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DWG Export Guide



As a frustrated AutoCAD user (frustrated both at it not being as user friendly as Vectorworks and at having to use converted VW drawings) does anyone have a 'Guide to Exporting to AutoCAD from VectorWorks'? Or a list of pointers?

We would love to have a quick guide to pass to VW consultants for optimal .DWG export.

We waste many hours tidying up, for example, an architects layout into a usable state, only for it to be revised the next day and to have to repeat the process. I'm sure that the problem is not a VW one per se - rather VW users lacking export knowledge.

Primarily, as Landscape Architects, we are concerned with receiving accurate plan information, and usually prefer only 2D data for our use. We generally require to be able to control layer visibility, colour and line thicknesses ourselves as we reference the drawings into our own and commonly are required to edit the drawing directly prior to returning to said VW consultant.

Having read a number of threads on this general topic, I appreciate that VW users are equally frustrated at .dwg imports, so if anyone wishes to offer a list of VW requirements of AutoCAD drawings, feel free...

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I'd like to have that guide too! it would be simply great to get rid of all exporting problems to autocad!

And, as a VW user, i can say i have the same problem with dxf or dwg files from Autocad. I guess the problem is that the 2 apps have a totally different way of organizing the drowing job. Based on my experience, i can say that the best way to export dxf or dwg file to autocad (if the files must be edited) is to create separate files for the exporting, delete all the presentation layers and simply enable the exporting classes as autocad layers. Doing that, i know that the autocad user will have separate layers that maintain my organization. The big problem comes with quotes: i usually create quotes on the presentation layers' viewports. In this case there is no way to have them back if u delete the presentation layers. But, if the file simply has to be used as a starting point in autocad, i dont see any reason to export quotes. Well.. if u are landscape architects (i envy u so much! :o) ) u can ask to set the altimetric quotes in a specific class inside the design layers.

And.. that's all i can say about exporting to autocad... it's also a matter of luck: i the file will be opened by a totally brainless guy, everything can happen!


I'm new in here and... i'm italian.. so, i hope u forgive my limited enlgish (i've learned it watching movies! lol). And i'm happy at the most for have found a forum of VW users: here there is nothing like that!

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Thanks for your tips (english better than alot of english speakers by the way!).

i'm collecting everything I can find on exporting from VW to .dwg and then I'll sift through it and collate an export guide for VW users and run it past some competent VW users to make sure it agrees with their experiences.

apart from the usual layer problems with VW exports (everything on a few or one layer(s)) we also somtimes have problems with scaling of dimensions and text which end up huge (probably 1000x scale) and all clustered around 0,0 coordinate.


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Your idea is good Autobot: despite the total dxf and dwg compatibility declared by Nemetscheck, there are always problems jumping form an app to another.

About dimensioning and text problems: i bet my.. wel.. let's say i guess that they come from the insertion of text and dimensions in design layer and not in presentation layers. Pressentation layers were introduced in Vector only with version 11. Before that, we had to use layers with different scales to compose the printable sheets. May be that some people is not able to use this "new" feature and uses text and notes is a specific layer put over the others and with a different scale from the others. well.. dont know. i try to guess. I also belive this is why we have the option of export all design layers in 1:1 scale to dxf and dwg.

I have done some tests with my files and, as i told u, if the guys who recieve my files must work on them, i dont export quotes and not necessary texts. Another way is to add to those work files the files with only presentatin layers with all notes, texts and quotes in viewports. So thsy can have a comparrison.

I guess i' getting verbal.. sorry... if u'd like to do some tests, we can exchange files so, u can tell me wich problems there are and i can tell u if and how can be solved with vectorworks! Or u can send me the files that had problems and i see how my vector opens them again (Normally the difference is not that big when i open again my own dwgs)

A question: do u work only in 2D or also in 3D? I do both...

well... hope to have news form u!

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Autobot -

If you are interested, we can discuss this via email and perhaps I can provide a few tips to help you work through this.

Many times, the fine tuning steps of import/export processes are unique to each office, making a compilation difficult.

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Autobot's post asks for a solution for us all - a map to navigate the perennial problem. I've gleaned snippets of info from here and there and the odd tutorial, but nothing seems to address all the apparent variables that seem to throw a spanner in the translation works nor the various work arounds that will facilitate working with other offices.

It would be a shame to take this query of the board or at least it would be great to keep the discussion public aswell, as that's why we're all here!? I do hear what you are saying, Katie, and don't mean to speak out of turn, but maybe those fine tunings might be of help to us too???

This remains a major issue for many of us and a comprehensive list/map of workarounds is critical until such time as the import/export functions actually work seamlessly as intended.

For reference, I'll post my own particular issues as a separate thread (with screen shots - it ain't pretty (and does nothing to please the mind of an engineer working in AC!))


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About dimensioning and text problems: i bet my.. wel.. let's say i guess that they come from the insertion of text and dimensions in design layer and not in presentation layers.

Sorry, I'm trying to figure this out.

You say all dimensioning and text/labels should be on their own presentation layer - what do you mean by presentation layer?

'Classes' and 'Saved Views' aside, I have 'Design Layers', 'Sheet Layers' and 'Viewports'.

As far as I am understanding, for an exported drawing to be intelligible, each design layer must be exported individually, so how should you export a drawing with relevant dimensioning maintaining appropriate scales and proportions?

Thank you

Edited by Plutonian
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I think pierpaciugo means what the US version calls Sheet Layers. The best word for that in another language might be one that indicates a presentation or representation of the design on paper.

And I think this discussion is based on exporting Classes as DXF Layers, which is the best way to go because Autocad's "layers" are similar to VW classes and don't have some of the features of VW layers (such as scale and layering). In this mode, VW Classes become AC Layers, and VW Layers are not differentiated in the DXF file.

If you use the other mode, exporting Layers as DXF Layers, you may be disappointed because the layers can't take their scale or their layering with them. Autocad layers don't have those properties. They're all going to be at the same scale, with no distinction of what's in front and what's in back. They'll be differentiated only in the way that VW classes are.

In that preferred mode of Classes as DXF Layers, it sometimes helps to export only one design layer at a time (or at least limit it to design layers that are all at one particular scale) because in Autocad a file can only have one modelspace, which is its nearest equivalent to design layers, and modelspace can't be scaled like design layers can. So anything on a design layer has to be exported full size to modelspace. All the design layers have to be exported to the same modelspace, with no differentiation, and all at 1:1 scale.

That includes any text on a design layer. The text has to be exported at the size it would be if the design layer were scaled 1:1. For example, 12 point text on a design layer at 1/4" scale (1:48) is exported about 5" high in 1:1 modelspace, so that it will be 0.1" high when seen through a 1:48 viewport. That's how Autocad handles text in modelspace.

You can put dimensions and text on a design layer if you want, no problem. VW will make the letters 5" high, or whatever is appropriate, in the DXF file, and the Autocad user will think 5" high letters are the most normal thing in the world. If you want to distinguish dimensions and text from the geometry on that layer, put them in separate classes (dimensions are automatically put in the Dimensions class anyway). Then they'll be on separate Autocad layers.

If you want real Autocad compatibility, you either have to give up using the advanced features that Autocad doesn't have, or else spoon-feed it several files as a simplified version of your VectorWorks file. And switch to using VW classes rather than layers for anything you want to become AC layers.

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The consultants i work with had some minor problems with my dwg:s from VW 2008. However I do these steps:

1. export only one layer from design layers with the classes I want to export turned on.

2. In the dwg export dialog I have:

-Format dwg 2000

-Export as Classes

-Invisible classes Are: Not exported

-Sheets to include: Design layers only

-2D Fills and Files:

Export 2D fills unmarked!! Important because it seems as Autocad is handeling wipeouts (white fills) very slow, which makes the files heavy to use on Autocad. And a file full of wipeouts or fills are strange for an Autocad user...


Decompose 3D Symbols and Groups is unmarked

Line Wights: I do not map lines to colors anymore. I think Autocad user should get rid of this behavior. It has been possible in Autocad to use linewights since Autocad 2000!

Thats it!

I also use color by class if possible for all objects. Many consultants like to gray the architects drawings by changing the classes to a gray color.

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I do something similar to Connys when exporting. Sometimes, I do need the fills to be exported. The main problem I am having is with blocks and how they are exported. Because they are numbered automatically during the export, the autocad user may get conflicting blocks with the same number, if you give them an update or another file to insert.

Also, one large file I am working on now gives the autocad user blocks where I can't find any in Vectorworks. Some of these blocks end up translating to the wrong location!

I haven't tried exporting the design layers separately. Can this work at all if you want to save the sheets?

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