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workgroups crash course

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I've been trawling through the user's guide, the companion and other third party manuals, but it still isn't any clearer to me: is there a simple and clear explanation of how to set up a project on a workgroup? What exactly is the correlation between design and sheet layers when dealing with a workgroup?

Sorry if this may seem a very basic question for many, but I need to master this quite urgently and I'd appreciate any suggestion to find the right direction,


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ditto... need help please.

We're working fairly small projects, but still need to figure this out.



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I'm currently creating lots of files and referencing them...

1st floor plan

2nd floor plan (ref'd 1st floor plan)

exterior elevations (ref'd 1st and 2nd floor plans)

interior elevations (ref'd 1st and 2nd floor plans)

sections and details (ref'd 1st, 2nd plans and exterior elevations)

sheets (ref'd all above files)

Is this what's meant by "workgroup"?

I'm still feeling like this process is quite clunky, and I'm hoping that someone who's done this before can advise....

I'm not having any luck referencing things back to each other... I can't reference the 2nd floor plan on the 1st floor plan if the 1st floor plan file is referenced in the 2nd Floor file, so changes on the 2nd floor plan won't be visible on 2nd fl ref on 1st floor file due to a duplication of viewport properties or somesuch. which both makes sense and doesn't at the same time. I'm not interested in referencing the 1st floor reference of the 2nd floor file... just want to reference 2nd floor into 1st floor file (are you as confused as I am now?).

If this must stand (above list of files, references, and the issues of the above paragraph), then that means all changes start at the plan level and move up the line, and there's no flexibility to move back down the files if a detail requires a plan change later (at least via references.........)

I'm also having issues setting up my sheets file, as the layers and model must be set up the same way (even if there's no model in the sheet file), and the references must be placed in the correct z planes so that the stairs work out properly... otherwise they show "floor to floor height does not allow risers and stairs to exist the way you've drawn 'em in the master files sucker... good luck figuring it out!" Or something to that effect.

Granted, I'm only about 8 hours into figuring all this out, and I'm probly not understanding "help" as well as I could be.

I'd love to hear if I'm way off base, if I'm headed in the right direction, if this is even the issue, or if there's some other function meant by "workgroup" that makes this all work more easily (which is rather implied by the term, tho I haven't found that button in a palette or toolbar ;) ).

Regarding sheet vs. design layers when doing what I'm describing above, it's become clear that one cannot create a reference viewport in a sheet layer. One must create a design layer for the reference viewport. If you wish the reference viewport to exist on a sheet layer, another viewport must be created per the usual method to display the design layer on which you've placed the reference viewport.

Edited by Joz

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Hi Joz,

The term 'workgroup' in this context refers to multiple team members who must work simultaneously on a project together. In VectorWorks, the Workgroup Referencing(WGR) feature can be used to structure the project into multiple files so that workgroups can work on a project together at the same time.

Of course, WGR can be a convenient drawing structure convention for single users as well.

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As a single user, I'm thinking of using WGR to model several "options" from the same existing structure. That is, I'll create an "existing" model of a residence, and then WGR that model into several files each with different variations on the existing structure. Does any one else work this way? I've always crammed everything into the same file, but that can get unwieldy quickly.

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There is an example of using Workgroup Referencing available for users to download from the BIM in Practice section of the Vectorworks website:


The project you are looking for is Ellicott Heights.

I suggest you download the White Paper PDF first, then the Drawing Set PDFs and finally the Zip file containing all the files of the project in VWX (VW2008) format. It is available to all users, free.

If you have any question after reviewing the material, I'll be happy to answer them.

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thanks Jeffrey,

I only saw your reply today; I'm downloading the material and we'll study it in the office. It's now become quite urgent to get to grips with this, so if we still can't make heads or tails out of it I'll be hassling this forum subsection in the near future again.

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The sample project is very helpful in understanding how to set up a project in a multi user environment. The project is quite large though and takes forever to open up. I am using this sample to create a smaller version with a very basic and much smaller building to help explore how the whole thing is put together.

Besides the structure of the project drawings it is important to set up your resources and workgroup folders so all users are using the same symbols and styles. I have set up a folder on our server to keep all the common resources, project folders and individual user folders so they can be accessed by all users on any computer. Changing the user folder location creates a folder structure for everything but you have to populate it with the custom content you want everyone to use. I am still figuring it out but I am making some progress in understanding it.

I will post any questions or revelations I come up with as I go.

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this can be a complex topic and what may work for one office may not work for another. one rule I alwys use is to break up the files into areas of responsibility. you can have all the sheet layers in one file, or you can have several, it depends on how you want to break up the responsibility of the drawings.

i ran a user group meeting on Workgroup Referencing and some interesting things came out of the meeting. the notes are part of my online user group.

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