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Novice Cad user needs guidance in cross-format of VW12 & Autocad....

Steve Gagmonger


Hi guys , great forum.

I have been using VW 12 and before that VW 10 in an environment where we created our drawings in 1 layer, often in 3d and then rendered for presentation (in the shopfitting industry). Easy stuff from most peoples experiences here and no importing or exporting was required.

I'm now in a quandry as my knowledge base is not adequate for the new situation I'm in, which is....

Client sends me an Autocad drawing, in several layers, which classify line colours for different parts of the project, i.e, Ceiling detail,display fittings,shopfitters notes, supplier stands etc.

I at present prefer using Vectorworks as its what I know, so I import the single dwg file, work on it as I need to, then, when complete, export back to dwg.

Client at the other end does not get back a file he is happy with as the various layers do not export back and the file size increases to around 4mb from the original 570k.

Could someone here advise me on how to best import the Autocad file, then work on the relevant layers individually, so that when I export back out the file size is not so large and opens in the same way as the Autocad guy expects?

Or do I need to learn autocad and spend more money on software?

thanks in advance for your assistance on this guys.!!!

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Autocad Layers are similar to VW Classes, not similar to VW Layers. You should Import DXF Layers as Classes, then keep that class structure while working on the file, and Export Classes as DXF Layers.

Autocad doesn't have layers, but it has a Modelspace which is something like a Design Layer, except that there can only be one in a file and it can only be scaled 1:1. So you should continue using a single Design Layer, but keep the objects in the various Classes just as in the DXF file.

Autocad also has Layouts, which are something like Sheet Layers, and a file can have multiple Layouts. Each Layout can have objects drawn on the layout, in "paperspace", and it can also have Viewports looking into Modelspace. Not all Autocad users take advantage of the option to have multiple Layouts in a file, and some don't use Layouts at all. You should replicate whatever your client does. Do you have a good DWG viewer? You could use that to check the client's file structure. Or ask. If the client is using Layouts and Viewports, you should use corresponding Sheet Layers and Viewports.

Autocad has its own type of fonts, SHX shape fonts, which no other software uses. If the client is using SHX fonts, there might be a translation issue. Autocad can use TTF TrueType fonts now, though it runs slower with them than with SHX fonts.

And always import into a blank file, to make sure you're not adding anything inadvertently. If you want to add things advertently, you can paste them in later.

Sometimes large file sizes point to large numbers of unused Symbols, which were unused Autocad blocks in the DXF file. Some Autocad users store their entire library of blocks in every drawing file, and sometimes that extra baggage takes up more file space after an export than before the import. So purging might help, if that won't offend the client.

Other than that, I don't know what to suggest about the large file size. Tell us more about what's in the files. What types of objects in large quantity, and what surface treatment.

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thanks for the input on this problem. I think I've managed to get the immediate problem out of the way, though for the drawings I have already created for this client I need to now review every layout, change the scaling to 1:1, allocate items in the drawing into the different classes that suit their layer structure. I have exported out on the dwg option for 2004-5-6 and seen the classes converted back into layers that read on Autocad 2005. So in essence, using your comments I'm now a happy bunny!

I have tried to create a 1:1 template with all the relevant items I use daily already represented, i.e 'shelving' drawn in 'green' penline with 'shopfittings' as a class, but what seems to happen when I import the original drawing at 1:1 into the new template at 1:1 is that the scale occassionally wanders, which I have yet to sort out properly. Thats possibly my next posting if I cant ratify the problem with the scale wander!



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Everything is 1:1 in the sense that the user always enters the actual dimensions of an object. But layer scale makes a translation between the virtual model and the virtual sheet of paper, just as a wood or plastic strip with bevelled edges makes that translation for a drawing on real paper.

What makes this relevant is that Autocad doesn't have layer scale. The translation has to be done by the user. Viewports help the user to do that, but some AC users still make the translation in modelspace, by entering incorrect dimensions for objects so that one drawing will print at a different scale than another. For example, the user might draw walls 8" thick in a 1/8" scale plan, but draw the same wall 64" thick in a detail to be printed on the same sheet, so that the detail will be scaled at 1" scale.

Could that be the cause of the "scale wander" Steve? Sometimes it's done by scaled block insertion. AC Blocks, similar to Symbols otherwise, can have their insertions scaled up or down. So, following the example above, the user can draw the detail at actual size, then block the whole detail and insert it at 8 times its original size as a 1" scale drawing on an otherwise 1/8" scale sheet.

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Petri, you're twice blessed, for not having to use imperial feet and inches, and for not having to use imperial Autocad.

3 feet six and a quarter inches is written 3'-6 1/4". Base 10, base 12, and base 4, 8, 16, 32, or possibly 64 numbers all in one linear measurement. But that's a walk in the park compared to the pointless complexity of Autocad.

Here in the "homeland" (now defended by a Department of Homeland Security, to distinguish it from the imperial security provided by the Department of "Defense"), scale is an issue.

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Well, even that's a lot more than our Member for The State of Toxic Dumps has ever done!

Dear me - 1195 messages of... Personal attacks? Ignorant comments? Unhelpful and stupid advice?

Let's settle for Personal Attacks: our newjerseyan's only "contribution" in his 1195 posts has been an unrelenting quarry of Unprofessional and Impolite Personal Attacks.

Maybe The Toxic Dump of New Jersey can demonstrate that he (or she) has actually helped someone. I have no recollection of a situation where Mr/Ms Jan15 would have had anything of substance (other than illegal) to say.

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