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Viewer - how to?

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I am attempting to distribute to all our consultants vectorworks file data that they can view and, set up .dwg files for use as backgrounds for their work. Our lighting consultant has said, if I understand correctly, this is entirely possible and would save me from having to translate to .dwg files each sheet with the appropriate background info for each consultant. GREAT! If True.

I shortly later recieved this missive from one of our hardworking consultants:

'I played around with the VectorWorks Viewer and I cannot seem to save or export. I keep getting a pop-up window stating that I need the full application to be able to do run this command. I also found is that all walls, furniture, etc? are all on layer NONE. Is there something that I am missing or doing wrong as far as the VectorWorks Viewer? If you could please send me some info I would really appreciate the help.'

Can anybody help with a 'step by step'?

Thank you.


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The viewer does just that - views a VectorWorks file. It cannot save or export.

Is the end goal to provide information created in VectorWorks for continued editing in AutoCAD, to simply provide the image of a project to someone in general, or something else?

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The idea was to flow architectural drawings and work to our assigned civil, stuctural, mechanical, electrical, lighting and plumbing consulting engineers the exact plans we are currently using, and allow them to pick and choose which parts of the drawing they need to - to export and show their respective equipment without asking our office to 'example: turn off the doors furniture or create special background information' and then translate vectorwork to .dwg file and send each separated file (their request..) to each different consultant. Each consultant has an IT dept. with different cad criteria. I am getting jerked around more than a dog with 5 leashes trying to meet everybody's file expectation.

Acad users can import and scale an image using 3DAign command. The engineers need to accurately scale off the vectors so a rastor image is not as usefull.

As much as I would like to do all of their work as well as mine, I don't think it would be fair.

And, switching consultants is not currently an option.

Edited by unlurking
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Why not export a PDF with layers? That way they can set up the pdf as needed and (assuming they have full Acrobat) save it to a range of formats. You will need Architect to do this though.

I have to say it would be very useful if NNA could provide a free VectorWorks viewer that exported to dwg....this would get around this issue neatly. Ashlar-Vellum have free Graphite Share and Cobalt Share applications which only open the native Ashlar formats but allow exporting to a wide range of formats including dwg.

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Unlurking I agree with Jonathon that your best option is to Export DWG. You need to make sure that you Export by Classes, and that you do not export invisible Classes.

It sounds like your real issue is consultant laziness. I've come across this often. Basically they want to be spoon fed the backgrounds exactly as they want them - they don't want to be bothered with having to switch off layers to get just the background information they want. If they really insist on being spoon fed in this way it might be worth you looking at whether a set of Saved Views will streamline the process.

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Thank you everybody, you are all correct with the situation.

I have reviewed the contracts that we have with the consultants. We could elect to send out HARD COPY in lieu of electronic data. I did not want to yank their chain but, this is getting silly and, expensive.

Let us not forget - I am lazy too or, rather would like to spend most my time making a responsible contribution to the built environment - not translating CAD fles.


Hey, The time I would save is money I could use to buy more VectorWorks Licenses. What is the downside to this?

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I think it is very unfair to call it consultant laziness. I worked in an Architectural office that uses VW and all the consultants are using AutoCAD.

If dwgs are exported from sheet layers all the underlying objects in the viewports become a single block which makes it very hard to edit out unwanted objects in AutoCAD. If you export from the design layer you have the option of exporting by layer or class, which is easier to edit in AC, however any notes or other items you have on the sheet layer are not included.

A large project in the early stages is very fluid, backgrounds are constantly changing, and may need to be sent out to the consultants on a regular basis. If it takes them hours of their time, each time to clean up a background so that it suitable for their use, that is a huge waste of time and money.

My approach has been to contact the person who is doing the actual CAD work. From them I get a list of what they really want, so that I can set up my dwg exports in a format that will make their lives easier.

Why do all this, 2 reasons. First it only takes a few minutes or less to set up the VW drawings in a format to export for the consultant, and could take them hours to clean it up at their end otherwise. So what is a few minutes of my time compared to hours of consultants time $$$$. Second the goodwill that flows back to me from the consultants makes a better and stronger working relationship. Remember I will need something back from them too, and my life might be a lot easier if they sent it to me in a format of my choosing.

But this is just my opinion.


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Tom K

I wish I could get a dwg sent to me to represent what I need. I doubt a single AC user would take the time to format a background to represent the information revelent to me. I base my fee schedule counting on spending at least an hour per dwg update to get the dwg to represent my needs. Does not seem to matter if I give them info ahead of time.

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I am posting an interesting email I received:

"The process involves:

1.) Setting up the drawing with all the objects you need and none of the information you don't.

2.) Then print as a PDF file.

3.) Open PDF in Adobe Illustrator.

4.) Export to DWG format.

5.) Open file in autocad.

All of the objects land on the same layer in the newly created DWG format, but that is fine for us because we gray everything out anyway. The text sometimes has issues, but is easily fixed by modifying the Textstyle. and changing Mtext to single line Text objects.

As for swag(sh*t we always get) what I would really love is a copy of Vectorworks to play with export settings to try and make the process painless for consultants who use Autocad, or have them place the export to DWG in the free viewer so that clients can set thier own export settings. One size does not fit all. The are million ways to setup a VW drawing as well as a million ways to setup an Autocad file. Each client/consultant relationship may need different settings to make things happy.

On a side note I believe they should also put an save as Vectorworks 11, 10, 9 ...etc. format options in the free viewer or other free conversion program. The burden of work should be on the person who refuses to upgrade not on the person running the latest and greatest. This is avalible for autocad and makes lives easier and happier."

End of message'

BTW, The consultant dude that wrote this is of the caliber that put others to shame...

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my original suggestion was:

1. Set up the drawings to display all the objects you need and none of the information that you don?t want

2. Export as DWG file

3. Export as PDF file

4. Send the consultant both files

I do this exactly already - and using export batch pdf as well.

One job has 60 seperate files and 7 consultants for a total of 135 sheets. 4 of the consultant wish to have certain views of plans. Using saved views and saved layers I can set up specifically for each of thier different requirements, batch .pdf a portion and open and process for each of the 4 At thirty seconds per process with 8-10 file open at a time = 4.5 hours of purely mundane unmitigated doom for the poor soul who thought interning at an architects office would be a great creative outlet- But no, thirty seconds is not realistic. Lets say one whole day of Fun.

We might distribute 4 times during a typical project which gets expensive and not the best use of the clients money - I have an idea though, we could purchase VW programs and give them to the consultants to do their own exporting... yeah, then they could stubornly continue to use acad or, they could work on vectorworks directly depending on job size and number of stations they have. I could justify the cost - maybe we sub-lease the license even?

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