wall, window, library item such as one of the cabinets, do you want to look at lines of text or pictures that describe things. Try searching for a particular library item. Try exporting a file to dwg and open in Autocad to see which is better to use. Also if you are on Mac then you can only use Archicad as Autodesk do not support macs. Yes you can run windows on a Mac but ive spoken to a few people doing this and they say it?s not the best solution.

File sizes from Revit get quite large compared to Archicad from version 10 onwards so if you are working over a network this could also be an issue. Also I heard that Graphisoft have signed a deal with Oracle the clear leader in data base systems and have also heard that this will be included in Archicad 12 so we can expect some great speed increases in how the program works. They've also announced deals with structural engineering software and mechanical/electrical engineering software whereby the data generated in the ArchiCAD model can be sent back and forth to the engineering consultants and the data remains linked.

Archicad is also cheaper to maintain in Australia with there subscription service than Revit so in the end it costs you less. Upfront costs of Revit vary depending on who you talk to but on average are the same as Archicad.

A lot of people want to go with Revit as they think it?s the same as Autocad in the way it will speak to it via file format. This is so far from the truth Revit has a totally different file structure. In Fact Archicad speaks to Autocad better as it already has layers and layer sets. Yes Autodesk did have the industry standard 2D file format with DWG but now there is a non proprietary standard called IFC which is governed by different organisations around the world and not software companies. Do a Google search on IFC. This is the format that allows you to speak to any other 3D package whether it be engineers, energy rating etc

From the out set Archicad was designed by ?Architects for Architects? and Revit and Bentley Architecture were designed and engineered by engineers, so if you want to design like an Architect with a very friendly graphical interface, because lets face it we designers and visual people then seriously look at Archicad. If you want to think and design like an engineer with a database interface then look at the others. Given that I have never seen Bentley Architecture so can?t pass comment on its interface.

Do yourself a favour. Get the 30 day trial of both programs. I Think with Revit you actually have to contact one of the resellers to get the trial version mailed out to you. With Archicad you can download it from the link below, also download the Basic interactive guide to Archicad as this will show you how to use it. I haven?t done the latest version of Revit tutorial so can?t comment on that.


I feel that if people are going to really comment on Archicad or Revit then you should have an educated knowledge of the current version of both programs. To base all you comments on previous versions is like me comparing Archicad 11 with Revit 4 and or Revit 2008 with Archicad 6.5 and that is some thing I just wouldn?t do.

What ever you decide spend the time, get professional training both basic and advanced.

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Whilst Vectorworks is a good platform it is not a true BIM product

Yes, this is what all other ArchiCAD salesmen say, too, but never have been able to substantiate the claim. Oh yes, you guys give heaps of reasons, but they do not, conceptually, amount to much.

Do yourself a favour. Get the 30 day trial of both programs.

Well, I'll skip Revit, we hatess Windowss... But I intend to do that with ArchiCAD - although what I have learned using it in demo mode does not really convince.

It is impressive, no doubt. The user interface is especially impressively confusing and complicated. Maybe it is worth it, though - but it is approximately 15 years since I got so totally frustrated with ArchiCAD that I switched to MiniCAD. (And hey, I was even an ArchiCAD trainer & consultant part time!)

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