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Scale a symbol instance

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I HAD the brilliant idea of making my details as symbols and then inserting them directly onto the sheet layer and scaling them down appropriately...a smooth workflow which would allow details to be self contained, easily transferable between drawings, and not involve multiple files or special detail layers.

But, as I said, I HAD the idea...

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Symbols will insert at the scale of the layer. So if you want it bigger, just put it on a layer with a larger scale.

If you don't need it to be associated with the symbol definition, you can either use the convert to group on insert option, or just convert one instance to a group. Once you have a group (anonymous block), you can scale it to your hearts delight.

I think that the symbols are all exactly the same is a great feature. If I need different sizes I just convert one to a group, scale and create a new symbol.


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Symbols are instances of the same object that are used repeatedly throughout a project. The advantage they have is that if you need to modify them all you can do it with one edit. Vectorworks is not Autocad where you have to fudge things because there is only one model space and it has only one scale - 1:1.

If you need your detail to be at a different scale place it on a design layer with that scale and use Saved Views to view the different scaled layers together. Alternatively use Viewports on Sheet Layers (the equivalent of Autocad's Paper Space).

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I agree symbols should not be scalable, to me it defeats the purpose of a symbol. If you have a 3" line as a symbol and are able to scale it x2, you not longer have a 3" line, you have a 6" line. How would you dimension it if you only wanted a larger scale 3" line? If your really wanted a 6" line, create another symbol. As Pat and mike say use a different scale layer or viewport to scale.

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Well, I agree with the idea of maintaining true scale on symbols that need that. However, there are a number of simple 2d symbols that may be used many times in a drawing that really require different sizes based on the application and true scale is not important. For example, I have a cut line symbol with a hidden polyline with white fill on one side. I use this to show cuts and mask the cut side. Simple, fast! However, I need this to be different sizes based on what I'm trying to cut. I really only want one of these symbols to use for all applications.

Sorry, I still want a simple option to scale symbols instances when placed or via a dialog.

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I agree that it should be possible to come up with a variable sized instance of a symbol. I think there should be a container object that can hold symbols, and the container can size the contained symbol.

The example that I would use are plant symbols.

A plant symbol is often the same symbol whether or not its 300mm or 450mm etc and a tree symbol is the same whether it is 5000mm or 10000mm.

Whether or not you place a plant symbol as a group, or using the plant tool, once the symbol is placed, if you want to edit it, you need to edit individually all instances.

Taking the plant tool as NNA's work around to the problem, basically it takes one symbol and clones it. So, you end up with a single symbol, that is cloned rather than instantiated across the document. To make matters worse, if using the tool in it entirety, such as with the plant database, if you create a slightly different species, even though it would be graphically represented in an identical way, the plant tool clones yet another symbol. So you end up with say 30 near to identical symbols in the same drawing when only a small handful would suffice.

A symbol can be thought of in at least two ways, either as physical entity that is of fixed real world size, or as a graphical representation of something.

For the latter, place as group can often suffice, but quite often, there are times that having an instance would save a lot of unnecessary symbols/groups and make document management a whole lot easier ie not having 30 identical symbols instead of say 3.

The container is a bit like Pat Stanford's comment about putting it on a layer with a different scale. Of course, it could also be extended to allow the symbol attributes to be overridden. Hey, lets call it a object viewport?

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Brudgers and billtheia you could set the insertion option to "Convert to Group" and do what you want. Any included dimensions wouldn't be correct though.

Why not place them onto a Design Layer and then use Sheet Layer Viewports to compose your "Paper Space Sheets".

It's a cumbersome way of working...compared to how it is handled by "other software."

Most of the time, I have a great number of details which I neither need nor want linked to the model...I just want them on the paper.

When using "other software" I would create each of these details in it's own file, such that they were almost entirely self contained.

I would then reference them directly onto the sheet at the appropriate scale...no viewports, no cropping, etc.

VW does not allow for referencing external files directly onto a sheet layer.

Creating these details on design layers requires management of a byzantine system of views, viewports, annotations, and crops in order to compose a detail sheet...thus it's not surprising that NNA's Alexandira Laundry Lofts is bereft of construction details nor that it is glossed over in the various traingin manuals.

Creating a new detail and placing it on a sheet should be a simple and efficient process. The effort required should be primarily in generating information not managing a complex relationship within the software.

Edited by brudgers
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Using the Design Layer and Saved View protocol totally avoids Sheet Layers and Viewports. Then you can reference your details in at the correct scale, or better still import them as symbols and use those on the Design Layer.

What you are asking for adds another level of complexity with the potential for mistakes to occur. In my view it is better to keep it simple and straightforward.

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I want to have my details appear on sheet layers...

If I could place a DLVP on a sheet layer the problem would be solved...I'd just draw the detail in another file...but that's not an option.

If I could scale a symbol, I would simply draw the information at full size (where it would be layer independent), drop the symbol onto the sheet layer, and scale it...but that's not an option.

As far as my limited experience with VW goes, there's nothing equally as simple.

If I create the detail on a design layer, I have to create a view for it as well (or toggle a bunch of settings repeatedly during editing). I also have to create a viewport on the sheet layer. Add to this the non-spatial detail layers to manage.

Finally there's no good place to put annotation, on the design layer allows full editing of the detail and its annotation smoothly but makes compostion more cumbersome. Placing it as viewport annotation means editing one detail in two places.

To put it in ACAD terms, letting me place an Xref on a Sheet layer would greatly improve my workflow when it comes to details.

In practice, the details are on the critical path at the end of the project that's trying to get out the door. Setting up a buncho' views and such takes the focus away from documenting the design and places it upon managing the software.

I'd love to see a reasonable workflow for this...one that didn't make me wish for a manager manager.

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Please, leave the symbols as they are, they are just perfect like they are, changing them will only cause problems... There's a logic behind them, and making them re-scalable or adjustable would go 100% against this logic, so please... No!

But, instead of changing the symbols, NNA could maybe come up with an other sort of object, the Parametric Symbols? They can be somewhat the same as PIO's , but only much easier to make.

For example: You draw something, you select it an convert it to a Parametric Symbol, so the same way as you make a Symbol, with the only difference that you can give it some Parameters, like scale factor, text, reals, booleans, Popups, Control Points... Then when you go inside that Symbol, you can start using those Parameters. For example, you can link the length of a line to a Real- or Dimension-Parameter, the diameter of an arc to an PopUp-Parameter, the visibility of a rectangle to a Boolean-Parameter, the origin of a text object to a Control Point-Parameter, the content of a text object to a Text-Parameter,....

That way you'll have the groups (easy and quick in making, adjustment and use), the symbols (perfect in repetitive things and they save in file size), the PIO's (quick in use, but not easy to make) and the Parametric Symbols (quick in use and quite quick to make them)

Just a thought of course. But i'm not sure that NNA will be trilled to make something like this, it can cause that more and more people will just buy the basic version of VW and make their own "pio's"...

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Trying to make VW work as Autocad does will only lead to frustration. VW has a different methodology which you will just have to adjust to.

I absolutely agree...that's why I switched.

However, the lack of a simple workflow for handling graphically based (rather than model based) details sucks.

There's no good way to containerize a detail so that it is both easy to edit and easy to compose on a sheet...which are somethings I need to do quite frequently under severe time constraints.

For now, I kludge along with the kludges...in a better world, the DLVP would have been an extension of the SLVP rather than a feature added to WGR...

I recognize my newness to the software, but despite my research I have yet to come across a simple and efficient method for handling details within Vectorworks.

But I'm certainly willing to be enlightened.

Edited by brudgers
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I'm not understanding how using the insertion option Convert to Group doesn't meet these needs.

Maybe I'm missing something.

Where do you place the group?

On a design layer and there's no adminstrative efficiency over just drawing on the design layer.

On the sheet layer and it's not to scale.

In an SLVP, there's no advantage over leaving it a symbol.

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Do you use sheet layer viewports in your drawings?

Your original post you states you would like to drop a symbol directly onto a sheet layer, then scale it. Why not put the symbol on a design layer, then make a viewport of it on a sheet layer. Then you can scale it to any thing you want.

If you don't use sheet layer viewports create a new layer for details and use scale you want. I realize you stated you don't want to do this but I don't see how it is that painful.

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Maybe I'm missing something.

Where do you place the group?

Anywhere you like, it wouldn't be a symbol anymore but you can scale it to whatever you like.

On a design layer and there's no adminstrative efficiency over just drawing on the design layer.

What do you mean by this? Drawing on the design layer is the way the VW works.

On the sheet layer and it's not to scale.

Correct, that's the way sheet layers work.

In an SLVP, there's no advantage over leaving it a symbol.

How so? Now you can scale it to anything you want and it's still a symbol.

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